So I returned to work this week, and, of course, the first task I tried to tackle after my three-month leave was meticulously combing my inbox. But after ten minutes I started to become distressed by what I was seeing (mostly dates in 2015/2016 that elicited disturbing visceral reactions), so I was like “fuck it” and deleted everything, figuring that if anything’s important the sender will follow up with me again.
Some people (like four of them) seemed stoked to see me, and it was kind of funny, because they informed me that the guy who sits next to my office took two weeks to notice my absence, at which point he asked where I was. So my friends were like, “She had her baby,” and he was like, “I didn’t know she was pregnant!” I’m thankful that I have other people in my life besides this guy, because it is clear that if I really were to go missing, he’d take ages to call the authorities, so I’d probably be at the bottom of a lake decomposed beyond recognition before anyone would find my body. Though it wouldn’t matter, because I’d be dead, and no one would care, because if this guy were the only one calling the authorities it would mean I had no loved ones anyway.
There was also the co-worker I ran into on the elevator… It was clear that, in his mind, I’d never left. He was like, “How’s your week going?” all nonchalant, as though it were a normal week for me, not my first week back after twelve out. And I was like, “Fine – busy,” and he was like, “Me too,” and I was like, “Yeah…” But honestly, I’m not taking it personally, because, let’s face it, not many care about That One Person Who Works in Accounting.
And I think the fact that no one cares about That One Person Who Works in Accounting is the reason that my boss is letting me work from home two days per week, and for this I’m very grateful. After Joel arrived, I honestly considered quitting my job. Before Matthew died, my plan was to work a reduced schedule, partially from home. But Matthew’s death has made me so anxious, I didn’t know if I could continue working at all once Joel got here.
But I decided to try not to let anxiety control my life, figuring that working from home two days per week and in the office three at a job that isn’t super demanding anyway would be a perfect balance. And I believe I will be a better mom having such balance. So we hired a nanny, who, by all accounts, seems amazing, and is also the only person on this planet who can get Joel to take a nap that lasts longer than 15 minutes.
But I’m still struggling with anxiety something fierce. On Wednesday afternoon, I texted our nanny, and she didn’t respond, and 30 minutes went by, and I lost my shit and bolted from the office at around 3:00pm and didn’t tell my boss or anyone that I was leaving. And I jumped into my car and cried all the way home as I contemplated what it might feel like to have an Amber Alert issued for my child, but then she texted me after 43 minutes while I was on my way home, so I played it cool and sat in the parking lot of a local grocery store for a few minutes, so I could get home at 4:30pm (not suspiciously early) so she wouldn’t realize my freak out.
Dead flowers lady is always doing something blog worthy. On my first day back she stormed my office and asked to see a picture of Joel, so I showed her one from the Share Remembrance Walk in which Joel was wearing a shirt that said “awesome little brother.” And she was like, “Awesome LITTLE brother?” with a judgy tone, kind of implying that Joel isn’t really a little brother. Then she asked if I had a C-section, so I told her I did, and she was like, “Watch out – you might not be able to have any more C-sections. When I was having my boys, the second one was breech, so my doctor tried to tell me to have a C-section, and I refused because I wanted to maybe have more, so they turned him, and he was just fine – just like I knew he would be!” Sometimes I think people say stupid things to me on purpose just to piss me off.
It feels strange to sit at my desk and work. It makes me cry quite frequently. My office chair was where I spent so much time with Matthew, counting kicks, listening to music, putting together a baby shower guest list, researching things about babies, waiting for his arrival. And then, so suddenly, he died, and, traumatically, I had to somehow return to this same office chair and actually function, at least partially. And then, for the entire next year, I was either entirely overwhelmed with grief or freaking out with anxiety thinking that Joel could die at any moment.
So it has been since July 10, 2015 that I have experienced any highly productive moments in my office. And now, though I’m still struggling with feelings of grief and anxiousness, some time has passed, and Joel is here, and there is more joy, so I’m feeling… Different than I was about one year ago. And also, the expectations of me are different. Most people think I should be better. And I promised my boss that I’m highly motivated to make my flexible schedule work. And I am – for Joel. But I am also not better.
Many times I sit in my chair, and I glance over at Matthew’s picture, and the tears still flow readily, because I miss him so much. And I can’t believe all of the good moments I had in my office and then how difficult it was to return to my office a new person and then the terror I experienced during the second most traumatic situation of my life – pregnancy after loss. And now after all of this, I need to work seriously on some spreadsheets? It’s just weird.
Over the past few weeks it has become evident that I can’t cope with life without some extra help. After Matthew died I exercised and wrote regularly and did yoga and spent time with non-triggering friends doing hours of talk-therapy. With parenting a living child, I have more trouble finding the time to do each of these things every day, which is fine – I wouldn’t trade it, but it’s true. But not being able to do all of the things that helped get me through this past year has resulted in me experiencing some days that feel almost unlivable… Because not only is my grief for Matthew still very present, I’m also so anxious about Joel’s well-being and about life in general. I definitely have some really good days, but I find I can only string together a few of them before I descend into what’s become a very familiar dark place.
So I’m hoping the low dose of Zoloft I’ve been prescribed will help. My doctor and therapist say I have a sticky brain, one that holds onto scary irrational thoughts, and I need this to help me better employ coping mechanisms.
I’m guessing it’s some type of taboo to talk about my prescription drugs on the internet, but I talk about most other things on the internet, so I figured why not? I’ve never felt that taking anti-anxiety/depression medications is something to be ashamed of, yet I have been very resistant to taking them myself, so maybe my openness about my “journey” will help someone else like others have helped me.