Friday, May 19, 2006

Comfortably Numb

Quick update on Red Dog – he’s splintless and coneless as of this morning. The wound has closed completely but still looks a bit sore, and he’s favoring the leg after not walking on it for 3 weeks, but otherwise is extremely glad to be rid of all his extras.

My depression is still with me for the most part. When I get engrossed in good TV or a work project I forget about myself for a while. I’ve been on an SSRI for quite a while now but it doesn’t prevent depression and anxiety completely.

The thought that keeps coming to me is this: I’m not comfortable with comfortable.

Perhaps things are going too well. I’m on the lookout for the next giant boulder or anvil that’s going to come flying off the cliff anytime now.

If I can just keep my focus off of myself I won’t have to feel whatever it is I’m keeping myself from feeling. If I can focus on an external issue (money, work, the fact that my car needs washing) or someone else and their issues and the way I feel about them (dog, mother-in-law, all the sadness in the IF blogosphere), I will be safe.

My earliest memories of my mother are about her being sick. Having to be quiet during her daily naps, not being able to do this or go somewhere because she wasn’t feeling up to it. If you told her you had a headache, she would say something like, "I've had a headache since 1974, and it feels like someone is stabbing me in the head with an icepick." She would happily prattle on about her various ailments to anyone who would listen (or who was trapped by a line in a supermarket or elevator and forced to listen). My sister and I called this Seven Major Illnesses Time. She’s spent her entire life going from one medical crisis to another. Once she’s healed or gotten over something, she’ll come up with something else that takes her back to the doctor, gets her another prescription or (best of all) onto another operating table. She’ll keep getting referrals to another specialist until somebody agrees to cut her open. A couple of years ago she became convinced that she’s diabetic and now checks her blood sugar many times a day even though the diagnosis is still “borderline” – she’s a fucking genius. I thought for a while she was just addicted to painkillers, which I’m sure is true, but she’s really addicted to the attention and doesn’t know how to get it any other way. She also loves to be the martyr and play the sympathy card, and well, who doesn’t feel bad for someone who feels bad? When my brother died last year it was her Golden Ticket, her ace in the hole to always win the Whose Life Sucks Most contest.

I have very little tolerance for myself feeling bad, can ya tell? I do not want to be like her in any way. I hate going to the doctor, so making the decision to enter the world of ART was a difficult one. How’s that for irony, eh? Well irony can take a flying leap. As my good friend C says, I hate ironing.

I will work on being more comfortable with being comfortable, and try to stop wondering when I’m going to crash my car on my way home from work or when that anvil is going to find me. It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks.


  1. First off, I have to say even when you are down, you crack me up. The picture(s)you choose always captivate your writing.
    I think you may be right about the not comfortable with comfortable. It makes sense.
    I hope that this is just a rough patch and things even back out soon. I mean, with Tucker dog all on the mend, things are already looking up, right? (((BIG HUGS))) Now go open a bottle of wine and have a great weekend with your wonderful husband and puppy dogs.

  2. Dear Donna, I'm just catching up now. I'm so sorry about your depression, and glad that it seems to be getting a little lighter. I'm glad, too, that your dog is healed. It is so sad to see pets hurt.

    I can imagine it's hard for you to talk about your pain, when you understandably have that picture of "pain=attention-getting ploy" in your head. What's worse than pain is feeling bad about being in pain in the first place. I hope things improve for you soon, and you stop expecting the other anvil to drop. I'm thinking of you.

  3. Oh there's so much I want to say and I don't know how to say any of it because I''m still searching for the answers myself.

    I've been listening to and reading (I have the book and the audio recording) Comfortable with Uncertainty by Pema Chodron and it has been helpful to me, maybe you'd feel the same way about it.

    My experience with depression has been that it's a feeling of loss and anger that I've pushed down as far as I can, feeling those feelings does tend to alleviate the depression. Facing those feelings is so hard but necessary I think.

    But always waiting for something bad to happen - that's PTSD and that's the hardest thing to deal with. It sounds like your mother's "illnesses" were a traumatic force in your life and that you grew up without a sense of security.

    You are a strong woman who can face down any anvil, avoid a car crash, and I imagine, let go of numbness.

    And, as always, your friends are here for you.

    PS my dog says ruff ruff to Red Dog, hope he gets well soon.

