Mental Health, Symptoms

My Sob Story: Inexplicable Crying on Otherwise Happy Weekends

Things that don’t normally upset me incite tears on weekend afternoons after we’ve been out to brunch. I can’t believe I wrote that bizarre sentence. Nor can I believe this crazy thing that’s happening to me. It’s happened four or five times in the last couple months.

These weekend days always start out great. We have brunch, go for a walk or even run errands. Not until we get home in the late afternoon do I break down. I don’t even feel sad before it happens. I just start crying.

My favorite example is my overzealous reaction to Sunset magazine’s “green” issue. It, and every other magazine’s “green” issue, advocates buying new things to do your part to take care of the environment. There’s no acknowledgment of the waste in producing the product and replacing a current, often still usable, item. I’m frequently bothered by this, but my reaction has always been reasonable.

I didn’t hold back that day. I cried, ranted and raved, and cried some more. The sobbing didn’t last long, but I recognized from the start how ridiculous it was. I was crying over how commercial operations encourage people to buy things. There was no underlying theme — believe me, I tried to find one.

Tears I’ve shed on other weekend days range from absurd to genuine grief about having migraine and chronic daily headache. The weird thing is I don’t cry in grief any other time. Maybe when the pain is horrible and won’t relent, but even then it is rare.

A summary of the weirdness:

  • The tears are brief and can be interrupted fairly quickly
  • I’m fully aware of the absurdity of some things I cry about
  • I have only cried inexplicably on days we’ve had brunch
  • It always happens in the afternoon
  • I don’t feel sad on the days I cry
  • I don’t cry on weekdays
  • I don’t think I’m depressed in general

I try not to make correlations without sufficient facts, but I can’t ignore that this only occurs on weekends. The only explanation I’ve come up with is a blood sugar crash after brunch. I’ve had sweet, carbohydrate-heavy breakfasts on the days I’ve cried. How is that different than days I don’t eat until 4 p.m. or eat cookies for breakfast (neither of which is uncommon)?

Any suggestions on causes or solutions for my bizarre problem?

Mental Health, Society, Symptoms, Treatment

So High, So Low

Bouncing back and forth between extreme ends of pain and emotions has drained me. My pain is worse than usual at times and better than usual at others. When I feel good, I’m energetic and elated; when I feel bad, I’m despondent and grouchy. It’s true that I’ve never been one to settle near the middle of the continuum, but I’ve felt particularly immoderate the last couple weeks.

Last night I assessed my environmental impact (not pretty even though I try so hard) then caught up on the news. I read about mid-level fashion designers whose work is lost amid the costly designs of their high profile peers. Learned about a little-studied part of the brain that appears to have greater significance than previously thought. Saw the current death toll in Iraq. Watched a slideshow and listened to commentary on children in sub-Saharan Africa who are in adult prisons.

Then I went upstairs to tell Hart how I’d antagonized myself and asked the rhetorical question that’s my common refrain — “Is there anything I can do to make the world a better place?” In tears, I gestured around our office, saying that I’d give it up our comforts if it would make a difference. I felt so helpless.

That’s when I realized that I have classic depression symptoms. I can’t concentrate, I don’t feel like blogging (which normally brings me great pleasure), I’m tired, I despair the inequities in the world. Except, of course, when I’m going full speed at the opposite end of the spectrum. This deviation throws me for a loop.

I’ve landed at the irritating place of watching myself to see how my symptoms progress. Maybe it’s just a blip accompanying a particularly bad headache spell. Or perhaps it’s time to get my meds adjusted. My psychiatrist told me that I’m a person who tends to backslide quickly, so I know I need to be vigilant.

So much in the treatment of headache and depression requires a wait-and-see approach. I just want to feel better, damn it.

Coping, Mental Health

Semantics: Depression vs. Sadness

It’s not uncommon to ask a friend how she’s doing and have her response be, “Depressed.” She’s probably sad or down, but not actually depressed. This same sort of thing happens with migraines. If someone has a bad headache, he’ll call it a migraine, even if it’s not.

Popular word choices can make understanding and recognizing actual diseases difficult. If Joe can pop a Tylenol and wipe out his “migraine,” then maybe the rest of us are just whiners. Similarly, the common use of “depression” as a synonym for “sadness” makes it hard to know if you’re in a funk or struggling with clinical depression.

So that’s why I chose “sadness” instead of “depression” in yesterday’s post. Yes, I’m being nitpicky, but with good reason. Chronic headache and depression often occur together because they involve the same brain chemistry. Your docs don’t (necessarily) think you’re “hysterical” when they prescribe anti-depressants, but are targeting serotonin to treat your headaches. And, you may be depressed as well as in pain because the same brain chemistry is under attack.

Much more on this later. I’m off to catch a plane. My internet access will be spotty the rest of the week, but I’ll be posting and checking e-mail as often as I can.


Looking for Good

Tracy, of Moogle’s Thoughts, blogged on Saturday about the constructive ways she deals with sadness and tries to find something positive in all the sadness of pain.

“Basically, you have to CHOOSE to see the positives no matter the situation. It doesn’t just happen. It is a choice that you must struggle with to make reality. Every thought must be captured. It is something that you work on every minute of every day.”

For Jess — Positives shows Moogle’s great attitude and is full of specific examples.

But I’m pretty sure that I have the best husband ever.


Coping, Mental Health

Dealing With Sadness

A reader asked me, “How do you and others with daily migraines have a life and not be so depressed?”

I don’t think any of us do avoid it. Sadness is just part of the disease. This is a frustrating answer, but time is the only thing that has made it easier.

I’ve learned to accept what I can and can’t do, and to give in to the pain when I need to. I also give in to the sadness sometimes because there’s no denying that chronic pain sucks. Sure, I spend more time in bed than I’d like, and I’d prefer to cry a little less, but this is my life whether I like it or not.

I try to not get down on myself or feel guilty when I feel bad so that I can enjoy the time that I feel good. And some days I can even convince myself that it’s good to have a day in bed. How else would I find the time to devour books?

Submit a comment to share how do you deal with the sadness.