Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mental Malaise (I'm so Blue-ue-ue-ue-ue!)

These days, I have to admit, I am a very blue berry. I had several days in a row last week that were the epitome of ennui and a couple evenings that bordered on downright depressed. It was amazing to me how quickly my mind and emotions fell into old depressed habits. I fought with my husband. I cried for no reason. I yelled at my kids. And the thoughts were back. Over and over, "You're a failure. Nothing you do will ever matter or make difference. Everybody thinks you're stupid. They're laughing at you all the time. You can't fix any of it. It's pointless. You might as well give up. Suicide is always an option . . ."


I was fitful and restless and moody. I hated it.

Sunday morning I purposefully said to myself, "You can go either way here. You can choose to figure out what's bringing you down and change it. Or you can choose to deteriorate. What are you going to do?" It was a strange moment of clarity in which I was either channeling my therapist or the Spirit. Or both.

My sister and my husband had both asked me earlier in the week what my problem was. I always responded I didn't know. But as I thought about it there were quite a few things that were probably contributing to my mental malaise. I've been on my SSRI for almost a year and they tend to poop out on me around the prescription anniversary. The Little Cannoli was cutting back on her nursing which was precipitating a drop in my oxytocin levels--less contented hormone = a less contented mommy. The kids were sick and waking up more at night so I was getting less sleep. I'm stymied with my writing; nothing I have written to this point in my life has been what I wanted it to be and I don't know how to fix it. I hadn't been reading my scriptures or praying. I'd just finished a month of Primary Sharing Times and Cub Scout Pack meeting. Really, there were a lot of reasons and it was probably a combination of things that was pulling me down.

So Sunday, I decided to take it slow. Give it my best effort to tune in to the Spirit and let everything else go. I also decided to go back to napping in the afternoon for a week or so.

I feel better. I am not in that blissful state of mental health that I previously was, but, you know what, I'm not doing too bad either. This is my life and it's okay. My problems haven't changed--I certainly haven't solved them--but just being able to name them and observe them was helpful. My therapist used to tell me that I need to be the journalist of my own life. I needed to observe my life and emotions, figure out the story, and report it. I didn't need to solve. I just needed to note it. It's amazing how much that can help.

Well, that and napping.

What do you do when you feel yourself slipping? What helps you right yourself?


Charlotte said...

Kudos to you for recognizing the slippage - that's half the battle I think! I'm proud of you for pulling yourself out (somewhat)! I do think that sometimes Happiness really is a choice. (And I love "epitome of ennui" - gotta find a way to work that into a convo today!!)

Becca said...

Your blog is fantastic writing. I quite enjoy it.

As for what do you do?

I journal every day, so I can identify it immediately when there is a shift and I'm on that slippery slope again. Then I tell it all to my journal.

And then I tell myself that the negative emotions aren't real--they're just my hormones playing tricks on me and if I just ignore it for a day or two, it will go away.

I don't know if that's something a therapist would approve of, but it works for me. I haven't had the kind of depressions I suffered with as a teen/twenty-something since I started blaming it on hormones and choosing to ignore it.

Anxiety isn't so easy, but when I get anxiety, I've learned to label it ("Those intrusive dark thoughts aren't legitimate. They aren't real. That's just the anxiety speaking"). Then I sleep more and take my multivitamins because that helps me (luckily!).

I love hearing about what helps you. It gives me more tools in my basket to help deal with things.

Thank you.

Also, why are you saying we can have a party at your house when you need more sleep!???!!!!

Kelly said...

Sleep. That is the sole reason for so many of the stupid, rude things I say, or the bad moods I get in. I just need more sleep. Saturday I was so perturbed with everything and everyone. Just laying in bed for 15 minutes made me feel so much better.

BTW, I loved hearing your testimony Sunday. I'm so sorry it was a bad week. Hugs!!!

Dianna said...

I'm so proud of you! Yes, it is one of the most difficult things to do, to bring yourself out of a downward spiral. When I feel myself slipping I have to slow down like you did and articulate to myself or my husband the reasons for the slump. Then I have to give myself a timeout, like a nap, an hour of reading, or just a good TV show. For me it is a combination of defining the problem and a short diversion.

Johanna said...

Thanks for this post. I've been struggling with the same feeling and I'm going to do just what you are doing. Especially the sleep part. I know that makes a difference for me and I'm ignoring that need. Thanks for giving me a direction to go in.

Maryam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maryam said...

My sister, just want to send you love love love love. You are doing such an excellent job. You are one who my mind turns to when I think of a fun, creative, righteous, encouraging mom.
You have thoughtfully identified this cycle of ups and downs you are currently in, and now I will pray for you that you can ride it out because ultimately you always end up on your feet with a smile on your face. Keep up the good work. Hug Hug Hug
Sounds like I need to go invest in more dark chocolate. I shall be delivering it soon. love m

Anonymous said...


I found your blog on the Mormon blogroll. I noticed that I have been having a tougher time over the last few weeks with mood swings and mild depression. I know that this usually kicks up in the late winter months or early spring months due to Seasonal Affective Disorder. For me it is very real. I think that because spring is so late this year and the weather has been overcast and gloomy for far too long it has affected me.

When I grew up in New England I would have SAD, I did not have it when we lived in sunny Florida, then I experienced it again through the dreery winters of Ohio and in Utah I get it in the years when winter just seems to drags on, like this year.

Perhaps the weather has aggravated your condition as well.