Remembering Oma 30 Years After Her Passing

The photo of my Oma that everyone thinks is me in drag!
The photo of my Oma that everyone thinks is me in drag!
30 years ago today (26 February), my Oma passed away from intestinal cancer, 1 month shy of her 66th birthday and about 1 month after the diagnosis. I was nearly 13 when she passed away, just shy of that age where you start appreciating the stories and history your parents and grandparents share with you, if you’re interested in family history and that sort of thing.

A few months ago, one of my cousins asked me what Oma was like, and one thing that struck me recently was that out of all my cousins on my Dad’s side of the family, probably only my brother Brian and I remember or knew Oma the best.
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6 Years After the 22 February 2011 Quake

Oi Manawa, the official New Zealand national memorial to the 185 victims of the 22 February 2011 earthquake, shown at dawn on the 6th anniversary of the quake.
Oi Manawa, the official New Zealand national memorial to the 185 victims of the 22 February 2011 earthquake, shown at dawn on the 6th anniversary of the quake. GEORGE HEARD/FAIRFAX NZ

I felt somewhat guilty that I seemingly pushed the sixth anniversary of the 22 February 2011 quake to the back of my mind.  As I mentioned in my last post, I seem to be living day-to-day lately (being “present”), and this has caused problems like, well, everything seemingly sneaking up on me.  I need to work on a better balance in that regard, the pendulum swinging a little too far the opposite way.

Read 6 Years After the 22 February 2011 Quake

“These Are Not the Emotions You’re Looking For…”

Depression

Okay, so got a cheeky Star Wars reference into yet another post about my depersonalization and depression; score one for me.

Seriously, though, yesterday was a very difficult day for me.  It honestly didn’t start out that way.  I woke up early as I had an appointment with the sleep specialist to check on how my CPAP machine was going.  It went very well, and it made me very happy, which made my mood quite bright and cheerful.

On to our second chore while we were out: work.  I needed to swap over the back-up drives (which I’d forgotten to do last Friday) and also some work on allocating student loans to the appropriate Public Trust accounts.  The second part really didn’t need to be done yesterday, but because I was at work, I thought it would be easier to get everything done in one fell swoop, so I could spend the time during this school holidays actually relaxing without much work at all instead of working every day, a little here, a lot there, and forgoing the whole reason of having a break like I normally do.  One of the things I am learning in counselling is I need to step-back and have some “me” time a lot more often than I have been over the past 20 years or so.

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Learning to Enjoy Things Again

One of the side effects of the dissociative disorder known as depersonalisation, for me at least, has been the lack of finding enjoyment in many things I used to enjoy.  This has been particularly disturbing for me, as, for those of you who know me can attest, it usually doesn’t take much to amuse me.  That makes me sound rather simple, but, at one time, I would find enjoyment in something as simple as reading a book in my bedroom or listening to music while doodling on a piece of paper.

Yesterday, my counselor asked me point-blank about what I enjoy doing now.  We had been speaking about my falling out of love with Star Trek (something that had been happening for a while, I must admit) while feeling so upset and then overwhelmingly relieved and happy that I was still able to continue portraying Ken Kato in Henglaar, M.D., which, to be honest, was one of the few remaining things I used to like doing that I still enjoy doing.

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Reconnecting and Dealing With One Negative Emotion at a Time

Yesterday, my counselor and I were speaking about my recovery from the dissociative disorder known as depersonalisation.  I’ve written about it a few times if you want to check out the backstory — you can in my posts “Recovering from Depersonalisation” and “Reducing Anxiety through ‘Staying Present’“, or any entry on depersonalisation through looking up the tag #depersonalisation on my blog.

I am not sharing this because I want any pity or my friends and family to feel they need to wrap me in cotton wool. I am writing this so people who are diagnosed with depersonalisation or any similar dissociative disorder or similar disorder can understand they are not alone, that this does happen, and they may be able to recover. This is my personal experience with dissociation and depersonalisation, so mileage and outcomes may vary from case to case. Now on to my post…

Learning how to deal with emotions again is difficult.  I’ve touched on it before in previous posts, but yesterday’s discussion touched on this again.

My mind seems to try to distract me from dealing with negative emotions.  I internalise anger, grief, sadness: all these emotions churning inside me.  Anger has been easier to confront; instead of letting a simmering rage build within me, I’ve found a way to express my frustration verbally, which, in turn, helps empower me to push through my anger and emerge a strong person.  It sounds easy to do, but it’s not that easy, sometimes.

Grief and sadness have been harder.  I clam up.  It feels like these emotions run around as I try to catch them, sit with them, and let them run their course.  My previous counselor — the one I accessed post-quakes — felt I may have complicated grief, where grief builds up over a period of time and expands exponentially until it is difficult to manage.

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