Tuesday, September 23

Crying in a supermarket

It's amazing how uncomfortable people get when you are crying in public. Very strange, really. We all feel so awkward, don't we?

I mean, it's not as though any of us are new to the concept of bawling. But it's as though the person just became highly contagious. People are afraid to approach you.

As you may have guessed from the title, I had a minor breakdown today at Albertsons. And the only reason I was even able to get my butt into Albertsons was because my mom drove me. Talk about feeling mature.

I was so tired that the new layout confused me. It's been this way for about three months, but I'm still adjusting to it. And today I kept looking for things in their old spots.

We'd only made it about three aisles over -- having successfully added milk to the cart -- when I was looking at salsa. We needed some. But Albertsons charges $8.49 for a big bottle of salsa. About two blocks up the street, at Sam's Club, the same stuff is under $4.

So I stood there, looking at the list, looking at the price, list, price, list, price. And all I could think is that I didn't want to take another step. So how could I make it up to Sam's Club? But I also couldn't pay almost $5 more when the cheaper stuff was two blocks away. And I couldn't get it another time: We needed it for that night's dinner.

I went to look at pasta, because it was too depressing to be looking at salsa I couldn't buy. And that's when the waterworks started. I was exhausted, I wanted to be at home, and I couldn't even get something as simple as salsa.

Part of this reaction was simple fatigue. Between the contract work, the blog and Tim's job stuff, there's been a lot going on. The lack of job weights heavily on Tim, as does not knowing what he wants to do.

Partially because of the stress from this (my opinion), his ADD has been worse. He keeps getting very single-minded. He's been more impulsive, which means I have to put the brakes on more often and keep him from buying when he's in these modes. It's just a lot to handle.

Also, it has meant that he latches on to ideas and won't let go -- until the slightest snag shows up. Then he's ready to quit. The snag, of course, has to be something he discovers. My comments don't penetrate. So, he went off half-cocked about medical coding; a month later he's finally finding some logistical problems. Like, he hadn't realized that he'd have to take anatomy courses to do medical coding.

It's all a tad maddening; but I am trying to restrain my temper and be supportive. I remember how painful it was when I first stopped working. It's hard on the ego.

If you think about everything that is tied into careers: We ask little kids what they want to be when they grow up; one of the first questions people ask is what you do (not even for a living, just what you do); we ascribe certain traits to certain fields of work and certain income levels.

So anyway, I've been trying to learn to be the patient, good wife. Especially because in the past I've certainly not been patient. But it really does take a toll, doesn't it?

We had a couple long talks today and I think we've reached a point where he's going to try to be more conscious of his impulsivity.

And we're going to wait to hear from the vocational rehab center before we do any more planning. Those people can help him find a career he can do. And frankly, all our attempts just end in exhaustion, depression and general malaise.

Still, it's all very frustrating. I get up, do some of my work, take a break for breakfast, then go back. Suddenly, it's the middle of the afternoon -- even though the work is only supposed to take about 2 hours it actually takes 3-4 -- and I've only done a bit on my own blog. No errands have been done and we still have to figure out dinner.

And so I found myself bleary-eyed and at the grocery store. I didn't want to take another step. Not even to go sit down. I just wanted my bed to magically appear and cushion me. But I couldn't. Because we didn't have salsa. Or a magical, teleporting bed.

It's so exhausting trying to act like a normal person. I've even scaled my expectations way back. But there's still things I don't get around to. Lately it feels like I blink and the day is mostly over, along with my energy.

Most of the time, I let this roll off my back. I remind myself that I can't change it. But once in awhile, it just hits me, how relentless this is all is. It's not going to stop.

I know this sounds silly, but I'm still a little shocked that it's been a decade of this and I'm still so far from acceptance. More silly: I sort of half expected I'd get a break at such a big milestone.

