I’ve been meaning to write a blog post about dealing with numbness as part of my depression, and unfortunately, now I have fresh inspiration. Yesterday, my Dad told me and my sisters that our Grandma who had been in rehab for broken hips has sadly passed away.

The shock didn’t last long. When I came home from work yesterday, when I finally had time to sit down and try to process everything, I nearly gave myself a panic attack after realizing that I didn’t want to see her in an open casket. I don’t want to see for myself how much her pain debilitated her.

I ended up having a deep heart-to-heart conversation last night with a shift leader from the Walgreens across the street where I live. I’ve known her almost since me and my roommate started living together three years ago. She’s a very sweet, genuine person, with more than her fair share of grief experiences.

When I opened up to her about trying to deal with the loss of Grandma, she in turn opened up to me about her experiences with losing her Grandma and Dad. When she lost them, she had to struggle to prioritize dealing with her grief above all things. She and I both have a hard worker mentality that can leave us feeling selfish for wanting to take care of ourselves before anything else.

She begged me to take the day off work, and I’m grateful that I did. Now, I can work on going through all of the grief stages without having to worry about dealing with all of the hectic things my work throws at me on a daily basis.

And I can especially focus on gently encouraging myself to not be forcefully numb to all of this.

Numbness

I’m pretty sure that my numbness is an unhealthy go-to coping mechanism I developed during my time with my ex-step dad when I was younger. I hated being in the moment around him. I hated being overwhelmed with all of the negative emotions that he caused, and wanted more than anything else to escape.

By doing that, I have to actively work nowadays to not disassociate from the moment during times of stress and rough emotion. This goes hand-in-hand with the persisting habit I had of putting on a happy front at work, covering up everything that I deal with internally.

I found this extremely informative article about dissociation here.

I also found this informative video on YouTube about it. This was alarming, she did research and found that over 50% of American people will experience dissociation in their lives at some point.

Reading the comments hit the nail on the head for me. Somebody mentioned feeling like they’ve gone on autopilot mode during their dissociation episodes, and that is exactly what I’ve been calling it this whole time. I hate feeling like I’ve gone on autopilot mode, because when it happens, I can’t remember anything I’ve done during that time. It’s frightening to say the least.

I hate being overwhelmed with emotions. It sucks, and in a way, it feels like I’m drowning. I know that this is an irrational fear, but I’ve become more aware that feeling like I can’t stop crying is a daunting notion for me. I’m also painfully aware that by clinging onto this fear, I’m impeding my own grief process.

Photography as a Grounding Mechanism

Something I’ve been doing the last couple of months to counteract all of this is delving deeper into my love of photography. I realized recently that me loving to take nature shots has always been fueled by me wanting to fight off my depression. After becoming more acutely aware of how bad my depression has been for the last five or so years, I became determined to not hesitate to take the shot whenever I feel the moment calls for it.

I’ve been keeping track of how many pictures I have been taking, and I’m amazed! To lighten up my phone’s storage, I have to periodically upload my photos into Google Drive and then delete them from my phone. You know, I can probably save myself a ton of time and storage by getting an SD card, right?

I had a batch of several month’s photos that I uploaded about two months ago, I believe at the start of June. I recently had to do this again when I got back from vacation a week ago. To my shock, in about a month-and-a-half’s time, I uploaded at least 500 photos! That was either the same or even more than the photos I had uploaded in the first batch.

And I’m grateful. That tells me that I’ve been working on refusing to take the small things in life for granted. For example, sometime last month, my Monday and Friday work week began and ended with coming across this sweet bunny rabbit in front of my apartment’s big street sign. When I came across them both times, they sat still and let me take pictures of them from a short distance, never once running away from me. It was an almost mystical experience, given that bunnies have a natural tendency to run from us humans. It looks like it was the same bunny both times, too!

Going further, while on vacation, I was determined to take as many shots as possible, and not take any moment for granted. This was easy to do, considering that Hilton Head Island is chock-full of gorgeous scenery, day and night. My absolute favorite shot from vacation that week is this one, taken that Monday morning I believe. Right as one of the sea birds flew over the sunlit waters, my clunky Android phone luckily took a great shot of it. I look at this, and I get strong The Rescuers vibes, that gorgeous Disney movie with that painting-like opening sequence on the ocean.

These photos help me stay in the moment, and continue to help me remain grounded. I know that I need to let myself continually work on avoiding numbness as my go-to, but I’m grateful for this hobby of mine helping me along that journey.

Far Longer Than Forever

I love and miss my Grandma always. I’m heartbroken that she’s left us, but also relieved that she’s no longer in pain. As I continue to mourn her, I will ensure that I let myself weep as I need to, remembering that tears are a necessary, healthy outlet for grief. Finding the healthy medium between numbness and being overwhelmed might take me time, but I know that I’m making awesome progress towards it. 

I love you, Grandma. Thank you always for introducing me and my sisters to The Swan Princess when we were kids.

"Far longer than forever,
I'll hold you in my heart!
It's almost like you're here with me,
although we're far apart..."