Monday, 22 June 2009

Tired, hungry or mad?

I have a new game to play. I like games. Well, that's a lie actually. I hate most kinds of games. The ones with cards, or balls or running. And Monopoly. I really really hate that - I mean, has anyone ever FINISHED a game of Monopoly? It doesn't end. It either explodes in a blinding flash of resentment and fury and long-suppressed grudges, or everyone gets really bored and gives up because it's SO FUCKING BORING. And I don't like the ones where people have to say what kind of animal you would be because they ALWAYS say I would be a horse and I don't want to be a horse. But I like some other ones like, um, no. Ok, fuck it, I don't like games.


This game is ok. It goes as follows. When an irrational thought or impulse enters my head, when my chest feels like a ten tonne hedgehog is rolling on it, spike side down, when I randomly email people - not even necessarily people I know - gibbering nonsense, when I send poor M a photo of my cleavage (she's a GIRL, it's allowed. Weird, inappropriate, but allowed), when I decide that only lying on the floor of the Ladies for hours at a time with my legs on the cistern will do, when I want to rub my own face off with a pan scourer, when I feel like my head is going to burst open, I ask myself this question.

Tired, hungry or mad?

Because finally, long experience has bestowed a few shreds of self-knowledge on me. Yes.

The world may not be ending. I may not end up alone in a gutter being eaten by feral capybaras just because I am feeling a little wretched.

I might just be hungry! Or tired. Or I may be mad. This one is harder to solve.

Yes, this almighty revelation has kept me from submitting to the sin of despair on several occasions in the last week. I imagine that sensible people know this kind of stuff instinctively. I don't. If the world feels like a black vortex sucking me in, then I assume it is because the world IS a black vortex sucking me in. I don't factor in low blood sugar. UNTIL NOW.

Now, when despair threatens to engulf me, I play my game. When, I ask myself, did I last eat? And what was it? If Bonne Maman Petits Pots à la Crème or chocolate, discount. Eat proper foods including protein and complex carbohydrate and then reevalute just how overwhelming the despair is. Win!

I feel I am condemned to die alone, penniless, in squalor, suffocating on the shedding hair of a thousand badly behaved weepettes. Hmm. How much sleep have I had in the last 24 hours? Up until 2am stroking the dog's ears and playing on the internet? Disqualified from drawing any conclusions about shitness of life until sleep debt paid back in full!

I have stared at the same screen pressing refresh for 5000000 hours? Am I perhaps mad? Yes. I might well be. Ah well, this is the nature of the game. You can't win every time. If mad, the only solution is to up my dosage of every pharmaceutical in the house until some alternative symptom replaces the particularly unpleasant one.

As you can tell I am inordinately proud of my new game for emotional retards. I am thinking of adding several new categories, such as:

- Hormonal (always takes me by surprise after all those years pregnant or breastfeeding or too thin)

- Trousers too tight (this has a surprisingly profound effect on mood, I have found)

- Needing to talk to a real live person.

What do you say? Are there other categories I should include? Am I an idiot with the emotional maturity of a five year old?


polkadot said...

Ahh - genius - I am now going to adopt this as my emotional guiding light in life. I too lurch through the valley of darkness believing for instance (on a monthly basis) that I hate my whole family and only running off to live alone in a dank bedsit where I will dig my nails into my arms for a while, will resolve the situation. Then I my period starts and I think - OH - yes it was just pmt and have to go apologise to everyone for the rest of the day.
Same thing happens on family days out - screaming meltdown until taken to museum/gallery cafe and given food and water. Immediately turn back into sunny mummy again. My default setting is 'quite amiable' so always a shock to others when I 'turn'.
So yes, thanks for that - if only I would remember it when its needed..

Julia Ball said...

I do this with my son, I(ok, he is 5 but the theory still works) when his blood sugar is low, then he the devil, needs feeding (proper food not crap!) When he is tired he gets really ratty too, as for the mad, well he is delightfully mad anyway.

It is an excellent theory with much based on fact, well done you ! :-)

Emma Burns said...

You are a GENIUS. I am adopting this system IMMEDIATELY!

GingerB said...

Hmm, I don't know if I am more or less mentally well than you . . . I like to blame others a bit more than you do. Is my husband insane? Am I surrounded by boneheads at work? Am I the only competent person addressing this situation (well, you see the problem, I only think I am the only competent person). And you can consider an IUD if you want to level out the hormones. I am a believer, as I don't now once monthly plan for divorce.

Also - comfort of the shoes. I know you love the beautiful ones but does their beauty compensate for the pain? Maybe add to your checklist a plan for a foot assessment, accounting for both appearance and wellbeing.

Anonymous said...

It is only in the last year I have realised how demented I get when I get thirsty. Before even actually feeling so.

So there I am at the end of say, a supermarket trip and boy, do I have my cranky pants on. THE WORLD IS AGAINST ME, WOE, TORMENT, GNASHING OF TEETH.

