Archives for category: anhedonia

I woke with a cough to a misty autumn morning. It is clear that it has recently rained. The mist hangs in the trees, visible across the street, and obscuring any view slowly developing through the trees at the edge of the deck, as their leaves fall. I break a sweat wrapping my fuzzy warm bathrobe around myself. I am dizzy as I make my coffee. The coughing persists.

It’s only a weekend, and it is looking like I will probably still be sick when Monday comes around. Oh sure, perhaps less so than on Friday, but still… sick. Officially an entire week being ill. If I’d had any doubt about this being no-kidding-influenza, those dissipated like autumn mist sometime on Friday. Few things keep me ill for so long. Having had all but 2 annual flu shots since 1978, and even getting vaccinated against pneumonia in 2009, I rarely actually come down with the flu, or if I do, it lasts no longer than a mild head cold. I’m sorry I’ve been so cross and whiny about it. I don’t like being sick, really, at all.

Today I will have to stir beyond this dwelling, like it or not; I will use my last dose of one cold symptom medication and would be wise to replace it. I don’t really want to go out at all.

I’ve done literally nothing but sleep and undertake the most basic self-care this weekend. The housekeeping is piling up. I have been pretty easily able to pay it no mind – I’m sick, and have no fucks to give, so… yeah. This morning, though, the little waste baskets each full to overflowing with used tissues, and (god damn it) again with dishes in the sink, I find myself at least aware of my surroundings and circumstances. I may attempt to bring some order, later, but for now I am still too dizzy-tired-not-yet-awake for any of that.

I notice that the most recently opened tissue box is not at hand… I wonder apathetically where I might have left it, until I really do need it, then I interrupt my moment to go find the damned thing. My coffee is almost done, and instead of a second, I think of maybe going back to bed. lol Being sick is less than ideally productive. Maybe tomorrow I can earnestly begin again…?

I succeeded in sleeping in this morning, until almost 8:30 am. It mattered less that I also woke basically every two hours during the night, or that I was awake for two hours, sometime around midnight, than that I was able to simply keep sleeping until the thought of being awake no longer seemed like a compromise of my most basic self-care. I was up for a couple of hours. I watched some entertaining videos. I scrolled through Facebook. I showered and handled basic hygiene and self-care tasks (most easily accomplished while I am awake).

I went back to bed, and slept through much of the afternoon, waking more or less around tea time, which is to say, around 3pm. I woke a number of times, but a quick check on my consciousness found me choosing more sleep, each time, until this last time, when I chose, at last, to wake and even to get up. I had to pee. Not getting up wasn’t really an option. I didn’t go back to bed, but mostly only because I didn’t want more sleep any more than I wanted to be awake, and since I was already awake, and up, I simply decided to continue along that path awhile. lol I’m not terrifically engaged with the moment, the fire of my natural presence flickers. Clearly I am ill. So… a fresh cup of hot tea. A new moment. I am on auto-pilot, and only barely truly awake. I am uncertain where the evening may take me.

I am hungry. The amount of work involved in feeding myself doesn’t seem at all appealing. The sorts of foods I could order? Don’t seem at all appealing. So. Here I sit. Hungry and doing nothing whatsoever about it. Thinking about taking action on the food thing, I find myself contemplating going back to bed instead… I would not notice any feelings of hunger if I were asleep… It would be easier.

I sip my tea. It is hot, bland, basically flavorless. I’m sick and nothing tastes good, really. I think about how easily I could heat up some chicken soup, though… Chicken soup, with Rick & Morty… or chicken soup with Archer… or chicken soup with Harry Potter, South Park, or Samurai Champloo… or chicken soup with a favorite book… I chuckle when I realize that I am more interested in the chicken soup itself than any accompanying entertainment. Okay, okay – chicken soup then. No problem. I’ve got plenty made. I find myself feeling somewhat buoyed by the thought of rich hot broth, chunks of chicken meat, veggies stewed in the flavorful broth, buckwheat noodles…

I lift myself from my chair with some awkwardness and stiffness. I barely notice the pain I am in, moment-to-moment, because flu symptoms suck so much, but there it is, when I move. I stand with some difficultly, and wait a few seconds to be sure of my balance, before making my way to the kitchen. Chicken soup won’t heat itself. lol One obvious downside to living alone; I’ve always got to be the one fetching tissues or mugs of tea, or heating up the soup. 🙂

