Sunday, January 04, 2009

A Change is as Good as a Rest

After a blissful four-day respite with Brent, 2009 begins in earnest with a glassy clatter as the crusty snow and ice peel off Puck's sunroof and bounce along the roof, shattering on the asphalt of I-80 as I plunge home through Echo Canyon, playing leapfrog with the semis. 2009 begins with the stink of the damp cellar of this old and moldering house, where a copper pipe froze and broke, one of the auxiliary supply lines to the boiler that turned out to be relatively unnecessary but was sure spewing water, which appeared to be leaking out of the cellar ceiling.

I heard the water roaring when I got home from Salt Lake, where I had dropped Brent off at the airport for his flight home, always a painful situation and one that leaves me forlorn and discombobulated. I called Morgan and Kelly, which is what I always do when I have any kind of emergency, and M had the presence of mind to suggest I shut the main water valve off. This required finding the key to my old basement apartment and traipsing out into the freezing night, fumbling around with the lock and the light switches in empty rooms I could once traverse blindly at top speed. The memory came back quickly and I found the valve handle in the shower, blackly crusted with mineral deposits and rust.

After it was ascertained by the baby-faced plumber, Lane, that the fix could wait until morning (the boiler is holding pressure and temperature just fine without the fill line, recirculating preheated water through the radiators in the house), I briefly wandered around the basement apartment and tried to recall living there. It felt haunted by the previous years, some of them rather unhappy, striving, reconstructive years, and I was already in a fragile state of mind so I came back up to these airy rooms and tried to get on with my life.

I have great hopes for 2009. Except for several rather magical adventures with Brent or my family or both (and it almost felt as if those glorious days had to be stolen from the calendar, carved out like a pound of flesh I'd have to give back), 2008 was sort of a mess for me. Sometime around February, attempting to mitigate some of the depressive effects of winter (I suffer from Seasonal Affectation Disorder, and if that seems like a cop-out or an excuse to you, you've never passed a winter in Wyoming) and P.M.S. that came with bouts of alarmingly increasing rage and despair, I switched birth control pills hoping that a monophasic treatment -- the same dose of hormones every day, as opposed to the triphasic I was on, which tapers the dose throughout the cycle -- would help with the mood swings. Unfortunately, the new pill contained a high level of the hormone progesterone, in the form of synthetic Progesterin (which is derived, incidentally, from a Mexican yam), which is THE DEVIL. I lost over half a year of my life (and nearly the rest of my life) to a chemical that made me completely insane.

Much later, when it finally occurred to me to Google it, I found that I'm not the only woman whose emotional boat capsizes when her balance of progesterone is out of whack. A post from a woman using the log-in "rmjtweety" on "... I have found myself in a sinking hole of depression and anger like I've never felt before. I bawl at McDonald's commercials and become enraged if the dishwasher isn't loaded properly. I am ecstatic one minute and severely depressed the next. I have even had thoughts of suicide since being on this shot. I am normally a very outgoing, athletic, cheerful, happy person - but since taking this shot, I have become a stranger in my own head... I have lost all sexual drive, am thoroughly exhausted by 9am and find myself crying at my desk at work by late afternoon because I am so tired. My family thinks I am going crazy and I've never fought more with my husband. My daughter has gone to grandma's for a while because I'm just so tired and irritable that I feel like an awful mother. Migraines have also come full circle since the onset of the shot as well as blurred vision and shaky hands." Poor thing. There are hundreds of similar accounts all over the Internet, and I became the same explosive monster, the same zombie who didn't really want to live even though I had every reason to.

Fortunately I live alone and pretty much everyone who had to deal with me, especially Brent, managed not to take it personally when I became ferocious, needy, or utterly impossible, utterly hopeless. It came in waves and I didn't always see it coming, and even when I did I could do nothing to stop it; usually exercise or creative pursuits do a lot to improve my mood, but not with this. I was still a basket case on the cruise in August but it turned out to be a wonderful time anyway, probably because my family is so forgiving and gracious and Brent generally knows just how to pacify me. It was also a vacation, and I was so happy to be somewhere extraordinary with the people I love and getting enough sleep and exercise and new scenery that it was hard to focus on my misery.

I also miraculously managed to keep it together at work for the seven or so months I was possessed by that demon, but in September when I started seriously wondering if a leap from the top floor of the Wells Fargo building -- the only building in Evanston over three stories tall -- would finish me off and what it would feel like, I figured it was time to do something, so I went back to the clinic and demanded a pill with the lowest hormone dose possible. Within a week I felt the blackness in my soul dissipating, and even though some residual pockets must occasionally hit my brain (I recognize that feeling when it comes over me now), it seems to be happening less and less often. I am happy, and I am hopeful again. I feel like myself.

A change is as good as a rest, Jeff says, and so he's right. I should know. I am very adaptable and easily become complacent, but I respond well to change after just a little resistance, even crave and yearn for change of various sorts. I'm known for being unable to keep a hairstyle or color, I settled on a dozen different vehicles before I bought my car, I rarely make a recipe the same way twice, and I read four books at once. But I need for 2009 to have major changes in it, the variety of change that often sparks the phrase "a new life." I'm not making new year's resolutions; like Brent says, there's no reason you can't resolve to change something any day of the year, and January 1st is a day like any other, unless you're hungover. But it happens to be a convenient time this year to rearrange my priorities and routine to produce different results. Because there's no sense complaining anymore if people can point out that I'm really not doing anything to change my situation, and I rather resent people who are all talk and no action, which is something I never was. So why allow myself to be seen that way now? I'll be 30 this year. It's as good a time as any to get going.

Happy new year, friends and family. To change. [clink]


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