Santa, Grief & Bipolar Disorder

What are you most afraid of?

I’m seeing a grief counselor. She is young and personable and her last name is Santa, which just tickles me to no end.

Dr. M. recommended the Wendt Center for Loss and Healing and I’m glad Santa is the counselor they matched me with. I met with her yesterday for the first time, and already I think it’s a good fit.

I’m seeing a grief counselor to address the two issues I’m struggling with that are, most likely, grief related. Issues that I need to work through on my own, I think, without burdening Michael with them. Issues that are probably not best addressed in CBT.

  1. The apathy I’m experiencing toward wedding planning which, prior to my father’s death, brought me tremendous joy.
  2. The paralyzing fear and anxiety I feel when Michael leaves.

I understand grief enough to know that the sudden wave of emotion that hits me, sometimes out of the blue, is normal. The sadness. The anger. All perfectly natural. I can wrap my head around these feelings. I can ride out the waves.

But I don’t know what to do with the apathy and the fear.

I have absolutely no reservations about marrying Michael. He is my heart and I wake up every day grateful for this beautiful man who loves me and makes me laugh and encourages me to see life from a slightly different perspective.

But planning a wedding my father isn’t alive to attend just breaks my heart.

I can’t look at dresses or move forward with any of the little details that need my attention, without choking up.

I  just want to go to City Hall and get married, but I know that’s not what Michael wants. He’s told me this. And the wedding is about him, too.

Santa reminded me that there is still plenty of time to decide. Ten months until the wedding. What I’m feeling now might not be what I’m feeling in a month or two. We’ll see.

I asked her if she could fix me and she gave me the very appropriate answer of, I’ll bring my expertise to the table, and you’ll bring yours and if we both work hard, blah, blah, blah…

She asked me if I agreed with that. I told her, I figured that’s what you would say, but I was hoping for a simple ‘yes’.

We spent a lot of time talking about my anxiety. I told her about the catastrophizing and she agreed with my shrink’s assessment. Separation Distress is not uncommon after a sudden loss.

She probed a little deeper and asked me what I’m most afraid of.

I admitted, that Michael won’t come back to me.

When I really think about it, I guess this has been my fear for a while now. Maybe even before my father died.

There’s been so much change this year, and with change comes rapid cycling and moods that swing from despair to elation. I know this makes it difficult to live with me sometimes. I am irritable and foggy headed and prone to crying jags. Then the switch is flipped and I can’t sit still, I talk a mile a minute, start projects I am unable to finish, and demand a lot of attention. I can be exhausting.

Also, managing my bipolar disorder requires me to stick to a schedule. Getting enough sleep is one of three things that are non-negotiable for me, if I want to remain healthy: medication, keeping stress to a minimum, and sticking to a regular sleep schedule.

Routine is boring. And it’s difficult to maintain. Our schedules are very different and having to plan around the rhythm I’m trying to establish in my life, doesn’t allow for much spontaneity. Even sex has to be scheduled, sometimes.

I can’t pretend that my bipolar disorder doesn’t impact on our relationship. I mean, how can it not? I’m learning to better manage it, but it will never go away. There will be major life events and triggers and I will not always be healthy and sane. What if Michael decides that this is not what he signed up for? What if I’m too much work?

I suspect that might destroy me.


3 thoughts on “Santa, Grief & Bipolar Disorder

  1. I am so thankful you took the time and courage to share this with us. And I’m so thankful you’re a part of my life, too! I can certainly relate to this kind of feeling — afraid the other person won’t come back. It’s perhaps a reason I remain single for a majority of the time. And I suppose I probably pass up good opportunities because of it. Even though it may feel like a heavy weight at the moment, please know you aren’t alone in having these kinds of feelings. And on some level, they show that we really care about the people in our lives.

  2. I have bipolar 1 disorder and lost my darling dad a month ago. I am fine during the day but am sleeping less and less because nights, and the thinking that goes on in the dark, terrify me -i have to get up and read. I assumed I would plunge into depression at this time but I am just feeling numb. After reading your piece I thought I may see someone soon if this keeps up – or is this all normal? I guess everyone’s different. Thanks for writing this – and I can honestly say I know how you feel.

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