that scruchy, wound up feeling

This time of year is tough for those of us with any kind of depression, isn’t it?  The days are mostly dark and gloomy, and what little light there is vanishes before the evening commute home.

I’m coping, though.

No, seriously, this is the best winter I have had in years.  Cort has really worked with me {and the stuff my therapist suggests} to try to be proactive.  I have gotten a SAD Lamp that I use a minimum of four times a week (for 15-30 minutes at a time, although ideally I would use it for 30 minutes every day), I have been charting my symptoms of when I feel most anxious during the month and what seems to be the cause.  I have found out that a lot of it is hormonal (which I hate because it feeds into this “thing” about women and their uncontrollable “moodiness”), but I’m on anxiety meds during a certain week of the month to help with that.

It’s not perfect yet…it’s definitely a work in progress…but I am seeing that it’s working.

The problem is, even when I know that the anxiety “time” is coming, I can’t foresee when exactly it will hit.

Saturday it hit.

The day started out–to the casual observer–perfectly.  Cort let me stay in bed until after 10am.  I got up and sipped my coffee while perusing social media.  While I was still in my jammies, Cort packed up Eddie and they went to the hardware store, leaving me alone with a napping baby.

How is this not perfect? Trick question. It’s totally perfect.

But I was restless for some reason.

The house was a wreck. I had a deadline to meet.  I needed to shower.  But I didn’t want to do any of it, but I also knew I couldn’t focus in this pile of a house.  It was a definite Catch-22 and it was causing me to want to go HAM all over everything and everyone.

(You know it’s bad when I use the phrase “go HAM” since I abhor that phrase for its stupidity)

Anyway, lunch time came around and the boys were sort of whiney.  Eddie went down for nap shortly after and Charlie? WOULD NOT NAP.

Finally after some tense moments, Cort went to deal with Charlie, and I decided I more than needed a timeout.  Everything on my insides was getting clenchy–that is how I described it to my therapist. It’s like everything on my insides starts winding around itself and it gets tighter and tighter and tighter. If I release the pressure of how tight it’s getting wound, it will come out in snaps and hurt someone.  If I don’t release at all?  It will eventually wind so tight it will crack and break and make a mess.

So.  This is what I am working on.

Anyway, I went into our room, closed the door, and changed our sheets for no reason other than I needed to control something and get away from the rest of my world.

I still wasn’t ready to go out and face anyone without exploding, so I decided I would take a shower.  I didn’t tell Cort. I didn’t consider if he had anything else he needed to do that day. I just did it.

While I showered, my insides became so tight I wanted to punch a wall.

I started letting all the things that bother me have a hand in turning the crank in my gut:  the dishes in the sink, the crumbs under Eddie and Charlie’s seat, the mess on Charlie’s highchair tray, the floors that need to be mopped, the floors that need to be vacuumed, the bathroom that looks like a college boy’s dorm bathroom…why does it seem like I am the only person in this house that notices these things? Which really means: Why doesn’t Cortney notice these things???  Why am I the one always in charge of crumbs and the bathroom?

Then I immediately feel guilty.

He let me sleep in.  He let me have a whole night locked in my room to do writing that week.  He made dinner for us.  He ran errands I didn’t want to do.

But I was still annoyed.

More than annoyed.

I was MAD.

But I felt guilty.

And then I felt hugely burdensome.  He sighs a lot around me lately.  Especially when I ask if he can do something for me.  He spends most of his time making sure I am on an even keel…that my mood doesn’t dip.  And when it does, he gets sad and annoyed because he can’t do anything right.

Even though he does everything right.

But yet…I am still annoyed.  Mostly at him.

I stood for several minutes with my head under the hot water.  I took deep breaths like I taught Eddie to do when he is upsets and loses his words.

A few tears fell and I realized the week of anxiety was starting.

And then my anger shifted.

Is this just my “normal”?  When are my feelings “real” and not because of hormonal/chemical issues?  And is that possible?  Does it make them less valid?  I feel like it does because it’s unreasonable and illogical.

I KNOW one thing, but I FEEL something else.  And then anger takes over.

I was able to recognize it and come down from it by the time I was done drying off and getting dressed.  I walked quietly into the livingroom and curled myself in my chair still feeling fragile and cracked.

Cort was just sitting on the couch alone–Charlie must have finally gone to nap–staring at the TV but not watching it.

“How was your shower?” he asked me automatically and without much feeling.

“Ok,” I started, “sorry I didn’t let you know what I was doing.”

“I figured it out.”

“I’m sorry I am this way.”

“It’s Ok, babe.”

I know he means it.  And I know he doesn’t all at the same time.

But mostly he means it.  I just have to believe it too.

I still have bad days when I am angry and nothing gets done.

But most days I am not like this.  This is not the norm anymore. I need to celebrate that and not dwell on the bad days.

I know that, but I have to believe it too.

About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.


  1. Wow I am so like this. I get so frustrated with Nate – when he absolutely doesn’t deserve it in the least. Poor husbands… I should probably go apologize right now.

  2. Oh, hugs, you.

  3. You are great for opening up about this. I still have struggles. & dh takes the brunt much of the time. Then I start the cycle of mad, sad, guilty, etc, that he’s having to deal w/it all, too.
    I swear–your dh & my dh need to talk; support each other through the crazy. LoL. Kidding. But not.

  4. Oh friend. I am so so here. Like 150% going to the doctor today because of it, here. HUGS. Thank you for sharing this.

