Last week, I was planning on writing about some sort of craft-related topic. And then I was side-swiped by a terrible mood. I’ve made it my goal to blog three times a week, so I felt obligated to write something, which is why I left a short explanation for my flakeout. And then I wondered if people actually might find it helpful to hear about one of my low moments — how it starts, how I (usually) manage to get through it, and how it eventually abates. So here goes.
It started with a Tupperware container of frozen spaghetti sauce.
Okay, wait. I take that back. Before the Tupperware, I overslept.
No, that’s not right. Let’s back up a bit more. And let me take this moment to mention two things about myself, which I’ve been reluctant to reveal. The first is that I’ve suffered from depression for a while now, a symptom of PMDD (pre menstrual dysphoric disorder). Basically, for about one or two days a month, I get really, really low…and then, it passes, and I’m fine. The other thing is that I have been going through peri-menopause for the past few years; it came a bit early for me, probably a side-effect of the chemo, according to my doctors. In any case, one of the symptoms of peri-menopause (along with fatigue and hot flashes and migraines and monster cramps and junk food cravings and this weird thing where part of my hair gets really dry and part of it gets really greasy) is that it turns your regular hormonally-driven mood shifts up to eleven — not great for someone like me, who’s already having a rough time at that time of the month.
So…I woke up that morning at 5:45am when I’d set my alarm, and I turned my alarm off. I’ve been setting it for that time for a while now, because that’s when I have time to exercise. I want and need to work out, because it helps my overall physical and mental well-being (and is one of the recommended treatments for my PMDD). But I also want and need to sleep as much as possible, so I have the energy to do battle with my hormones and my currently-contentious toddler. Every morning, therefore, is a battle, and on this particular morning, sleep won. This meant that when I finally did get out of bed, I was feeling crappy because I felt tired and out of shape, and crappy because I felt guilty for not exercising. I also felt crappy because I slept so late, I had no time to take a shower, and my hair was doing that dry/greasy thing. So I was feeling crappy and grubby.
When I went to the kitchen, I opened the freezer to take out and defrost the blueberry muffin my son eats for breakfast, and a Tupperware container of frozen spaghetti sauce slid out, hit me in the face, and then shattered on the hardwood floor. Normally I would find a moment like this hilarious, but I was already in a sour state of mind. The added chore of cleaning up frozen sauce and shards of Tupperware from my kitchen floor did not help things, at all. Other things that did not help:
- My son refusing to eat the aforementioned muffin, despite repeated pleas from me and my husband
- My son refusing to “go potty” in a timely manner before we left to drop him off at school
- My inability to find something to wear
That last one was a huge red flag for me that a bad mood was rising. When I feel as if I have nothing to wear, as if I look terrible in every article of clothing I own, I know I’m going down the rabbit hole. I can’t remember what I did end up wearing, but I am sure it was some form of athleisurewear, a baggy t-shirt, and a hat.
And then it was off to preschool, hooray! As my son chattered in the back seat (“Who’s singing on the radio, Mommy?” “The clouds look like mashed potatoes!” “Can I watch videos on your phone when we get to school?”), I half-listened to the 80s radio station as I maneuvered my way around the terrible Rhode Island drivers and reminded myself about needing to write a blog entry. What was I going to write about? What would seem interesting, and useful?
When I got to my son’s preschool, I was so distracted by him and my blog-centric thoughts that I turned into the parking lot a little too sharply, and hit the curb. The however-light impact somehow made my car horn go off, and that singular HONK made two of my son’s teachers, who were crossing the parking lot at the time, turn their heads and look at me. It was probably just a glance, but it sent me over the edge. They must think I’m crazy, I thought. And right now, I feel crazy. Lazy and slovenly and crazy, to be exact. When I dropped off my son, I made sure not to make eye contact with any of the teaching staff, and left the parking lot before any of the other parents.
On the way home, I distracted myself from my embarrassment by thinking about my blog again. I started thinking about how futile it is to blog, anyway, since I have so few readers. Then I started thinking about the storytime I started doing at my local toy store a few weeks before, and how poorly attended it had been. Then I started thinking about some bad experiences I’ve had with poorly-attended bookstore events. Then I started thinking about the two new series I have coming out over the next few months, and worrying that no one will like them, or (even worse) no one will care, and that I won’t promote them enough or well, that I will miss out on this chance, what I perceive as my final chance at making this my career, and will sink back into my hovel of obscurity and humiliation.
