Archives for category: anhedonia

I am sipping my coffee in a state of contentment and feeling generally okay after an entire day of rest, following the recreational weekend. It’s worth it to take time to get adequately rested. So often, I enjoy a great time, let that occasion undermine my self-care, and move on to a new work week, and interacting with people, without “getting caught up”, and really caring for myself. It’s a poor choice to take that approach.

How much Monday misery is fully and wholly a byproduct of enthusiastic weekend endeavors? Probably quite a lot of it, and I suspect that Monday’s reputation for being a shitty day of the week is caused more by hangovers of various sorts, than by any actual day-of-week-related flaw. (Don’t even start with me about how you “don’t get hangovers”; the science suggests otherwise, and if you don’t like the word, don’t use the word, but for fuck’s sake don’t bullshit yourself about needed after-care!)

I’m sitting here grateful to be more aware of such things than I was when I was in my 20s – my quality of life could have been so much better, and there could have been so much less fucking drama! “Self-care” was not in my vocabulary.

I smile, and sip my coffee. Yeah… I don’t even try to go off the coffee. I recognize the irony. I don’t avert my eyes from the lessons I learn about addiction, generally, and good self-care, just because this particular intoxicant is legal. The legality of any given intoxicant has not one thing to do with whether it is effective, or what effects it actually has, or whether there is a hangover. Words are not experiences. Experiences exist independent of the words we use to describe them.

Take care of yourselves out there in the world, Party People! It’s Monday. Tomorrow is “terrible Tuesday”, too, and intoxicants vary widely in both effect, and duration of effect. If you’re working, you may not be at your best. That annoying argument? Probably a byproduct of your chemistry – you’re usually so much more reasonable, and measured in your responses. That flare up of bad temper? Yeah, excessive is a good word for that – it’s worth reminding yourself that you’re probably prone to being a bit over-reactive right now. You could do better. Are you drinking enough water? Have you had nutritionally dense healthy calories? Have you gotten the rest you need? You don’t need to dissolve into a private emo nightmare of drama and woe – you can practice good self-care, and heighten your self-awareness. Being more considerate of yourself (and, let’s be frank, of others) may ease some of the (literal) headaches of a (hungover) Monday… I’m just saying; you have choices. 😉 Your results may vary, but you can choose how to deal with that, too. 🙂

…Adulting takes so much practice. Have you “already completely fucked this day up”? Just begin again. ❤

…I just hurt, is all. Like… predicting a hard early winter levels of arthritis pain, here. Pain sufficiently severe to present a chronic distraction, to drive volatile moods, to aggravate me to the point of anger-driven anhedonia… the cluster-headache-pain of spinal pain. I hurt, and I’m fussy, and I’m irritable, and I’m… not at my best. The problem with the pain is less about the pain than the sabotage. No kidding; pain shrinks my world and limits my focus. Worse still…?

…You can’t see it. Some of us are pretty stoic about pain, most of the time. You’ve no idea what you’re up against when you interact with someone with invisible injuries like chronic pain. Was I terse with you? Yeah, well, I couldn’t stand up without my cane this morning, and every step hurts – except the ones that don’t require my spine. Breathing hurts. Moving hurts. Not moving hurts (actually more so than moving, over time anyway).

“Take something for it. Duh.” Uh-huh. I like that idea. So, after I finish ruling out the OTC stuff that may be problematic for some other health conditions and the Rx  non-opiate pain relievers I can’t have because of some contraindication or another against those, that leaves, generally, just opiates and cannabis. I’d rather not deal with the political and medical minefield of opiates, but if I could be without pain… then? Rarely. I dislike the sexual side effects, and yes, I said it; I’d rather endure my pain and still be able to enjoy sex than be 100% pain-free but not able to enjoy sex. So. Get over that with me, I’m human, and I’ve got a lifetime of experience with my priorities – the pain management options available to most of us are fairly shitty in one way or another. It’s a thing that some of us are entirely too aware of. Cannabis? Yep. Definitely. As much as I can, and it is my “go-to remedy”, but let’s be frank with each other; it’s not a perfect fix, and it is not appropriate for all circumstances (or all pain).

