Saturday, December 30, 2006

where i find myself strangely curious

I used to cry easily. Since M came (ok, after the first 9 months when I cried non-stop) I found that I rarely cried - that a different level of calm has settled in. But lately, I've found that has been replaced with a new sort of reaction; one where I feel a huge surge of emotion as if I could break down sobbing in the middle of the street. And it doesn't take a huge tragedy to bring this on. A woman tripping as she walks. A child being rebuffed on the playground. An older man eating alone in a restaurant. (alright, that one has always gotten to me) and the surge of emotion is so swift, so strong, and so overwhelming that I don't quite know what to make of it.

Sometimes I think it's as simple as feeling heartbroken by this world. The pain and suffering, it feels close and around and far and everywhere. And in turn I simply want to weep.

But then the tears do not come. It's like my insides runs up against itself and bounce around and can't find a way out. And sitting alongside all of this is this otherworldly calmness about the things that used to upset me, the things I like to refer to as the overly dramatic series of non-events.

I don't really know what to make of it. In fact, I am not even sure why I am writing about it (and that might be an indicator I should listen to).

A pity party, is that what this is? I hope not.

Is it? Because, KC, that would be decidely NOT money.


Thailand Gal said...

You might be an empath. At the very minimum, it is unchanneled compassion. You'll become accustomed to it soon enough and begin to have more choice in how it manifests. :)


~Chani (not trying to sound like a bloody know-it-all. I'm just tired and a bit quicker with my words than usual.)

Joker The Lurcher said...

what is happening with you sounds like what i started to feel at the beginning of suffering from depression. in me it was followed by numbness and slowing down to the point where i could not get through the day in any sensible way. i'm a lot perkier now but just before christmas i ended up taking a week off work because i was just sitting staring at the screen. i am usually very manic and active so it was particularly noticable!

or maybe you are getting very tired without realising it?

either way i hope you find some equilibrium soon.

Anonymous said...

Jen, that sounds a lot like depression to me, too: the deluge of feeling, trapped inside the tranquil exterior. But what concerns me most is that you say this has occurred "lately." People do have various ranges of response - differing within themselves and between each other - but when you experience a change that doesn't feel right, then it's something to listen to. It's certainly not a pity party. It's a survival mechanism. Talking about it is good.

Mary P. said...

I never used to cry. Maybe once or twice a year.

Then I had a child.

Now I cry - or have that heartsurge of emotion - over just the same sorts of non-events. Hell, a toilet paper commercial has done it to me! (Given that my oldest just turned 21, I'm thinking it's a permanent alteration in my character...) These surges can also be joyous - joyous to the point of tears, the lump in the throat, the catch of breath.

I know many, many women who have experienced the same thing following childbirth.

It may be depression, and you might want to check it out. It also may be utterly, utterly normal.

wordgirl said...

Since my kids were born I find that I cry more easiy. Too easily, I'm afraid and I don't like it about myself. I'm not sure what to make of it.

Deezee said...

not whining. sharing.

I related to this a lot.

And I wouldn't be so quick to put on the depression label at all. Some of us are wired very sensitively, meaning just that: we sense strongly. Navigating all the perceptions, figuring out what to do with the awareness so that it doesn't do us in - a big challenge.

Once we have a child, the harshness of the world feels even more heartbreaking and potentially threatening. I always trusted that I could take care of myself, that I could bounce back no matter what...until my son arrived. In that arena, I encountered a whole new place of vulnerability - for me and for him.

I don't see any of this writing as a pity party. I see it as reflective...when you figure out how to navigate all the feelings, please let me know... ;)

Mad Hatter said...

Jen, you have just described me perfectly. Before I popped out the kid, I cried self indulgently all the time. Not necessarily about things that mattered but about my inability to cope with simple simple things. "Whhhaaa, you didn't take any vacation time to spend with me this year." "Whaaa, I moved to this place for you and no longer have friends." "Whaaaa, whaaaa, whaaaa."

Then I had Miss M. Now I never cry (or at least rarely). I never seem able to budget the time and, well, my needs don't come first anymore. But, like you, I am more deeply affected by news stories and by those little unfortunate moments I encounter each day (like the kid--not my kid--falling off the monkey bars or the old woman that no one holds a door for).

Having a child has brought this shift and I really can't explain why or how it happened. I think it's the estrogen at play. When I used to cry I was able to release something hormonally. Now that I don't cry I have these surges of emotion that bring about the same effect. Did you ever see Broadcast News? What I seem to be going through it akin to Holly Hunter unplugging her phone once a day so that she can have a little stress-release cry. Oh, if only we could schedule it like that.

urban-urchin said...

