Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Paranoid, Insecure, and Socially Inept

I have had the strangest week. Ever since the inauguration last week I’ve been a mess, swinging wildly from anger to frustration to paranoia. As often happens when depression rears its ugly head, I also feel socially insecure. This doesn’t mean that I become shy or anything (perish the thought!). What happens is almost worse—I find myself constantly replaying conversations with friends and colleagues, wincing at my words, my tone, wondering whether I was being fun and witty or awkward and perhaps rude. This leaves me feeling constantly unsettled, paranoid even.

Let’s add to this that I’ve totally blown ICLW week (which is kind of like “ATM machine” or “PIN number,” both pet peeves of mine). When I signed up I thought I’d be cycling again, ready to write and read and give support. Instead I just bitterly wait. I can almost feel my eggs aging as I sit here.

I hate being moody. My husband is the proverbial rock; his moods consist of teasing (good mood) or quiet (which could mean stressed, frustrated, sad, tired, or just mellow). But I spend a lot of my time fighting my Inner Crazy. I also have to remain ever-vigilant against my Inner Truly Crazy, the surface of which I have grazed only a couple of times, but which I know lurks in my genetic makeup. (I used to worry I was going to end up crazy like my mom. I can remember having conversations with J about this early in our relationship, wondering if he really wanted a long-term commitment with someone who had that possible future. But if there’s one thing the past few years have taught me, it’s that I’m a lot stronger that my mom—and both of her parents. I’m grounded enough to handle a lot more than she can, and I now know I’m not going to end up like her. Thanks, IF, for teaching me how much I can take.)

I had an odd conversation about my IF treatment plans last week. My chiropractor, Dr. K, and I have become pretty chummy during the past two months. He’s only a year older than me, and he’s a nice guy who has really gone out of his way to help me. Last week, he mentioned that he thought my chiropractic treatment would help me get pregnant.

“It would help more if our problems weren’t primarily male-factor,” I said.

Dr. K started telling me about a doctor he knows in New York who’s had luck improving sperm count with some new treatment. I cut him off. “We’re mostly done with all that,” I told him. “If J’s hormone treatment doesn’t work, we’re going to go with donor sperm, and if that doesn’t work in a couple of cycles we’re going to stop.”

“It sounds like you’ve already given up,” he said, sounding upset.

I should have been mad. Instead I just felt tired. “It’s been three and a half years,” was all I said. “At some point we just have to stop.”

The strangest thing about this conversation was its stark contrast to ones I’ve had with my friends and my sister, several of whom were pushing for me to give up and start the adoption process more than a year ago (solicited advice). I couldn’t stop wondering why Dr. K was in such a different place than my friends. Then I realized that it was just about being there. Dr. K has only known me for a couple of months, months that I haven’t been cycling. The years I’ve suffered with IF are just an abstraction to him—the time isn’t real. For him, it’s measured in terms of his life, time which raced by while his kids grow older, learn to read, to ride a bike. Time that flew past while he built his practice. Time in which he lived his life.

For me, time has stopped. I don’t see time in seasons and years anymore. Instead I see it as daily frustration, constant anger, a persistent underlying dread and fear, empty weekends with nothing to do in my cold, quiet house. I see my life through the hours spent watching TV and movies, reading books, not quite finding the escape I’m seeking. I see my life through the four vacations I’ve taken, each one thought to be the “last chance” at a break before we had to give our time to a pregnancy and a new baby. I see it through the meaningless holidays, the baby showers I’ve skipped. I see my life through the growth of my nephew.

My close friends have been with me, day by day. They’ve seen the hope for each new cycle, for each new type of treatment. They’ve read my one-word, end-of-cycle e-mails: “negative,” or “miscarriage.” One of my best friends told me that she has had to harden her heart (just like I try to) every time I go into a new cycle, just so she won’t get so upset when it doesn’t work out. Unlike Dr. K, my friends understand that what I’m doing is insane—beating my head against the wall again and again, refusing to stop because there’s always a new treatment, a new approach. Anyone who’s been with me for the past three years would never suggest: (a) that I’ve given up, or (b) that it would be a bad thing if I did.

And that’s why I couldn’t be mad at Dr. K. He just didn’t get it. He doesn’t know.


Barb said...

I get that same paranoia near depression. Don't feel alone in that. It truly does suck though. Keep hangin' in.

