Grief Hurts

One thing I didn’t think about or know before Ian died was that grief actually has physical effects. I mean, sure, I knew that crying could cause headaches, that stress could cause muscle tension, and over- or under-eating. But I never put it together for some reason.

Since February, I’ve lost a lot of weight. I have no idea how much because one of the things that I adopted years ago was a mantra of self-acceptance, that as long as I felt good and healthy, my weight didn’t matter, so I haven’t weighed myself for probably three years. If I had to guess, I’d say at least 30 pounds.

At first, if I ate, I would be so nauseated that I COULDN’T keep things down. That lasted a couple weeks, throwing up regularly. Then if I ate, I wouldn’t necessarily be nauseated, but my stomach would HURT. It was so uncomfortable that I couldn’t bring myself to eat more than a little at a time, and, on occasion, when I did, it would be so painful I’d make myself throw up just to stop it.

Then there was a period where it felt like the only control I had over anything was whether I ate or not. So I wouldn’t. When you can’t control emotions, or really anything else about your world, you grab on to anything you can. At least I do.

Now, I can eat, but don’t enjoy it anymore. It still occasionally hurts, and because I don’t find joy in good food, I don’t really feel the need to eat much at a time, or unless I’m actually somewhat uncomfortably hungry.

I would be lying if I didn’t say that I am enjoying the way I look a lot more now. I didn’t think about it before. But now, I don’t feel weird wearing tight, form-fitting clothing.

Another effect has been pain. Actual physical pain. Some makes sense. My arms are sore because I clench my fists a lot more now. I’m tense in general now, so my back is more sore, my neck hurts, and I get headaches. But other pain I’m having doesn’t make as much sense. There are times when my heart (the actual physical organ) feels like it’s twisting in on itself and turning into its own little black hole. My throat hurts.  I’m not crying near as much, but my eyes hurt.

It’s almost as though the psychological desire to just not see things, not have to say things, not have to love someone who’s gone is manifesting.

The mind is a powerful thing, and right now, mine is so injured that i hurt physically. With time, it will improve, I’m sure. It’s just been a very odd thing to realize.

Written 8/24/2014

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2 thoughts on “Grief Hurts

  1. When we experience the sensation of pain, brain cells release a lot of a neurotransmitter called “Substance P”–and yes, the “P” stands for “pain.” This happens instantly, triggering responses of wincing, yelping, pulling away, etc. Burn from a hot pan? Substance P release. Paper cut? Substance P release. Hit by a car? Substance P flood. But here’s the interesting thing: emotional pain features a release of the exact same neurotransmitter. Best friend forgets your birthday party? Substance P release. Overhear a stranger mocking your hair? Substance P release. Death of a loved one? Substance P flood. This is why in some cultures, there is no word for “depression,” but the emotion is reported as physical pain. The most common psychosomatic complaints are back ache, headache, and – as you’ve experienced – stomach ache.
    The human brain, eh? One weird bumpy thingy.

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