I’m still sick, and it is sort of pissing me off (along with just feeling poorly). I mean, it isn’t that bad, right? Just bad enough to keep me feeling fairly under-the-weather, fatigued, and out-of-sorts dealing with symptoms. I get over the headache, the sore throat gets worse. The sore throat isn’t so bad? Well, the sinus congestion is worse. Got the sinus congestion mostly managed? No problem, how about we move this crap into my chest and add a cough? I guess I wasn’t surprised by the return of the headache, the swollen glands, or the utter lack of deeply restful sleep, which persists. Who the hell decided we needed to be meat puppets of all things?? Highly inefficient. Prone to illness, and all manner of breakdowns. :-\

I grumble through my shower, yoga, my morning coffee, and even a restless attempt at a morning walk around the block, which got me to the end of the driveway. (I really “needed some air”. The fresh air felt lovely, but I am too sick to take any sort of long walk.) Meditation, like sleep, works out less than ideally well.

On my way in to the office, I’ll stop by the doctor’s office and lab, and have a properly credentialed adult provide an opinion; it’s rare that I’m sick more than a day or two, and this is day 4. I remind myself that it is more than likely what I thought it most likely to be initially, just this year’s newest strain of ick going around. Common enough in my work environment. This being the case does not stop the circumstances from being incredibly annoying; I have weekend plans. 😦 The closer the weekend gets, the less likely it seems that those plans will live to see real life in action. Yes, hell yes, I am disappointed. Sort of. Almost. I’m just sick enough to also mostly not actually care any time I think of sleeping, sleeping in, going back to sleep, napping, resting, lying down… Yeah, I’m totally sick.

I may not write tomorrow. The desire to sleep in today almost got me to reset the alarm for later. Tomorrow I might follow through on that, since I clearly need more sleep right now. I’m too sick to have much to say that has any lasting value, the writing is habitual, and part of “who I am”, I sit down to it each day mostly without even thinking about it, or planning to. It is a commitment. A compulsion? A practice.

Tomorrow, I’ll probably just begin again. 🙂

My sleep continues to be restless and interrupted by the inconvenience of being ill. It’s not as bad as it was, and my symptoms continue to improve, nonetheless I am sleeping like crap. I woke several times during the night, briefly, and got up once to sip a soothing cup of tea before returning to sleep. I woke to the alarm, which seemed needlessly loud, and a pounding headache, which… hurts. I woke feeling tired. I plod along as the morning continues. I feel uninspired.

It’s definitely obvious that I’m not feeling well, when I look around the house. I experience a moment of real annoyance, which suggests I’m also feeling better for real. My housekeeping definitely suffers when I’m sick. I almost had the energy to do something about the state of things, when I arrived home from work yesterday, but… I’d run out of spoons. I went to bed early, instead of doing any housework at all. The closer the weekend is, the more housework I’ll be cramming into less time, if I want the place to be tidy when I return home Sunday evening… or… I’ll have to allow myself to not do that, like, even at all, which… would be weird.

I sigh quietly looking at my “to do list”. It’s not really all that bad, it’s just… I’m sick and I really only want to go back to bed. lol Living alone does have, as one obvious consequence, the down side that I’ve got to take care of myself, and all of everything else besides, when I am sick. There’s no one else here to “pick up the slack” or take care of the laundry and dishes and whatnot when I’m not up to it. I’m mostly okay with shit just not getting done until I feel exactly enough better that I am once again aware that it matters to me after all… The trick, it seems, is to learn not to over-react and exhaust myself trying to get everything tidied up and put right when I finally do get going on it.

This morning I teeter on the edge of feeling sufficiently ill to just want to go back to bed, generally, and feeling enough better that it really really bothers me that there are dishes in the sink (because I was too dizzy-tired-weak to both empty the dishwasher of clean dishes, and also load it again with dirty ones). I’m seriously aggravated with myself for how untidy the kitchen is. I’m annoyed that the small trash cans placed here and there for convenience are all filled up with used tissues, particularly because it is trash pick up day, and if I hustled I could empty them all and take the trash down the driveway in time to be hauled away. I’m not yet ready to move quite so briskly. Shit.

