It’s that time of the month again when the mental fiends are released from their bonds to run riot in my brain space.
There’s a couple of old science experiments nearly everyone hears about when doing psychology 101. The first involves a group of chimps in a cage with a bunch of bananas. Every time a chimp reached for the food an electric shock would go through the cage causing all the primates pain. In a short amount of time the chimps all knew that reaching for the food caused pain, and so the group would stop the individual reaching for the food.
The scientists then swapped out one of the chimps for a new chimp, who hadn’t experienced the electric shock, yet was still stopped from taking a banana by the group. They then swapped out another ‘old’ chimp’ for a new chimp, who was stopped from taking food by the entire group, including the other ‘new’ chimp. This continued and what the scientists discovered is that even when there was no electric shock being administered, and all the chimps who had experienced the pain were now out of the cage, the group still forcibly stopped any individual member who went for the food.
The other experiment along the same vein involved a jar of fleas. A number of fleas were kept in a jar shorter than their maximum capacity to jump, so every time they jumped they would hit the lid. Over time the fleas learned their limitations and stopped hitting their heads. The lid was then taken off the jar, and yet none of the fleas realized the limits had been removed and so none jumped out (and away). They just accepted their limitations and didn’t notice that what was once keeping them contained had disappeared.
It’s almost a year to the day since the sky fell in; I’ve begun another attempt at reducing medication. There have been five so far, and all have ended with needing to increase the dose again to deal with the many-tentacled anxiety beast. The medication I take morning and evening is a sedative, designed to keep the beast in it’s deep dark pit. The hope is that we’ve had the ‘lid’ on the pit on for so long, that the beast has gone to sleep, or wasted away, and won’t even notice when it has removed. Just like the fleas.
It’s now been four weeks since I reduced the dosage. Two weeks ago the delightful withdrawals started to make themselves felt. I don’t think I’ve slept a whole night through for nearly a month. The sedatives make me snore anyway, and the dose drop isn’t enough to stop that (my husband is a saint), but now sleeping is fitful and not at all restful. Vivid dreams leave me exhausted upon wakening, or upset, or desolate, or confused depending on which particular areas/people/events of my past and present my sub-conscious decides to blend together.
I’ve been getting hot flushes, cold sweats and major temperature swings, along with being easily irritable and short of patience. All of which is manageable. They are physical symptoms and they too, will pass.
What doesn’t pass and keeps rearing its ugly twisted head, is the mental flagellation. When my hormones hit a certain point in my cycle, and I’m tired, my mental processes go to some dark places. I try not to offload too much on people around me as I know what I’m thinking is not the truth, I know I wont feel the same way in a few days, and I know keeping distracted is the best way to deal with it.
Knowing doesn’t make a difference.
Today I had an iron infusion, as low iron is also something that regularly sneaks up on me. Today the feelings got the better of me. Today I can’t help feeling that if only I’d been stronger, healthier, better, more in some way then I could have kept our baby.
If only I’d been happier to be pregnant, perhaps I wouldn’t have had to deal with NOT being pregnant. If only I’d been able to push through it, then maybe I’d have a three month old in my arms, along with a whole different future to plan for. If only I could shake this feeling of being such a failure, maybe I could move on. If only I hadn’t failed.
And so round and round it goes, and there isn’t ever any relief, until the hormones do their thing, the clouds part and the light reappears. Each month is a stab in the uterus that I miscarried, that I couldn’t protect our baby, that I’m guilty. If only I didn’t feel so guilty.
Physical pain, physical sensations, physical problems; they seem to be so much more manageable after the last 12 months. It’s the battles of the mind that are harder to overcome, especially when deep down, in the places I don’t talk about, I feel as though it might all be true and the consequences of what happened are my responsibility.
That I’m guilty of killing our baby. That I completely failed at protecting the tiniest, most precious, beginning of life. Perhaps what it all comes down to is that I’m just not worthy of being a mother.
I’m so ready for this to be behind me. But every month the anxiety beast unleashes it’s ugly and disempowering minions to make sure I know where I stand. To make sure I don’t become too confident or sure of myself. To remind me. Inflicting pain to ensure I don’t ever reach for ‘it’ again.
What if it wins?