This is not a quantity of pain that is easily medicated away. Pain is a signal from our body about our health or circumstances. It shouts loud because it is supposed to. Drowning it out is a major task; our body would much rather we fixed whatever is actually wrong. It’s complicated, and it’s imperfect, and there are so few days in the year that I’m entirely pain-free that they become cause for real celebration. I hurt so much of the time, and have for so long (since around 1990), that I’m seriously bored of bitching about it. (Can’t people who actually know me somehow just also know that I hurt…? Like… mostly always? lol)

I plan my life as if there is no pain. I don’t know how else to do it, really. I still want to live my life. I still just fucking hurt. Sometimes I hurt too much to hike. Sometimes I hurt too much to party. Sometimes I hurt too much to do housekeeping or even to get dressed. This weekend, I filled my calendar with cool stuff I was seriously looking forward to doing, and people I am eager to see. By the time the weekend actually came, and with it the welcome rain and the autumn weather I enjoy so well, my pain had come back, too. This weekend ended up being less about going and doing, and more about connecting (with my partner) and chilling (at home). It was lovely. So worth it, in spite of my pain.

Fuck pain.

Autumn and winter are worst. Then Spring. I get some relief in the summertime heat. Most years I even get to put away my cane. It’s been in my car, unused most of the time, since May. Four and a half months almost pain-free this year… less than the year before, which was less than the year before that. I find myself wistfully remembering years ago, when it seemed like I only hurt like this in the coldest months…

I got into the elevator at the end of my day and ignored the tears that just started spilling down. I got into my terrifically hot car with a real “aaaaaaahhhhh” moment of relief; however brief, totally worth it. “Pain management”. lol It’s more like “endurance” if you’ve got chronic pain. It is an endurance test filled with well-meaning suggestions, well-wishes, and an utter inability to communicate what this experience is like to people who don’t have it; we all feel our own pain, and can’t feel someone else’s. I’ve had some amusing experiences with people whose most serious pain in life has been a hangnail, stubbed toe, or bump in the night, who don’t understand chronic, relentless, serious pain, and how it wears away at one’s enthusiasm, and will. “I hope you feel better soon! Have you tried…” Uh-huh. Yep. That too. Yeah, and that. No, it didn’t “work”… What to say when someone who really cares tries so hard to offer support and comfort? A weary chuckle and a reminder that “chronic” pain is… um… not going go away, really, probably ever. That’s when I gave up the Rx pain relievers; between the fucking hassles getting them, and the constant nagging about their use, the side effects, and the fact that this shit is fucking forever…? Nope. I actually still work for a living. I have shit to do. People are counting on me. I’m counting on me.

I’m so not saying I hurt more than you do! I’m not saying my pain is worse than… anything. I’m just saying, frankly, in clear explicit terms that chronic pain is a thing I do deal with. Daily. You, too? I’m sorry to hear that. “Have you tried…” (jk jk lol)

What I am saying is that it is not possible to sufficiently well-medicated to truly stop hurting, only to get medicated enough that I care even less about the pain in the background, for a while. Shit. That sounds bleak. Don’t be sad. Sometimes it helps a lot. Sometimes it helps enough. Right now, today, nothing helps; it is the beginning of autumn, and I go through this every year… and…

I’m glad. I mean… it’s a fair trade. It could be worse. I’m still walking.