I start feeling really frustrated with myself, and with being sick. I have shit to do!! The bang when I set my coffee mug down abruptly, more firmly that I realized I would, gets my attention. Oh hey, no kidding, this is really bugging me…

I pause and let myself really breathe for a moment or two. I correct my posture. I put aside writing long enough to allow myself to truly feel heard – by me – on the matter of the housekeeping. I sit with my aggravation for a little while, allowing myself to recognize how frustrating the situation is for me, being too sick to keep up on the housekeeping, because I associate (my) poor housekeeping with (my) symptoms of mental illness. My earliest obvious sign that I am struggling and perhaps disordered in my thinking, is often when my environment is also becoming disordered. I like order. Nothing wrong with that. I breathe, and contemplate my fondness for order. I accept that being sick leaves me with much less energy for physical work, and allow myself to compassionately acknowledge that this is what it is, and is very human. I remind myself there is no one here criticizing me; I am accountable to myself, sure, but also accountable to myself for treating myself well. I breathe, and relax, and find myself feeling more settled and comfortable, although eager to feel well enough to get on with things, which seems a healthier approach to the circumstances.

I add a couple things to my list that I’ll want to catch up on when I am able to do so. I promise myself that I’ll tackle the dishes by emptying the dishwasher this morning, and reloading it tonight after work. I find a couple other gentle compromises that get things done without tiring me. It’s enough.

I begin again…

I woke three times, all three times feeling well-rested, the first two also entirely able and willing to return to sleep – so I did. 😀 It is Saturday, and I have succeeded in doing the one thing I did plan to do today; I got the rest I needed. 🙂

Good self-care is critical to my wellness. (Yours, too, probably.) I used to suck at it completely, always over-compromising what it takes to be well and feel good by grabbing onto other experiences and choices, for…well… reasons. Reasons that seemed to make sense in the moment, but more often than not were excuses and rationalizations for “doing whatever I want” – or, actually, whatever someone else wanted. The cycle of exhaustion, meltdowns, and poor outcomes was so predictable that for many years I simply called the entire mess “hormones” and put that shit on my calendar without any particularly successful effort to mitigate or improve any of it (because… “hormones”… well… that shit can’t be fixed, though, right? Right??) (Actually, no. It turns out that conflating hormones, mental illness, a lack of emotional intelligence, poor self-care, and plain old-fashioned inconsiderate shitty behavior, assumption making, and personal bullshit leaves quite a lot of room for improvement… so… maybe rethinking your inconsiderate bullshit, at a minimum, is a good place to start? 😉 Just saying.)

I am watching, from a distance, as two relationships in my social network struggle with a partner’s mental illness. Both have been deeply committed loving relationships of decades of mutual affection, support, and shared family life. Both are struggling with the challenge of making love work, while also supporting a mentally ill person’s personal challenge with finding wellness, and juggling all the other elements of family life: work, kids, bills, grocery shopping, and even the assumptions of strangers and the well-meaning “help” and support of friends, sometimes less than ideally helpful, no doubt. (Been there.) It’s fucking hard to be mentally ill. It’s fucking hard to love someone who is mentally ill. The coping skills and rationalizations that allowed these relationships to succeed and perhaps even appear functional before mental illness finally prevented that from being a thing at all are reliably breaking down now that these mentally ill friends are seeking (and getting) treatment that may actually result in wellness. Their partners may not be much help at this point, and in fact, their hurts, anger, resentment, and emotional wellness concerns are reliably welling up and becoming problems that need to be managed. It’s when a mentally ill loved one begins the journey to wellness that everyone else’s rampant crazy bullshit comes to the forefront – along with the rationalizations, excuse-making, justifications, chronically incorrect and untested assumptions, and refusal to respect new boundaries and changes of behavior. It’s ugly and it’s hard. There are literally no “good guys”, and as soon as “the crazy one” begins to practice things that are more sane, the crazy on the other side of the relationship becomes apparent – often accompanied by utter refusal to acknowledge it, be accountable for it, accept it, or change it.

When people who are mentally ill seek treatment, find it, and begin their journey toward wellness, the first set back is often because within their once supportive network of friends and family (“I’m here for you!”) are people who are suddenly not so willing to “be there” if “there” turns out to include being aware of their own bullshit, and their continued commitment to a status quo that it turns out has favored them, and met certain needs that must now be met differently – in, oh, hey, some new healthy way. It’s hard. It’s hardest, frankly, on the mentally ill partner now responsible not only for staying focused on treatment, but now this mentally unwell person struggling with their situation is suddenly also forced to have to provide support to the adult in the room who turns out to be less than ideally adult (and sometimes fully unwilling to even be aware of that).