  5. I don’t know if this will make you feel better or not, but I don’t have anxiety issues, at least not like you describe. I don’t have depression, I never experienced any postpartum issues. However, what you described “Why am I the only thing that notices these things” and the anger and the guilt. Got it. Got it all.

    My husband and I rarely fight, but when we do it’s about these things. Everything that I’m responsible for…which is everything from getting him and the kids prepared for the next day, all the way to giving the kids a bath before bed. Everyday, I’m responsible for everything and if anything goes awry, it’s my fault. At least that’s the way I feel.

    But then I feel guilty because he does do some stuff. He almost always cleans up after dinner and I never touch the trash. He walks the dogs way more than I do. But I still feel like the responsibility of whether we succeed or fail at life ultimately rests on my shoulders. If I don’t clean the house it is unlivable. If I don’t remember a bath the kids are dirty. If I don’t pay the bills our lights go off.

    So I totally get it and I honestly think most women, even with the best husbands, feel that way.

  6. I hate when that anxious feeling comes along. It just seems to come from out of no where. I can be having a lovely day and then my guts start to churn, slowly at first, then into an epic knot. I, too, have a great hubby who seems to recognize it before I do. There are no little kids around now, but he does other stuff to keep me from crawling into a corner and wallowing. Like today he just asked to take me out to lunch. What a great guy!

  7. I am the exact same way, and my anxiety totally amps the week before my cycle. “Clenchy” is the perfect way to describe it, actually. I’m having a better winter than usual, as well. I’ve noticed that I seem to have easy access to exercise endorphins, so when I start to feel clenchy tricep push-ups or really weighted squats — you know stuff that’s so fucking hard you can barely stand it and you collapse afterward? That helps the clenchy. You can’t really do it at work (unless you’re me and you work from home), but it’s good in the off time. The other thing I do is take ridiculously deep breaths — 50 of them. It takes so long to take 50 deep breaths that you kind of forget what you were doing. Finally, I try to stop myself from thinking the mad, intrusive thoughts, because if I go down that road I just start finding every single thing in my life (and my house looks like what you are describing and I have a friend coming over tonight and am wondering when I’m going to clean it before she gets here) that is wrong and messed up and there are plenty of things that are right so I just imagine giant windshield wipers sweeping away the nasty thoughts. Sweep, sweep.

    People who don’t have anxiety would be shocked at the amount of time I spend managing mine. I spend as much time managing my anxiety as a diabetic monitoring her insulin. You gotta do what you gotta do with the body you’ve got. 🙂 Hang in there, lady! The fact you’re able to recognize everything really is fine is huge.

  8. I cracked yesterday. But I have Bipolar Disorder (which stemmed from PPD) and I guess it’s more or less to be expected. Today I’m going through cycles of anger, then tears, then just emptiness. I get angry at my husband more than I should too during this time. Then the intrusive thoughts hit….He’s going to find somebody else. Someone less mental. Someone without a short fuse. Someone who doesn’t yell.

    Yeah, I’m not doing okay at all. At all.

    Hope is all I have. Hope is what gets me through the cycle. I’ll hope for you too.

  9. You know why I think my winter isn’t as awful as winters past? I think because winter is just now showing up for me. Forty degrees and sunless is the norm now whereas just last weekend we had a 60 degree day with loads of sunshine. I love that you are at a point where you recognize the signs, even if you can’t necessarily head it all off. I’m glad that you have Cort who whether he will ever fully understand it or not, at least attempts to, and loves you through it and knows you aren’t purposely being who you don’t want to be. And yeah, the whole feeding into the “she’s just hormonal” shit? I hate it (especially, of course, if a man says it.) But I adore how you are trying, how you and Cort both are using the therapist’s suggestions at home, how you know your anxiety affects him and you’re trying to stay on that even keel even when it’s simply beyond your control.

    I’ma get me a lamp. Soon as I pay the water bill.

  10. Knowing and believing… I too wish the two would meet more often in my world. Thank you for putting into words the way I often feel too. When are my feelings valid? When are they irrational? I’m glad most days are good for you. *hug*

  11. Thank you for writing this. “Scrunchy” is a perfect word too. There so much buildup and you have no way of getting rid of it.

    I totally understand.

  12. I’m glad this is not the norm for you anymore. And I’m glad that you have someone who is so loving and understanding around. Plus, all us internet people 😉 *hugs*

  13. I know exactly that feeling… I’ve been feeling it more and more lately. My poor boyfriend has been on the receiving end more times than I care to admit… It’s been years since I dealt with this, but I guess I just need to find new ways to cope. Thanks for putting all this out there – it’s really helpful.

  14. It’s so good to hear that you’re doing better and have your anxiety figured out to where you can keep up with it, even if you do have bad days. This sounds a lot like the weekend I had recently. I was SO MAD and keeping it all in, but every little thing that my husband did (or mostly, didn’t do) had me fuming. I was ready to do something drastic. But I held it all in and I don’t even think he knew about it. I knew I’d blow up, though, big time, and that’s why I didn’t let any out. Even though there were things that he did, I was so focused on the things he didn’t do.

  15. I understand. I wish I could say that I didn’t, but I do. Hang in there, girl! This too shall pass.

  16. We all have our bad days, don’t beat yourself up over them, that will just make for more bad days. Its a vicious cycle and I’ve been there.

  17. I get that feeling too. You wrote about it so well, pretty much described my feelings when it hits me. I think it’s tied to my cycle too. We’re lucky we have such wonderful hubbys.