I’m NOT Fine ~Death to Small Talk

death to small talk
Copyright : Peter Bernik

I’m in a great mood right now. Surprising, huh? I usually write when I’m depressed, pissed off or at least lethargic. Never fear, because the other day, I wasn’t in a great mood. I was in a horrible mood, but necessity dictated I go out into the world, so I did.

As I went, I was determined not to tell people I felt “fine.” I’ve gone out with this decree in my head before. When people ask, “How’s it going today?” I think, I’ll tell it like it is. Though I fantasize about responding with, “shitty, actually,” I know I’m not confrontational enough to pull it off; I hate making people uncomfortable. But I figured  I could say, “Not great,” or at the very least, “Meh.”

It turns out, it is a physical impossibility for anything other than “fine” to escape my lips. The clerk at the grocery store asked how I was, and I said, “fine.” I didn’t even realize it until thirty seconds later:

Wait, did she ask me how I was? Did I say “fine?” Crap, I did. Damnit!

It’s like breathing. I don’t think about saying “fine,” it just happens; I’m barely aware of it coming out of my mouth. Bottom line is, people use it as a greeting and aren’t actually interested in how you are (unless you are indeed “fine” or “great” or “fabulous.”)

The thing is, though, what are they going to say when I give less than, “Gosh, gee, ain’t it great to be alive?” They will probably…

A. Be sorry they asked.

B. Ask what’s wrong even though they don’t want to know.

C. Be baffled when I shrug my shoulders and say, “Just one of those days, I guess.”

I’d like to be honest about my feelings when people ask, even if it’s a stranger. I don’t want to pour my heart out to them; that’s part of the reason for the knee-jerk “fine.” I just want to be able to use an adjective that actually applies to my mood and/or day. In my ideal world, where everyone admits they’re not “fine” all the time, it would go something like this:

Stranger: How are you today?

Me: Not great, actually.

Stranger: Oh yeah? I’m sorry you’re having a bad day.

Me: Meh. It happens. How are you?

So here’s the question: Have you ever answered “How are you?” with something other than the expected positive affirmation when talking to a stranger? How did it go?

 

Cold Turkey

 

5880410 - bronze turkeys feeding in snowy field
Copyright: rekemp

This comes directly from my journal, so it’s personal and raw. Ha! And you thought I was already bearing the depths of my soul! Just wait…

Circumstance and idea have just aligned; I’m off Zoloft cold turkey. I didn’t plan on doing it this way, but my prescription ran out, and my doctor wanted to see me before renewing it. I was feeling stubborn and thought “fuck it,” I’m going for it.

It is ill-advised, I know. I’ve been off it five days, and I can tell. It’s five days til my period — also not ideal. I feel sad on and off, apropos of nothing, or because of a mildly poignant book or TV show. I have a strong need to be alone. That’s the standard PMDD stuff. I even got so agitated yesterday, I went for a run which started out as a sprint and ended with hiking and sitting by the creek with the moss and the ferns.

There are some unusual symptoms — maybe meds withdrawal. There’s a weird, persistent backache and an odd spaciness like I’m a little high. It’s particularly noticeable when I turn my head and my vision seems to wobble.

My immediate goal is to get through the next five or six days, take care of myself, and not lose it completely. My hope is, over the next few months, things will even out, and my coping skills will be enough that PMDD is manageable.

My core motivation for going off meds (aside from the stubborn, “you’re not the boss of me” reason for the cold-turkey approach) is…a lot of things:

  • I don’t like being dependent on them.
  • Maybe I would have more energy.
  • Maybe my memory would be better.
  • Maybe I’d stop gaining weight and having to buy new clothes.

I kinda hate to admit that last one, but it’s there if I’m being completely honest.

One of my mantras, when I start to get all bogged down in PMDD thoughts about the world being no more than a confusing mess of meaningless drivel, is, “This isn’t real; this too shall pass.” But I’m not sure I believe it, even on my good days. Even then I wonder if we’re all not just zombies who drank the capitalist Koolaid. It just doesn’t bother me as much then. I need the mantra, true or not, to get me through the hard times. Otherwise, I might implode.

Sometimes the best you can get is, as Allie Brosh says,

Maybe everything isn’t hopeless bullshit.

 

screen shot 2019-01-22 at 9.00.41 am
Image credit: Allie Brosh

 

Sorry for the Inconvenience

emotionalIt’s been a long time since I felt this low. But such is the nature of the beast known as pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder. I can go along fine for six months, and then for no apparent reason start sliding down into that moody hole again. I cope with it a lot better than I used to.

I used to try to repress those feelings — that “I just dropped my keys and it makes me want to cry” sensation. And just like most contents under pressure, it would eventually erupt into a violent, volcanic spew of uncontrollable sobbing and an inability to accomplish anything at all.  I’d go through a good patch and think I had this PMDD thing licked, so I always felt blind-sided when it began its molten rumblings again.

Now, no matter how long it’s been, I’m not surprised when it shows back up — dismayed, yes, but not shocked. I give myself some space to do the things that help a little — journal, meditate, drink ginger tea and cry some. If I do that, let it out a little when I feel it coming on, I can avoid the big eruption that sprays fallout all over my family (mostly Jason).

This is where I am this morning — trying to take care of myself. The hard part is this: there are people who expect things from me today. There are deadlines and things I promised I’d do, and I hate disappointing people. I hate rescheduling things and asking for extensions. And the emotional state I’m in right now makes it even harder to do so because it requires a grand effort to talk to anyone coherently.

I’d like to have a sign:

Temporarily out of order. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Or maybe a more modern,

Website down for maintenance. Please try again later.

