Monday, September 10, 2007

Stuck

That's the best way to describe how I feel lately. Stuck. Or paralyzed---maybe that's more accurate.

This is actually a tough post for me to write, because I've been struggling with how I'm feeling for a while now. It's even gotten to the point over the past few days where I've wondered if this is what mild depression feels like. Of course it's so hard to tell, and I have a million other excuses for why I'm feeling this way---sleep deprivation, for instance. I guess that's why I feel compelled to blog about it---because I've been turning it over and over in my mind and I haven't come to any good conclusions as to why I feel the way I do.

The best way to describe it is that I feel overwhelmed and inadequate. Like there's too much to do and take care of, but I feel like if I try to do any of it I'll just screw it up, so why bother. Now normally when I'm feeling this way, I just do something, anything, on my to-do list. Doing something successfully, no matter how small, is usually enough to get me unstuck and back on track. But this time around, I just can't bring myself to do anything, and so I remain stuck.

This is true of the big things, like research, but even stupid little things, like cleaning the bathroom or sorting the mail. I'm still functioning, but inside I feel panicked almost all of the time.

I think this has been going on for a while, although it took the whole GHC decision to make me realize and acknowledge it. And I wonder if there was a trigger, or if it's just a manifestation of all of those little worries amplified by sleep deprivation (and hormones). There's the journal article that refuses to be finished---I did a read-through a few weeks ago and realized that it was all over the map and would need some major reworking before it could be sent off. There's the feeling of dread, like I'm going back into a snake pit, I have about returning to work. (I know I don't want to stay home full-time, but in my darker moments I have severely mixed feelings about returning to my institution.) There's the boredom I feel about once a day about being home with Baby Jane full time. And a thousand other stupid things. So who knows.

I think my plan right now is to wait this out a bit longer. Try to take better care of myself for a bit. Try to get more sleep (!) if at all possible. See if some self-love gets me out of this funk. I sure hope it does.

12 comments:

apparently said...

It might very well be mild baby-induced depression. I felt similar (but worse, from the sound of it) for about 9 months after TheKid was born. Life was just too overwhelming to deal with anything. Like you, this was the exact opposite of my normal disposition. A few months after I returned to my normal work schedule, I started feeling better. A routine helped for whatever reason. Best of luck. Just know that it will pass.

A fellow junior academic said...

That does sound like depression to me. Unfortunately, I can't help beyond that, not having experienced post-partum. I had the other kind, which was treated with medication. Hang in there, though - it will get better. Self-love sounds like a great idea!

C said...

I've had depression in the past, and what you're describing sounds exactly like what depression felt like for me.

Anonymous said...

You may want to quietly see what sorts of counseling is available to you through the university or your health insurance. That sounds exactly like depression.

Anonymous said...

Sleep deprivation can lead to depression, and having been there, I'd say treat it gently with self-care (example: my parenting partner took my two tiny ones OUT of the house so I could be completely off duty and sleep for a morning a week - it really helped; ditto for some baby free working time)

I did seek some short term therapy for mild depression, it was useful and practical, but universities can be like small towns, if you choose to do this, you might want to do as I did and NOT go to a center on campus.

Hang in there!

New Kid on the Hallway said...

Ditto to what everyone else said - it does sound like depression, and it could be kid, it could be sleep-deprivation, and it certainly could be job. Believe me, a job can do that to you. I'd second the counseling suggestion, just to get on objective response to what's going on, though anonymous 2 brings up a good point about not going on campus. Hope that you feel better soon!

Twice said...

You may want to have your thyroid levels checked, as well as other routine bloodwork. It is possible there is a medical explanation for how you are feeling. Yes, babies make you tired. But they also put you at risk for things like postpartum hypothyroidism (which makes one tired and depressed).

Flicka Mawa said...

As someone who suffers from depression, I agree with the others - that sounds exactly like how I often feel. I don't know as much about the post-partum sort, except that it does often involve the sense of boredom when staying home all day with the baby. No matter how much you love and adore your little one, it's easy to feel like your life has somehow gotten smaller when all of a sudden lengths of naps and ounces of milk take on such a big significance to your days.

One thing that helps me is to take things one step at a time, but to get myself back into something. Say I've got 5 things that are weighing on me and I just think about all of them and get frozen and do none of them, I'll sit down, talk to my husband about how I'm feeling, and with his help and encouragement pick the one that is the most easily accomplished and just focus on that. Once I've gotten one thing done, it's easier to go on to the others, in essence starting a virtuous cycle. But when you're feeling the way you describe, it often can be really helpful to have someone who knows about it in your corner reminding you that you can manage it, one piece at a time.

PhD Mom said...

I had exactly the same problem after my daughter was born and it took about 6 months for it to clear up. I'm sure it was linked to sleep deprivation and the rapid change that your life undergoes with a baby. I would recommend seeking help. I'm sure there is some available on campus. But also, it IS hard to get everything done after baby. Even simple things like microwaving lunch can be really difficult when you have a demanding child to deal with as well. Cut yourself a little slack. I promise it gets better.

Jane said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone! I will be taking your advice (be easier on myself, try to get some sleep, hang in there, check out counseling options). Strangely, blogging about it was a bit helpful, too---yesterday was a better day.

MommyProf said...

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...

I had the same issues with Offspring and found getting out more and fish oil capsules (with omega-3s that are good for your brain and baby's, too, if you are nursing) were very helpful.

Going back after after a baby is gut wrenching both professionally and personally, but it does get better.

Jane said...

Hmmm, mommyprof, maybe I will try the fish oil idea. I don't eat as much fish as I should, so that might help...