Paradigm Shift

Although a predisposed-to-introspection only child, I’m not particularly self-analytical. I’m not given to taking my own psyche apart, and I don’t tend to go rummaging down the back of my mental sofa to see what I find. My cognitive outlook defaults to a baseline of Cheerful with frequent daily spikes of Impatient, Put-Upon and Grumpy, and, beyond that, I don’t give myself too much brain-time.

Perhaps I should. Perhaps if I made an effort to be more attuned to my subconscious, I wouldn’t be so pitifully startled when I do eventually recognise in myself the signs of acute stress.

I really should cotton on to stress a bit sooner. I’m not without knowledge of how  it feels. I have experienced uterus didelphys, failure to conceive, IUI, miscarriage, IVF, recurrent miscarriage, a high-risk pregnancy, premature birth, a NICU, a SCBU, a transposed heart, and a child with special needs, in roughly that order. Which is a fair-sized list, even focussing solely on the issues of my body and my child; I’ve ricocheted off about as many more generalised personal disasters as the next chap/ess.

Stress, for me, characterises a period of adjustment between the old normal/new normal in a process resembling mental plate tectonics. The prevailing paradigm of my longstanding hopes and expectations is insidiously drawn into an increasingly pressurised relationship with what actually is. Eventually the forces of compression are unsustainable, and the duality of my mind becomes first paradoxical, then untenable. An emotional threshold is exceeded and there is cataclysmic, shaking upheaval. My vicarious ambitions are subducted beneath the dominant sheer mass of the new status quo.

The current tectonic event has been precipitated by nothing more significant than my inability to realistically further sustain some aspirations I had for my child.

I currently need a list to propel me through the day without profound scheduling disaster. I have forgotten important stuff. I have failed to reduce a to-do list of truly titanic proportions. The gentle background hum of my mental radio has become a screaming dissonant cacophony and, more literally, my tinnitus is roaring away at many times the volume of its usual muted hiss. I am crying every day. I have a fuse of precisely no length whatsoever. My parenting is hovering somewhere between inconsistent and diabolical. My digestive tract is a fireball from top to, and I use the word advisedly, bottom. My driving, usually fairly skilled, is impulsive and sloppy. I am profoundly tired after 8 hours sleep. I suspect I have a vaguely hunted look.

Theoretically, my mind should contain fewer pressures after this episode of enforced synthesis.

But the thing with convergent faults is that they don’t stop damn well moving.

19 Responses

  1. Oh, dear. I know exactly what you mean and it’s a miserable thing. Be kind to yourself, dear.

  2. I know what you mean (although, fortunately, not how you feel) because I see it in my husband sometimes. I hope you can find your way to a more peaceful place, because stress seems to only create more stress.

  3. I love your tectonic plate analogy. I live in San Diego County, or more precisely, earthquake country. A nice transverse fault letting off steam often and well. Eventually we, and San Francisco and LA, can look forward to a future as part of the Pacific Ocean floor. My psyche resembles my geography very well. Okay, so maybe our part of the continent IS sinking into the ocean, but I’ll be long dead by then and in the meantime, we’re managing just fine! (I think my antidepressant helps a lot here.)

    My parents, on the other hand, live in the Seattle area. Not only are they next to a giant volcano overdue for an eruption, but they’re also next to the Juan de Fuca plate, a fairly small tectonic plate caught between the Pacific and North American plates. It hasn’t had a major fault rupture since before Caucasian people arrived in the area. There is, however, both Native American/Indian folklore mentioning catastrophic earth shaking, and also geological evidence of tectonic events in which entire coastal forests were suddenly 300 feet below sea level. This is thought to be the result of the entire Juan de Fuca plate slipping at once in a magnitude 10-ish event, or alternatively parts of it going in a series of 9.0 events occurring in a delightfully named “Decade of Terror.”

    May I recommend San Diego instead of Seattle? The weather is much nicer, too.


  4. “nothing more significant”–oh, hon. My heart bleeds. I mean, I know it’s irony and all, but still. There is nothing more significant than our aspirations for our children. It’s bigger than plate tectonics, emotionally speaking. One’s whole universe can shift.

    Many hugs.

  5. Oh honey. You don’t have to be analytical and introspective to self-diagnose stress. I’m as analytical as they come – I do it for a living dammit – and I still have a shock of recognition when I realise my physical symptoms might be my body saying “stop, or I shoot”.

    The plate-tectonic metaphor IS brilliant.

    I wish I had something practical to offer, but for what it’s worth here’s a mega-load of moral support.



  6. *sniffles appreciatively*

  7. Brilliant description of the effects of long term stress if i may say so. But at least you have the insight to recognise it. I was feeling the same way a few months ago and out of desperation I thought i’d give an anti depressant a try- I wasn’t quite depressed but I was in a constant state of anxiety and heading that way. Long story short-a low dose of an SSRI has not removed the stressful stuff from life but it has bolstered my resiliance. I never would have believed the effect it has had before taking it but now I’m telling all my stressed out friends.

  8. I think your self-awareness is amazing. The tinnitus alone is enough to make you barmy – the JB suffers from that too. It’s horrible. And when these tectonic plates stop shifting and you look out at the new landscape, all will be well. You are brilliant and great, let us not forget.

    Many hugs in the meantime.

  9. Oh it sounds miserable. And I, too, shudder at the ‘nothing more than’ – of course you are under stress about that, it’s a huge life changing realisation and something which requires mourning and being very very kind to yourself to even start to begin to get over.

    Very sorry we didn’t come over and distract you last weekend. Let’s do something soon instead.

  10. oh no, i’m sorry to hear you feel this bad. It’s awful when bad things converge on us like that. Take care of yourself. i hope you feel batter soon.

  11. better. not batter. Cause that makes no sense what so ever. sorry.

  12. Stress for me is a glass…little (or big) things drip into it from various sources, then eventually, if I’m not careful, it overflows and sh…I mean stuff goes everywere.

    Best wishes…You’ll get back on track. In the meantime, hugs because I know this feels like crap.

    Kirsten the canuck

  13. Some head-shrinkers have neat little charts of points you can assign to various stressful ‘life-events’, and if you total more than [arbitrary number of points] in [arbitrary number of years], you get to be Officially Stressed. I think you, my poor poor love, just broke the calculator.

    (I also think the Plate Tectonics metaphor is inspired).

    Many hugs. I don’t know what else to sya, but many, many, many hugs.

  14. The use of the word stress is bandied about these days for any minor occurrence or for a week of bad days and deadlines. What you have, my dear, is the real thing. I’m sorry you’re feeling the effects but agree that your self-awareness is amazing. Please do take care of yourself.

  15. Oh my love. How utterly horribly crappy for you. I have nothing useful to say. You have my profound admiration for getting through every day wearing clothes and functioning in a human fashion, which is more than I would be doing in your situation. I made cupcakes today. Do you want one?xxx

  16. […] felt particularly hormonal this last week or so, and I knew from charting LH surges that a period was due, but hadn’t […]

  17. Just found this post from the MADS carnival. Hmm. Will a little cyber hug help? No? Well have one anyway.

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