Recovering from a long string of losses

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S-P-M-E
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30 Sep 2014, 5:19 am

The past few years have contained the entire top 10 worst losses of my life. Even ONE loss, significantly less that any of these, has typically taken me several years to recover from, with a life that is otherwise going well. This time, I'm so burned out, so wrung dry, that I'm at an emotional standstill; the most recent losses don't even seem real to me, I haven't shed a single tear or felt anything? I just have nothing left to feel anymore. I'm making no progress in bouncing back, because I no longer have any bounce left. I don't feel BAD, and I'm still living my life the same way that I was before? it's just that my emotions, which granted were pretty underdeveloped to begin with, have completely shut down

Is there anyone here who has suffered so many losses that you've ended up where I am? If so, was there anything that you did, other than the commonsense things like eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep, that jumpstarted or speeded up the emotional rebooting, or did you just have to wait however long it took for your brain to recover? If you consulted with any sort of therapist who specializes in ASD people, was there anything that they suggested that might help you, whether it worked specifically for you or not? Thanks!!


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skibum
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30 Sep 2014, 5:35 am

I know how you feel. We tend to lose loved ones in groups. Sometimes you need time to process it all. You may feel waves of emotion later but right now your body and mind are protecting you by not letting you feel otherwise it would be too much to bear. I don't think you need to see someone about it, not yet anyway, unless you feel like you need to talk about it to get the feelings to come. But I would just give it time. Your brain needs time and space to process all of it. And sometimes when we have too many losses in too short of a time span, we can get desensitized. But don't be surprised if you start to feel rushes of emotions later. Sometimes they even come much later.


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GibbieGal
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30 Sep 2014, 6:49 am

skibum wrote:
I know how you feel. We tend to lose loved ones in groups. Sometimes you need time to process it all. You may feel waves of emotion later but right now your body and mind are protecting you by not letting you feel otherwise it would be too much to bear. I don't think you need to see someone about it, not yet anyway, unless you feel like you need to talk about it to get the feelings to come. But I would just give it time. Your brain needs time and space to process all of it. And sometimes when we have too many losses in too short of a time span, we can get desensitized. But don't be surprised if you start to feel rushes of emotions later. Sometimes they even come much later.
This is excellent.

Don't feel ashamed, either, if you don't seem to be "getting over it." Grief is different for everyone.



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30 Sep 2014, 8:21 am

I think that you and I have ended up in similar places and I've no idea how to make it better either, other than trying to live my life, like you said, eat sleep etc. I have heard "once or twice" that it gets better with time :) I dont know if its because how often it was said to me, but I believe that in a supportive environment it will get better given enough time.



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30 Sep 2014, 8:50 am

S-P-M-E wrote:
Is there anyone here who has suffered so many losses that you've ended up where I am?


I've been through a lot the last few years. Lots of heartbreak and disappointment and unexpected stuff that has taken me on an emotional roller coaster. I only wish I could shut down emotionally. Every time I think I am getting back on an even keel, something else happens to knock the wind out of me.

I am in a different place than you, I am very emotionally raw and sensitive about it all. But I understand how you feel just having one thing after another pile on like that. Life goes on as usual but it feels like it shouldn't. Like everything should just come to a stop. In the past people took more time to grieve. Modern society has really lost that art. I think when you take a significant pause from everyday life, the emotions will rise. Until then consider it a blessing that you're not feeling it.



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30 Sep 2014, 1:31 pm

Yes, at two different times in my life. But I never got numb; unfortunately I felt the full, raw impact of all of it, as I'm an emotional type similar to the person above my reply. I felt every it of it and wanted to die.

25 years ago I lost both parents in quick succession while simultaneously my new marriage was going down in flames and I found myself living alone for the first time too, estranged from remaining family and in another country! I was overwhelmed with all the profound changes. I wanted to throw myself off a bridge, and I mean literally -- I actually went to a river and contemplated it. I didn't do it.

The best I could come up with was just "putting one foot in front of the other" and carrying on alone. I did look in the local paper and find that the local YWCA were offering something like six talk-therapy sessions for dirt cheap by a group of newly qualified counselors. I got lucky with an amazing therapist/counselor, whom I continued to see for a few years more. Her guidance helped me deal with a lot of issues, deal with my massive grief also, and get back into life again. I was never perfectly okay, though, but I was functioning again and started to enjoy life again, in my imperfect way. I have always struggled and never been entirely okay emotionally. But she helped me be a bit more okay than usual.

The second time my life went to hell and I underwent tremendous change and loss and the trauma of those, started six years ago. My life became hell for the full year after, then I was finally in a stable situation again, but fell apart emotionally from the struggle. I'm still not really over any of that. I don't think I'll ever be the same again. I thought the first one 25 years ago was bad, but this series of losses makes that one look like a walk in the park. My life is re-stabilized but is still total s**t and worse than what I managed to achieve before. I'm in a bad situation that causes me a high degree of stress, and I don't get numb, I get terribly upset, but I'm not in a position to improve things right now.

I'm back to just trying to get up every day and "put one foot in front of the other." That's the best I can do right now.

.



