On Mental Health

Exhaustion is an Ugly Thing in the Zoot House

I’ve not been prone to severe anxiety or depression as an adult. (Oh just wait. Signed, Zoot of 2020.) Not of the likes I knew as a teenager, anyway. But when I get too tired? I suddenly find myself wondering if I need to seek therapy or be medicated. Exhaustion has a very bad effect on my emotional stability. I have never found myself in darker places than when I have been deprived of sleep, and last week? Deprived me of sleep to levels I’ve not known since college. In those days I self-medicated with beer and cigarettes, so it wasn’t so bad. Last week? Was much uglier. Not only was I an emotional basket case, but I was also sincerely INSANE.

At one point in time last week, I convinced myself that there must be a flag on my file at my OB/GYN that said, “Has Tattoos. Must Be A Drug Addict.” I knew several high-risk pregnant women who had been given real cough medicine while pregnant, yet my doctor was only telling me to take Over The Counter crap. (Which does not work, by the way.) Since I called crying on several occasions, begging for relief so I could sleep, I could not figure out why they were holding out on me. Why wouldn’t they give me the good stuff? It must be because they flagged me as a risk to sell it on the corner or main-line it when no one was looking.

I also met MrZ every afternoon as he came home from work with tears. Every day I was crying for various reasons. Either because the pain of the cough was so intense I couldn’t help but cry, or because Pablo lost his Treasure Map on the Backyardigans. Both tragedies were met with the same level of extreme emotion.

So tell me, am I alone? Or do your emotions and rational thinking go the way of the 8-track when you’re deprived a minimal night’s sleep? Is my reaction extreme or the norm? And is there a support group my poor husband can join to help teach him how to handle me when I’m like that? How to balance on the egg shells without sending me over the edge permanently? Because he was a little scared of me last week.

41 thoughts on “Exhaustion is an Ugly Thing in the Zoot House”

  1. YES! When I am tired I am bitchy, cranky, crazy, and emotional. I went to bed too late last night. Woke up too early and to a big mess, before any coffee. Right now I am paralyzed from doing anything until I get a nap.

  2. I can cry over everything and nothing.
    Sometimes a thought will just hit me, and Ill be all crying to myself, and people are like what the hell is wrong with you? all I can say is I have no clue. I think we just have higher sensitivity states, and we see everything is so sad.
    sincerely I do.

  3. You are not alone. If I don’t sleep well I am miserable to be around. I don’t cry much, but I snap and whine and grumble and NOTHING is okay and everything you’re doing is wrong and I need a hug, DON’T TOUCH ME.

    And then I killed everyone.


  4. Sleep deprivation = crabby, moody, irritable, no energy…

    For me, the secret to being a good mom is adequate (6+ hours) sleep.

  5. I can’t sleep all the time and I get paranoid about not sleeping which turns me into a cranky, sobbing mess. You are by far not alone!!

  6. My husband calls it my House of Horror. Whenever I am too anything, too hot, too tired, too hungry I go into my own little personal hell. Everything is loud, things jump out at me, I’m very short tempered and I’m nothing is going to sooth me or talk me off my ledge. It’s not pleasant. You are not alone.

  7. TOTALLY not alone. (Sayeth all of the women, everywhere.) The first two weeks of Tony’s birth, I had hallucinations about how horrid my life was. It was MADNESS. Then, it got better.

    Now, I only hallucinate every now and again. Usually while driving.

  8. When I am tired, I am very emotional and grumpy. Same if I go a few hours without food. With the loose structure of the weekends and lack of regular mealtimes, time with my husband often turns into fights with my husband. I try to remember to carry snacks.

  9. You have my sympathy and support 100%. I was sick with a nasty cough and sinus infection, as was my 12-month-old approx a month ago. My husband had to go to church on a Wednesday night (we do children’s church and it would be very difficult to have us both out on the same night). By the time he got home I had been crying for approx 30 minutes over the exhaustion/frustration/crazy emotionalness that was “John & Kate Plus 8”. Yeah, it was a bad night. When he walked in the door I first said “I really am okay, I’m just exhausted, sick, and very, very emotional and just need to cry right now”. You are NOT alone – I promise.

  10. Nope not alone at all. I have had several times where I have been extremely emotional about nothing and everything when I have had little to no sleep. It isn’t pretty. It seems to have intensified since Katrina, although I don’t know if that is the reason or not. I have been doing much better since starting to get acupuncture. I kid you not….some people believe it works, some don’t. I am in the middle of the road and well…since it seems to be helping? I will keep doing it for as long as I can.

  11. OH and it is severely worse during PMS. My gyno gave me a prescription for Xanax that I haven’t yet filled because I dont’ want to be dependent on a drug to control my emotions.