I get these emotional surges all the time. It's actually quite embarrassing as sometimes my eyes do mist up at the most assine things- taking my kid to a show and the music starts- I well up. Commericals, yep I cry.

I suppose it could be depression as it runs in my family and i've had ppd with both kids but it doesn't feel that way.

Lucia said...

I don't want to come off as a know-it-all, because I don't. I think the dif between depression and empathy is that it seems that you might have had empathy all your life, not just now?

I've got to say, it sounds to me too an awful lot like how things were when I had situational depression start.

flutter said...

Honey, not whining...this is what we call empathy.

I am the same way, altough, being mean to myself I say I am em-pathetic. :-)

Oh, The Joys said...

Again, I think it's the call. You are called to serve and it's so hard.

acumamakiki said...

I could have written this post Jen and I'm glad that someone I relate to, feels the overwhelming surge of emotion at unexpected times. I've always been a crier and I've been attributing my emotional surges to hormones that are changing in my body, curses.
There is much in this world that is heartbreaking, to recognize this and have compassion.....there's nothing pitiful about that. Happy New Year girlfriend, truly. xo

radioactive girl said...

I always have felt that I feel what other people are feeling. It is good because I seem to always know what someone else needs, but horrible because my moods swing around like crazy depending on who I am near. Sometimes I am more like this when I am starting to get sick or fighting something off, so maybe that is what is going on?

scribbit said...

Jen, I'm looking for your email and can't find it. Could you email me at scribbit at

mamatulip said...

Yeah. I could have written this myself.

jen said...

you are all so lovely. so lovely.

i do think it's along the lines of what Mad spoke of - i've been through depression in the past - this feels different, less about me, more about something else...i don't know if that makes sense..but mostly i wanted to say thank you. you all make me feel so warm inside.

KC said...

Dear jen,
I read this before I had to leave for work this morning (yes, I work on the weekends more than I'd like) and thought it about it all day.

Thinking of you feeling heartbroken during these times made me feel a little crushed inside. I wished to be closer and give you a real hug.

I'm glad I waited to comment because your comments are amazing. I tend to agree that-- maybe not depression and more an evolution of your emotional world. You feel. You are a feeler. And this, in part, makes you uniquely able to help this world. It's your superpower, but also your kryptonite.

Not a pity party. Important to talk about. Your sisters want to know. And support.


Momish said...

Yeah, I know what you mean. Although I can still cry from a Hallmark card, I can so easily get over it. A quick swipe of the tissue and I am moving on. Before, it use to rock me to the core. The swell of emotions are there, more so, but life moves you on. There is a new protective shell which has me caring most about my own "pod", so the outer world doesn't invade so much as it use to (practically, that is). I think Mad is right, it is a luxury no longer afforded. At least, this is what I think is happening to me. Maybe to you.

Penny said...

I am so glad you posted this.

I am exactly like this, now, having had Oee. I used to be when I was smaller, younger, and I was too sensative and I cauterized myself. But, now, having had Oee, I am right back to tears. I saw a young guy step out of his way to return a ball to a school yard full of recess playing children and I almost couldn't drive. The giving nature of people gets to me. When I see it in action, even as small as it may be, with no one else around to witness or reward it, I find it amazing that there are people who will still stop their world to jump into the revolution of someone elses.

Happy New Year, Jen!

Sorry I haven't been around much - I'll be back very soon!

Tabba said...

I had to wait a day to comment here. I didn't want to diagnose you or give advice.
I, too, have stopped crying. Somewhat.
I just feel things 10X more. I mean, actually FEEL them.
You know how in the animated version of the Grinch, you could see his heart growing? That's what happens. To the point where I feel it has taken up the entire inside of my body. If that makes one ounce of sense. It pushes the tears to the edge, but they get reabsorbed.
I feel that, as a friend, I've been failing you lately in my comments.
But you have been closest of all in my heart and mind lately.
Know that when I leave here & don't comment or when Icomment very little, I have taken your words and have been rattling them around inside & adding them to my mushed up insides. They are right next to the guy who was stranded on the side of the road, the friend of mine with the severly (as of yet undiagnosed) handicapped baby girl, and little girl with PB & J on her face & she is wearing a faded, old coat & shoes with holes in them.

meno said...

No honey, not whining. It's the only logical reaction at times to the world. I can't say if it's depression or not, but you are smart enough to keep an eye on that. Because dammit, the world is depressing. And beautiful too.

ewe are here said...

It's not whining.

It could be that you're now a mom. Or that you are especially close to human tragedy every day of the week because of you're job. Or the holiday blues. Or, like some have said, you might be dancing with depression. So I have no real advice other than to seek some advice from someone who knows what they're doing.

Oh, and of course to play madly with your little one as much as possible! That always cheers me up!

Happy New Year!