Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Hello darkness, my old friend...

(After originally writing this post several months ago, I felt a whole lot better. But I saved it to publish if/when I was in the mood again. Here it is.)  

I often feel on the verge of tears lately. It doesn't take much to set me off.  I cry at the drop of a hat.

Dh tells me I look sad far too often these days. :(

I don't mean to. Really, most of the time, I'm a pretty happy girl. Why wouldn't I? I'm comfortably retired, with the stresses of the working world behind me. I've got a great husband, and a lovely new home, with some beautiful new furniture. I've got a wonderful extended family who loves me, and some pretty great friends, both online & "in real life." I've survived stillbirth, infertility, involuntary childlessness, job loss -- AND the Greater Toronto Area real estate market!! lol -- and lived to tell the tale.

But (as I confessed to dh recently) -- all of the above aside -- I'm increasingly plagued by constant feelings of anxiety, and deep unworthiness. :(  I can't shake the feeling that I've done something wrong -- or that I'm going to -- that disaster is going to strike, and it will be ALL MY FAULT. (What exactly it is that I've done wrong, I have no idea, of course.)  I've never been a very decisive person, but I find myself paralyzed with indecision lately, to the point of ridiculousness (see my recent (at the time of original writing) post on trying to choose a paint colour...!). I'm overwhelmed by the "what ifs" -- what might happen if I make the wrong choice? Even when it's something as relatively insignificant as paint colour (that can always be painted over again).

These feelings are nothing new. When the stress of infertility treatment brought on a series of debilitating anxiety attacks, almost exactly 16 years ago now, I came to recognize that I have probably been an anxious person for most of my life. I just didn't have full-blown panic attacks, and I didn't have the labels or the tools to analyze it when I was younger.

These feelings are not constant. They come & go... albeit more frequently again these days, it seems. :(

Maybe it's the effect of so many major life changes and stresses all at once over the past year or two -- losing our jobs, retiring (officially), turning 55 (becoming, by some definitions, a senior citizen -- eeekkk!!), moving (not just to a different neighbourhood, but to a different community, and not just to another house but to a condo, which meant getting rid of tons of stuff -- old, familiar, comfortable stuff). (Shopping for new stuff should be making me happy, right?  Instead, it often just makes me feel more anxious. More decisions to be made...!)

Maybe (quite possibly!!) it's those damned (peri)menopausal hormones at work.  Every time I go on a crying jag, I'm reminded of (and cheered up immensely by, lol) a classic episode of "All in the Family" where Edith is going through "the change,"  much to Archie's consternation. ;)  

Or maybe (very likely) it's just "that time of the month" coming -- which is hard to tell these days, because the aforementioned (peri)menopausal hormones have made my cycles increasingly erratic and hard to predict lately. I have definitely noticed that these feelings seem to intensify around "that time of the month," especially during that notorious two weeks (or so) wait leading up to Aunt Flo's return.

Whatever the reason I'm feeling this way -- I know it will pass.

(And return to haunt me. And then pass again.) 

What do you do to chase away the blues?


  1. Everyone who knows me in real life would probably say I'm indecisive so I can relate to that part. The thing is I hate that I find decisions so stressful and take ages to make up my mind and then worry afterwards that I made the wrong choice but I can't help it! When I have a day or phase where I'm feeling really down I'll usually try to get out and meet some good friends and having a good chat usually helps me feel better. Sorry that you've been feeling like this lately.

    1. Thank you -- I feel much better just having posted (as I so often do!). Getting out of the house for a while does help!

  2. Oh hormones definitely. I went kinda nuts before I went on HRT. Now I'm scared to come off it!

    Also, the last few years have been quite emotional. Yes, you're comfortably retired, but your retirement wasn't at exactly the time of your choosing, and neither was your husband's. You've had the emotions of selling your house, and the stress of doing that (which is one of life's great stresses), as well as the stress of moving into a new home. And yes, that is stressful, even when it can be exciting, because decisions have to be made, and you don't always get the time you need or want to decide. Decisions made under pressure are always more stressful. (I can't decide what colour to paint my bedroom. It's been 20+ years now!)

    Anyway, you've had your big road trip earlier in the year, your nephew's wedding, the emotions around the major milestones you would have experienced this year with Katie, and now the darkness is literally setting in, along with the cold that's on its way (if it isn't there already). I know that after a stressful or busy period, when I am left to contemplate my life there is often a "so this is it?" feeling. So, I hope you're being kind to yourself because you've had a lot to deal with, and there is almost always an inevitable downer afterwards.

    Also, I'm so glad (sort of - YKWIM) I'm not the only one who feels that I've forgotten something really important, and that something bad will happen as a result. I've felt that this last week, and it used to be worry about my mother, but now it's just there, even though it doesn't make any sense.

    Sending hugs.

    1. Oh yes, the dark and the cold are DEFINITELY here (with more to come!!). :p :( That certainly has something to do with it, although we were very lucky that it was relatively mild for as long as it lasted! Thanks for the hugs! :)

  3. Gosh, that's A LOT of change!!! You are doing so awesome!!!

    I really like everything Mali wrote. It has been a particularly intense couple of years for you. Changing where you live and what you do every day are major things, not to mention everything else on your plate... When I moved back in February and then sold our house last May, it brought up a lot a lot a lot of stuff for me. (Yes, it was a lot, haha.) Some stuff made sense, and some stuff seemed to come from out of nowhere. Emotional moves, even when positive, are hard.

    I appreciate your blog so much. It reminds me that I'm not alone. Thank you for this honest post. I'm so glad you're happy and that you're feeling better than when you originally wrote this post.

    Oh, to answer your question, what I do to chase the blues away: I go for a walk (it's so good for me to walk to reduce my anxiety!), I talk to a friend, I eat something sugary (haha, not the best coping mechanism, but, hey it could be worse), I remind myself I will get through whatever I am going through, I find something to appreciate in the moment, and I look forward to the new dreams I have for my future. Sometimes I just feel my feelings for a little bit. Sometimes we're just sad and that's okay. Like you said, it passes.

    1. Chocolate never hurts. ;) Emotionally, anyway, if not calorie-wise, lol. Retail therapy also works for me, lol. Thanks for the kind words!

  4. You’ve covered a lot of ground with the major life changes you’ve experienced over the last year or two, and then throw in pre-menopause on top of it; it’s bound to get a little crazy!

    I found once I stopped working and the day to day job stresses disappeared, they were taken over by silly little home life stresses.... I’ve had many a day thinking now that my life is calmer why do the little things seem to throw me as much as the major work things did?
    I have started to also factor in the pre-menopausal/hormonal changes.... goodness knows I’m starting to see it when I look in the mirror, or do a workout and in the background I hear my knee or ankle click with every move, not to mention the days when the thoughts and emotions flip from one end of the scale to the other.
    I get you too with the erratic cycle. If I’m in a mood I usually have to check the dates to see where I am in my cycle; lately PMS starts to kick in early and stays the whole extended, unpredictable cycle.

    To improve my mood I usually potter about in the garden, sometimes not doing a lot, but just being in it.... and I can always find a book or two to get lost in as well.

  5. You've had a lot going on -- so many changes, so many things beyond your control, and decisions...I'm sorry you're suffering from sadness and anxiety. I think it's totally understandable, but that doesn't make you feel better. When I'm super sad I either hole myself up and read or watch funny things to cheer myself up, or I do the opposite and watch really sad things to give me a catharsis. Steel Magnolias does the trick every time. I was in a real funk this fall and it helped to give myself time to do things I enjoyed and permission to say no to things I didn't feel like doing. I hope if hormones are to blame you can find relief somehow...thinking of you!