Losing Loss

I believe I’ve described the difference between pain and suffering here before, but to refresh the memory: pain occurs in real time, and is caused by an event or trigger which has a beginning and an end; suffering is caused by the mind’s re-hashing of the pain, dwelling on it, living in it, and may continue indefinitely. The way to avoid turning pain into suffering is to practice mindfulness in the moment and accept the pain. (That’s the “cheat sheet” summary; hope it was clear enough!)

This morning I realized I’ve been causing myself to suffer by continuing to mourn the things my mental illness has cost me. I haven’t accepted my situation. Unfortunately, this realization doesn’t come with a ready remedy. I’m still mourning my past life, the way things used to be. Maybe this is why I feel I’ve been “sleepwalking” these last couple of months: I’m stuck in a limbo of grief …

What have I lost? Financial security and independence; physical health (having put on a lot of weight during various hospitalizations and medication changes last year); cardiovascular fitness; career; friendships; social life; sleep patterns; respect; self-respect; confidence; hope; happiness, and even the capacity to feel happiness.

Whether I’m still in pain or stuck in suffering, I need to open myself to loss.

My city is famous for its street art, and this is one of my favourite faux road signs:

Street Signs

What I do know is that here on WordPressย I’ve found an amazing community who have indeed been glad to see me. The WordPress mental health community is an international entity, spanning the whole spectrum of mental illness. It’s an accepting place, a place where a person can feel heard and validated. It’s got a precious place in my heart, so I have certainly gained something in the midst of all those losses.

Thank you, one and all, for being my silver lining. I’m grateful.

20 Comments

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20 responses to “Losing Loss

  1. B is for Blessings… ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m so pleased you have found a silver lining.

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  2. I just realised that I am doing the same thing. I can’t accept how things are because I am constantly living in the past and the future. Oh and thank you for being a silver lining too! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. In many ways you probably go through the same stages of grief as if mourning the loss of a loved one. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression (gotcha!), and acceptance. I’m trying to think of how this applies to me. I don’t think I’m mourning the loss of a past life because I can’t remember not being depressed. I don’t really know what that looks like. So maybe I’m mourning the loss of a life that I now realize other people have? Not sure about that either…this will definitely require some mulling over. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  4. I love how you are working it out, and sharing your process with others. Thank you for being such a positive influence within the WordPress community!

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    • Thank you so much, Sharon!

      It certainly is a work in progress. I’m just back from a therapy session, which reminds me just how deeply immersed I am in the “progress” phase and how far from any sort of resolution … still, baby steps are still steps forward, right?

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  5. Cal

    I really feel like we’re going through some similar stuff. My grief for the life I thought I’d have keeps coming up in therapy and I feel so dumb about it, but I am mourning the person I was and the place I thought I’d be. I feel like my life has become a bad dream that I can’t wake up from. Hugs.

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  6. My biggest loss to depression was my relationship with my children, who are now middleaged. I grieved over it for years, did everything I knew to try to re-connect, with only marginal results. It is only recently (20 years later) that I have finally come to just accept that what happened happened, I couldn’t overcome depression until they were mostly grown, and during their teens they moved on and made their step-mom their mom. I will always love them and am open to all interactions, but there is great relief in acceptance. Thanks for some clarity this morning.

    As re the last phrase in your list, losing the capacity to feel happiness…perhaps you could re-frame that, to “I am gradually acquiring the skills to feel happiness,” because you have the CAPACITY, you were born with it… and in recovery, you will regain it. I also could not remember ever being happy, and I may not have been, but I am happy now and you can be as well.

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    • Thank you! I actually did experience some happiness yesterday, after taking the problem to therapy on Friday and teasing out in a bit more detail what was going on (repression, the reasons behind repression, etc).

      I look forward to the day when happiness is a normal part of my life again.

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  7. Thank you so much for this wonderful post, which I can really relate to, and for the encouragement to open myself up to loss, which I really need to remember, as my instinctive reaction is to try and shut it away. Like you, I look forward to a time when happiness is a more usual state of affairs! ๐Ÿ™‚

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