Every part of going through the loss of my mom has been hard. I mean, yeah, of course, she’s my mom. But one of the most frustrating parts of this experience has been my inability to cry. And I don’t mean that I don’t want to, I mean, it physically hurts me to cry.
I have multiple autoimmune diseases. Once of which is Sjogren’s.
Sjögren’s syndrome is a chronic (long-lasting) autoimmune disorder that happens when the immune system attacks the glands that make moisture in the eyes, mouth, and other parts of the body.
Most of the time, I don’t notice my dry eyes that much, because for me, it’s just normal. Sometimes, it feels like I have “sand” in my eyes, which is a common symptom of Sjogren’s. I have some issues where if I’m outside in bright sunshine for a long time, they can get drier, or if I’m around pollen and such, but most of the time, they just feel like my eyes. My ophthalmologist says they’re chronically dry and I believe him, and I even have both OTC and RX eye drops and I use them as needed, but it’s not a constant issue for me at the moment. (Though it is a progressive condition and gets worse over the years.)
That is, until, I cry.
When I cry, my eyes get so dry they physically hurt. They ache and it’s just agony. Last week, I did a group grief counseling session and I cried. A lot. And I spent the next 10 hours in misery because no matter how many drops I put in, or how I tried to rest my eyes, the pain was unrelenting. It didn’t get any better until the next day, after I had slept overnight.
It’s so frustrating not being allowed to cry without pain. I want to be able to release my grief and feel that emotion, but I’m stuck bottling it up because I don’t want to add more suffering on top of my existing suffering. I worry that it’s leaving me to “wall off” my grief since it’s painful to truly experience it, and that it’s going to be harder to get through the grief into some stage of acceptance if I can’t physically go through the emotions of it.
I don’t know what the solution is either. If I let myself cry, I’m hurting my eyes. If I don’t, I’m hurting my heart. All I know is I’m frustrated and sad and grieving and don’t want to deal with this added insult to injury.