I Still Can't Get Myself Going

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I Still Can't Get Myself Going

by Deb Sims, MS,RNCS,LCSW

Dear Deb,

This is something I had not heard of. I sure am going thru it at this time. My husband has been gone for two years now, and I still can't get myself going. I work each day and really love my job, but when I come home at night, I sit. Week-ends are the worst. I have had so many interests and hobbies and now I have this terrible feeling of "What's the point?" or "Who cares?"

Does this feeling pass in time? I hate it. I want to become active and busy again, but I can't get myself into high gear. What is WRONG!!!!!!

Dear Reader,

Your letter was forwarded to me for a response. Thank you for letting me do so. I wish I could tell you that there's a magical time limit on grief, but there isn't. We all do it at our own pace and in our own way. Do you remember when they used to wear black for a year when someone had died? They knew something that we've forgotten; it takes a minimum of a year and usually more than that to recover. Anhedonia technically means loss of ability to experience pleasure in anything. You mentioned a few hopeful signs: at work you love your job. So, there is an ability to still feel some pleasure. At the two year point, there are some other signs to look for that may indicate you are healing or that you need to talk with someone professionally, or your doctor, to have your level of depression evaluated. Some times the normal grief process can get stuck and turn into a clinical depression. That's when intervention is appropriate. But even if that isn't going on, it might help to talk with someone professionally or join a grief support group.

Here are the warning signs for depression that would indicate seeing your doctor:

  • Still having major problems with sleep, either too much or lack of.

  • Still having problems with appetite or weight; again, loss or gain that's significant

  • Concentration, attention and memory problems enough to interfere with your job or daily functioning

  • Loss of interest

  • Loss of motivation

  • Depressed or sad mood the majority of the time

  • Crying that happens at inappropriate times and is excessive

  • Guilt

  • Hopelessness

  • Suicidal feelings

Some or all of those things may have been present after your husband died. See if you notice that they are changed in any way. Would you rate any of them as not as severe? When we feel bad some times, we don't notice subtle changes. If all of these areas or most are still incapacitating, please see your doctor. Depression can be treated and that will help with continuing to move through the grief process. If many of these areas are improved but you can't get past the lack of interest and motivation just at home, then seeing a professional, joining a grief support group, even finding a "buddy," a friend who will help get you out, may help.

Sometimes in our healing process we've come farther than we think, but we're waiting to feel better to do things. In fact, it is the doing that makes us feel better. Sort of like work. You had no choice there; you had to go and are able to say, "I love my job." With true anhedonia, you wouldn't be able to say that.

There's so much more I could say about the interests i.e. It's hard to go out with married friends after you've lost a spouse, etc. That's one of the reasons I'm suggesting a grief support group to reassure you of what's normal to feel. We also have grief chat rooms going on now. They are lead by a staff member for people to share their experiences and find support. We've also got articles and all kinds of areas to explore. You might try that. The worse it can do is make those home hours go a little faster. But you also may get a sense of where you personally are in the grief process and what you need to do to take that next step.

But again, if several of those things I listed above are still significantly affecting you, please talk to your doctor or a professional counselor about them.

Thank you for allowing me to respond to you. It does get better. But everyone's path is different. And you mentioned two years; are you near an anniversary time? Subconsciously, we always have a harder time around those times, especially within the first few years.

I hope this is helpful to you. Please check our site out more. As I said, the worst it will do is fill the hours, but it may be helpful to read some of the things others have gone through or visit one of our chat nights. I don't have the schedule but we can get it to you if you'd like.



Debbie Sims is a Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist in Adult Psychiatric Nursing, has a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She maintains a private practice in counseling but her devotion is to her position as Editor for Beyond Indigo an Internet web site for those who are grieving.

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