Just Not Right in the Head

3 Apr

Late last year, I shared a little with y’all about my “episode” with depression (here and here.

As I was cleaning my office today, I found the notes I’d written as I prepared that second post. A post which had ended optimistically on an upswing. With me coming out of the gloom.

Unfortunately, the monster is back. In a nutshell, things are a bit overcast around here right now. But I’ll be okay.

If foul language offends you, you should stop reading NOW. Really. Like, close your browser and move on to brighter things.

You see, I REALLY wanted to title this post “Damn. Fuck. Shit. Piss.” But then I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to warn folks about the language. That big F bomb would have exploded right in their face.

This whole thing is very frustrating. I’m not sitting around, feeling all sad and mopey. Or feeling sorry for myself. There have been no tears, only fleeting thoughts of death (totally normal for people like me), some moodiness, and some anger. Yet it’s clear to me that I’m just not right in the head.

I’m not a drama queen, or a whiner. I’m not a hypochondriac. But I usually pay attention to my body. After the aforementioned episode last year, when I actually realized I’d been depressed AND figured out that it was mostly due to hormonal changes, I did a bit of research.

Guys, I have to delve into women things a bit here. It may be unpleasant, but it also might help you understand the women in your lives better. If you want to stop reading now, that’s cool.

People joke about things like PMS (premenstrual syndrome) and menopause a lot. So much so, in fact, that even I think of women with PMS as moody, cranky bitches. And I imagine hot flashes to be the worst part of menopause. There’s so much more to both conditions, however. Things that aren’t talked about enough to be widely understood.

I’m not going to get all scientific on y’all, I’ll just say that hormones, and their fluctuations, are largely what make PMS and menopause so much fun.

All women are affected differently (as in experiencing different symptoms) and to varying degrees. The Mayo Clinic says…

“PMS has a wide variety of symptoms, including mood swings, tender breasts, food cravings, fatigue, irritability and depression. Symptoms tend to recur in a predictable pattern. But the physical and emotional changes you experience with PMS may vary from just slightly noticeable all the way to intense.”

Those clinicians also estimate that about 75% of menstruating women have experienced some form of PMS. Notice they don’t mention things like cramps (which really CAN be debilitating), bloating, back pain, headaches, etc., because those are all associated with menstruation, not premenstruation. As in the time leading up to the actual menstrual event, which, by the way, can last up to a week (or longer, for some unfortunate ladies).

I never really had bad PMS, but my periods have been horrible for as long as I can remember, slowly getting worse with age. I’ve been looking forward to menopause for a very long time, fearing only the hot flashes. I mean, I hate to be hot even under normal circumstances.

I’ve heard a bit about perimenopause over the years. It’s a term I’ve heard tossed around. I’ve probably seen it in print, too, but never paid much attention because I didn’t think it applied to me. I understood it enough to know it means the span of time before menopause actually hits. I imagined it would be a month or two.

Those same Mayo experts say…

Perimenopause means “around menopause” and refers to the time period during which a woman’s body makes its natural transition toward permanent infertility (menopause). Perimenopause is also called the menopausal transition.

“Menopausal transition” sounds so nice, and mild, and gradual. As if one will be eased into the more-unpleasant big M phase. But, during this lovely transition, one’s level of estrogen (the main female hormone) rises and falls unevenly. Depression can actually get worse, especially during that dreaded time of the month. And perimenopause can last for years.

YEARS. Ugh.

People like me who have experienced depression in the past are more susceptible to depression during PMS, perimenopause, and menopause. Symptoms of depression during those times are also often worse for women who have experienced depression in the past.

Gosh, does the news get better? It’s not a fatal condition. It won’t kill me. Not as long as it continues to be treated, anyway.

I started feeling “off” again over the last month or so. Not nearly as bad I felt last Fall. I guess because I’ve been taking anti-depressants. But I knew things still weren’t quite right. It’s hard to explain. The signs were subtle to me, but they were there. Reduced levels of patience, mild irritability and a bit of insomnia, not wanting to talk to people, less interest in activities I typically enjoy. I had my doctor up my anti-depressant dose. It didn’t help as much as I thought it would/should. So I guess it’s time to think about hormones. Maybe that will help.

That’s probably way more info than any of you wanted to read. But it’s the only way I know to explain the real reason I’ve been neglecting my blog. I’ve been neglecting my family and friends, too. And I’ve fallen into yet another spell of not wanting to read much, on-line or otherwise. It’s not that I don’t care about y’all. I do. Really. But it’s all I can do to get through each workday. Once I’m done for the day, I just cannot bring myself to spend another second looking at a computer screen.

