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How Does My Anxiety Affect My Grieving Process?

My mom died on February 9. The burial was on February 14.

Her death was sudden; no one expected it. I am in graduate school, and I remember getting the news. My dad sent me a text telling call him as soon as I can around 10 a.m. I tried calling him, then called my other brother. My older brother answered and said, “Mom’s gone.”

Over the time since her passing I’ve thought of a lot of things, including how mental health and grief interact.

Those first two days after her passing were challenging emotionally and with my mental health. I was around friends from time to time, and when I was around friends I felt unable to show emotion. I felt unable to be vulnerable. My mom had just died, and I was scared to show how much I was hurting. I was treating my grief like an anxiety symptom, which I am usually afraid to show. When I was by myself I was having a hard time, crying sobbing from time to time while staring at the blank TV in my apartment.

I had trouble differentiating between grieving and anxiety symptoms. I was confused. I was around people I trusted or maybe I didn’t. Mental illness has a funny way of making the person experiencing it self-conscious and guarded.

It wasn’t until I got home and saw my family that I felt comfortable with my grief.

My mom dying is the most difficult event of my life. I am permanently changed because of it, and I know I’ll have good days and bad days going ahead. I know random things will trigger sadness, and I accept that.

I need to work on understanding the difference between grieving and my anxiety and the relationship between the two.

Mental health conditions are challenging to many people and when a difficult life event happens it seemingly makes things worse. It makes things confusing. I hope anyone who goes through what I did has the support network to help sort out the two and is able to come to some self-compassion about what they experience.

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Thinkstock photo by tommaso79