Grief: My 'bad' coping mechanism experience
2 years ago, my sister suddenly was effected by an idiopathic lung problem. She ended up working with the University of Washington – possible heart/lung transplant. She fought very hard and tried to continue an independent life. ( I’m states away). She was also diabetic. She was trying real hard to better herself.
Last Christmas, I did not hear from her. ( Her and I are our only blood family). Finally got a hold of her. She said she slept 4 days – thru Christmas. Ok, she did sleep a lot due to being weak from the lung issue. I am use to her sleeping a lot. We had a good talk, she sounded good and said she was going to get up and get some food. Days past. The pause on her phone to get to the answering machine got longer. I had a gut feeling. BUT I was really trying to give her support for being independent. Time passed and no response from FB, phone or messages. Gut feeling. BUT, IF I called in a wellness check and she was just sleeping, she would have killed me if her door had been broken down and she was asleep in the chair. Maybe she was feeling good and went to the casino and was tired after that and was resting…? Well, Jan 9th, I called in a wellness check. They found her dead in bed.
Have no idea how long she was there. No autopsy but I put things together and figured, since she was sleeping so much, she wasn’t eating or taking insulin.. she went into a diabetic coma.
So, I had to fly out to Seattle and ‘take care’ of things. I held it together during the day, but the nights… I went thru 2 bottles of Jack and took 2 mg of Klonopoin at night.. the nights were mine.
Fast forward to May 24th. Her funeral at the national cemetery – clear across the state. Lots of turn out from people all over the country. I held it together well.
the next day when we left for home, the interstate goes right by the cemetery. I looked up at it and just wanted to scream. I have been low before, had my share of hospital stays from mental breaks and lows. But NOTHING like this. Something was over me. I couldn’t figure out how my heart was still beating and I felt so bad. It was like something came and took my soul. I was pretty messed up when my sister died.. but NOTHING like this.. very unfamiliar with it. They say there is no pain like the pain of a mother losing her child – I have SEEN this pain with a good friend when she lost her daughter – seen her body laying on the bed when I’d check in on her.. but there was a bad ‘ thing’ surrounding her. She was not there. I think this is what I was feeling.
My step dad was in the back seat. ( I had a friend drive out with me so I wasn’t driving). I could NOT let him see me break so as not to upset him. I Bawled silently all the way home.. across the state. Getting out of the car at gas stations and rest stop and letting it out a bit – but not so much as for someone to call the police.
Got home, I asked IF I could stop at the liquor store,, NO! fine,(now, I didn’t want to kill myself.. just needed NOT to feel this thing. I am trying to be sober.. so ok.. I bawled HARD for almost 2 hours. Until my body just couldn’t do it any longer. SO, my next coping mech. is cutting. I had an over hour fight with a razor… I won.. I actually got up and put it away. So, what to do???? I had my meds on the shelf. I have NEVER abused my meds. But,, I needed that ‘thing’ to go away. so… (somehow I came up with a stupid calculation of mg. that wouldn’t kill me.) and I took 6-7 mg of Klonopin with a handful of meletonin just to kick it in. I did this for 4 days. Day 5 ,(wed) somehow I took myself to the ER. I don’t remember ANYTHING ( well, 2 small things) of those 5 days. I even traveled an hour and a half to the town where my ‘phsyc’ team is and had an emergency chat with one of them.
I found out today about that day, she tried to get me to go to the hospital.. I didn’t. I went and got 2 tattoos ( needed to feel some physical pain). I fell asleep for both.
One of those days of the week, I even went to my phsyc Dr and explained the ER trip. …??? I drove 2 times out of town, I have NO remembrance of this….
I”m just like WOW.. I went to the ER in some state and never saw a Dr ( this was ONE of the things I remember as I was waiting to see who my dr was going to be – didn’t want it to be a certain one- and I remember trying to focus on the name tag of the girl who gave me the IV.. she was not a Dr.
I scared myself. I don’t know how I feel about that whole episode. I actually didn’t think about it till last week,, realized I blacked out several days….just WOW.. looking back.. how could the ER and the therapy clinic let me go.. I must have been very high functioning… ???
Just had to share..
and when I do see my primary again, I am going to ask her to read me the ER note from that day.. …
This THING that had me, didn’t want me to die, it wanted me to suffer.. it took me to the gates of Hell.
Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Loss & Grief Support Group.
