When Your Brain Can’t Produce the Good Chemicals

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Clouds hiding a blue sky. I know there’s a silver lining here somewhere.

It hurts to smile today. It feels like lifting 25 pounds to turn up the corners of my mouth. Turns out, the steroids I’ve been taking to help me breath might be destroying all the work I’ve done getting healthy.

I have some reasons to be sad, yes. They seem very prominent right now. But breakfast isn’t a reason to cry. Putting on my shoes isn’t a challenge to motivation. Except when it is. I see now why I may have trouble with some chores.  I remember having to do chores when I felt this way, arguing with my husband about them. Days when a pile of laundry looked like a mountain. Hours when a sink full of dishes or a meal looked like a minefield instead of a pleasant symphony of domesticity or a comforting picture of ordinariness. I don’t have a ton of good or even average memories of these tasks. I have a storage unit full of guilt and impotence that I thought I had stopped paying on. I thought they had auctioned it off. I didn’t have any regular way to get rid of it so I just abandoned it. All those feelings can’t come back. I don’t want to do it again.

Obviously, not getting sleep was a drain on my body and brain. But apparently, treating the symptoms isn’t much better. I say that, but being able to breathe is a huge deal. Maybe adjusting to real sleep at night is causing a problem too. Four years ago, because I wasn’t sleeping well at night, because I couldn’t breathe well, my body reversed my circadian rhythm. I was most awake in the middle of the night and most asleep first thing in the morning. My nutritionist had me spit in a tube four times a day and tested them for cortisol levels. Cortisol helps you wake up. My levels were lowest first thing in the morning and highest in the middle of the night. Just getting out of bed was a feat of sheer will.

I took that test four years ago. Now, I thought I was past all that. In fact, I’m terrified of going there again. I don’t want to alienate my new co-workers who think I’m chipper and nice and maybe even funny. I’m prepared this time, though. I know what I need to do. I need to make sure I’m breathing well. I need to exercise. I need to get off these steroids. I need to eat right. I need to manage my stress levels because I’m pretty sure that’s what triggered all this starting a few months back. And I guess I need to get allergy shots again so I hopefully never have this problem again.

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