Wednesday, September 28, 2011

rock bottom moment

There is a metaphor I really like to use with patients in my work. It spoke to me very much in a time of crisis and it has continued to resonate to this day. It goes something like this:

When you jump into a deep swimming pool and you don't get all the way down to the floor of the pool, and you try to swim up, it's hard to do. Your body had momentum from the jump and reversing the direction to go up is very effortful. When you jump into the pool and get to the floor of the pool, you can push off and get back to the surface without much effort at all. Sometimes reaching the bottom helps you to get the momentum you need to get back up.

Now, don't think that I mean to say this is the actual rock bottom of my infertility and childlessness. I realize that things can get much, much worse from here. If nothing else, my experience thus far has taught me that lesson.

I was just having supper in my car a few minutes ago. Why? I was at work until 7:15pm and then wanted to spend time commenting on blogs and responding to email, so I had to visit the local mermaid-emblemed  coffee chain that provides free internet when you purchase a very expensive drink. Why would I not just do email from home? Well, I had to find another place to board in FTT for the last 7 weeks of my contract, and this place doesn't have internet access at the moment. Gak. So, instead of going home for supper, I got something from the gourmet grocery store adjacent to the coffee shop and ate in my car. Lentil soup and bow-tie pasta salad. And REM singing about the end of the world as I know it.

It's been a hard week. 3 days of 11+ hours at work and some crappy sleeps. That seems like the new normal, but it was on the heels of yet another very crappy weekend. And then Mr. A who could not sleep on Sunday night (it's usually me or Chicken who can't sleep on Sundays). He told me in the morning that he had been up all night thinking about 'life'. In the hour that I was at home on Monday morning (5:45-6:45am), I didn't have it in my to explore what was up. I just gave him a hug and then I had to go. When I called on Monday evening, he told me it was about us having children. He wondered whether we (me) were just too tired for children, whether we (me) were too depressed for children, and whether we (me) were too irritable for children. Oh fuck. Yes we are. But I don't know what the heck more I can do about it right now.

To be fair, he wasn't saying any of this in a blaming way. He was just telling me what he felt worried and anxious about. And he was looking to me to reassure him that things would get better. Based on my belief in impermanence, I do believe things will change. But I can't see a clear picture of how things will get better. I just have to hold out hope that they will. That seemed to help him, somehow. But it left me with a horrible sense of failure. He is right. I am tired, sad and irritable. Pretty much all weekend every weekend. All the chipper I have has to be saved for my patients, their families and my team members. My livelihood depends on it.
This evening, sitting in my car, eating my supper in the dark, I felt like I did not belong anywhere. I can't stand going to where I board. I can't stand being at work anymore for today. I'm too far from my home and I am worried about what is going to happen at home, what is going to happen if Mr. A doesn't want to keep trying to have children because he's not sure about my capacity as a parent. He did call me at work today to check-in and worried that he had made me feel bad with voicing his concerns on Monday. It was reassuring to talk a bit, but what he was raising was a worse case scenario for me. Maybe IF will also rob me of my marriage.*

My rock bottom moment in the car tonight felt similar somehow to another rock bottom moment I had when I was 20. I was admitted to the psychiatric hospital on December 13, and so spent most of the Holidays in hospital. I remember Being the only patient on the unit that Christmas eve, since all the other patients had LOA passes and I didn't. I remember wondering what my life had become that I was sitting on a bed in a psychiatric hospital, listening to Simon and Garfunkel on a Christmas eve. And as awful as that sounds, I remember feeling like it was a new beginning.

It's not that I want to call it at this point. That would be premature. But things felt awful just an hour ago in the car. And at the same time, the memory of Christmas eve in the hospital came back to me very vividly. They say shit happens. New beginnings also probably happen.

*For you Ani DiFranco fans out there, it makes me think of the line in her song Done Wrong: "how could you take almost everything and then come back for the rest"


  1. I can understand this. I do the same. It seems I use all my energy at work to put on a smile for my patients and co-workers and when I get home I am wiped from 'faking' it for so's draining!
    Here's to new beginnings and better days :)

  2. I am so sorry it is so hard right now. I also believe in the impermanence of things. Hang in there. It won't feel like this forever.


  3. I am so sorry you felt like this today. I have listened to that song many times and understood it.

  4. I like that pool analogy. It describes the panic and fear of being under water. And despite anyone saying so, you will feel like you'd never trust that you could float.

    I am overly prone to depression. I hear you and see that new beginning on that Christmas hospital story. I wish I could pull you out for a tea and infuse all my tricks to cope, but they are weak when faced with all these big questions. I try to remember that I am not dead and that fact should bring me hope that something new is in store eventually. I have zero patience for being patient, so I know how frustrating this limbo is. The fact that your partner is speaking up says that you won't likely be robbed of him, too. He's working with you on this one.

    *I had to give up Ani awhile back. I had most of her albums and have seen her anywhere I could. I recommend a dose of ska therapy, or mixing in "Candy" with Iggy pop and the gal from b52s "I've had a hole in my hear for so long, I've had to fake it and just smile along."

  5. I think it is only natural and normal that you are extremely tired, emotionally unhinged and just plain sad at this point. I don't think this speaks to how you would be as a mother - I think you feel this way because life has been so hard for you guys lately and your struggle to become a mom is so difficult. On top of that being away from your husband must be so rough. I don't know how you do it. I do hope this is a turning point and that things to improve and soon.

  6. I love you so, so much. I know that feeling when you want your hubs to tell you how he's feeling, and then he does and you wish he hadn't said anything I don't know if that's how your feeling, and if it's not and I'm putting it on you, I apologize. It just came to mind. Wrapping you all tightly--Chicken included--in all the hug I got. New beginnings there are. Every moment. Yours is on the horizon, my dear friend. It has to be.

  7. *how you're feeling

    Your friend the teacher, horrified to see that either her brain/thumbs or her phone put the wrong "your/you're" in the original comment,

  8. Hugs, Augusta. How could you not be tired, sad and irritable? First, there is all that you have gone through. This is massive and there is no expiration date on that pain It can change, morph, become slightly different. But it is always there. Second, there is the very difficult situation that you are living in terms of work and living. Your job sounds VERY demanding. And there is the - critical, I think - point that you can't go home each evening to your kitty and your husband, that you can't return to a true home in order to lay your head down. This is a terribly hard thing. I only had to do it two nights a week (and my situation was different because I was staying with family). I cannot fathom more. Every time I returned to the Delinquent Household, there was a period of transition, a few moments or hours, or even days, of disconnection between myself and Mr. D. And that's a devastating thing when you only have a few days, at most, to be together again.

    Anyone would have a tough time being chipper under those circumstances. It's impossible. I understand Mr. A's worries but can't help feeling that a tremendous amount is situational. And situations change. In the blink of an eye, at the snap of the fingers. They change. And when they do, you will - neither of you - be too tired, too sad or too irritable.

    (I like the idea of momentum from rock bottom. I believe in that.)

  9. Loneliness, exhaustion, and lots of pressure are really good for depression, right? That's about all I remember from all that there "psychology" I studied.

    I think in addition to all the beautiful self knowledge you display above, Adele's point is an excellent one. It takes time to reconnect when partners are separated, and it sounds like you guys simply don't have it, given the intensity of your situation. I hope you feel like you can say to him, "I am too tired and irritable and FUCKING FURIOUS for any damn thing right now, including making you feel better! But I won't always be. And you just gotta hang on for as long as it takes." Betcha he will hang on. As you say, sometimes it's more about the talking than the resolving.

    In any event, I hate this bullshit you have to struggle through, I hate that you have to do it alone much of the time, and I hate that there's no simple or easy solution, and no clear end in sight. I hate that you might reach the surface only to tread water for a while, but I suspect any man awesome enough for you to have chosen him will be willing to hold you up for as long as you need it. Or hey, maybe some magical fucking whale will come along and give you guys a ride! (I know, why is there a whale in the swimming pool...)

  10. I could very much relate to this post. If it wasn't a rock bottom moment, it certainly was an "ah-ha"/ moment of clarity moment. So glad Mr. A reached out to you before it got worse.

    Sounds like you need to make some room to nurture yourself as well as you nurture your patients. I know it's hard, believe me I do. Also being prone to depression, I understand.

    Thinking of you and abiding with you through these dark times...I also believe in new beginnings- it's all I've got left is hope for one.

  11. I get a little panicked when I think about that pool example. I think the hardest part is that when you are experiencing that pool event, you usually dont know it. You thrash against the water and move nowhere. Is it possible you are one step ahead that you are even aware of such a case? I wish this to be true.

  12. I am tired, sad and irritable for you. I don't know how you could feel anything but. I am really sorry that you're in this space and can only hope that time will help you and your husband to work through this. I am thinking of you and hoping for brighter days really really soon Augusta.

  13. Dear Augusta - It has been awhile since I checked in. If I'm completely honest, I sometimes feel guilty that I have children and you don't (yet). I also worry that my comments/hearing from me will bring you more pain (see previous sentence!), and I don't want that. But when I read your most recent post today, I couldn't stay silent. You and Mr. A need to know that in the moments/days when I struggle as a parent, when I just want to be alone, or when I just know I've blown it (in a particular situation) with one of my kids, I think of you and the wonderful mother that I believe you will be one day. Regardless of what the future brings for either of us, I want you to know you, with your beautiful, generous, compassionate heart and your profound wisdom and integrity, you are my inspiration. You, dear Augusta, make me want to be the best mother I can possibly be.

    Love and prayers,

  14. I just found you through Glass Case of Emotion. Your description of the swimming pool is a feeling I know too well. The struggle to get back up to the top is exhausting and figuring out what to do once you are there is frightening.

    I'm not sure where in Canada you are but I've found some great waiting blog friends on the west coast that help me a ton :)

    Wishing you a happy thanksgiving!

  15. I am so sorry that you are struggling so much right now. I really like your pool analogy though, and I think it makes a lot of sense. We definitely hit rock bottom about a year and a half ago, and it was the momentum we needed to get going in our final push. I hope that will be the case for you.
    As for your previous post, I like the idea of Yankee eggs ;-) And yes, young ones!