Slow, if not steady

Clever Manka, · Categories: Manka's Posts · Tags: , ,

I wrote this and chose the gif before the U.S. elections. When I have the energy and ability, I’ll write the more metaphysical followup that must necessarily follow.

I’m not what anyone would call quick to action in general, but once I make up my mind to do something, I like to get a move on. I knew changing my life would be scary, difficult, and stressful. I didn’t realize it would take so long.

Back in July, I was one-hundred-percent committed to making serious changes, and soon. I was done with medical specialists (regardless of type of medical degree/schooling). I’d tried relying on someone else to fix my body for seventeen years. I was ready for something new. Then I found out about Dr. Sexy and decided to put that life change on hold while I pursued one more medical-help option.

I didn’t anticipate the negative psychological effects of downshifting after I’d already made the decision to throw it into sixth gear.

I am a hedonist. I am a person of large appetites and I consume with enthusiasm. If I don’t actively enjoy at least an aspect of something, I stop engaging with it. This applies to food, media, activities, and other human beings. I don’t spend time and energy if the effort doesn’t bring me joy. Different things offer different levels of satisfaction, and sometimes I need to learn/convince myself of the enjoyable aspects (Sun Salutations, for example, or the regular eating of greens). If I’m going to choose to regularly interact with something, though (hobbies, friends, whatever), I need to find that interaction generally pleasurable.

There are, of course and unfortunately, critical things in life that offer no pleasure in the doing and must simply be endured. Right now I am enduring everything.

Most everyone who is familiar with depression knows about anhedonia. It’s a charming feedback loop where nothing is good/fun/pleasurable, and it limits (or eliminates) the motivation to pursue good/fun/pleasurable things. That coupled with the debilitating physical exhaustion that accompanies attempts to make myself do good/fun/pleasurable things, and I am lost.

I am surrounded by reminders of the life I’m not leading. I see the closet-full of thrifted clothes that I bought for re-fashioning, but I have neither the physical stamina for sewing nor the imaginative capability to create designs. I see my storage freezer, much too full for the large portion of cow I packed in there a few weeks ago because I haven’t done half the cooking I usually do in a year. My TRX and kettlebells are literally dusty. Even my art supplies sit neglected—I couldn’t trust my energy levels to commit to the due South fandom gift exchange I usually do at this time of year. Living with the constant visual and psychological press of these things that used to give me pleasure is stressful, but I have no resources to hide them and even if I did, where would I move them to?

Even eating is something I’m doing just to get it done and it took me two weeks to muster the enthusiasm for sex this past weekend.

There are people for whom the pursuit of pleasure (define that how you like) is not the primary motivating force in their lives. I have no desire to transform myself into one of these people, but in order to avoid completely succumbing to depression, I must find a way to live as one for a while. Until I find how to eliminate or accommodate the issues causing my fatigue, until I have the resources to improve things, I have to be okay with things not being okay. I need to find a way to be patient with the notion of enduring my life.

Conveniently, the yogic and Vaishnavic philosophies I’m studying for my yoga certification fall into line with this. Non-attachment stuff. Doing stuff simply because it is the right thing to do. Expecting no results, good or bad, from your actions. Studying these ideas helps me understand the concepts (former Religious Studies Student Me is enjoying approaching these texts from an academic standpoint), but I’m having a difficult time internalizing them or applying them to my current living existence.

While my body lacks the energy for passion, I need to focus on patience. I might be opposed to the concept that everything happens for a reason, but that doesn’t mean I can’t learn from this particular experience. I might be standing still, but that doesn’t mean I have to be stagnant.

clevermankaClever Manka is your site host. Patience is not one of her virtues.

31 Responses to “Slow, if not steady”

  1. Doc_Paradise says:

    Everything that has been working for me lately has been coming with the admonishment "Go slow to go fast". I can honestly say that I hate that, but it *is* the way things are getting done in my life.

    I'm not a hedonist. I'm well trained in the art of delayed gratification (whether I like that is another matter) and meaningful work is probably equivalent for me to how you view pleasure. Being without the thing that we rely on to make stuff work… really fucking sucks. HUGS. I found "When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times" by Pema Chodron useful in trying to manage when things were bad.

  2. CleverManka says:

    Coincidentally, I had my appointment with Dr. Sexy last night. He found some interesting things and what he feels is a clear path to some solutions. We're going to stop focusing on hormone balances (which is what I'd been doing with my previous health practitioner for the past three years) and start doing things to fix my massively fucked-up gut. I have radically low diversity levels of bacteria and zero (or at least immeasurably small) quantities of Lactobacillus. Meanwhile, I have two types of bad bacteria in staggeringly high numbers (I don't remember the names right now). Also leaky gut, methylation disfunction, and…something else that I can't remember.

