Sunday, September 9, 2018

Dear Ellen, "There are times when I'm touchy, feeling empty and unfeeling."

And another entry on the anonymous form (closed). THANK YOU!
Hey Ellen, your content is so helpful so thank you for the time to offer such valuable advice to all of us. My question is: I get bouts of what feels like depression periodically, possibly due to hormones (I'm self diagnosing here). There are times when I'm touchy, feeling empty and unfeeling. I won't feel like doing anything, not even things I liked. This can last for a few days and can affect my relationship with others. Do you have any tips or advice on how to survive the grey cloud that feels like it could never go away? Thank you!

fiery angel
Thank you, Comfreak!
And thank you, too. I’m so glad you’re finding this useful.

It sucks when your body is messing up your mind - and your relationships!- but you have two great things going for you. 
Not only do you recognise you have an issue but you think you know what is going on. It means you’re not wandering in the dark and that’s awesome.

Now, you say it lasts just a few days, so I’m guessing it’s a menstrual cycle issue?

My advice would be to gather data. Basically, you need to track the days and times when your body is interfering with your mood.

Note that this may be retroactive because on Monday you might hit the ceiling over nothing and it’s only on Wednesday that you realise why.

I suggest you use your phone calendar and use a simple hash tag, like #Mood if you’re feeling gentle with yourself or #EvilWitch if you’re feeling sarcastic.

Track yourself and hopefully, you will see a pattern emerging.

Once you know what’s going on, you plan for managing these difficult times. It’s a two step process: anticipate when it may happen, and have a plan for changing your behaviour.

For example, suppose your bad spots fall on the first Monday and Tuesday of every month, and you notice your temper rises in the afternoons and you get the blahs at night.

First mark your calendar with pink to hint which days might be ‘temperamental’.

Second, on those days, you go into the world with the knowledge that you are not your usual self. So, on those days you do several things:
1.      If possible, restrict yourself from potentially difficult situations on those days. Avoid meeting with toxic people, taking big decisions and so on.
2.      You know you are touchy so when you feel your temper rise, you pinch yourself and say out loud that it may or may not be warranted. Make a conscious effort to step away.
3.      You know you will feel blah at night, so you can either give yourself permission to hang out and do nothing OR you can schedule specific things that you know will give you a boost. There’s no right or wrong: do what works best for you.

Apart from understanding your own body and mind, if you’re worried about how those #Mood #EvilWitch moments affect your relationships, you can have a conversation with the people most likely to be affected.  “I know I blew up at you last Tuesday over nothing. I’m sorry, it’s pesky hormones. I’m trying to manage it better.” And you can choose how much to share from that point on.

I’m not saying you’re going to get a free ticket on your bad days, that would be a bit much, but understanding and the effort to manage should get you some Brownie points.

Finally, if you find your hormones are really causing you issues, it is worth seeing someone. If it’s mildly annoying and you just need some hand holding while you figure stuff out, try a therapist.

If it’s more serious, then maybe your family doctor can help but I would be heading to my gynaecologist, preferably one who is very good with things like post natal depression because it means she is used to dealing with hormonal and mood issues.

I do hope that helps!  And feel free to use the anonymous form again.(Sorry, the form is closed)