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30 Sep 2014, 2:05 pm

Yes, I have had such a period in my life. It extended from age 11 to age 24 and then again from age 50 to 53. Each case was different, however the long run of 13 years was the worst. I decided that the best way to survive was to totally change my life. I moved 1500 miles away, and got a new job and new friends, however that was not enough. It still took me 3-4 years of living almost like a monk and having as much solitude as possible, to recover - well mostly. The scars are still with me decades later.

And as for the later period . . . Let's just say that that episode left me with PTSD and much more and I don't ever expect to recover from that. Welcome to life. It's just an endless round of pain and suffering.


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30 Sep 2014, 7:08 pm

Empathetic support, real listening, validation and kindness from others are so important in weathering these storms in the shortest possible time.

By empathetic, I mean people not offering tiresome cliches like "time heals everything" (actually, it doesn't). But even if a supporter can only offer cliches, even that is better than being ignored after severe losses and events by fair weather friends who mysteriously disappear when they could be there for you.

Never let them crawl back into you life later; they will act like nothing ever happened, yet usually will be the first to demand your time, energy and emotional support when something happens which negatively affects themselves. Sigh....



S-P-M-E
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30 Sep 2014, 8:08 pm

Thank you for all your replies so far; it really helps to know that people understand.

BirdInFlight wrote:
...I got lucky with an amazing therapist/counselor, whom I continued to see for a few years more. Her guidance helped me deal with a lot of issues, deal with my massive grief also, and get back into life again. I was never perfectly okay, though, but I was functioning again and started to enjoy life again, in my imperfect way. I have always struggled and never been entirely okay emotionally. But she helped me be a bit more okay than usual....


BirdInFlight, did anything the therapist told you to do reduce the severity or duration of your grief, or in any other way help reset or restart you emotionally, beyond the benefits you received from a sympathetic ear?


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01 Oct 2014, 5:43 am

Well one seemingly simplistic yet incredibly helpful thing she told me was that whatever way I was feeling my grief was normal! It seems very basic and not like that would help enormously, but she explained how grief affects everyone differently, and even in those differences, whatever they are going through is their unique reaction, and to go with the experience.

Whether that's feeling like you are "feeling nothing", or finding yourself crying over and over and being depressed for weeks -- she said it's important not to be judgmental about your own process. Whatever is coming naturally is, well, what's coming naturally. And that it's important to allow yourself that reaction.

In my own case, I was in enormous sadness, depression, and anything that reminded me of my losses could set me off crying -- genuine breaking down weeping (it's not always a "fake show of emotion" put on for others; this could happen to me all alone at home).

My therapist helped me deal with it by telling me not to try to suppress those feelings but to allow them and permit them as my healing process. She believed that you make things worse by trying to "pull yourself together" without first acknowledging the impact the loss has had on you. Some people might interpret that hard-heartedly and call it "wallowing" -- she believe some "going into the experience" of what you're feeling is actually necessary in order to one day come out the other side of it, and that you can come out the other side sooner and more healed by having first let yourself take on board what's happened to you.

She did that with stuff from my past too, as we went into a more general therapy also about deeper rooted issues I was still suffering from, from childhood. I had never acknowledged fully just how bad some things had been for me and how much I had suffered, and I had a couple of "breakthrough" moments with my therapist where I could fully own the hurt, and it was only by owning it that I could truly process it and move past it.

It's kind of like the analogy of chewing your food. We know that if we chew properly the stomach gets a proper chance to completely digest it fully and pass it on through our system without problems. But if we swallow things whole and quickly, without breaking them down adequately, the digestion can have a tougher time trying to deal with the food, with consequences mild or more problematic. Our digestive tract can function more thoroughly and in the way it's meant to if we make the first stage a thorough one too, to begin with.

My therapist felt that grief or emotional pain is the same way -- if we swallow it down and ignore it, it can become a big lump that's always stuck in us and may not cause trouble until later issues are getting affected by the thing we didn't deal with fully before.

However, that doesn't mean any one person's reaction to their loss is the wrong one. There are stages and one of them can indeed be feeling like you're not actually feeling much of anything. That can be shock or it can just be how you are coping, and other stages may begin to evolve. Her main point was that whatever you're feeling, let it take it's natural course and you will get to a place of more acceptance actually faster or more completely and healthily, than if you interfere with your own natural process thinking that's the faster route to being okay.

I can only say that was her particular viewpoint and her own take on things -- other therapists might have a completely different way of looking at it and different method to suggest, or indeed she might suggest something different to another person who was not having my particular issues or expression of them. She really helped me though, as her style seemed to match what I guess I needed to learn/hear and implement.

Hope that helps at all! The tricky thing about seeking a counselor is that they are all different and it's kind of like trying to find a good match; I was lucky first time out and I didn't have to switch to someone else, but I realize that was a bit of sheer luck. I still think of her as being a really great help to me at that time of my life.



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01 Oct 2014, 5:59 am

That's a big help, thank you!! :heart:


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01 Oct 2014, 6:08 am

I'm glad to help! Sorry for the long post; it was hard to pull it all down to a shorter way of saying it! But glad you get something from it. :)