This is one of the reasons I'm afraid of starting treatment back up again. Right now I'm in the denial zone and damn does it feel good. Depression is lurking just around the corner when I start back up again.

And I completely understand what you're saying with the "giving up" speech stuff. sigh.

Peeveme said...

So many thought swirling form your post. You really captured the way IF makes the rest of your life feel. It's like sleepwalking. Purgatory.

Great insight about the difference between your freinds a d family and Dr. K. He just has no idea how long 3, 4, 5 years can be when you are basically sleepwalking through a life punctuated by cycles of hope and despair.

Shinejil said...

It is hard to be truly mad at people who honestly just don't get it but wish you well. It's impossible to describe what three to five years of hormonal insanity and emotional torture mean. The hormones alone would be much more than most people could take.

Your post, just for the record, was not paranoid or socially inept. :)

I wish I could give you a big hug, Bchaser. Or at least think of something fun to do on the weekends when you're restless and lonesome...

Rebeccah said...

Really good thoughtful clear insightful post. I know all about fighting the Inner Truly Crazy. Hang in there. The fact that you're able to write about it so clearly makes me think you've got the upper hand in that battle.

The rest of the post could have been me a few weeks ago. Hell, it could have been me this morning (big dramatic crying spell before work). Even though I've made it to the other side of the baby fence through adoption, I still think about my aging eggs and mourn the loss of my bio child.

The IF experience scars the heck out of your soul and the hormonal mess wreaks havoc on your life. For some folks it's worth it no matter how long it takes. For others, a time comes when they say 'enough'. No one who hasn't been living in your skin can tell you where that line is or when it's time to draw it.

All I can do is send you a great big hug and let you know I'm so glad you write about your life.

luna said...

excellent post. I always felt that time really did stop for us, that we were stuck while everyone else kept moving by, growing bellies, growing kids, and we kept going around in circles in a ditch.

great other comments above. and you're right, he can't possibly know.

Working Girl said...

I drove to work this morning fighting my Inner Truly Crazy so I am glad to know I am not alone. Thankfully, I don't live or work with any mind readers or I would have been hauled off to the looney bin two years ago!

What I read in this post is a woman moving forward through a very long, tortuous journey. And, as difficult as it may be or feel it is a very good thing.

Stay well!

Darya said...

Once again, your post is full of insight. I relate to everything you said. I use to be fun and social, not I'm constantly paranoid and replaying every conversation. I fear that everything I'm feeling on the inside is showing through my face and echoing through my words.

You are right, Dr. K just doesn't get it. Only those who have been with us through the years do.

Alyssa said...

I'm right there with you, sweetie. I wish I had something better to say, something that would make it all easier to bear, but I don't know what that would be. So, instead I'll let you know that I'm walking alongside you-you aren't alone.

Malloryn said...

Looking back to my treatments, I always felt that my RE never really got it. The only time I was a concern to her was during my appointments or procedures. I'm sure that she didn't think about me outside of those few minutes, while I lived with IF all of the time. Perhaps my experience would have been different at another clinic.

I thought your post was very insightful in showing how people beyond the couple deal with IF. I had different "layers" as well -- a handful of friends that knew about each treatment and failure, my mother who knew only as much as she needed to, and not much beyond that.

Saying you're "giving up" seems crazy to me, considering what you've been through. Someone who hasn't walked in your shoes can't understand. ::hugs::

Me said...

Freaking awesome post.

Outside of saying that it's "devastating" or "emotionally horrible" or "so sad", I have not gone into a lot of detail with my friends about my FEELINGS about IF. I have not kept them abreast of my cycles or treatments. Rather those I chose to share with get Cliffs Notes after the fact... I've always kind of wondered why NONE of them seem to understand how much of me has died with infertility. But your post is spot on. They don't know because (by sanitizing my feelings about the process, I've effectively kept it) as just an abstraction for them.

Sue said...

I don't know how I stumbled upon your blog but I just wanted to tell you (you probably know this...) you aren't alone. I am a former lawyer (current yoga teacher) on our 7th (eek) fresh IVF due to *mostly* male factor. I just wanted to say hi. We will both get there one day (but let me say, even after 7 IVF's adoption is still intimidating me). Good luck!

Ms. J said...

Been thinking bout you, LOTS. Really, seriously, LOTS. How are things going? Please keep talking.

If you want to email privately you know where to find me.