I don’t know if this is “normal” or really what is really normal anymore. I can get up and go to work every day… and I can exist for weeks without any sort of “panic attack,” I don’t have to pull over driving home because I am crying so much I can’t see. And those days when life feels so heavy and my energy is so low I can’t move are exceedingly rare.
For the most part, I think life is good and I believe myself to be happy.
Five and a half years after my son died, this is my new normal. I can laugh and be happy and ride bicycles with my wife up and down the coastal highway, taking time to walk in the sand and let the waves wash over my feet. That feeling of gray sameness is gone and food does have flavor. I find myself less “stuck” on things. I can enjoy a weekend away really with little evidence of anxiety, or sadness or depression.
But there is a persistent sadness behind everything. A deep sense of loss that is always present and like a gel on a light… it colors my world. With that life takes more effort and intentionality. And sometimes, if it isn’t some oddly compulsive and repetitive behavior, that strange sense of panic, or that feeling that everything is off, or that everything is fake…. there are darker moments.. And sometimes I have to work to keep that at bay. And I work on being positive and moving forward as if my life depends on it.
And so sometimes I have to do stuff to keep my mind from wandering or from fixing on something random… things that keep me from looping or repeating thoughts. It is distraction. And it might be a word game on my phone, posting on social media, or something to keep occupied and busy. I intentionally look for beauty in things, to see the colors in a sunset, or to listen to the chord changes in a song. It helps to paint. It helps to walk.
I see a psychiatrist once a month for a few minutes and he tells me this is normal. I carry anxiety medication that I rarely if ever use. But these things are helpful. I know they are there if I need them.
I have this ongoing conversation with God. And He seems to find humor in it and be very patient. And if I ever get tired of His long moments of silence, I will talk to my pets… especially the cat… and they give me looks.
Marquita is nearly ready to leave for breakfast. I hear the train going by and the whistle mixes with the sound of surf. The air is already warm and heavy, but there is a bit of a breeze. It is the end of Summer.