This is an excerpt from Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back, which is available at Amazon.
At one point in the middle of the fog that encased me after Noah died, it occurred to me that I was dying right along with him and his big sister, Katie. And you know what? I welcomed the possibility.
Although I wasn’t suicidal, by late 2006, I had truly reached rock bottom, and I simply didn’t care whether I lived or died. At this newest, lowest point in my journey through the passing of my children, my body was falling apart and I began to worry that my sanity was, too. I had become a shell of myself, someone I didn’t recognize.
One day after calling in sick to work because my anxiety and sadness had gotten the best of me, I found myself on my hands and knees on the living room floor, begging God to help ease the overwhelming agony I was feeling. This was becoming something of a ritual for me; I was spending part of every morning praying to Him privately and intensely, pleading with Him to give me just five minutes without pain.
That kind of relief never seemed to show up on command, but I was hopeful that if anyone could help, maybe God could.
At this point in my life, this once confident, productive, and generally happy person now found himself having extreme anxiety issues. Simple tasks such as attending meetings for my job would cause me to panic. Meetings that I used to have no trouble navigating through prior to the deaths of my children, now terrified me for fear that I’d have an emotional breakdown in front of clients and coworkers. I had lost hope, drive, and confidence, and it was replaced with deep despair and unexplained fear.
I had become someone I didn’t know, seeing sides of me that I didn’t realize I had. As the months went on, the toll that all of this stress had taken on my body was becoming obvious. This was a different kind of stress than what I had been used to in my job — this was real stress that would not let up. It was consuming every part of my life.
It was killing me ever so slowly.
During that time, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find a way — any way — to get the loss of my children off my mind. I had become obsessed and consumed with thoughts of their deaths. I started to see changes in my physical features. I dropped down to my lowest weight since college, my jawbone became defined (as in visible for the first time in years) and the material on my pants began to overlap under my belt because of rapid weight loss. I just wasn’t hungry, and the thought of eating, often made me gag. I consumed only what was necessary, and retained the absolute minimum in order to function and survive — which usually consisted of a smoothie because I couldn’t eat solid foods without throwing up.
All of the things I used to love and crave now had no place in my appetite. The lines on my forehead and around my eyes became more pronounced. My hair turned gray around the edges practically overnight. I was dying inside. Nothing, it seemed, could change that. The upbeat attitude and naivety I once had was gone, replaced now with the beaten down, weathered shell of a man I no longer recognized.
This I couldn’t accept. I had never been so scared in my life. I was out of control and starting to realize I needed help. This was not something I could live through alone.
Tags: signs of concern