Compassion fatigue

Oh, I am tired. Grey and shaky and bleargh with exhaustion. Some of this is no doubt the slightly anaemic, intestinally disgruntled, narcotic-withdrawal left-overs of the departing period, which is, yes, departing (you are, aren’t you? Departing? Yes? Going? Safe to board my husband again? Please?). But most of it is dear old boring old same old depression. Again. And not unexpectedly.

Every time I start to feel better, more like myself, less overwhelmed by work and family and, oh, I don’t know, getting out of bed in the morning, I get pregnant again, and miscarry again, and here I am again. Angry and anxious and depressed (really quite depressed. We’ve got books containing this sort of thing at work, and I spent my tea-break working out I was anywhere from moderately to severely depressed depending on how well-written the questionnaire was).

It’s not actually depression, endogenous depression, at all, though, is it? ‘Depression’ books tend to be all about working out why and how this dreadful cloud mysteriously fell on you, blighting your life, on the understanding that once you’ve worked it out, you’ll be able to sort it out. Whereas I know exactly why I feel like hell and I’m already doing all I can about it. When shitty things happen to people, they are allowed to collapse and spend some time lying about on the carpet in pieces.

They are, but I’m not. I won’t really allow myself to lie on the carpet in pieces. Everytime I get down there, I feel terribly selfconscious and then get quickly back up again before anyone falls over me. ‘I’m fine!’ I chirp, as I sweep all my shards up in a dustpan, ‘Just fine! A bit tired! Could do with a coffee! Right-oh, let’s get on with something!’

And then I find myself dragging myself through the rest of the week like a wounded snake (ooh, she’s quoting Pope. Get her), too tired to think, too tired to read, or write, or knit, or have a civilised conversation with my husband.

I don’t know what I need or even want that’ll get me out of this Knackered Pit. It’ll go away by itself in a few months, I suppose, as it has done before, just in time to freshen up and resharpen the stakes at the bottom for my next great tumble into it (did that sound hopeless and despairing? Good, I meant it to). It’s just, I am so, well, bored of spending so much time being tired and sad and angry.

And other people are bored of me being like this too. Or, I am worried that they are. Or that they will be, if I don’t put on a brave face. Or, that, like my mother, they think I have no business being this miserable (because we all know misery is like the measles: after the first go or two, you’re immune, see?). I’m getting a pervasive feeling of ‘seriously, not this again? Aren’t you over this?’ from the whole bloody Universe, and I can’t tell if it’s just me, overflowing with neurotic paranoia, or if people really are feeling like this about me.

At work, meanwhile, the fact I am ‘ill’ so often, and come back from these ‘ill’ days still in pain and not exactly functional, and I keep going to the doctor or to hospital, is getting increasingly noticed, and people are beginning to do hinty questions – the whole ‘ooh, are you under the weather again?’ *eyebrows raised and waggling expectantly*. I just say ‘yes,’ to this. If anyone grows a pair and asks me directly what the effin’ eff is going on, I shall tell them. At length. With graphic descriptions. And I shall give them a link to a site I found (and am politely not linking here) which had pictures of surgeries being done for endometriosis and adenomyosis, and which was terrifying and grotesque and had me distinctly Not On Speaking Terms with my uterus for days.


15 responses to “Compassion fatigue

  • Amy P

    Not bored of you, at all. Don’t see it ever happening, either.

    You’re stuck with me, I’m afraid 😛

  • Nina

    I’m glue, too. Not gonna get rid of me.

  • Laurel

    Situational depression, that’s what it’s called. Your kind, I mean. It certainly does sound very difficult to “resolve”, since the things that are causing it keep on happening. Of course, most of all I hope that you’ll have a baby and that will assuage some of your grief (though there will still be a lot left over for the ones that came before). In much paler comfort, mindfulness techniques have been shown to help with depression and for those who live with constant physical pain, so maybe that would help you cope. (Your experience almost seems more like the latter than the former.) There are books like The Mindful Way Through Depression, by Kabat-Zinn and friends. But I know it’s very hard to get the wherewithal up to try something like that when you’re spent just trying to make it through the day.

  • a

    Well, what can you do? When life is difficult, it would be unnatural to be very happy all the time. And people who are not understanding of this are either uncomfortable or uncaring (or uninformed).

    Sigh. You are definitely never boring…

  • manapan

    Good for you! Tell them all off. And not just about being ill. About everything. You deserve to crash and sob on the floor for as long as you need to. I’ll even loan you my snottiest Entitled American Attitude ™ for the encounters.


