Have you ever cried for no reason? Not just for very little reason at all... Most of us agree is seems a bit silly to cry at a sappy comercial, or a sad song, or to cry the ugly cry because of one of those sentimental chain e-mails. I have cried real tears at sad movies... Beaches, My Life, Philadelphia and Dying Young are just a few examples.
And I know I am not the only one who has been hormonal while pregnant - my husband still teases me about the day I burst into tears after dropping my french fries all over the food court. I think I scared the poor girl behind the fast food counter, but at least I was visibly ready to pop and my outburst could easily be explained as hormones.
I even know that I am more susceptible to sappy emails at certain times of the month.
But I recently found myself in a place where I could stop at a stop light, and be on the edge of tears for no apparent reason. I could not even explain to myself WHY it might be necessary to cry, I only knew that I was on the verge of tears and there seemed to be no provocation whatsoever. Any quiet moment could find me fighting to contain the moisture. A few seconds wait for a computer program to load, or the moment after locking the bathroom door.
The most frightening part about it was not being able to pinpoint a cause. These were all random moments throughout my daily routine. They had nothing in common except that extra moment of inattentive thought, and I began to suspect that I was losing my mind. As I became more aware of these moments, they seemed to be more frequent. Did this mean that I was always on the verge of crying and just not paying attention to it?
The feelings continued for at least a week before I became desperate to understand what was going on. I searched the internet and found information on depression, recommendations for drugs and therapy, meditation, too much information and most of it the wrong kind (what else is new?). I am already seeing a mental health professional, who is supposed to be helping with issues regarding my health condition and supporting succesful management of the disease.
I resolved to present him with this problem at the next visit (luckily scheduled early the following week). I began to visualize the session, what I would tell him, and how he would respond. I envisioned everything from a response that this was normal, to an insistence on psychiatric hospitalization. The 'aha' moment came when I pictured him taking me off work for a medical leave. I realized that this was very nearly what I WANTED to happen. I love my job, I do not want to quit, but suddenly I realized that I wanted - I NEEDED - less of this job that I love.
It was still not an easy decision. Circumstances at work are already difficult. I love my job, I love my coworkers, but there was already more work than the available staff could easily accomplish. I knew that if I cut back my hours it would be like dumping more of that impossible load on friends I didn't want to hurt. But in the end I had to admit that the workload was harming me, and the alternative to cutting back would be to quit completely, which would be even worse for my friends than the choice I was making.
This is now my second week of reduced hours (3 days per week instead of 5). I appreciate the extra time for ME, although all the extra hours often evaporate into appointments and phone calls and things that need doing. But it is a relief to be able to find time for things that need doing, and not feel so often that I am sacrificing something else...