It’s a see-saw, people. When we love someone with a mental health challenge, over time, we make room for some weird and possibly damaging bullshit that changes who we are, ourselves, a little at a time. When someone we love who is mentally ill seeks help, and begins to make real changes, on purpose, with the intent of becoming well – our own crazy is going to well up and fight back, and our failure to be observant and aware, and also take the very best care of ourselves, for real, is likely to be the first step on the path to seeing that relationship simply end. It will end in screaming tantrums, outrage, defensiveness, accusations, and generally – a lot of needless yelling. The cause I most commonly see as obvious and avoidable is that instead of partnerships fighting mental illness together, partners become adversaries and basically forget all about the actual issue being someone who is sick, and not able to be at their best, who needs help, support, consideration, and compassion.

Reminder: getting a diagnosis does not suddenly make someone who is mentally ill magically able to not struggle with mental illness. They can’t just point to a page in their handy “So you’re depressed?” handbook or their “The basics of living with PTSD” guide and go down a list of steps to “make it all better” for some other person. Fuck you. That’s sort of one of the limitations of being unwell; there is a fairly commonly implied inability to do all the things.

I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m saying it’s fucking hard. I’m saying a great many relationships that end over mental illness don’t end because a partner is mentally ill – they end when that person seeks wellness and messes with the stable status quo that has allowed the “well” person certain… sanity privileges, that they must now give up in favor of dealing with their own unaddressed bullshit. No one in a relationship recovers from mental illness alone; everyone must deal with their bullshit. Everyone has bullshit.

When I hit that wall in my own relationship(s) I was fortunate. I chose to move into my own living space, and make a significant lifestyle change for a variety of reasons that overlapped in a useful way. I live alone. Sure, there’s bullshit, and I definitely trip over it frequently – and it’s all mine. My bullshit. My issues. My limitations. It’s also my home, my rules, my way; the failures are mine, and so are the successes. I was able to let go of my attachment to “being heard” by my partner(s), and able to comfortably take time to be heard by the woman in the mirror – because I could recognize, in the silence of solitary space, that this was in fact where the issue rested, for me. I was able to begin to sort out my bullshit from the bullshit in my relationships that wasn’t mine, and let go of trying to fix other people, or a relationship dynamic that was unavoidably damaged by my issues, and work on practicing healthier practices that support my own mental wellness… and having gained a measure of wellness, emotional resilience, and stability, then I could begin to tackle the complex challenges of “making things right” with emotionally hurt partner(s). Please note: I am not recommending my choices to anyone else. I am this person here, and my needs are what they are; I thrive living alone. You are likely someone else altogether, with different needs, and other choices may be preferable for you, personally. I’m just saying – achieving wellness may very well destroy existing relationships, and not through any failure of the mentally ill person, and in no way directly caused by their illness, but totally because they attempted to get well – and wellness did not meet the needs of that relationship. It’s totally a thing.

Prepare for change. Seeking mental health changes things. It’s a thing people know about.

Are you a “bad person” if you can’t stay in a relationship with someone who is mentally ill? I mean, you wouldn’t leave if they broke their leg, right? It’s a complicated question. Just as complicated as “Am I a bad person if I can’t stay in my relationship because my partner won’t respect new boundaries and changes in behavior as I improve my mental health?”

Helpful friends don’t feel any more comfortable than anyone else in the context of watching lovers struggle with mental health concerns. Everyone has their “good advice” to offer. People take sides without ever seeing the entirety of the dynamic. Also hard.

Every bit of all the hard stuff is 100% hardest on the person who is mentally ill, who is trying their damnedest to find emotional wellness – they are the one who is sick, people. I’m just saying. Seriously? Find some fucking perspective. Be there for a friend. Listen more than you talk, and refrain from making assumptions. Be encouraging. Be considerate. Be compassionate. If a relationship is struggling with mental illness, everyone is hurting, everyone is injured, everyone is struggling – and no one is the good guy; we’ve all got our own bullshit to deal with.

Two different relationships, two different sets of circumstances. I find myself fairly certain one relationship has already failed, and wondering if the other might manage to survive this; it’s in how they treat each other. In both cases, I see the mentally ill person doing what they must do to become well.

I notice that I have finished my second coffee, and my playlist just ended. It is a lush rainy Saturday, and I’ve got some important self-care to take care of; it’s been a long week, and I find that my own emotional wellness is very much tied to skilled self-care. 🙂 It’s time to get started on the practices that keep me well. Doing so, and staying committed to them, has changed my world, and also my relationships. I swallow one last bite of oatmeal, grateful my relationship with my Traveling Partner has endured my changes. Love matters most.