It's okay to not be okay
My soul is numb.
I'm trying to escape the realities of my current life, but running only makes it worse.
Attempts at escape only make me more numb.
Three weeks ago, my daughter passed away before ever taking a breath. My wife was 36 weeks pregnant and our baby's heart stopped beating. With no explanation. No known reason.
My wife labored and delivered our stillborn child on January 17. We said hello and goodbye at the very same time.
And that just shouldn't be so.
Everything in life seems harder to do now. Reading, writing, cooking, cleaning, sleeping, talking...everything.
I'm currently reading a book on anxiety and depression. In it, the author states, "How we think influences how we feel." And I completely agree with that statement. But it seems to be getting harder and harder to control my thoughts these days.
I want life to go back to normal. I want my baby back in the womb, alive. I want to feel joy and happiness.
But all I seem to feel is space. Emptiness. Loneliness.
I'm doing everything I can to be strong for my family. To put on the right face and do all the right things. To make sure my wife has all her needs met as she mourns the loss of our daughter. To make sure our 2-year-old is fed, clothed, clean, healthy and loved.
And it's the hardest thing I've ever had to do.
I've always known life wasn't fair. There are winners and losers. There are those who succeed and those who don't. Good people get treated poorly and bad people get treated better than they should.
But life and death? Wow...seems totally unfair.
What should be normal is: you're born, you live a full life, and you die at an old age with plenty of family and friends around you. That seems fair.
What's not fair is never having the opportunity to live outside the womb. What's not fair is having to explain to a 2-year-old that the baby that we've been talking about for 9 months, whom we named Haven, is now no longer with us. What's not fair is having to continue with life with a large chunk of your heart missing.
I honestly feel like I'm wading through molasses. Is this what depression is like? Grief and depression have a lot in common.
I know things will eventually get easier. I know we'll have more kids. I know the sun will shine brighter and the clouds will go away.
But for now, the days are just gloomier than they used to be. And it's not because I live in Portland...although that certainly doesn't help.
Why am I pouring my heart out like this? Well, for one, I just want to be honest and transparent. And I want my writing to be helpful, so in an effort to help, here's my maxim:
It's okay to not be okay.
You don't have to pretend that life is perfect and nothing is wrong. If I've learned nothing else through the death of my daughter, it's that family and friends want to help. They want to be by your side and offer whatever encouragement you need.
So don't pretend to be okay if you're not. Whether it's grief due to loss, or life has just decided to slap you in the face...it's okay to not be okay.
Another thing to keep in mind is that everywhere we go, there are people who are not okay. At the post office, in the coffee shop, at work, on the highway...there are thousands of people attempting to go on with life in the midst of difficult circumstances.
So instead of assuming the worst about that guy who just cut you off in traffic, maybe you should contemplate the possibility that they've just lost a child (and I'm sorry if I recently cut you off in traffic).
It's okay to not be okay. But surround yourself with people who love you and will support you and help you out of the pit you may find yourself in. Whether it's a shallow pit, or a really deep one...don't climb out alone.
If you're interested in reading the birth story that my wife wrote, here's the link.