    So I just put in a three hundred dollar order for supplements to start working on that. He said three to six months for gut restoration was the minimum time frame for healing, though, and I am not a quick healer. So yeah. This is gonna be a long road.

    • Onymous says:

      So… An all yogurt diet for the next six months? I've heard worse prognosis

    • Fancy_Pants says:

      Ooooh I so, so, SO hope that this is a fruitful avenue for treatment for you. Not to pile on the hype train (I'm sure you're trying not to get your hopes up too much), but my partner's longtime wacky skin issues got radically better after 6 months of eating gluten/dairy free, so I am personally (anecdotally, unscientifically) partial to gut stuff. Sounds like you're starting with some strong evidence for this approach too.

      Also seconding Onymous's sentiment–an upside of this treatment is that you get to go wild on all the awesome fermented foods!

      • CleverManka says:

        Hurray for your partner! That's great!

        Unfortunately, my gut is so fucked up that feeding it pre and probiotics won't do anything until the tissues themselves are somewhat healed. There's just no place for them to settle since everything is so damaged and overrun with nasty bugs that shouldn't be there in the first place. Rather like the current state of the U.S. government!

  3. Heathered says:

    Oh, Manka. Anhedonia is like the girlfriend I can no longer live with but also can't break up with because ANHEDONIA. (Also a little like my actual ex-girlfriend, sigh). I am very excited on your behalf about gut health potential, though, and can tell you I have a dear friend here who I almost never see who went through absolute HELL a few years ago. Is it cancer again? No. Celiac? Sort of but not quite. Am I dying? Hard to say. And landing on a food regimen & course of other stuff that worked has turned her so unbelievably vital I can barely stand to be around her; she's like a fucking love laser. I wish you that and more, and can't promise I will not hit on you should it come to pass. Take your time with it, but keep hoping and I will, too.

  4. littleinfinity says:

    "While my body lacks the energy for passion, I need to focus on patience."

    As a fellow hedonist currently cohabitating with Anhedonia, this may well become my new mantra.

  5. Paul says:

    There's a non-religious aspect to the philosophies you mention in your last paragraph that's meditation and mindfullness, which you may already know. I'm dabbling with this and finding that I do some parts of it as my own mechanisms but you may find it helpful to to live in the now and flow more like water in your mind without have to include particular deities.

    A decent introductory book is 10% Happier by Dan Harris. It's the story of an American newsreader who found some solace through mindfullness instead of drugs, adrenaline, work, etc.

    Of course if you already went down this path then I apologize for restating. Good Luck!

    • CleverManka says:

      Hey there! And yeah, I'm not even trying to attempt a more religious/spiritual take on those things. Can you imagine? HA HA HA HA *wipes tear*

      Glad you're finding ways to deal with your own stuff, and I hope things aren't terrible for you. Drop me a line if you need to talk, okay?

      And I will definitely check out that book, too, thank you! It's checked out right now, but I put it on hold.

      • Paul says:

        Oh, I'm actually doing pretty well, trying to focus on some self-improvement, but I appreciate the sentiment! Always happy to chat and I'm sure Amy would love to hear from you too. Let me know what you think of mindfulness and meditation.

        • CleverManka says:

          I've been a proponent of mindfulness for a while. The whole chop-wood carry-water approach to acknowledging everything, even/especially the small stuff, as vital and important to life. Also it keeps me from being clumsy (physically and in personal interactions).

          Self-improvement is hard, though, especially as I've felt my brain chemistry change notably over the past year. Realizing that I am not the person I used to be, and might not ever get some of that back? Has been tough. As a result, I don't like to spend a lot of time in my head. Fucking hormones.

          Meditation definitely helps, though. I am still pretty great at thinking about nothing so there's that. Still terrible at talking on the phone, though. Would love some transporter technology so we could have dinner sometime.

  6. jenavira says:

    Oh man, anhedonia, I remember those times. Vaguely, because everything kind of blurred together after a while, even the things I was doing because they were supposed to be fun, but I remember them.

    Strength to you in dealing with all of this, and good luck with the new doctor.

    • CleverManka says:

      Thank you. I am trying to let go of the fact that my "prime years" (ages 30 to 45) were spent on a steady decline. Here's hoping the world gives my 50s a chance to make up for that.

  7. Kazoogrrl says:

    I have a hard time figuring out when something stops giving me joy so it's time to let it go, and when it's depression and anhedonia and I want to stop because nothing is giving me anything.

    • CleverManka says:

      oof. That's a tough place to be in. I'm fortunate that I know this depression is 100% based on my physical unhealth and I am absolutely confident once I get that under control, it will fade. I'm sorry you can't rely on that. Boo.

      • Kazoogrrl says:

        I'm getting better! I tend to stick to things out of habit, so dropping that which no longer works for me is a learning process.

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