In 1986 I broke my back. It was pretty bad. My spinal canal was more than 60% occluded by a piece of vertebrae that had broken off from the impact, and gotten jammed into my backbone. There was real concern I would not even walk again. I was kept on a backboard for a couple days, very still, and partially restrained while we “worked out the next steps”. I wasn’t allowed to roll over, ever, without calling for nurses, who would ever so carefully roll me onto my side, re-secure my body so I couldn’t roll forward, backward, or move much at all, and put supporting pillows here and there to try to make me comfortable. I was heavily medicated. My back was broken in two places. My wrist was broken, and I had a head injury. I was not in the best shape for decision-making, but I had a good medical team. My surgeon offered me an option; a somewhat experimental procedure that could result in staying on active duty, being able to walk, and fully recovering from my injury, with some lengthy convalescence…, or, well… some less than perfect outcome in that basic “still walking” context. I took the deal. I absolutely did. (If he’d told me I’d be facing a life time of pain, would I still have made the same choice? Well, sure; we don’t know what we don’t know. I’d never known a lifetime of physical pain of this type or magnitude, and would not have been able to imagine what it might be like.)

I was in the hospital for months, then recovering on active duty long enough to be certain that I needed more time. It was going to be two years before I could “go back to work”, but that was in some rosy optimistic future I couldn’t yet envision any differently than “a full recovery”. Arthritis? That’s something that happens to old people, right? I worked hard throughout those two years of convalescence – and I returned to active duty feeling pretty fucking triumphant, no kidding; I was lean, strong, fit, and flexible. The pain came later. About a year into being back on active duty. Something definitely felt wrong… I kept going back, appointment after appointment. I wanted a diagnosis, and then I wanted to be treated, and I wanted to recover.

“Well, it looks like you’ve got a touch of osteo-arthritis…” I got my diagnosis. Shortly afterward, and feeling fairly heartbroken about it, I also got my discharge. That “touch of arthritis” has continued to spread over the years, commandeering my spine and my experience one joint at a time. I’m still walking. I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful for the hikes, for the downtown shopping on foot, the strolls through gardens, the slow dash to a meeting… all of it. It could be so much worse in some way. Most of the time, it’s just pain. It’s mostly manageable. It is… what it is. We age. We feel pain. We are mortal creatures.

I live my own personal Little Mermaid allegory. lol

But fuck. I hurt. Damn it. Sometimes I’m so fucking tired of hurting, and I forget myself, and end up taking it out on… maybe you? People. People who matter to me. People who couldn’t have known. People who have things to get done and need something from me. People who want to enjoy my company. People who have never hurt. People who, also, always do.

In spite of my pain, I feel very appreciated. 🙂 I could do better at demonstrating that. 

…I try “not to bitch”. (My results vary.) I do my best to manage my pain without making it anyone else’s issue. (Again with the varying results.) It doesn’t always work out well. This weekend, my Traveling Partner reminded me gently how much better a shared journey can be, when each moment and step is taken from a fully present place, in a completely authentic way. We talked about the pain. I’m glad we did. It stopped feeling like a shameful secret. It stopped feeling like a weakness. It’s just an experience.

Suddenly I’m not sure whether to post this one. Too many words about an experience no one likes to have (pain)…

…It’s time to begin again. I’ll go try some things… maybe I’ll feel better soon. 😉

There are now open boxes of tissues in every room of this place, one on each side table, near each place I sit, on every counter top, and next to each of those, small bottles of hand sanitizer – which I don’t use unless I am down with some sort of contagious ailment. Which I am. Down with a contagious ailment. By which I mean, I’m sick. With a cold.

In spite of a fair bit of misery, I managed to get my Friday managed decently well, and the day even ended with a car in my driveway, again. I’m fairly pleased with all of that. I crashed out almost as soon as I got home, got up a couple times for soup, tea, to pee, or to attempt to ease my symptoms. All very human. I slept through the night, I think. I at least don’t recall waking. 3:38 am, my lack of ability to breath woke me. I’d planned to go directly back to bed, feeling woozy and uncoordinated. I ended up here, instead. 🙂

I spent an hour conversing online with a friend having a rough time at the moment. Quality conversation is too often built on someone’s suffering, which is shame, but nonetheless it is good to spend time chatting with a friend to ease the boredom and ennui of being sick. I’m sleepy again, and it’s back to bed to continue to work on getting over this latest bit of ick. (Fucking call centers. They are often disease incubators every bit as much as they are places to work. Don’t get me started about public transit.) Conveniently, from a work perspective, I am sick over the weekend. Inconveniently, from my own perspective, I am sick over the weekend. Balance in all things, I suppose. 0_o

Time to go back to bed. I can try a new beginning a little later. 😉

I woke tired this morning, in spite of sleeping well and deeply through the night. I’m groggy. A bit out of sorts for the moment. Cross with myself for no obvious reason, and a bit disinclined to write, in spite of having a couple modestly interesting notions I might otherwise be inclined to write about.