It’s weird. And frustrating. I’m not one to talk about my feelings, mental or physical. So it’s especially hard to explain my current state of mind, which again came on gradually.

I’m not looking for sympathy. It’s not THAT bad. It’s just very weird, and a little unsettling, but mostly it’s frustrating. It’s this unusual limbo where I fluctuate somewhere between feeling not-quite-normal and batshit crazy. Fortunately, I’m closer to not-quite-normal more often than I’m at the other extreme. What’s really frustrating is that there’s no obvious cause beyond the old hormonal fluctuations. So I’m feeling what others with invisible illnesses feel. A little crazier because no one can see or is aware of any specific condition or event that would cause me to be depressed. A little guilty because I have absolutely nothing to be depressed about. (Okay, maybe a lot guilty.) Heck, I still feel sort of ridiculous even saying that I’m depressed.

But, I’ve said it. There, it’s out. Don’t worry though, it’s usually manageable. More a perpetual state of my feeling “not quite right in the head” than completely fucked.

I’ll survive. Really. And I’m not looking for sympathy. I just wanted y’all to know what’s been going on. I guess I AM asking for something. Your patience. I feel like I’ve been a bad friend, and a bad parent. It’s not that I don’t love you all, really. There’s just something askew in me that I am trying hard to correct. I’m hopeful that the real me will be back soon.

13 thoughts on “Just Not Right in the Head

  1. Damn hormones. Women really get the short end of the stick with that one don’t we?

    Use as many f-bombs as you need to, sometimes they are the only word suitable!

  2. I completely understand all you are saying and feeling. I am feeling the same way. You are NOT alone! I take two anti-depressants daily. Some days are great, some days I fake it pretty good, and some days I don’t do well at all. It is okay! You have a wonderful and amazing husband and some amazing friends that love you for the good days and that bad! We can do this! Love you, Girlfriend!

    • Aw, thanks Angie. That means a lot. You fake it well. I do, too. Sometimes it actually pisses me off knowing I CAN fake it so well. I have a feeling you “get” that, too. You and I are both very lucky in the amazing husband, friend, and family department. I love you, too.

      I was actually thinking about you as I rip apart bits of the fucking quilt I screwed up. LOL. Maybe today will be the day I finish.

  3. Difficult terrain for we of the other, somewhat simpler sex. I just want to express something that will help, yet know it’s hopeless. Does it help to know I read it all?

  4. “As I was cleaning my office today”

    That’s a sure sign of not feeling “right”.

    In all seriousness, I hope you start feeling more right soon.

  5. LOL, Richard. Yes! I should have added that I had to do it to find all of the paperwork needed to complete the dreaded tax returns.

  6. Unfortunately (or fortunately because you know you aren’t alone) what you’re describing sounds “normal” to me. I’m sorry you’re back down in the pit. I guess what i’m most sorry about is that i suspect that even though you’re being open here… you’re still censoring. Every once in a while you drop a crumb and i pick it up. And it’s like a little lightbulb that you’re saying much more than you’re saying on the surface. But, taking this step is big.

    Sometimes it feels like no one will care or understand or they’ll think you’re whining and that you should just “get over it.” And that may in fact be true – that some people will think those things. If they’re going to judge you, you might as well let ’em have it. Don’t sugarcoat it for them. Oh, and FUCK THOSE ASSHOLES 🙂

    I have nothing to say that can fix it, or take away the darkness, doubt and moments of self-loathing. I can only urge you to try to remember that depression is a lying bastard. Depression Lies! Carry that mantra in the dark times. Some part of you knows this and it has kept you moving forward.

    Hoping you find your way back to the light and sending you love <3

    • Thanks, Fuzz. I’m not really in the pit. Just sort of drunkenly, with no alcohol, stumbling through each day. It’s so weird. Did you see the Depression Article/obituary that was floating around FB? I’m not hating myself, just in a perpetual state of WTF.

  7. So sorry to hear this, Kathy. I thought maybe something was up, not seeing you posting lately. That and the fact that I am ages late in reading and commenting. But it was important for me to comment because I am living it too. I have been impacted by everything you’ve mentioned from my teen years. And I can honestly say that the only thing that made a difference (other than wonderful support from hub and dear friends) is finally taking that big step and trying bio-identical hormone cream. It’s topical and it might take a bit of trying to get the right mix, but it is so worth it! Please feel free to email if you have questions. Hang in there, you are not alone!

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