Saturday, January 26, 2008

Mid-Winter Blues

I woke up grouchy today. I don't know if it's the mid-winter slump or what, but I've been fighting off an especially intense bout of 'the blues.' I'm finding I need more sleep, healthier foods, and more physical movement to stave it off, but even then it dances at the edges. I've long danced a slow waltz with severe moodiness; it seems strange to say that depression is somehow attractive, and yet that's where I find myself, drawn in, over and over.

I put myself to bed early last night. I felt I was at the end of my rope, energetically-speaking, so I gave in to it and retired earlier than usual. My visiting brother was here, even, but I apologized and excused myself and burrowed under the covers and fell fast asleep.
However, as contrary as it sounds, after I finally give in to the need for some extra zzzzzs, the next morning I'm almost always a little off-kilter. I can never seem to make the transition back to the happy place without a little turbulence.

But I know this about myself, so I'm better able to navigate it these days. I recognize the snarky comments as they rise up in my throat and find ways to swallow them back down (usually). I recognize the ugly feelings about messy bedrooms and footprint-marked carpets and cat hair-covered sofas as they burst into my sleep-heavy head and find ways to coax them back down to a safer place.

Rob and the boys took off to chop firewood today and it is a welcome break. I knew I was going to fight off feelings of irrational anger and resentment, and it's better if I can find my center with a little room to breathe.

I made myself a cup of tea and surveyed the rooms around me. I'd gotten the kitchen to a reasonable state the night before, but there was laundry to fold, wood to haul inside, laundry to do, and a bathroom to wipe down. It's those types of undone tasks that, in times like this, make my fragile emotional state tip very easily from "I'm Feeling Blue" to "Why Doesn't Anyone Ever Pick Anything Up Around Here?"

But because I know this, I can help myself.

I hauled wood first knowing that, even though it never sounds like an enjoyable task, the fresh air, movement, and sunshine (if there is any - harrumph) always does me more good than expected. Then I folded the two laundry baskets because they'd been sitting there for two days, taunting me, cluttering up my space and tipping my emotional scale toward "poor me" every time I looked at them. When I went in to Jonathan's room to put away his clean clothes, I noticed there were dirty clothes on the floor. I picked those up. Then I picked up the books nearby. Next thing I knew, I'd picked up everything on the floor. And as I put away the clean towels, I did a quick wipe-down of the bathroom.

Ahhhh, I can breathe.

Time it took to complete these tasks? About 45 minutes. Amount of time I'd already spent getting pissy about these undone tasks? About 4 hours.

I'd now cleared away enough space for the voices of wisdom to be heard again. It makes absolutely no sense to spend hours getting angry and resentful that these tasks need to be done (and that no one else seems to think so - harrumph) when I could spend a quick 45 minutes to get them done. It makes absolutely no sense to get angry with my family for not reading my mind and instantly changing from what-they're-doing to what-I-think-they-should-be-doing when I can simply recognize that it's me who needs the house to be tidy right this very second.

When Rob and the boys returned with their first load of wood, I was in a much better place to receive them. They poured through the back door, spreading snow everywhere, and Rob rushed in complaining of severe heartburn and in need of ginger tea.

As I made him a cup of hot tea and swept up the chunks of snow, I breathed deeply.

I am back.

All is well again.


Lynn said...

You have so eloquently written how I feel so often.Because of the tiredness that comes with CFS I am not always so good at recognising the symptoms and the anger and resentment persist for longer than they need to.Thanks for sharing,I don't feel so alone when I hear stories from others who know what it is like to have these dips.Keep well,sending loving and healing vibes XXXXXXX

laura said...

Wow. You just described me. Isn't the roller coaster big fun? You chose joy, and wrote about it, and now I'm inspired to do the same. Thanks :).

Sierra Mama said...

what a wonderful blog post and its just what I needed. I really need to take this advice because I can get caught up in the "why am I the only one that picks up" mentality, when I could just do it, move on with my day and we would all be much happier.

Thank you!

Stephanie S. said...

:) aah, I see.

Maria said...

I can see I"m not the only one who could relate to this post.

Skirting around the edges of rage/anxiety are one day at a time issues for me. Needing control of a clean/picked up environment is part of that. I so long for those few moments out of every year when I can say "oh, well, the house is a mess, what of it?" Getting overwhelmed easily is something my family deals with. They just know when I say "I'm on overload." they tread a bit softer, a bit kinder...when I snap at them and quickly apologize with "I'm sorry, I'm so anxious..." they've learned to deal with it. I wish they didn't have to.

Glad you blogged about the bright side. Glad you came thru it. Hang in there...daylight savings time and spring is around the corner!

Stephanie said...

I get like this too about once a month :) It starts with why am I bitchin about not getting the help I need and turns into oh duh, slap myself upside the head... My kids do help when I ask, most of the time but I get to where I need it done NOW!!! Then I know it's PMS and right now I got it and the best thing about it once I get past the bitchin is that my house is clean because I nest :)
Loved your post and that you came out of it and all is well, I can totally relate :)

piscesgrrl said...

I came mostly out of it... I woke to a messy house again today - this time I asked for help. I made a list of the things that I wanted done (nothing major, really - things like putting away the boots that are all over the laundry room) and asked the kids to help. They are! I just leave the list out and we each do whatever we want from it.

Love my boys. :)

And my mom called and asked if I'd like an afternoon away so we're heading out to visit grandpa and do a little shopping. YES!

Something tells me when I get a little edgy, no one minds if I take off for a spell. :)

Colleen said...

I needed that little pep talk, Laura. I, too, have clean laundry waiting to be folded, a bathroom is desperate need of a wipe down and dishes, ugh--the dishes from hell that keep showing up dirty on my kitchen counter no matter how many times I wash them! But you're right, instead of moping about the fact that I have to do all those things (and I have to do them alone, boo hoo, because my husband is away) I should just do them and feel good about it. Okay. That's what I'm going to do today! In just a few minutes.... As soon as I'm ready.... :)

Galavanter said...

"Time it took to complete these tasks? About 45 minutes. Amount of time I'd already spent getting pissy about these undone tasks? About 4 hours."

I love this realization! And how many times do we have to realize this in our lifetime, dangnabbit?

Breathing, and hearing Rue Kream's voice in my head - it helps.

Shell (in NZ) said...

Phew! Just when I was starting to think I was hte only unschooling Mama who occasionally gets annoyed byu the mess, and wonders why my kids (and hubby) don't help.

All frightfully unfair thoughts, not true (well, maybe just a little)...but very uncharitable of me, not a good use of my time, or helpful with our relationships and not at all how I want to be.

I'm glad I found your blog :0)