@mcmurf2 Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. We're very glad that you found us here. First off, my condolences on losing your sister. This is a rough time for you and may continue to be a tough time for a while to come. Thank you for sharing what you have and coming out the other side without self-harming with the razor. It seems that there are so many different ways that we handle grief. You may be feeling a sense of guilt that you did not check in with your sister prior to when you did. But knowing that she would not like to have an unnecessary wellness check you have to forgive yourself. It might be helpful speaking with your primary care doctor to get a referral for a counselor, group, or somebody that you can connect with to work through the feelings that you are having. Knowing that you were driving a vehicle while under the influence can be very scary when you think back at it, besides the very real fact that it is dangerous to you and others on the road. I'm glad that you did not hurt anyone. It sounds like there are periods of time that you have no recollection and that is concerning. Have you thought about how you want to deal with the grief and guilt that seems to be part of your life right now? Have you thought about writing a letter to your sister and ask her forgiveness and give her reasons of why you did not do a wellness check before you did? This might help get feelings and thoughts out on paper as you write them and ease your mind somewhat. I know for me writing is very therapeutic. Others I would like to hear from on this include @hopeful33250 @colleenyoung @IndianaScott . Please check back in with us and let us know how you are doing. If you feel like you may self harm, please reach out. We care.
I first want to commend you on being able to put into words how you are feeling. I know it must have been difficult to lay these feelings out in a post, but you did so very well! Your grief is real and I can tell the hurt is real as well. I am so glad that @gingerw invited me to this conversation as I understand grief well.
While you do not mention your age, nor your sister's age, I would encourage you, as @gingerw said to write a few letters to her. From this first post I know that you write about your feelings well, so why not write to your sister? I would encourage you to get out some family pictures, if you have them available, and write about the way you remember growing up with her and the rest of your family. Were you and your sister close? Then write about those times. Did you experience sibling rivalry? Then write about those times and feelings. Write to your sister about how it was growing up in your family.
Then I would encourage you to take these letters and share them as you are comfortable doing so, with a close friend, a psychologist or a support group. The more you tell your grief story, the better it will be for you.
It appears that there is another problem you are having difficulty with and that is with addiction. At Connect we also have a discussion on Addiction. Here is the link, https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/addiction-recovery/. I would encourage you to look at some of those discussions and participate in them as well. I would like to invite @zeph317 @savana1 @johnwhitfield @hisgrace6992 @kclynd and @stsopoci to share with you as well. These folks know a lot about recovery from addiction and I'm sure they will support you at this time.
As @gingerw said, if you feel as if you are a danger to yourself please contact a helpline immediately or go to the ER.
Will you post again?
HI Teresa. um,, wow.. um,, in the last 12 hours.. I have taken a painful but needed journey. I had been reaching out for a long time. .. got a lot of doors slammed in my face and a lot of walls and just not the right 'groups' on the computer. I knew there was SOMEONE in y FB friends that was 'the one' but it only was 'shown' to me last night… All this time.. always the wrong person… but .. It was just shown to me… I contacted her. we talked till after 1:00 AM. … She is 19 years clean. long story short… I have decided to go to NA…. sometime…I have to travel 1.5 hours away… But , I know I need this. I have been really trying with myself .. especially after picking a new phsyc. dr. ..my thoughts now are : IF I hand picked this Dr, and expect HER to help me and trust me,,, I better start trying harder…
To answer your questions, I am 55, my sister would have been 63. She was my rock.. she was the only person that understood me. She was always looking out for me and we had wonderful adventures together all around the US. She left for the military when I was in 4th grade.. but we always remained close.
The person I talked to last night is also going to be my sponsor.. .. sooooooooo with that.. and I start intensive DBT training next week… maybe I"ll be ok………………………but at this time.. I cannot trust myself with the next 24,,, 72 hours…Always waiting to be 'set off'…
Thank you both ( Teresa and Ginger) for responding back to me .. it means a lot…. … It was a reach out that wasn't a wall… so thank you…
@mcmurf2 Don't forget to thank yourself for reaching out that one more time on the computer. I am a firm believer that our support system shows up to us when we are finally ready and have our eyes/hearts/minds open for the support. Each challenge is a challenge to be dealt with, no doubt, and may entail hard work. When you look back, in weeks to come, you'll be amazed at the progress, and wonder at the journey. If you are ready, keep a journal; I have found those invaluable. And remember you have us here, to help you as we can. We are a great sounding board, and will share our experiences, strength and hopes. There is the "One Day at a Time" aspect of recovery, but sometimes that is too much. So, break it down to an hour at a time if need be. Keep checking in. We care.
Hello again, @mcmurf2
I am so glad that you are starting the process of reaching out. Please remember this is a process and each day is a new day!
Will you post now and then?
yes.. I will post.. I may have found something here with this page…
Just checking in to say hello. I hope you are doing well.
HI! thank you. I am mostly battling physical stuff now.. seem to have a handle on the emotional stuff..ha.. for now anyway…
I understand that completely. Emotional stuff tends to weaken our immune system and makes us more vulnerable to physical ailments. Work hard to take care of yourself by eating healthy, exercising, socializing and doing that which helps you to relax.
thanks. the last several months have been trying. I still have not been out to even touch my horses..( over 4 months now). Summer has not happened yet… I"m waiting……………….