Bouncy No More

I wanted to write something about Mothers Day last week but lately I have felt put off by the idea of even opening up a blank page to create a post, and now it’s been over three months. What has happened to me?

I had an invitation 30 minutes ago to speak before a journaling group.

I turned it down.

I turned down two other offers too, in the last months. I’m just so tired of talking, tired of being a person who always speaks up, who thinks it’s her job to make it a ‘good class’ for the people around her, as if I did as a young teacher, eager to make every minute count. These days, I often sit through whole meetings without saying a word. I find I would much rather listen.

‘And this is OK’ I’ve told myself. ‘It’s an ebbing of ego is all, which can only be good’.

But now it comes back to me that near the end of my annual visit to my primary care physician last week, she asked me something as she was listening to my heart:

“So,” she said.  How’s the writing?”

I was slow to answer. “Well… I know I told you a year ago that I stopped producing the column…”

“I remember. But beyond that?”

“Beyond that, I…. I.. don’t write anymore.” The words alone caused me a pang.

“Oh, that’s just writer’s block,” she said cheerily. “It’ll pass!”

I looked down at my lap and remained silent then, leaving her to her tappings and palpatings. It was during that pause in the talk that a memory came back to me of an exchange I had had with some old old friends, my college roommates and co-member of the Class of a Thousand Years Ago, when we travelled to Italy together. Midway through the trip one of them said with a laugh, “So Terr, we just have to ask: What happened to that wicked wit we all remember? You’re just sort of … kind these days,” and laughed again, to show she loved me anyway.

Looking up from my lap I related this freshly remembered exchange to my doctor who took the stethoscope from her ears and looked me full in the face.

“Are you sleeping?” she asked.

“Sure,” I said. “In fact, most days I can hardly get up.” And I told how I stay in the bed, awake and looking out the window for 60 or sometimes 90 minutes until my husband gets up.

“Listen to me,” she then said. “I get what your classmates meant. For more than two decades, every time you have come in here you’ve been practically bouncing, in high spirits, and full of stories. These last two visits I haven’t seen that. At all. I think we have to consider the possibility that you have dysthymia, a term for chronic low-grade depression.”

Normally I would have laughed, the way I did back in the 90s when she told me my bloodwork revealed hypothyroidism. “Hypothyroidism?” I had said. “What are the symptoms?” We looked up the condition on her computer and she swung the monitor around so I could see. “Low energy, sadness, sleep issues,” it read, along with 40 other unhappy signposts.

I was almost offended at the time. “But you know me! “ I said back then. “Does my busy life sound as if it comes with any of these symptoms? And now you’re saying I have to take a pill every day for the rest of my life? What happens if I don’t?”

“If you don’t, you’re facing all of this and more,” she’d replied, indicating the screen.

So, these 25 years later, I take the Levoxyl, which is no big deal. Last Friday though, the bloodwork from this latest visit came back, indicating that my level of need has increased. She has upped my dosage therefore and I guess we’ll see. Either that does the trick or  I’ll need additional help.

In the meantime I want to aplogize to any of you out there who have been wondering if I’m still here. I’m here. And from now on I’ll be taking some advice I learned from the Recovery movement and fake it til I make it, which means,  “performing actions that are known to be positive even if one is not necessarily comfortable with them.” In other words “the mind may be willing, but the emotions may not be there yet.”

I’ll do that now. I’ll fake it ’til I make it. I’ll try just ‘showing up’ which, after all, is what most people do every day, whether they feel like it or not.










20 thoughts on “Bouncy No More

  1. When my thyroid was low I felt as if I were trying to walk through water up to my neck. and yes, sleep was my friend. I hope the increased med does the trick. I always said I would take any med not to feel like that again! Low thyroid and depression have almost identical symptoms and usually the first thing MD’s think of is depression, unfortunately ! Good luck on your journey.

  2. Sounds all too familiar, Terry! I wish you luck, and will talk with my own GP next week at my annual exam about energy level, etc.! And yes, keep writing. I’m on an AMTRAK train writing something very personal for my book, and wondering whether it makes a difference to put myself so much on the page. You just reminded me that it does…thank you.

    1. I know I replied to this but I’m not seeing what I wrote . I have always believed that setting our own story down is one of the best invitations to people to have a real ‘visit,’ not so much with us but with themselves. I hope the train trip brought the long view (that’s what train rides do for me) and… I would lOVE to read that book one day!

  3. How I love your honesty, Terry. And, yes, I’ve certainly missed your (albeit infrequent) postings, but I expect/hope we’ll be seeing a few more examples of the wonderful TM-wit in the not too distant future.


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  4. Terry,
    Because you were honest with the doctor and most important with yourself and brave enough to share with your friends, you will be back on the “trampoline”.

  5. Gosh but I hope that does the trick for you! Life is way to short to waste any of it feeling just so-so!

  6. Terry – thanks for your brutal honesty … I so often put my tiredness down to boredom at work, and I am now 62, and leave it at that. Maybe there is more to it than those two factors. Why do we often attribute everything to getting older and write it off? I’m going to read up on dysthymia.

    1. Linda thanks so much for this. At 62 and 69 we have much of life ahead god willing and perhaps the path ahead will point to new understanding all around, or “Illumination!” as Indiana Jones’s dad (AKA Sean Connery) cries exultantly at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. 🙂

      1. You’re so welcome Terry. I was glad to see you had returned, then kept reading. I sometimes sit and think about when exactly I suddenly realized I no longer could do what I used to do so effortlessly … then I ponder on it. Lack of stamina/energy, lack of interest … it all seemed/seems like just too much trouble sometimes.

  7. My cousin’s husband died while stopped at a traffic light. The car drifted into the intersection and a serious accident occurred, resulting In a long hospital stay for Carol. She told me that this book by William Styron was a part of her cure: Darkness Visible.

    1. Joan what a terrible thing that must have been. I remember when the William Styron book came out though I never read it . Maybe now is the time. Thanks so much for this .

      1. Judging from his writings, I would say he was a most thoughtful person. I have not read that book either, but have listed it because my cousin found help therein. As for his other books, and a biography, I have been happily hooked on Styron.

  8. Hang in there. Awareness and honesty will lead to treatment. If it takes a pill or two to get your bounce back accept it and move forward. Positive Mental Attitude that you are taking care of yourself to recharge your batteries, then that is what you need to do now. Once you feel better you will do better and the bounce will come back. Then so will your humor that we all love. Gwen Talbot

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