I stopped at Dunkin Donuts and got myself a coffee. By the time I got home, it was pretty clear that the blog wasn’t going to happen. And that made me feel worse; just like the exercising I’d eschewed that morning, I felt I’d broken another promise to myself by not posting. But then, I drank some coffee and stared at my computer screen, and thought, maybe I will post, just to say that I won’t be posting. That way I’ll still meet my goal. To my addled brain, that made some sense.
So, that’s what I did. Afterwards, I felt a little bit better (probably due to the coffee), so I had enough presence of mind to try to pull myself out of the funk I was in. Here are some things I did, which proved successful:
- Finished the coffee (always a good idea).
- Listened to my one of my favorite Wilco songs, their (and Billy Bragg’s) cover of Woody Guthrie’s “Airline to Heaven.” Do you have a song that immediately perks you up? This one is mine.
- Ate a strawberry – because sometimes, just leaning over the kitchen sink and eating a ripe, sweet strawberry helps.
- Read through the draft of my new middle-grade novel – it needs a lot of work, but reading through it reminded me of its potential, and of how much I love it, and how much I love writing, and how I’m pretty good at it, whether other people read my work or not.
Although all of these things helped, I wasn’t really out of the woods until I took a nap that afternoon, while my son took his nap. By the time my husband got home from work, I was able to tell him all about my day, and as I detailed every moment, it all just seemed ridiculous, like dreams do when you try to explain them too long after you’ve woken up. Even laying it all out for you now, all the trivial little moments and dumb thoughts I have, just shows how incapacitating depression (and the hormones fueling that depression) can be.
Okay, that’s it. I have to admit, this was helpful for me; I know I will have many more of these low moments, but at least I have some insights into how and why they happen. I can only hope this was helpful for you.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go and eat a strawberry over the kitchen sink.
Kara, thank you for articulating this. It’s a brave kindness for the world and I’m grateful for it.
You’re very welcome — and so great to hear from you. xo
So, so relate to this Kara, down to the hot flashes, the clothes, the panic and self criticism over book promotion, and on. It helped me to read this. And I hope it helps you to know that low moments will have us all now and again. Loved your strategies for pulling out of it. I’m off to find a strawberry. 🙂
I love this entry – and OH did it resonate for me!
Thank you so much for posting it.
You’re very welcome. And thanks so much for visiting. 🙂
This resonates for me, as well. I now appear to be menopausal (no period in months, but it hasn’t been a full year yet), but the hair and the hot flashes and sleep problems and such are still with me. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. And it definitely messes with things. Since I have chronic health issues (rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia), I struggle for the balance between sleep and exercise and getting things done, too. Even little triumphs and treats can be enough to keep me going, so I really empathize with your post!
Thanks so much for sharing your own struggles, Kelly. I’m glad we can both find some comfort in knowing we’re not alone! xo
Oh Kara! Been there, done that (in different ways) – and going through the evils of perimenopause. HUGS to you! I’m glad you shared this because I feel a little less alone. We all hit those bad/low days. I am going to stock up on ripe strawberries while I can! xo
Thanks so much for the kind words, Debbi — it’s nice to know my crappy moments have led to helping someone, somehow! xo
One of the reasons I like blogging is that it gives a nice rush of accomplishment with realtivy little effort; the other reason is that its always good to read posts like yours that let one feel one isn’t alone!!! (though the details might differ. I, for instance, most recently was attacked by a casserole dish of left over chili).
I’m so glad you found come comfort in my post, Charlotte. Be careful out there — those casserole dishes can be deadly!
Oh, Kara. I can so relate and sympathize. Bless you for sharing what it’s like–in your own unique way–to experience the mad arrangement of hormonal fluctuations women deal with throughout their lives.
Also, you might consider a fridge with the freezer on the bottom. I did, and I haven’t been hit by flying frozen food since.
Thanks, Mary. Will consider a freezer on the bottom when we’re ready for a new fridge — hopefully by that time, our son will be too old to be tempted by playing with the door!