I’m very human.

I sip my coffee and listen to the traffic beyond the window. (Already?) The very hot summer days have nudged a lot of fellow commuters off their usual timing, and, like me, they are leaving for work earlier (more businesses with air conditioning than private homes, in many neighborhoods), returning home later, and going out more in the cooler evenings to find some icy cold air-conditioned get away.

I’m grateful to have a/c at my place.

Appointments, plans, chores, tasks, errands… life feels very busy when I consider it in terms of calendars and shit that needs to get done. I feel tired in advance. I feel… over-committed.

Well, shit… It’s already time to begin again.

I take another sip of my coffee before I put on my shoes and head to work. Sometimes “what it is” right now, in this moment, has to be enough. Mostly, generally, it actually is. This is one of those moments. Everything is “fine”, and I’m okay… just… tired and cross. 🙂 I don’t have any requirement to act on that. Eventually the work day will end, and I’ll face another night of sleep, and start the whole thing all over once more. This – whatever “this” is – will pass. I will, at some inevitable future moment, feel quite differently – regardless what steps I take, often. So.

About that new beginning… 🙂

It was a less than ideally comfortable moment, last week, when my therapist so frankly and calmly observed that I seemed “unwell” and that “we” need to work on that. He doesn’t play when it comes to mental and emotional health, that’s sort of his whole deal, but the “we” who needs to work on my mental and emotional health? Yeah, that’s me. He’s a great resource, but the verbs entirely belong to me. lol

I explored his observations over the weekend. I considered his words – and reconsidered mine, in context. I contemplated where practices were failing me, and was frank with myself regarding practices that were not being consistently practiced, or perhaps were less than effective, over time. I made some changes, because change is a thing, and embracing it can really work in my favor (and has, more than once).  My therapist proved to be quite correct about a number of things. It’s a journey. I’m very human. There are ample opportunities to begin again. lol

I already feel more balanced, contented, stable, and confident that “things will be okay”. It’s a good place to be on a Thursday, ahead of a work day, in the middle of a week that has been rather busy. I’m looking forward to the weekend. (I’d really like to sleep in.)

I’d started feeling really overwhelmed by my “to do list”, which just never seems to diminish, and had some “permanent” items that seemed sort of… stuck there. lol I’ve been tackling those one by one, now. That feels pretty good. I’d begun to avert my eyes from my list of shit that needs to get done… because I didn’t really feel like doing… any of it. Oh my. A hint of depression had apparently crept into my emotional life. Too much OPD? Oh, hell yes. LOL That shit’s toxic. It’s definitely depressing to be exposed to too much of that crap.

I’m not very skilled with depression. Despair is a familiar demon, but depression? Less so. I failed to notice the weight on my experience. My sluggishness and apathy seemed inexplicable to me. The constant fatigue and lack of fucks to give in life, generally, was foreign. Thankfully, depression is a familiar form for my therapist, and he recognized it, pointed it out, and provided me some direction. Win and good. I feel myself getting back on my path. Most particularly, building on the firm foundation of a weekend spending loved and loving, I feel each day improve upon the one before it, as my “to do list” slowly dwindles, and order is restored to my experience. 🙂

It’s okay to get help, when we need it. I hope that you do, if you are struggling, alone. 🙂

My Thursday is off to a good start. I may not save the world, today, but I’m on track to enjoy my experience. Sometimes, that’s enough. 😀