Up until about two weeks ago, Catharine had been probably more stable than she’d been in maybe her adult life. Consequently, we had the best vacation we’ve had maybe ever. We were able to read and do little household projects and cook and hang out and it was peaceful and companionable and just straight up lovely.
When I went back to work, it was with clarity about what I wanted to be doing with my time. I had ideas and a new bullet journal with a tracker and small daily goals. The first bit went well, even though returning to work was a bit of a shock.
And then. Oh friends. There’s always an “and then.”
And then Catharine ran out of her Wellbutrin and … forgot that she ran out of it before she mentioned it to me, so I didn’t know to hop on that problem. We had asked her psych to order a three month supply from the mail order pharmacy, so it magically showed up, but there were some unknown number of days, at least one but likely several, when she just didn’t take this key med. On top of that, she’d been sleeping badly because her mattress needed to be replaced and it was making her ouchy. The combination meant that there were two weeks in there that were somewhat rocky, when her anxiety flared up and she had very little resilience, when she was somewhat useless around the house and needed prompting for the smallest thing.
But here’s what I found interesting. All that focus and energy I had? It just completely dissipated. Whoosh. Gone. If I could get started, I could write, but I mostly couldn’t bring myself to get started. My bujo tracker falls off a fucking cliff.
This wasn’t as apparent when Catharine was low-grade depressed all the time, but when her mood is off, it seems it has an energetic effect on me. Now, my family has its own depression and I’m on Wellbutrin myself, but it’s not exactly that I get depressed when she does, because it gets better if I get solitude or if I leave the house. It’s some combination of energetic contagion and my own subconscious hypervigilance, which goes on alert when she’s unwell. As I discovered in therapy last week, some of it was also straight up anger. Anger that she hadn’t ever instituted the checklist that could have prevented the meds disaster that was part and parcel of this, anger that my energy was getting diverted, anger that we had been having and would inevitably have more of the repetitive anxiety- and depression-related conversations that at some point just get so. fucking. tedious. (It’s not fun for her either, I know.) When I got to express some of that anger in therapy, it freed up some space. Not enough, but some.
All of this would be easier in some ways if I were less sensitive, because then her shifts in mood wouldn’t affect me so much, and my being able to be a more-stable rock would probably be helpful. But then again, my sensitivity is what helps us figure out that she’s sliding early in the process, when it looks like a bad day or bad sleep or just a bad mood. It’s not like we can change it.
She’s feeling more stable, and I’m starting to feel better (although my migraines are being terrible, which is another story entirely), but I’m continuing the things I was doing to counteract the negative energy. I read romance novels, because happy endings and things working out is a nice antidote. I put on music, because music, even sad music, ultimately makes me happy. I look at colorful things. I take nice long breaks from social media, and even when I do read it, if it all starts to get to be too much, I shut it down. I make hot water bottles for my feet at night, to tell my nervous system that we’re safe.
If I didn’t have CFS, if I had a larger store of energy to begin with, it’s possible that the energetic dampening on me of her lowered mood wouldn’t be as dramatic as it evidently is. Maybe, in time, it won’t be. Right now I have to roll with reality as it is, and right now, it means I can do my job and go to my appointments and do not terribly much else. Now that she’s getting more stable, I’m looking forward to my energy getting back to my normal. If only my brain will cooperate.