Something is not right.
If I were a younger gal, it would be pretty easy to diagnose: either you're depressed or there's something more...postpartum depression, maybe. Stress-induced anxiety/panic.
But I'm middle aged now. And that means it could be so many things. Or nothing.
I could be legit depressed. It could be yet another sign of menopause. It could be the thing I've referred to for years...my thyroid. Every time I gained weight in the past I joked about it being my thyroid. This was during my WebMD years, when I spent many sleepless night clicking on "Symptoms of" and diagnosing myself with a vast array of maladies. At one point I had heart disease, hypothyroidism and HIV. That was a scary week.
My favorite part of hypothyroidism is "unexplained weight gain". The other symptoms aren't as convenient, and honestly I'd probably be really worried if my hair started falling out. But unexplained weight gain is right up my alley.
Only problem is, my weight gain is very easily explained. It's what happens WHEN YOU DON'T MOVE and YOU EAT A LOT.
Here's the thing about feeling blue when you're in your forties: It's kind of common. From what I've heard through the old lady grapevine, these awful mood swings are fairly typical. And when I say mood swings, I mean mood swings.
Like, picture my moods wearing sparkly unitards and swinging on trapezes like this:
|And this is on a good day....|
There are days I am "normal". I shower, I get dressed, I put makeup on and leave the house. I work, go to Target and sometimes even meet friends for cocktails or conversation. Laundry is done, I vacuum a room or two, clean the bathroom. And all is right with the world.
Then there are the bad days. The days I don't shower, I don't get dressed (just keep the same clothes on that I most likely slept in). I leave the house only under duress, and then it's with a cloak of anxiety wrapped around my shoulders. "What if I run into someone I know? How will I explain the fact that I look and smell homeless?". These are the days I don't cook or shop for groceries. The days I heat up the oven and put in a few Party Pizzas and say "DINNER IS SERVED, MONKEYS" to the kids who are at home.
And even worse than the bad days? Those are the empty days. The days I go about business as usual but I'm like a corpse dressed up and walking around. There is no sadness, no despair. There is NOTHING. I literally feel nothing. Those days are the worst. I'd rather have any feeling, any one at all. The non-feeling days scare me because it makes me wonder how many people are like this all the time.
I don't want to be like that.
I'm not dumb. I know what depression is, I know how it presents itself, I know the treatments. I've talked myself off the ledge before, I've helped my son off that very same ledge. It's not rocket science.
Sometimes exercise helps. Sometimes medication helps. Sometimes just the act of NOT sitting on the couch, feeling paralyzed and exhuasted and eating soft warm comfort food makes all the difference in the world.
Today I put on clean yoga capris. I have socks on. My hair is up, my contacts are in. I'm eyeing my running shoes and the dog's leash which hangs from the closet doorknob. And here I sit. I see the sunny sky and I see other people outside, walking their dogs and driving their cars and I think to myself, "You can be one of them. Just go."
And myself thinks back to me: "Oh. But I've gained 12 pounds. Look at my fat legs and my mushy belly! What will people think of me?". I think of all the things I should be doing. My mom needs me to color her hair. One of the kids needs to be picked up. We are down to two Party Pizzas! Then I look at my dog who is curled up, sleeping on his chair (yes he has his own chair). I worry that he's getting depressed too. The thought of having a depressed dog is depressing me even more.
This is the wheel of nutty that spins in my head all the live-long day. Thank God people can't hear what's going on between my ears, can't listen in on the back and forth that keeps up at such a frenetic pace it's hard for me to decipher it.
I think of what doctors have given me in the past. Adderall for my ADD. Which I loved. LOVED. I loved it too much, I think. I found myself becoming so in love with it that I stopped taking it. When your mouth starts watering at the sound of pills shaking in a bottle? Either you are Karen Walker or you may like your amphetamines just a little too much, yo. I also worried about something someone once told me, about the effect of Adderall and Ritalin and other ADD drugs on the heart. Did I mention that I had heart disease once? That was because of the Adderall. My chest used to hurt at night. When I took a breath, it hurt. That, combined with the drooling, was the reason I quit.
I was on antidepressants for a while. Citalopram. That was prescribed to me shortly after my husband left. When I was in the "can't get out of bed, and here are some suicide notes I wrote" phase. I will admit that the Citalopram helped me get out of that funk. But what I didn't like about it was, it took me out of one funk only to plop me right into another one. A less "I want to die" funk but a funk just the same. My most vivid memory from this pharmaceutical adventure was the absolute lack of emotion I felt. I didn't cry every day, but guess what? I didn't laugh, either. I was Zombie Jenny. I quit taking Citalopram after ten months. When I stopped, I felt again. I felt sad, yeah. But not as sad as before. And even better...I felt happy some days. I'll never forget how it felt the first time I laughed, I mean really laughed after that. It felt like clouds breaking and warm sunshine.
I'm not a fan of medicine. I'm the mom who questions every vaccine, the one who said no to antibiotics for repeated ear infections and sinus issues in my kids. I'm the one who got through 3 c-sections with nothing stronger than Advil.
Medicine does help in some cases, of course. Duh. It's a miracle for some people. Some people in this house, in fact. But for me? I'm one who will try every other option before getting pilled up again. Could it be as simple as moving my body? Maybe. It could be that simple. It could be cutting out sugar. Or carbs. It could be all I need is a conversation with a friend. Or it could be much more than that. It could be something deeper, darker, harder to pinpoint. Who knows? For once, it COULD be my thyroid (although I think it takes more than one symptom, Jenny).
So now, when I find myself stuck in a shitty rut like I've been in for the past 3 weeks, I start to wonder. I wonder if I'm becoming depressed again. I wonder if this is just one of those mood swings, only my swing is stuck on Low.
One of the benefits of getting older is that your toolbox is bigger. You have gone through more and you know what to try before waving the white flag.
That's what I'm doing today. I am opening up my toolbox and tinkering and seeing if this is a DIY job or one for the pros.
First step is one that I learned when I first found myself alone with four kids and house to run:
Lists. I make lists. Right now, I am pretty certain that a lot of this mental paralysis I'm experiencing is due to the OVERWHELMING amount of things I need to do/buy/make/arrange/set up/complete. So here's what's on my list so far:
- Get taxes done. My tax lady was on hiatus in April, so I filed an extension. Now Charlie needs my 2012 tax info for his FAFSA form. In like, three days.
- Figure out why I still don't have the title for my car after a year and a half
- Get caught up with last year's hockey dues in order to sign William up for this year
- Get William signed up for Cross Country but only after they say it's okay if I wait until after the 15th. You know, so I can pay for it.
- Color my mom's damn hair
- Get Molly's senior picture session set up
- Lose the twelve pounds I've gained this summer. And then the forty I needed to lose before I gained the twelve.
- Color my damn hair
- Walk my depressed dog. Oh and get him into the vet for his check up. Which was due in May
- Get the house in order so it's all good when I leave this week to help my BFF in Wisconsin. She broke her leg and needs help. I will need 24 hour police patrols in front of the house to make sure Risky Business 2 isn't being filmed here while I'm gone (I'm bringing the two younger boys with me, leaving the two older kids. Ugh.)
- Vacuum. So I can say I did it in August.
- Find an outfit to wear to my job interview tomorrow. Did I mention that? Life changing job interview tomorrow. No pressure!
- Try to stop thinking about the fact that I received my first official "REJECTION" notice from a literary agency. They liked my writing but my book isn't a good fit for them. They asked me to submit future works to them, which in my opinion is the same as telling someone "We can still be friends" when you break up. Sigh.
I think I'll start with that walk.