  • Valery

    Dear dear, could we maybe get you some nicer carpet? so you would be more comfortable when you’re down? You could say things like ‘please come sit with me here, we can look for my shards together. Quite intricate patterns don’t you think? And look at the thread count!’
    Yes, I do get tired of being down. But I get tired too of getting up again. So sometimes I stay there. I’m considering those poles with red velvet rope, to put around me.

  • twangy

    I was just thinking about the depression stage of grief this morning. I hated it, I must say. I’d rather be in anguish, at least, you have something to DO then. (Cry, rage, all that). The way depression takes the legs from under you just when you need them the most, the way it saps your energy so reacting is a virtual impossibility, the way it makes life seem utterly colourless and unendingly hopeless; I loathe it all.

    I am very sorry you are there again. Very unfair.
    It’ll pass, it will. Hugs.

  • twangy

    Ps. Of COURSE you’re not BORING!

  • May ProblemUterus

    I found that being more open about the crap that happened to me made it easier for me to bear. Here’s hoping the work people grow a pair and offer up the support you deserve.

  • Betty M

    Never bored. “people” though are bloody crap at accepting grief and/or depression and/or PTSD any of which are entirely understandable in the circs. Not everyone just the general mass. Sometimes they need to be told.

  • Korechronicles

    I’m raiding the Cliche Jar here but grief is bloody hard work. Like swimming at a surf beach, the waves of it just keep rolling over you, in no particular order and not caring if you are under the water and struggling to stand. And then the receding water sucks you way out into a rip and you have to swim in zig-zags going forward and backward until you land on the beach totally exhausted. And in your case, you’ve no sooner sat on your towel to recover than you’re called to get back in the water and it starts all over again. We of the internets are the very small army of lifesavers, minus the Speedos and funny hats, trying to hold you up and support you back to solid ground. And we are never, ever, bored.

  • Solnushka

    Well, I agree it is perfectly rational to be depressed under the circumstances. I wonder if part of the problem though is that under those circumstances there is the temptation to see it as a series of individual situations (monthly cycles/ miscarriages), whereas in fact it isn’t. I definitely agree about likening it to the sort of situation that people with chronic illnesses face. Quite apart from anything else the whole pain issue of the endo/ando whatsit _is_ a chronic illness issue and must be making things worse. Bad is frequent bouts of pain. Lowers the resistance. Of course, you are doing your best with the pain management too. But if you were going to explore further coping techniques, that would be the direction to go.

    Anyway, I am pretty sure that we know it’s not the series of unfortunate events which you should be expected to pick yourself back up from and hurl yourself forwards from each time which is why none of us would dream of thinking what you are afraid we are thinking. I don’t know how other people feel about it, although I wonder if your colleagues might be more open to the idea that you need long term compassion and support than you expect simply because they don;t know the precise nature of what is going on ( I expect they are, however, being nosy. Plus a little selfish in that if they don’t know specifically what is wrong they can ignore it when it suits them). I think you mother has got the series version in her head though. Possibly because you are so good about cushioning others by doing the bounce back thing, especially with your family, which I _completely_ understand for all sorts of reasons. If I am allowed to be extremely frank, I wouldn’t want to be showing your family any kind of weakness under any circumstances ever if I were one of them and I am not, I have to say also, defending you mother on this one.

    That’s gone on a bit. I suspect I have simply repeated your points there too.

    Except the bit about us getting fed up. I said that, right? Not fed up. Well, not with you. With the universe maybe.

  • thalia

    One thing that helped me when i was grieving was a piece of advice from Kath of blessed memory – to give yourself an hour a day to just feel as awful as you need to/can do, and then at the end of the hour you come back to the real world and get on with doing the dishes or whatever you need to do. That allows you to really wallow because you know you are going to pull yourself back so it’s not dangerous to get really really sad. But more therapeutic than constantly pullng yourself back because you’re scared of how bad it can be.

    Sorry it’s like this.

  • wombattwo

    Not bored. Not bored at all. Bored of the universe being such a sh*t, perhaps, but not bored of you.
    As for the nosies – do show them pictures, it might shut them up. I’ll even hunt out some really gruesome ones if you want…
    Have sent you an email, or at least I think I have, if I managed to get your email address right. If not, well I blame the wine.

  • katie

    Not bored either. All types of depression seem to respond to the same types of treatment, you know – cause is really irrelevant. CBT and medication both seem to work pretty well (alone or combined).

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