Hello again, I have decided that I am taking so long to tell about the things past that I am missing out on telling the good things that happen now! I was hoping the past in my blog would have moved a little faster, but as you know I am quite slow about getting on here lately. I could easily stop talking about the past, but I think the first few years after the death of a loved one is a crucial time--so I will continue and try to write more often...
When June rolled around in 2009 I started thinking about the Out of the Darkness walk coming up in the fall and started looking for the date. When I realized that there was no date scheduled I called the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and talked with them about it. They, I assumed, contacted the previous walk coordinator and found she was ready for someone else to take over and I offered. The walk was so helpful to me in those first few months after Amber's death - I wanted to make sure that it would continue.
Just after finding out that I would be the Walk Coordinator I got a call from a dear friend. They told me that someone close to their family had died by suicide just a couple days before--it just brought me to my knees. Oh my I just knew that the poor family must be devastated and I starting praying for them all immediately. My dear friend is also someone that I had thought of to help me with the walk that year, as I knew it would be a huge undertaking for just myself.
We had a couple meetings right away and it did not take me long to realize that it was too soon for my friend to take on such a task--I would have never been able to do that just after Amber's death. Of course I still was not thinking as clearly as I should have been at that time, but I can only know that now 3 years later. The walk was in Oct and the few months leading up to the walk were exceptionally nerve racking! I did not end up with much help that year, but there were some folks that jumped in right before show time and helped to pull it all together.
I felt bad for my friend that I had put them in such a stressful place when they were already having a hard time dealing with their own loss. That was on my mind a lot as the walk neared, as well as the other thousand things that had to be dealt with.
Chuck and I decided to keep our vacation to an easier level that year - the year before as you may recall we went to San Juan, PR and the whole trip was just exhausting. We decided on Key West for a week just before Labor Day. The entire time we were there we talked about the walk constantly-worried how we would ever get things done. I had started having major anxiety problems a couple months before, work was the main reason, and then the problems with getting the walk planned just made it all worse.
Of course there was the grief related problems also - especially to suicide grief. No one was talking to me, I spent most of my time alone, and I grew to like it that way. I felt like I had been hurt over and over again by the people around me that I thought were my friends, I was so beat down by the loss of my daughter, and friends, the trouble with my granddaughter, my Dad, and the stress at work! Now that I am typing these words I can clearly see that I was anxiety ridden.
The Key West trip was nice, but my anxiety was getting worse and my hubby and I had a talk about it while we were there. I also had at least one panic attack (was not sure that was what it was at the time) while I was there when we got on wave runners for a tour of the island – I was so afraid I wanted to go back to shore - now my husband did not understand my fear at all and he was annoyed with me, but I was not sure that I could manage the high adrenaline rush. This is different for us - normally it would be the other way around - I am definitely the adventurous one of the family. I know he was having a hard time trying to understand what was wrong with me – I did not understand it either. We were fortunate that we had a great guide that day who offered to allow us to trail behind at the speed we needed and we could catch up when ready. That worked beautifully and it was a grand tour indeed.
I had become agoraphobic -- my house had become my safe place. I was just about out of control at work--I used to be able to stand up to the bullying, but I had lost my spunk, my drive, and none of what was happening at work was as important as all the grief I had bottled up inside me. There was nothing more important than the fact that I would never see my daughter again. I still thought about her all the time-random thoughts that never stop---it goes on and on all the time in everything you do. I was not just crying at the drop of a hat anymore, I seemed to get that part under control.
We decided while at Key West that I needed to see a Doctor upon our return and also we would come home and tackle every aspect of the walk-do the best we could-it would be ok.
When we returned home I did start seeing Doctors, taking tests--in the meantime the agoraphobia was at an all time high and I had started having panic attacks – there was no more doubt as to what they were. I was confused about them at first, but one day I knew I HAD to make some calls to a radio station about participation at the walk so I stayed after work - waited till everyone was gone, tried to calm myself, studied what I needed to say, had everything laid out in front of me ---dialed the number, they answered and said they would transfer me and then I hung up and I was in tears--I just simply could not talk to them - it was too much for me too handle. I sat in my office for along time in tears and prayed, and prayed, and prayed. The answer was that there was no one else to help, and it had to be done - so I would have to do what I was capable of and that was to write. So I sent an email to everyone I could think of - I wrote letters to the newspaper editors, community bulletin boards, and to everyone I know. I knew that more should have happened, but I had run out of time - the panic attacks were taking over now and I was totally out of control.
Just days after this episode I left work to go to the grocery store and I was unable to get out of the car! I just sat in it with my hand on the door--knowing I needed to get out of the car--but I did not--I went home defeated in tears.
The following week I got the results of my blood tests and found that my hormone levels were out of whack--they quadrupled my dosage and I had immediate relief from the panic attacks. The anxiety was still there, but I was not Out of Control anymore. Amber's birthday was in September and the family got together for her birthday and the kids did a balloon release in her honor. Another of those dates that are hard to deal with every year – it was sad, but better than the year before for sure. And my hubby was able to attend with me which helped more than words could say.
The walk was quite a success, there were several hundred people there and I was proud to be a part of it all. The best thing about all of it was an opportunity to be around other survivors. There were some new faces at the walk-I remembered how it was for me the year before. I met some lovely people that year- some that are my friends today...and my dear friend was there helping and I love him for it--I knew the family was having a gut wrenching day. My hubby, son-n-law, brother, children--they were all so helpful. I was thankful to all that helped that day and all the trouble getting there was all forgotten as soon as saw all those grief stricken faces. It is what it's all about for me now--I just want to take care of those left behind. I do not want them to feel like they have no one to talk too, I want them to have a friend, I knew at THAT walk THAT DAY that someday I would do something about that! I thought I had met someone at the walk that year that might be interested in helping me organize a support group, but after the walk she never called me again--it was very strange, but God knows best and I'm sure the timing was not right. I had not really healed enough yet….