I know it's illogical, ridiculous even. I knew it wouldn't really happen. But it still seemed so plausible. I keep thinking that if only disability were a relay race, I could handle it. If I knew that I only had to go to a certain point, I could make it there.

But there's no end in sight. No one will come up and take the fatigue for a few years.

If they did, I would come back. Not gladly, but I would. If only I could have a few years of good, old-fashioned wage earning. If I could actually affect my financial future. Then I would come back for another long haul.

I think the impetus of this particular mood -- or perhaps just the proverbial straw on the proverbial camel's back -- was reading an article on Friday about science. The article said a scientist has determined a way to get muscles to better stave off fatigue.

This may very well be pertinent to me. To condense what I understand of the articles on Guillain-Barre, essentially some nerves were damaged and regrew quickly, rather than properly. So they are inefficient and make the muscles have to work harder to compensate. So something like this could actually have some promise.

I felt so hopeful for a minute. Then I realized: This was still in a lab somewhere. Not even a pharmaceutical lab. Just a university.

Even assuming they could miraculously come out with a medicine from this compound in the next five years, there would still be years of getting FDA approval. So likely it will be at least a decade before anything is even available.

After that, everything has seemed a little harder.

So what does this all mean? I wish my ramblings had some deep import or conveyed an important message that everyone could take heart from.

In this case, though, I think it's just that it really sucks to be disabled.

It's funny: you don't ever really think that you expect life to be fair -- until it dumps a bunch of "unfair" all over you. Then you just bleat out the injustice of it, even if you know there's no point.

I wish I could say that I accept my limitations with a quiet, dignified serenity. But the truth is, I often come home and hide under the covers, hugging some stuffed animals, until Tim comes and talks me out. (Why do we think that covers protect us from monsters, let alone wordly affairs? It's a mystery I've never sorted out. But I do feel awfully safe huddled up.)

So I'm not the epitome of grace under pressure. I'm a depressive with energy limitations, which means double the emotionality and grumpiness. It means that I'm often quite a handful to be around.

It means that my limitations don't make me into some Lifetime movie with a happy ending of triumph over a disability. I won't win gold medals or even a local race. I will be lucky to be able to work steady part-time work.

And, sometimes, that just has to be enough. Because it's all I have. It's far from perfect. It's nothing like what I pictured as a kid. But it's a life and it's the only one I've got. So I pick it up and make do with it -- even if I don't always make the best of it.

Because I'm human.

Because I'm disabled.

Because I'm the kind of person who cries in supermarkets.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could grocery shop for much cheaper if I got to call all the shots. However, my boyfriend is very picky. For example, the only kind of syrup I can buy is pure maple syrup. I know we are low, so I thought I'd pick some up at the store. They didn't have the usual size bottle I get, and the next size up was $19.99. I think it was cheaper per ounce that way...but I just couldn't bring myself to drop $20 on syrup in one shot. It made me feel bad.

As for this:

"Also, it has meant that he latches on to ideas and won't let go -- until the slightest snag shows up. Then he's ready to quit. The snag, of course, has to be something he discovers."

At least he is still considering ideas. That's positive! Some people don't even get that far. Don't think of it in terms of him quitting when he doesn't follow through though. Think of it as him researching his ideas and then realizing it is isn't right for him afterall. It's smart to do that before you get deeply involved in something.

I know you have your own limitations to deal with, but just remember that EVERYONE has their own limitations.

September 23, 2008 at 6:39 AM

Blogger The J said...

Have I ever been there. Where all options seem equally impossible. And where the immensity hits you like a tonne of bricks.

btw - people are equally uncomfortable when you are crying on public transit.

September 23, 2008 at 6:56 AM

Blogger Abby said...


You're completely right about the thinking. It's just I worry that in the meantime he'll commit himself to something he can't get out of. But I need to stop being such a control freak and, so long as he doesn't sign anything without some critical thought, realize that everyone comes to decisions on their own.

