The other day, when my wife and I were talking about the fire and the status of repairs (just now starting, three months after the fire), she said I was struggling more with the effects than the rest of my family. I hadn’t thought about it, but it’s true; the kids are still a little sad but they seem happy enough in our rented house and they’re doing well in school. Except for her commute, my wife is fairly content. Our house has been something of an albatross for her, with all the help and repairs it needed…and that was before the fire. Now, the repairs are out of her control except for feedback on replacement materials, and she has a sense of relief.
I don’t feel relief, and I’m trying hard to be content when what I really feel is lost. The fire changed me dramatically, and I haven’t undergone such an emotional shift since getting sober. In many ways, I’m a different person. The following pictures are of the house as it currently stands after asbestos removal.
On the face of things, that’s OK. People change due to choices or events in life; I can’t expect things to stay the same. But I’d grown accustomed to my life pre-fire, and things were going well. I was learning how to tune and repair pianos. We were fixing up the house. We went to Boston, and despite my anxiety and other mental health issues, I was enjoying myself…and less than 48 hours, we were back home, dealing with insurance claims and accepting money from the Red Cross. Talk about emotional whiplash.
In the three months we’ve been displaced, I’ve had a hard time concentrating on anything for long, and my normal interests have waned if not disappeared entirely. I write creatively here and there but not with my previous desire or discipline. I don’t watch shows I used to love. I really don’t want to do anything. I don’t even want to write this, but I’m forcing myself too. And I’m doing it in my phone, which is even stranger (forgive any typos).
I went to the doctor to adjust my medication and she asked the normal mental health questions: had I lost interest in things I normally enjoy? Absolutely, I said, but I know why. It’s situational depression on top of clinical depression and mixed it with social anxiety and mood disorder.
I added another medication to my routine, so we’ll see. It’s only been a few weeks, but it seems to be helping. I think it boosts my other medication in helping keep the worst and darkest thoughts just outside the wall. I can hear them, but I don’t feel them.
In the meantime, I continue teaching online, dealing with insurance and repair people, caring for my kids, and trying to eat better because my blood pressure is up. Writing music helps, and I’ve rekindled my interest in drawing cartoons.
Things are not awful, but they’re…sad. I’m used to sad. Perhaps I’m grieving for what I lost both materially and emotionally in the fire. Perhaps I’m grieving myself, a being who feels much more lost than anchored.
I’ve been listening to a lot of Daniel Johnston recently, and that helps. I can locate myself in many of his songs. I wish I’d known about him before he died.
That’s all I have for now. As you were, sober folks….