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Not feeling much like me

It’s been a funny sort of week. The weather is glorious and everybody else seems to be feeling the weight of winter being lifted from their shoulders. People look lighter and happier.

Not me. I’ve been feeling unusually stressed out and a little depressed the past few weeks.

A bunch of things are weighing me down. Even the fact that I’m feeling stressed out and depressed is stressing me out and depressing me. It’s not compatible with how I see myself. I’m the one who’s supposed to ride the waves, roll with the punches, get back on the horse. I’m supposed to be the eternal optimist. Nothing’s supposed to get me down.

So I went to see a counselor. She told me that sometimes people summon up reserves of strength to sail through a crisis (like cancer, for example), but once the crisis is over, the feelings catch up with them. And that’s when they start showing signs of stress or depression. Maybe that’s what’s going on with me.

Unemployment is kind of stressful too. Career-changing, job-hunting, financial worries – it all adds up.

All I know is I feel ten years older than I felt a year ago. And I physically feel something unpleasant in my body. It’s in my stomach and chest and face and shoulders. It builds up until I sigh deeply, which relieves it temporarily, and then it starts building up again.

I tried googling stress. But it freaked me out to read about what all that extra cortisol is doing to my body. Yikes.

What else is new?

  • I heard from my ex-husband a couple of days ago, for the first time in 10 years. He sent me an email saying he’d found my blog and has been reading it. That gave me a moment’s pause. I mean, I write this stuff and I put it out there for anybody and everybody to read, but every now and then I’m startled to find out that a particular somebody is reading it. Like my ex-husband. I felt the same way when my mother started reading it, and when my son did, and when my boss asked me if I was Zoom.

  • Last night we bought some Hoegaarden beers and drank a toast to Dave1949’s health. He just finished his cancer treatments and is looking forward to starting to feel better soon.

  • GC and I went to the Ottawa Calligraphy Society’s open house the other night and some scribes made us these lovely complimentary name plates.

  • calligraphy

18 comments to Not feeling much like me

  • I know how you’re feeling – I’ve been pretty down lately – and I have always thought of myself as the eternal optimist.
    For me, it’s that the work atmosphere isn’t all that healthy (contract negotiations, talk of strike and a management culture that shows no appreciation of its workforce), personal relationships are a little strained at the moment, and the money situation could be better. But really gets me down is the fact that I am down… it’s odd.

  • Being unemployed is hard. The uncertainty can get to you. (What are you doing for vacation? Oh, can’t make vacation plans, don’t know if I’ll be working.) Also, I found I went through phases where I lost all confidence that I’d ever find a job again to phases where I was really optimistic. I think it’s just part of the nature of being unemployed. One thing I found helped was getting together with former co-workers to find out what their current job was & what advice they had for me because these were people who knew that I could contribute.

    I’m sure the health issues you’ve gone through haven’t helped, either. I’d suggest figuring out what helps you cope with stress. For me, it’s boxing training and weight lifting. For others, yoga works, or archery, or a bubble bath.

    Another suggestion is that maybe you need to change your view of yourself from someone who is the eternal optimist to someone who is usually optimistic but who is allowed to get depressed sometimes. (I know I have trouble admitting that I’m allowed to not be able to handle everything by myself – it could be similar for you.)

    I’m sure you’ll figure it out. Hang in there.

  • My cortisol deficient (she has adrenal failure) holistic psychologist friend got me taking Rhodiola – it’s rose root – 500 mg daily in the morning. It reduces cortisol levels naturally. The brand I get is NOW – orange label purple cap and trim. The o in now is a maple leaf.

    It took about three days for me to feel my shoulders and my chest relaxing.

  • Your counselor is bang on about how we react to crises- we manage to summon up the reserves we need to get us through crap, and then when we sense we can relax a bit, BOOM. I know this pattern all too well and unfortunately I didn’t recognize it for years of one crisis after another, and eventually it caught up with me, until I was pretty much debilitated by severe anxiety and depression. I know better now to recognize the signs and be much more gentle and compassionate with myself, before the poop hits the fan. It makes a world of difference.

    Could you maybe let go of all the stuff clogging your mind for awhile and just focus on treating yourself well? Job hunting is indeed a drag- maybe tell yourself that you will not think or do anything about it for a few days, and do nothing but knit (or meet me at Raw Sugar and help me with my knitting, lol) or read trash or whatever else feels good.

    I guess the main message here is to just be compassionate with yourself- you’ve been through a heck of a lot in a fairly short time. Recognize that and woman, give yourself credit for coping as well as you did, and cut yourself some slack, gently :)

  • Em

    You’ve been through so much, Zoom, and you’re still dealing with the unemployment situation, which is really stressful in itself. I don’t think it’s unusual to feel wiped out.

    And spring is a notoriously bad season for people with mood disorders. (“april is the cruelest month…”) In the past, I’ve found it quite difficult in the spring. You expect everything to get better and the weather is great and everyone else is happy, but everything still sucks in your world. So you’re not alone. Hang in there though – it seems like a lot of your stress is situational, and once these temporary issues are dealt with, you’ll come around. Just give yourself some time and be good to yourself.

  • I had a miscarriage in 2002. It was a very physically traumatic experience and it took me a while to recover.

    Months after I’d returned to work and thought I was all better, I was walloped with the emotional side of things. Exactly as you say above, I made it through the crisis, only to start to grieve when I thought the dust was settled.

    Go easy on yourself.

  • Hang in there zoom. You’ll feel better. Listen to your friends.

  • Kellie

    ((((hugs)))) – your counsellor sounds pretty on the money; you’ve just pulled yourself through a very tough year, be gentle with yourself. And if it helps, I’m a clinical psychologist and I’ve battled with my mood since I was an adolescent to avoid those damned annoying plunges into the darkness – even the best of us need to stop the merry-go-round every now and then and catch our breath.

  • That’d freak me out… someone who meant that much to me, after ten years of silence, tracking down my blog and then admitting to reading it now. It has happened to me in the past… mostly ex-girlfriend’s. Recently my current girlfriend, and mother to my son, found the URL of Salted and decided to check it out. Four days later she had gone through all 287 of my posts. Including the ones I wrote about her.


    Here’s something… did you know large parts of Canada are actually getting higher? The colossal weight of the glaciers from the last ice age caused huge depressions in Canada, most of Northern Ontario, for example, is slowly rebounding like a giant sponge.

    Depressions have that crushing effect. But, once we’ve dealt with them, we do rebound.

    Drink lots of pure orange juice, and knit in the sunshine.

  • Judith Spencer

    I understand and have experienced how stress can make you feel so physically ill. I hope you feel better soon Susan. My son Jake experiences anxiety at the onset of each new season and I think that we have to grieve everything that passes from our life. Take heart that you have so many friends that care about you and by the fact that it will pass

  • Valerie, it does sound like you’re in the same place as me right now. I hope we both get restored to our former optimistic glory soon.

    Colette, yeah, unemployment is hard. I still dream about getting laid off several times a week, so I know it’s bothering me. And you’re absolutely right, I should reframe the way I view myself to someone who is *usually* optimistic. I’m going to work on that.

    Mudmama, a friend of mine is recommending I take something her naturopath prescribed to her for “adrenal fatigue.” I think it’s a green liquid.

    Livefrom161, part of the problem is that I’m procrastinating a lot, which is making me feel more stressed. So taking a break probably isn’t a good solution in this particular case. 😉 But thank you.

    Em, yeah, in February you’ve got the whole “misery loves company” thing going on – EVERYBODY is down. But now, everybody else is happy which only emphasizes the fact that I’m down.

    Laurie, did you feel it coming, or did it just catch you completely off-guard? Has it ever happened again?

    Robin, thank you. I hope you’re right. I’ve read that we all have our own set points for happiness, and we tend to rebalance back to that point. So that bodes well for me.

    Kellie, do you think it helps to be a psychologist? Or does it not make any difference?

    Victor’s Father – oh oh! Well, you know, maybe her having read your blog will provide a jumping off point for some conversations you might want to have with her. It might really open up the lines of communication (there’s the eternal optimist again).

    Thank you Judith. It does make me feel better to know so many people care.

  • In answer to your question, I was walloped. I was over the crisis and thought I was putting things behind me and then – wham. But a couple of weeks of being kind to myself and taking it easy (and some therapy) helped a lot.
    And that was just ONE crisis. You’ve been through more than any one person should be expected to handle this year. Give yourself time.
    As for coming back – not really. I have struggled with depression and, while I certainly felt depressed I think it really was some kind of Post Traumatic episode.

  • yes, being stressed when you have the luxury of time crisis downtime. makes sense for good coping mechanism of the body.

    the ex- reading would give a good old jolt too.

    someone in my building is “reading me”. he called me by name and looked at me in a familiar fashion, but we’ve never met face to face. kinda weird, even if we do put it out there for anyone to read.

  • I feel for you Zoom. There is a very fine line between tiredness/exhaustion and depression, at least that is what I’ve found out for myself. Also, what I’ve found for myself is that trying to avoid the sensations and feelings won’t work. It is very unpleasant to feel that way, but sometimes I just have to feel it through and through before another phase of feeling better can start. What I mean is that what works for me is to kind of own the downs too, make the downs a part of me as well, ’cause if I go the way of ‘I shouldn’t be feeling this way, this is not me, etc’ I get into a cycle of self-punishment for feeling stressed and depressed and I only make it worse. The eternal optimist will come back to you, give it a bit of time! :) In the meantime, big hugs :)

  • I just want to say that I have that chest tightening thing sometimes- I didn’t realize i could do anything about it other than yoga and pretend to feel better. Big hugs in that internet way that means I’m rooting for you.

    You know, you really actually help people all the time with this blog and with the way that you express yourself honestly but in a universal way – relating your experiences out. So thanks.

    And thanks Mudmama, I’m going to try rose root.

  • Hey! I just blogged about going to see a therapist next week. Thanks for posting about your own experience in this sense, it makes me feel like less of a phycocondriac.

    Also — the ex-husband thing is MASSIVE. And it’s gotta be hard because if it was me I’d be all like, “it’s not a big deal” because I wouldn’t WANT it to be a big deal, but man, it’s a big deal. It brings shit up whether we want it to or not.

    Of course I am saying all this with utmost kindness and a total lack of judgment. Thank you for your honest posts.

  • Laurie, it’s kind of scary to thing that things that you thought you dealt with can ambush you in the future.

    Pearl, are you sure he’s reading you? Maybe there should be some kind of blog etiquette, whereby anyone you know (or used to know because you once were married, or sort of know because you live in the same building) who’s reading your blog should have to leave a comment indicating that they’ve arrived.

    Thanks Cristina. I’ve heard that before, that the only way through it is through it. It makes sense. But I still don’t want to go there!

    Redfraggle, thank you too. I’ll take those hugs. :)

    Thanks Kim. I take it in the kind and non-judgmental spirit it was offered. And now I’m off to read about you and your therapist.

    Mudmama – where can I get this rose root stuff?