If you’re reading this, and you’re my friend, just know, if I don’t text you back today, please excuse me. It’s not you, it’s me…honestly.

It’s a Beautiful Day, F*&% Off

It’s a Beautiful Day, F*&% Off

I am sitting on my couch in a sports bra, a bathrobe with no tie, and running socks. How, you might ask, did such an ensemble occur?

This morning, my alarm went off at 6:15am. I hate getting up early, but the kids are tardy at 7:45, so I do it anyway. Sometimes it’s not so bad. This wasn’t one of those mornings, though. Today I dragged myself out of bed, sinuses throbbing. The ragweed is here.

I’d planned to go running after following Gage to school on his bike. I didn’t want to at this point, but I put on running clothes anyway and hoped I’d feel better after coffee. I did follow Gage to school, and I tried to enjoy the cool air. It really was a lovely morning. But, then I went straight back home, stripped off the majority of my exercise clothes and threw on the bathrobe hanging over the stair rail. It just didn’t happen to have it’s belt-tie thingy with it. My skin itched, I felt bloated and I could no longer tolerate spandex, or whatever the hell they’re making sport leggings out of these days, against my skin. But my boobs are sore, so the bra stayed.

I am in a bad mood – irritable, agitated, annoyed…at everything and everyone. I am trying to moderate this mood, which is partially why I am writing this, but there’s another purpose as well.

People have bad days. I have bad days, and my bad days don’t have to be prompted by unfortunate events. Sometimes, I just wake up in a crappy mood and spend the rest of the day managing it. Yes, managing it, not fixing it. If I expect to totally fix it, I’m just setting myself up for failure and a worse mood. So, I settle for things that might make me feel slightly less negative.

If you’re a regular person with normal emotions, this may sound pessimistic, but if you’ve ever dealt with a mood disorder of any kind, you know what I’m talking about. When your f&^ked up brain chemistry is insisting you’re angry or depressed, it’s not something that’s going to be resolved with a hot bath or a walk. That’s not to say we don’t try those things or that they don’t help a little. But don’t expect us to stand outside, sniff the glorious (pollen-laden) air and suddenly declare, “Ain’t life grand?”

The reason I came home and stripped off most of my clothes is because I need to listen to my intuition about what will make me feel better, even if it’s weird. My body was telling me, “This itches, and it doesn’t feel good on the bloated belly.” In the past I would have ignored it, because I hadn’t planned on changing clothes 20 minutes after I put them on and because it didn’t make sense. Fuck sense (oh, did I forget to censor that?)

Here’s the deal: I am actually a pretty positive person. I am grateful for the life I have. I have a supportive, loving family, I have a good career, and I like myself more than I ever did in my 20’s and 30’s. I just want some space to have a crappy day every once in a while. I want some space to complain now and then. Maybe if we were all allowed to do that, we wouldn’t insist on everyone pretending to be so goddamned happy all the time.

I am inclined to end this with “now, fuck off,” but that’s not fair to you. I’ve pretty much had the same sentiment about everything I’ve encountered thus far today, from our dog to the newspaper laying in the driveway. So I’ll try to be better. Thanks for reading, and if you’d like to tell me to “fuck off” when you see me later today, feel free. I’ll totally understand.

Being Dr. Jekyll and Mama Hyde sucks — for everyone

The following is from  drawing hard.com (December 11, 2016.) The text and drawings so accurately describe what it’s like to have premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), I had to share it. Thank you to Joanie Oliver, the author and artist-extraordinaire, for giving me permission to repost. Enjoy, and be enlightened:

I’m not typically the kind of person who cries uncontrollably, yells or wishes they could cease to exist, but over the past couple of years a monster has grown in me. And, unfortunately, I’m not alone.

dhpmdd1

Like clockwork, it takes control every month and drains your energy. The person you were yesterday, who could run a few miles, today can barely make it through the aisles of the grocery story. The woman who last week met up for drinks with friends is now on the verge of drowning in fear and sadness.

You fight the first tears that threaten, pray to you’ll find a way to keep them at bay.

dhpmdd2

But still the dam bursts.

dhpmdd10

The sadness pours out uncontrollably, until you are completely clouded in.

dhpmdd8

Where once there was confidence and ambition in you, there now brews a dangerous stew of lethargy, self-loathing and rage. You swear you won’t let the feelings boil over and lash out. You resolve to keep calm and wade through it — but it’s only a matter of time until the monster wins.

jopmdd6

Only a matter of time until everything grates on you.

jopmdd5

Only a matter of time until there’s little left of the actual you.

jopmdd9

The cruel monster has taken over. It knows just where to poke.

jopmdd7

It beats you and berates you for days, refusing to let you rest. It wears you down until every bit of life pokes and jabs at your rawness.

dhpmdd11

You’re not the kind of parent, wife or friend who’d ever scream and rage if you were standing on solid ground, but Hyde has disintegrated all the good in you. And you snap.

dhpmdd11

But because that damn monster isn’t tangible, the rage lands elsewhere.

dhpmdd12

Not long after the pressure has been released the monster begins to retreat. Your mind and the skies clear — just in time to see the wreckage you’ve caused.

You’ve screwed up again. Failed to beat the beast. Failed even at being a decent human being.

dhpmdd13

That monster isn’t just evil though, it’s also smart. Smart enough to back off completely and let you feel normal again. You make amends, become strong enough and well enough to believe it somehow won’t all happen again next month.

Silly you. Silly me. Poor everybody.

This is what life with PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder) feels like.

It’s not just PMS.