One of the things I've always said about my particular battle with chronic illness is that - for me - it's like having all the downsides of being pregnant, without any of the benefits. When you talk to women about some of the worst side effects they encountered during their pregnancies, you hear a lot of talk about exhaustion (check) or their new aches and pains (check plus). I've known pregnant ladies who found that they were sensitive to odors (check plus), others whose favorite foods were no longer edible (check). There's the nausea (check), the heartburn (check), the weight gain (check), the loss of balance (check), the increase in number or intensity of headaches (check), the insomnia (check plus) and the resulting "mommy brain" (what I like to call brain fog) . I've got all those symptoms (plus bonus symptoms like a ridiculous lack of immune system & muscles weaker than wet noodles), only I don't get to have any of the fun that goes into making a baby or the fabulous new little person to care for afterwords.
For the past little while, I have been in a mood and it hasn't been an exceptionally positive one. For every good thing I do or have, it seems 12 not-so-good things come creeping out of nowhere. For every day I get to give Lil Girl a bath and put her hair in pigtails, I've spent 7 days coughing until there's nothing left to cough up. For every phone call with a friend, I get 5 runarounds with the insurance company (Dear Mass Health: Could you please try to not kill me this year? I'd appreciate it). For every "balentines" cake we make that crumbles into pieces thereby forcing us to eat it with our fingers, I've got 4 straight weeks of not leaving the house except to see a doctor.
I have spent zero days this year without a sinus infection. There were days when it was lessened and I was functioning better, and days when it was worse and I was basically a zombie, but for all 48 days of 2010 I have had a sinus infection. Which is no worse than any other year, really, because I've been sick for at least the past 5594 days, but 48 days without breathing correctly has the power to mess with your mind, let me tell you.
So there's my mood: Complete with grouchiness, confusion and uber-sensitivity. I feel like everything I say is in another language, that I can't make people understand me. I have this sense of (as my sister would say) "Too. Much. Pressure!" that there's a lot of questions and expectations and wants that people are bombarding me with, and I just don't have the energy to deal with them.
I know I'm in trouble when I stop writing. When I stop coming by here to let you all know how things are going, I tend to let myself wallow more. I know I'm in trouble when I stop picking up my camera - when I let the frustration that the damn batteries only last 16 minutes and I have to buy a new damn camera keep me from snapping pictures of sleepovers and Rock Band marathons. I know I'm in trouble when I avoid e-mails and calling people back, because I don't want to have to explain "how I am doing" to anybody, because there's no good answer. I'm doing: but barely. I'm functioning and having a good day or two along the way, but for the most part I just feel stuck.
Stuck and struck by how little of my life I am able to control. By how little my plans count for anything. By how little compassion and empathy there seems to be in my world, in the world.
Even though I can see all of the positives in my life - which I know I have many of - I'm at a point right now where it's getting hard to hold on to them through everything else. It's like there are rare rainbows and even a unicorn or two, but for the most part I'm slogging through a swamp.
And as I am typing this all out, I want to say very clearly that, while I may be depressed (lowercase d), I am also not Depressed (capital D), because I have been Depressed and I know what that feels like. For me, it isn't being unable to hold on to the happiness that's around me, it's being completely unaware that those good things exist in my life... it's being surrounded by positives and being unable to see/feel/experience them. Right now I can still see them, and I can still enjoy them. I probably embrace them even more so than I would if I weren't in this mood, because I crave them so much.
I think that's a good label for the mood I've been in, for what I've been doing: I'm not upset, I'm not depressed or lonely or sad or difficult: I'm craving. I'm craving peace and order and simplicity. I'm craving opportunities to leave the house that don't include someone sticking me with sharp implements. I'm craving time with the people I love that doesn't include me being simultaneously hurt. I'm craving baking that doesn't make me want to throw up & hugs that don't make me want to cry. I'm craving understanding - the kind that comes when you don't have to explain yourself over and over and over again.
And all I can think is how much simpler it would be - and how much happier I would be - if I could just crave ice cream and pickles instead.
*Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs