Maybe the best thing about reading this book is that it turns out I’m not nuts, not alone, and not too far off on my self-diagnosis. According to this guy, the so-called “Triple Whammy” is the three-fold life-attack of stress, low serotonin, and hormonal imbalance. According to the “Just How Messed Up Are You Quiz” at the beginning of the book, I’m moderately to severely screwy. I actually received some serious comfort when reading the list of possible symptoms and finding most of mine on there.
To name a few:
- Do you feel like you’ve lost control of something recently in your life? Hm. How about my sudden non-contribution to the family finances after having a full time job for the past 5 years? And every once in a while, my inability to speak (and/or interpret) 4-year old.
- Have you ever experienced periods of depression? Not until I got married (hah) and then again just after having children. Could it be the birth control, pregnancy,
post-pardumpostpartum roller coaster, Doc? (Yes, Claire. Yes it could.) Actually I take that back. I had exactly two full blown panic attacks the summer before moving to North Carolina, and one more when I was in the woods. At the time, I blamed Satan. Now that I know he and estrogen are BFF, I’m not recanting my first finger point.
- Do you crave carbohydrates, sugar, or chocolate, especially in the days just before your period? What woman on Earth does not, I ask you. Especially always. In fact, just reading the word “chocolate” has me digging through the fridge in search of those leftover brownies from John’s meeting last weekend. No particular monthly cravings, but certainly cravings within 30 minutes of eating a meal. All meals. Always right before bed.
- Is the week after your period the week when you feel best during a month? Is that the last time I was happy? Yes. I do seem to remember a day several weeks ago when John came home from work that I was actually happy to see him. It seems so long ago…
- If you’ve ever given birth, did you experience depression after delivery? Yes. Both times. But the first time I didn’t know that’s what it was until I called my mother at 2 in the morning one week and confessed that the thought of dying in my sleep actually provided me some emotional relief. She advised me to call my doctor, I got some drugs, and for the next several months even the most unruly classes of high school freshman couldn’t faze me or stimulate a reaction whatsoever. It was when I realized certain favorite foods no longer tasted good, however, that I decided wean myself back off.
- Do you experience any of the following and with how much regularity? Fatigue (daily), poor memory (come on, I have kids), unrefreshing sleep (M-F when I have to wake up before 9), overwhelmed (weekly), depressed/anxious (bi-weekly), widespread muscle aches (lower back: I no longer sit down for extended periods of time), brain fog (starts at exactly 4:15 every afternoon), feeling drained (daily), headaches (I wake up with one most mornings), jaw grinding (nightly)...
It wasn’t like I needed a questionnaire to tell me that I’m in a season of physical and emotional unhealthiness, but it has been pretty easy for me to be in denial because my face is not breaking out and I’m not gaining any weight. In the past, these have been the first two reasons for any desire to alter my eating and activity habits. With my face in the pillow last night I said to John, “In three weeks, I’m going to like you again. And I think you’re going to like me. I just wanted to tell you that I’m doing this for you.” His response was, “Are you sure you’re depressed? Depressed people don’t think like that. Depressed people like hating their lives and everything in them because it feels good. I think you’re just saying that.”
Sad. Because, it is sort of true. But lately, I’ve been picturing myself as a tiny version of me, sitting at a set of controls, deep in my brain, looking out of my eyes like two gigantic spaceship windows. It is almost as if I cannot actually feel my fingertips, feet, lips, because I’m controlling all my movements from a cockpit way inside my head. And that miniature little pilot-sized me, is still normal. And sometimes nice. “Don’t you want me to like you again? I mean, not just sometimes. All the time?”
“Yes,” he said, wearily. “That would be nice.”