  4. I'm glad your dog is doing better but sorry you're feeling worse.

    I have often thought that my mother gets an adrenaline rush out of stirring things up. I felt that her personality, before SSRI, was an addiction to anger and the flood it provided.

    I kind of cringe when people don't pause long enough to feel sorry for their plight. I've learned that, if nothing else, I have to tend myself, because nobody else will do it, and sometimes that means to pause long enough to wallow. That's what blogging means to me and obviously I wallow a lot there, but I feel like my plight demands it. I don't feel, however, that I seek my plight, but I certainly ruminate on it.

  5. Gosh...I'm sorry I haven't been a very good blog friend of late - been very self consumed. Just catching up with you now. Sorry to hear about red dog and the whole incision/cyst ... keep us posted. I have been the queen of focusing elsewhere for most of my life - comfortable numbness and avoidance. There is a certain joy in finally being able to experience the emotion, but it does suck to feel it. Know that I'm thinking of you.

  6. Reading this makes me think you need to get out of your head and into your body more, if I may be so bold as to offer some assvice. Have you tried things like sports or dancing or hiking to empty your mind? Now that I've got the salsa thing going, I don't know what I did without it. For 4 hours a week, I forget everything except where to put my foot next and there's the extra added bonus of pretending I'm showgirl in Havana in the 50s... :)

    Anyway, it's just a thought... maybe some other activity if it's not something physical, maybe something creative, anything that will allow you to tune out of your head and into your senses.

    Your body (and your brain) actually do want to be comfortable. You just need to find a way to get in touch with that, something that can free you up enough to just breathe and be.

  7. Donna,
    Thinking about you! I took Serzone and Clonopin for a while and they helped me a great deal. Maybe you haven't found the right med yet?
    Hang in there...

  8. You always get me to thinking. I can relate to the whole putting it out of my mind thing. It often seems easier to focus on anything other than myself and the real issue.

    Regarding your mother, what you wrote reminded me of an article I read in Real Simple (May 2006) called "Sick of Worrying." It's about a hypochondriac who finally tackled her delusions/fears and is working through the condition. My Grandma is exactly like you describe your mom to be, and it always drove me bonkers. That is, until (fortunately or otherwise) Alzheimer's relieved the worst it.

    Hope you find a way to be in your skin comfortably. And hope your pup continues recovering quickly!

  9. It's not bad to feel bad. You associate bad feeling with being like your mother, but you are nothing like her. Nothing! You won't morph into her suddenly just because you acknowledge that you also have pain and suffering. You are not her.

    But that's the catch 22 here. If you acknowledge what's bothering you, then you will simulataneously become your mother. What a painful proposistion. Remain in smoldering pain and try to get comfortable with it or become your mother, who's life you've subconsciously promised yourself never to emulate.

    But, in doing that, it sounds like you've disallowed yourself a the very natural human urge to feel and express pain, (which is the first step to overcoming it unless you dont want to overcome it like people who are addicted to the attention of it...but we've already established that that's not you.)

    So dont bury what's bothering you out of fear of becoming something that you're not. Bury it because you've acknowledged and mourned the loss and disappointment you felt and are now ready to move on.

    At that point, it wont matter if you're comfortable with comfortable. You will be comfortable with you. And that's heaven on earth.

    I can go on and on about this but i wont because there's only so much assvice a person can take (or give) a day. But I'll probably stop by tomorrow for the next installment, entitled "Journaling, It Does a Heart Good."

  10. I know that over the years you've worked hard to let go of your mom and all her problems, and her NPD (You introduced me to that, and I saw MY mom in that disorder!) It sucks when you can't trample down old memories. Your mother obviously made some big mistakes with her child-rearing (maybe especially so with her daughters?) I guess the only thing I can say, is that you'll never be able to change the way your mom thinks so just try to rise above it, and enjoy comfort while it lasts.
    Glad to hear that your dog's leg is better. He's probably happy not to have to wear that cone any more.

  11. How's your dog doing, Donna?

  12. I am glad that your dog is doing better since your last post.

    I wish I had something useful or comforting to say about depression, unfortunately I don't. I have been struggling with it myself for sometime now and I really don't know what to do myself. I just wanted to let you know that I am thinking of you and I hope you are taking care of yourself.