*cup of tea*

Angel smiling sweetly and carrying the heaviest bags. I swear one cup of tea and I come back up like a wee daisy. My friend hates my going out, do things and then have a cup of tea but I don't think he realises quite what I would be like if my day didn't go in the manner of an old lady. If he doesn't let me have my sit down with my tea he runs the risk of being stabbed in the eye with a cakefork.

Also sore feet. Nothing like it for deciding everyone must die and no one knows how you suffer when you are walking like a stork.

So no, not mad. Well no more than usual. Tea?

fabhat said...

what about adding displacement - feeling of absolute fury at x when in fact it's really at y...sometimes hard to spot, especially for poor x.

But I am with you on your new mantra - hunger certainly makes me eeeevil. When I was a child I had to be fed bread and jam the moment I came home from school or I turned into the beast of all beasts. Not much has changed...

Evitchka said...

Breathing deeply is my way out of being sucked into a hole of paranoid loopiness. Being unbrought up by parental versions of Stalin and Hitler, usually threatens me with a habitual madness at 5 am. So I force myself to take a deep breath. All the way in, all the way out. Then again. Then again. By the end of breath no 3, I am usually back asleep and on even keel again. I use the same process in daylight hours,to good effect.
I like your idea of seeing the going potty process as a game to be worked out. A good strategy for detachment, before being swept down the toilet!

WrathofDawn said...

If you are an idiot with the emotional maturity of a five year old, then we are twins, an ocean apart for it has taken me many years to figure this out as well. Athough in my case it relates more to one of my children than me.

My younger daughter must not be allowed to become really hungry or she morphs into Evil Personified. At 20, she now self-monitors, but when she was little, it took repeats visits from THE TOTALLY IRRATIONAL CHILD before I caught on to the correlation between mood of child and state of tummy. Older daughter maintains a level mood irregardless of circumstances, so I foolishly thought #2 should function the same way. Eejit, me.

My dad was the same way, although he kept the evil in check and just got a dignified splitting headache.

Me, of course, the picture of sweetness and light no matter what.

The delusions. They amuse me.

M. said...

You are an idiot. YAY! More boobs please.*

*I jest. Let's make a no cleavage pact. Deal? Deal.

expateek said...

As horrid as it sounds, I think you probably need to spend more time outside. Without the laptop. I know, torture.

Unknown said...

Great theory! - I add shoe comfort too (good thinking Ginger B) and lack of tea is never good... I work from home, so I think too much time alone is blimin' dangerous too...

mothership said...

I might add ragingly hormonal as a fourth option - for about a week a month I turn into a simmering resentful beast with an alarmingly short fuse, but perhaps that is just a subset of mad? You may define accordingly. It seems to come with a side order or perma-hunger and tiredness anyway, no matter how much food/sleep I attempt to appease it with.

Marie said...

I also suggest cold. Yes, it lacks romance, but my body can't tell the difference between tired, hungry, and cold. Where one leads, all the rest will surely follow.

Potty Mummy said...

Not an idiot - just a normal human being. My husband always knows when I'm hormonal because I get what I call 'feisty' and he calls unreasonable. Which makes me even more feisty - and unreasonable. Well, wouldn't it make any reasonable person unreasonable, to be called unreasonable when they are just feisty? Am I making sense? No? That's because I'm FEISTY, for god's sake!!

Nimble said...

I am going to need to teach this system to my oldest daughter. At 7 she is a vivid personality with soaring highs and loathsome lows. I will first apologize to her because I'm a contributor to her gene set. (I have to eat every 3 or 4 hours to prevent the walls closing in around me.)

This past weekend she was storming (about nothing as far as I could tell) and I was trying to settle her down. I empathised that she was feeling some strong feelings. "I always have strong feelings!" she sobbed. And truer words were never spoken.

Potty Mummy said...

Or is that fiesty? God knows. I'm too hormonal too check spellings right now. Or could that be too unreasonable?

Persephone said...

May I add: sore feet and/or sensory overload? This is why I need to break my Christmas shopping into manageable one-hour chunks. The combination of shopping in snow boots, and being surrounded by music, bright lights and crowds does me in in no time. When it isn't Christmas, I need to make sure I can sit down and be quiet at regular intervals which not only saves me enough energy to make it through a busy day, but also saves the lives of those around me. (I'm not a nice person when my feet are sore.) Another quick fix for the ten tonne hedgehog. Doing one thing that I've been putting off. Just one thing. I set the timer and see how much I can manage in 15 minutes. Then I'm allowed to stop. It really does help.

Word verification: vingsser to soak my feet in.

expateek said...

Sorry to comment twice, but I just remembered the very helpful acronym suggested in AA literature... "HALT"... stands for "Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired"

"Loneliness" as a trigger for bad behaviours is a particularly difficult feeling to take notice of. You might want to add that to your list. And, yes of course you can be profoundly lonely even when surrounded by others. Sometimes especially when...

sue said...