I'm a little extra gun-shy though because he racked up tons of student debt going to a technical college for computers -- only to find he didn't actually like it much and really couldn't afford the certification tests. He should have done more research/moved to AZ and gotten residency. But he's calmer nowadays and so long as he doesn't put anything in writing, I should let him go at his own pace.

Also, I totally know about picky. Tim is very picky about a few things. Granted, then I'm expense-causing because I don't eat red meat, only poultry. So I guess he and I are both just human.

And "The J"

I had to laugh about the public transportation. Very true, I'm sure.

I think every so often I just have to have a small pity-party. I then finally talk to Tim about things that have been bothering me. I'm trying to learn to do it before the breakdown. But we humans are creatures of habit. So, baby steps.

September 23, 2008 at 11:19 AM

Blogger Shevy said...

Well, you know Abby, that's the thing. We all just go on and on pretending to be good little Energizer bunnies until some tiny little thing suddenly means that everything is Too Much and we fall apart like the One Hoss Shay.

Then we're able to talk about it or ask for help (or *demand* it) but until then we're too busy being superhuman to stop for a second.

And the hardest kind of disability in many ways is the "invisible" one. If you're in a wheelchair or missing a limb or have a guide dog everybody realizes you have limitations and they look to you for just what those limitations are. When you look "normal" suddenly you should be keeping up with *their* standard and anything less is slacking or goldbricking.

Uh, no. But they can't put themselves in your place. You look fine, so you must really be fine (maybe just a little tired). They don't have a clue about what exhaustion is really like.

And I totally relate to the salsa. I can think of lots of times I've paid extra for something I really needed just because I couldn't force myself to go to yet another store.

September 23, 2008 at 1:01 PM

Blogger Abby said...


I couldn't have put it better myself.

Thanks for the encouragement. It was just what I needed to hear.

September 23, 2008 at 6:58 PM

Blogger SpondyGirl said...

I can relate to much of this... I'm even married to a man with ADD (and live with a teenager with ADD).

Glad you posted it. Glad to feel less lonely. I hope you feel less lonely too.

September 23, 2008 at 8:34 PM

Blogger Abby said...


a hubby AND a teen with ADD? You can see it right now but I'm shuddering.

How do you cope with the forgetfulness? I've learned to cope with having to try to get Tim's attention a few times (he learned to concentrate by literally blocking everything else out) but the spaciness drives me up the wall. I know it's not his fault, so I try not to snap at him.

September 23, 2008 at 9:47 PM

Blogger Revanche said...

Oy, sorry about the breakdown. I was crying on the plane this weekend, feeling overwhelmed as well, and I don't think the guy next to me knew what to make of it. We both pretended nothing was wrong :P

You're both doing the best you can, sometimes you just need to escape into a burrito of covers. *shrug* It does feel safer, and I don't know why.

September 24, 2008 at 11:56 AM

Blogger Abby said...

"Burrito of covers"

I love it!

I think we all just get worn down and have little "losing it" moments. I hope one day I can call a timeout before I get to that point. But I'm Type A, so it's unlikely. I always try to do too much.

September 24, 2008 at 1:57 PM

Blogger FibroGrrl said...

Wow, it seems like serendipity that I found this entry! (Followed it off of the fightingfatigue.org blog.) I just wrote an entry about something similar on my blog. I loved what you said about the Lifetime specials. I find those soo annoying now. I feel anything but graceful learning to deal with my illness and disability. I often find myself echoing your feelings that it's just not FAIR. Or my life wasn't supposed to be like this. And you know, even if we could manage to be all graceful and dignified, it's not like it would solve all our problems, lol.
Hang in there, you're not alone.

October 31, 2008 at 4:15 PM

Blogger Abby said...


Thanks for the words of kindness. It's always nice to know we're not alone.

Now I feel compelled to check out your blog and see what it's like.

Thanks for leaving a comment on here!

October 31, 2008 at 4:24 PM


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