February 23, 2008

The Slump

I have been afflicted with "the Slump" again.

The Slump is what I am choosing to call this particular vein of depression. I am not quite paralyzed by it, definitely not suicidal yet, not devoid of hope - but still, in a slump of sorts.

I feel sad and achy. I feel hyper-sensitive. I am fixated on the negative in my life right now (my grandmother being sick and confused, my own infertility, my struggles at work), I am unduly exhausted and wanting to sleep - or alternately throw a tantrum, whichever seems more appropriate at the time.

Mostly, my heart just hurts.

Now, this Slump, it is no stranger to me - I have found myself sick with it many many times, especially in the last couple of years. And probably if I would just kindly acknowledge its existence, and its valid reason for visiting, it might just settle down and eventually pack its bags and head off to warmer climes.

But, instead, I go through a familiar ritual with the Slump whenever it is in town.

1. I deny that it is here. I walk around it, I ignore it, I pretend not to hear it, see it, smell it, or taste it - even though at this point it has all but invaded my internal organs. The Slump likes to cuddle, apparently.

2. I try to destroy it with positive thinking. When the Slump starts to go on with the litany of sorrows and complaints it feels I should be paying closer attention to, I smile and repeat happy little mantras about how everything will be ok, I have nothing to fear, etc. Pretty soon, however, I forget to keep the mantras in my head and I am practically shouting them to the sky to try to drown out the voice of the Slump. Now I just appear crazy and superstitious. The Slump scoffs at my "positive thinking".

3. I try to contain the Slump. In theory, this would work very much in the same way as vacuuming up a spider - it isn't dead, but it can't bite you from inside the canister. But the Slump is tricky. It will not be contained. It kicks at me from where I lock it inside and eventually it picks the locks and comes out stronger than ever. The Slump is kind of like a teenager: cranky, insistent on getting its way, sulky, moody, irrational, and very very crafty.

4. I fight with the Slump. This never goes well, we can leave it at that. I always end up exhausted, frustrated, and defeated. The power is strong with the Slump.

5. And finally, finally, I give up. But I don't like it, I don't feel good about it, and I certainly don't make any chicken soup for the Slump. It can stay, but I am not putting out clean towels or dusting for it.

The truth is, I think this battle - this charade that I go through is not helping. (You think?) So, I need to find another way to cope.

Maybe by welcoming it? Making friends with it? And, as I would do any time I have an annoying house guest, take better care of myself and get out more? Sure. That might work.

I do have some good reasons for feeling cranky and moody and "slumpish" right now - my grandmother is having a very difficult time, and my family members caring for her are having an even harder time. It is really frustrating to not be able to help right now, I am just hurting so much for everyone involved. And, yes, even though we are "moving towards IVF", I am still not pregnant and there are reminders everywhere that lots of others are and however selfish and self-centered that sounds, that's too bad - this is where I live right now. And frankly, it sucks. And work, well lets not even get into that, ok? And lets not forget hormones - truly, we must give credit where credit is due....and hormones are likely playing a big role in this latest visit of the Slump. The hormones send out little hand-embossed personalized invites to the Slump to come for long-extended visits. The hormones are really getting on my nerves. (and we don't even have enough time to start talking about my nerves....)

So - why do I feel like I am failing somehow? Why does being not quite "ok" make me feel like I am somehow doing something wrong?

I laughed at the part of the Walt Disney video, that I posted yesterday, where the announcer encouraged young women to "stop feeling sorry for themselves" and then went on to explain how important it was to "take those days in stride" and regain your composure. There was an animation of a girl crying, and then realizing she was "feeling sorry for herself" - to which she responded by throwing her shoulders back, prettying herself up and smiling a pretty and complacent smile. I laughed, yesterday, because I thought of how ridiculous and horrid it was that women were constantly sent this message - that they needed to just "buck up" and slap on some make up and a pretty smile and get on with life.

It truly is a wonder that more women of this era didn't commit suicide.

And yet, and yet? I find myself thinking some of the same ridiculous thoughts, that being strong and other-centered as a woman means "getting over yourself" and moving on. And while, there are probably times when this is appropriate - most of the time, it is neither kind nor realistic.

So. I am here. I have the Slump. We just had some lasagna together. We might go to the gym together later. The Slump always seems to start to think about moving on after a few rigorous workouts. I think the Slump is kind of a wimp really - can't really handle all the sweating and the lifting of heavy things, and the walking briskly on elevated platforms. That's ok.

I am hoping this will be a short visit, but I am going to try to be kind to it anyway.


Lori said...

Fabulous post. You said exactly what I feel at times, and you also made me laugh.

Maybe forego the lasagna and have only turnips and beans for awhile...

Alwen said...

First, I LOVE your writing! :) Yes, treating "The Slump" (and the other parts of yourself that don't so much like The Slump) gently seems like a great solution to me. I've started trying to think about my various unpleasant emotional reactions as little-kid parts of me who need to be heard and loved back into healing. It does seem that when I let the adult parts of me hear them, reassure them, take them seriously, but not feel like they have to take over my whole personality to get what they need, I feel much better. I hope the workout helps. And I love you! Call if you need anything. Alright, back to the homework I have now been avoiding for 7 hours of so...

heather said...

try some chard with butter & parmesan. a veritable mood lifter! socializing and exercise always seems to help me with the slump too. I'm so familiar with that evil Slump!
thanks for your comments the other day.. i'm still in a little disbelief.

oih also if you're in a stage of your cycle where a bath can be taken, i found them seriously helpful.
heather (saltandpickles)

nancy said...

Slump sounds like the dwarf Disney didn't want to have as their 8th dwarf. Slumpy had to stay at home while his 7 brothers became immortalized. Maybe that's why Slumpy is such a dick now.

And what's with the Disney theme? You and now me.

I wish I could help. Slumpy hasn't come to visit me yet. Well, maybe his cousin Funky, but they've never stayed too long. I'll be honest, during times of cycle failures or when the world of "undeserved" (to me) BFPs engulfs me, I fall into a funk. Things piss me off and eat at me. I'm not a happy person and I'm really angry. Unlike you, I let funky run my life for those few days and then he gets bored and leaves, leaving me back to my own devices. I don't know what I'd do if Slumpy came for an extended visit. And that's why I have absolutely no real advice. I CAN say that I'll totally be hear for you to listen to whatever you and/or Slumpy has to say and that won't change.

~hugs~ and a kick in the heuvos to Slumpy.

Denise said...

Maybe your slump and my slump can go out for coffee together and leave us both alone. Better yet, make it a long cruise where the ship sinks and they're both lost at sea.

Meg said...

Oh Duffy. This sucks. Usually when this is so clearly at the forefront of your experiences, it may have been seeping into your being for quite some time.....before you recognize it again. This is probably compounding from work, IF, your hormones, the fact that it is February....lots of crap.

Your coping skill of exercise is a huge help for me as well. Some of those cob webs stay at the gym.

If you ever want to go for a walk or a hike, let me know!

Jen said...

I think we all go through this... Sadly. And I am trying to think of what I could call my currentness. The poop sandwich?