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Numb and making mistakes left and right

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Johnny Dangerously, Jul 29, 2006.

  1. Johnny Dangerously

    Johnny Dangerously Well-Known Member

    I could use some feedback from anyone who has endured hard times and seen their copy suffer as a result.

    I found out Thursday night my mother's next-door neighboor, who sold her the land for her house at a nice discount and was like part of the family (he is married to the sister of my brother-in-law who built my mom's house), shot himself in the head and killed himself in his yard Thursday, a few feet from my mom's house. I am still somewhat in a cloud after my mother's death July 3, and this latest news seems to have pushed me back deeper. I am all out of vacation and any other personal/family leave after 19 days at my mom's hospital bedside, so I am working every day -- and making really dumb mistakes.

    My sisters are still deeply grieving. The one who lives behind my mom's house now has to deal with looking out her kitchen window and seeing one house empty, where her mother used to be, and the house next to it as a reminder of this suicide. The man leaves behind a wife and two young children they adopted from overseas. The whole thing has staggered me, and I am so numb even the simplest of facts are eluding me.

    Has anyone been so wrecked by things that they needed to take unpaid time off, just to recover? We are in the thick of football tab stuff and on the verge of preseason camp on my beat, so I really don't think I can do that. So, how do I snap out of it? I have been throwing myself into my work to escape the grief of my mom's death, and now this.

    Does anyone have any tips on how to refocus when you are so numb you can barely remember what day it is?
  2. spaceman

    spaceman Active Member

    Think about telling your boss what's going on.

    You might get a LITTLE slack.

    But just put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward.

    It's all you can do.
  3. Lugnuts

    Lugnuts Well-Known Member

    Sweetie - I am so sorry.  Ugh.  That story makes me angry.  How could somebody leave a wife and two kids like that??

    Cut yourself some slack on the mistakes-- totally-- anybody in your situation is bound to make a few mistakes.

    For what it's worth - when I was going through a really tough time, I forced myself to work.  It was really, really hard sometimes to get in that shower and get ready, but I did it.  Once I actually got to work, I did okay and found that it kind of gave me a break from thinking about things - even though I was "mailing it in" a lot. There were days when I gave myself permission to do the bare minimum - just get it done.

    Looking back on it now, I'm glad I kept working.  It sort of saved me.  That's just my $2.
  4. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    Buddy, my condolences are totally with you and your loved ones. Those are two tough blows that are damned hard to shrug off. (Three, counting the hurricane.)

    Me being the relatively young punk that still has a grandma and both parents still kicking butt, it's hard to relate, but you will still have my prayers.
  5. I know when I was having tough times, I worked a lot because it took my mind off of what else was going on in my life. But if you feel like getting away from work would help, you're probably right. Talk to the people in charge and see if they can't get someone to cover for you, or a combination of people, and see if you can fill in for them later. The place I work is really a team and would make this happen, and hopefully you are in the same situation.
  6. Grieving is a natural thing. The people who have passed on would want you to focus on your priorities first, then assist yourself and others in the grieving process.

    I'm sure you get some regular days off, use them wisely. Do something you really enjoy, play golf, tennis. Catch a ballgame. Just remember when you step on the playing field at work, it's about accomplishing little goals, then take a break.
  7. Knighthawk

    Knighthawk Member

    My dad spent three months in the hospital last fall - the anniversary of him going in hits in about a week - and then passed away on October 29.

    I don't even remember covering NFL camp, the last month of baseball season or the first two months of the NFL season. And I'm sure I made more silly mistakes in those three months than in the 15 years before, but my bosses understood the situation and supported me beyond what I deserved.

    Dad died on the 29th, and I was at Ford Field for a Lions-Bears game on the 30th. It was the only way I could stay sane - it was a little bit of distraction for a few hours.

    Hang in there. It doesn't get easy, but it gets a little easier.
  8. shockey

    shockey Active Member

    :'( :'( :'(

    is a brief leave of absence at all possible?

    :'( :'( :'(
  9. cougargirl

    cougargirl Active Member

    Agreed with Lugs and toomanycookies - I go to work just to get my mind off things. In December I went through the wringer, with an ill parent, serious financial issues, being away from a loved one, and so forth, and I hated even waking up in the morning because it meant another day of going through anguish and I hated going to sleep because it meant that I was going to wake up again and do it all over for another day. But I went through it. It may have been someone's sig on here or I may have read it in a book, but it was perfectly said when someone said, "When you're going through hell, keep going."

    Through all of it, I was open with my editor about the situation. I told him exactly what was going on and what I was going through. I knew that I wasn't about to be given a pass, and I'm hard on myself to begin with. I made a couple big mistakes during that time - misquoted a coach, got lost on the way to an event and ended up being late, for starters - but when it came to work and making a living, I was a little less wound up knowing that at least someone was willing to work with me.
  10. joe_schmoe

    joe_schmoe Active Member

    I don't think you'll ever find a true definitive answer here. I hope everything starts to look up for ya...you're situation sounds rough. I'd take the advice already given, talk to the higher ups let them know.
    I've seen people handle it so many ways. Like mentioned on here, keep on working is one way. And a freind of mine actually decided he had to move when his life started going downhill. Said everything about town....job, house, even some of his buddies, reminded him too much of the tough times. But I'd opt to stick it out, with help.

    And as for the mistakes. It may not be as bad as you think. When things are going bad, everything is amplified. With everything on you're mind, the brain is clogged, and i's working harder to pay attention...thus it notices a lot more mistakes than it might. And yes,the clogged brain can lose focus and a mistake or two can be made that might not normally be made, but you'll also notice a lot more than normal.

    Had my house broken into once, and for months after it happened, when i'd come home I noticed a lot more about the place. "Has that chip in the paint always been there," etc... It's just the way the brain works.

    Hang in there. If nothing else, before you go to work, take about a 10-15 minute walk or jog to think about stuff and help clear the mind before you go to the office.
  11. Bubbler

    Bubbler Well-Known Member

    I've had some experience with this in the last year.

    Work can get your mind off things, but you mentioned you're "throwing yourself into work" and I wouldn't do that, it can be a self-defeating defensive mechanism.

    When work becomes an acknowledged device for trying to forget about things, it doesn't really work because you conciously know you're avoiding something. You're not really concentrating on work, per se, you're concentrating on avoiding your bad feelings, and that leads to the mistakes you're referencing.

    Within as much reason as you can give yourself, I'd try to focus on one duty at a time, that will minimize the mistakes you're worried about.

    And though I don't know the nature of your boss, if he/she is reasonable, talk to them about it. They might be wondering what's up and might be sympathetic and might offer some sort of solution (a few days off perhaps) that might help.

    Good luck. Having dealt with tragedy that was a direct hit on my heart in the last year, I know how tough it is. Thank God I have a sympathetic boss.
  12. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    Consider professional help. After my dad died I did not want every conversation with my wife, family and friends to be about that, yet I needed to talk about it. There were no unresolved issues, nothing complex like that. But I needed to talk about it until I was done talking about it. I think it was five or six sessions with the shrink, covered by insurance except $10 per visit. Well worth it, too. I knew I was done when I was done. The shrink was a pro, too. She did not try to get into other areas or extend the therapy longer. I made it clear in the first session what I was looking for and we accomplished it. As part of it I read Kubler-Ross' classic, "On Death and Dying." That helped, too. My mom and sister thought I was being a bit hard-core in trying to work through it, but I wound up having fewer nightmares, and for a shorter amount of time, than they did.
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