Hello, just sticking my head round the door to say, I know. I.Know. I can't add to your list because my problems are mine and you don't need the added spikey things on your chest. The elephant and the mammoth are in good company. Expateek is so much more astute than I, loneliness is a cruel bastard.

Can I just point out that you are incredibly selfless to ensure the CFO was looked after this weekend. Who, apart from your lovely commenters and twitterers, is looking out for you?

Hugs, xxx

katyboo1 said...

I'm with Mothership on the hormonal were beast thing. I definitely do that, in fact I reckon I might be about on the were beast rampage now.

Plus, Expateek's HALT, learned it many years ago in 12 Step and it works a treat when I can be arsed to do it. Usually I find I'm hungry or tired, or both. If I could stay permanently asleep being fed cake by a conveyor belt I would be the happiest woman alive.

Z said...

You are completely right, of course.

If I realise I'm tipping over the edge into irrational fury or extreme tiredness because of not eating for too long, I will have a couple of jelly babies, just to save the blood sugar levels from plummeting. Then I eat properly.

Haticasm - splendid wv.

Emma said...

you are probably right that sensible people already know these things. It took me until I was 20 and broken to wash up in a 12 step program that outlined the HALTS (hungry, angry, lonely, tired, serious). Lonely is the hardest to cure, and diagnosing Serious makes me murderous. And I still forget these things now.

SUEB0B said...

I am with you on the games. The ex's family was mad for games and wanted to get all other activities out of the way so we could spend the whole long evening playing GAMES! I remember one where the loser was the first to get to 100 points. I tried my best to achieve 100 points quickly, but it was a game of chance, and I kept getting lucky with low scores...meanwhile they were getting mad at me for "winning" so effortlessly.

Ah yes. Memories.

Ali said...

The hungry is my absolute worst one. I forget to eat all day sometimes and then fall over or yell at someone before I realise what my problem is. I am a moron because I know that my blood sugar is very unstable via an actual medical problem and I still don't eat properly. I also suffer from the hormonal quite badly at times but that is a more tricky one, too tricky to think about. I will be sleep deprived for the rest of my life so there is nothing to be done there. I am doomed to always be an erratic bitch.

screamish said...

hilarious but true.

I love the comments too, v informative, giving me lots of tips for my own process of elimination..thirsty's a good one too...trousers too tight, yeah....low level back pain does it for me, I can have it for hours and not realize until I start snarling

Juci said...

Oh, yes. When I'm hungry or I have a headache, I get very short-tempered, then whiny, then bitchy, then I start biting heads off. I have known this for ages and try to avoid it as well as I can but sometimes it still happens.

redfox said...

A good scheme! I had an advisor in graduate school who succumbed so frequently to the Hungry option that I began taking a trip to the vending machines before going to any appointment with him. Since vending machines are not known for supplying much in the way of real food, this was still tricky, but the big hit was a pack of these corn curl things called Fritos (do you have them?) that are very nearly actually food, as they consist of nothing but corn, corn oil, and salt.

Needing to talk to a real live person is a good one too, and I am intrigued by Trousers too tight. I'll have to keep an eye on that one. I have been realizing lately that another good one to add to the list is Failure to see the sun. Not that there is necessarily anything to do about that one, depending on the weather.

Anonymous said...

I have grown to accept that I'm usually a combo of all 3 - maybe that's because I'm bi (polar not sexual)

Meds help with the madness but they make me tired and hungry.

Would love to be thin, lively and sane. But what's wrong with tired, hungry and mad?

Anonymous said...

Quick! Eat chocolate,


Provincial Lady said...

Brilliant. Now you just need to keep putting it into practice! Having grown up going into town with my mother, and realising as she started biting the head off poor unfortunate shop assistants within reach that now would be a good time for a cup of tea (and it always worked to bring back the woman who would be mortified to upset anyone), I now have a boyfriend whom I have to ply with food at regular intervals or he won't eat for 24hrs and descends into a spiral of despair ending up curled under a chair. Quite a feat for a 6'4" guy. I hope you can get the support you need, as it seems all the male members of the Waffle household have been propped up for now.

MargotLeadbetter said...

I think you need you need to add 2 new categories: thirsty (e.g. dehydrated) and thirsty (e.g. could use a cocktail). Sorry to overcomplicate a charmingly simply concept.

bevchen said...

Brilliant. I think I need to start playing this game too.

Tamsin said...

Oh my goodness, thank you for posting so I know it's not just me that feels that total despair and snappiness combo that arrives just before I realise I'm REALLY hungry. (my boyfriend has learned to ask if I'm hungry, though he knows he's likely to get snapped at before I realise I am)

I also never think about moodiness and crying attacks being caused by hormones - you'd think by now I'd know that crying at a picture of a cat/dog/hedgehog in the paper (even if it's a happy story) means I'm chock full of crazy hormones.

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