  12. Pregnancy Hormones and exhaustion is a toxic combo. With each of my pregnancies I have gotten ill at least once and there is just no other way to say it than TOTAL HELL. Hang in there….hopefully you will get more sleep soon.

  13. I’m always sleep deprived. If I’m lucky, I get 2-4 hours sleep each night since I was nine. That said, I do get exhausted, which happens when I don’t have any rest time. When I am exhausted I get flu like symptoms and I’m an emotional basket case.

    Also, the only time I can sleep is when I’m sick. I always thought there was nothing worse than insomnia. There is something worse. Being sick and having insomnia is far worse. That’s the way I’ve been recently it’s terrible.

    I feel for you. I don’t wish that on anyone and especially not you. Hang in there. You’re not alone.

  14. I’m overly emotional to begin with, but when I’m really tired it is multiplied infinitely, to the point where I feel like I am crazy — in my head I”m thinking WHY AM I CRYING, STOP CRYING! while all the while I’m sobbing away. It’s pretty awesome. And God help my fiance if he dares to insinuate that “i’m just tired” or “I’m overreacting” — while it may be true, having a rational explanation for my mood swings doesn’t make them feel any less bad for me!

  15. Oh, good god! Sleep Deprivation should be one of those outlawed terrorism techniques, akin to Waterboarding.
    I am nearly suicidal when I don’t get enough sleep for long stretches. It is the.end.of.the.world in my mind. I can’t see past how psycho I feel.
    We are all with you, babe.

  16. It scares ME how emotional (and lets face it, DEPRESSED), I get when I am tired. I can just imagine how scared DH is…or maybe not. Honestly, I’m not even sure if he makes the connection. Now THAT’S depressing! Anyway, you have my sympathies. Who knows why your doctor didn’t come through with something that could help…who knows if your doctor was even aware of the situation or only the nurse or whoever. My youngest got raging fevers that lasted a week every 4 weeks her entire first year of life. They went on into her second year as well. We finally worked our way through the specialists and found one who prescribed an oral steroid that stopped the fever in hours. I can’t even describe the difference that made in all of our lives. Her regular doctor’s reaction? “Oh yeah, I’ve heard of that.” I was so angry. I have no idea why he didn’t prescribe it. Why we had to go through two years of hell. I know just about everyone has a story like that. It’s frustrating. I hope you’re feeling better by now. Physically at least. Emotionally will follow, probably, if you’re like me, much more slowly. It takes a while to get back on an even keel and recover from sleep deprivation. Throw in the pregnancy hormones and good luck! LOL.

  17. When I was sick last year with a chest infection while pregnant, I thought I was going to have a mental breakdown. The end.

    P.S. You are not alone.

  18. It takes a smart woman to realize that sleep deprivation causes some crazy stuff to go on in our heads.

    I know that when I am sleep deprived I try very hard to not take anything personal and not making major decision until it has passed.

  19. When I get overexhausted, I become a melodramatic nutcase. I cry over everything, I think people secretly hate me and that my friends don’t like me anymore. It’s really, really not pretty.

  20. Oh, I’m a total mess when I don’t get enough sleep! Of course, the worst part is that very rarely do I actually get enough sleep! Yesterday I was running on about two hours, and kind of freaked out over a game of Taboo! I lose.

  21. THAT was actually my only fear before I gave birth the first time. I was so afraid I would be in labor so long that I would become irrational from exhaustion. I wasn’t worried about the actual delivery or anything most people fear. I was afraid of getting tired!

  22. Oh gosh. I can definitely relate. At first when I am sick and sleep-deprived, I hold out and do pretty good. Then if I’m not better after about a week, I fall into a deep black pit of despair and NOTHING seems normal at all. I honestly don’t know how your husband should deal, though.

  23. I’m a crier when I haven’t slept. On a very, very rare occasion, I get giggly (haven’t done that since high school). If anything doesn’t go my way, then tears follow. Don’t forget the headaches that go with no sleep and crying. Can’t forget the headaches.

  24. I was told once that you are legally insane until you get a full nights sleep if you are awake for 72 hours straight. No idea if this is actually true, but I know that when I am sleep-deprived I go a little (or a lot) nuts…

  25. No, I have to make extreme efforts to get to bed (yeah right) or I am the same way. I manage/live in a boys home. There are NEVER enough hours in the day for the boys (there are six) my three year old, and the work that needs to get done. When I am lacking in sleep, I get severe anxiety and am a raving crazy woman. I have to remind myself to breath, I swear I get so knotted up I forget to simply breath. I found that stretching/yoga and don’t laugh, but relaxation audio tapes really help. Okay, stop laughing at me, but unless I have a soothing voice on audio telling me to relax and breath, I just won’t do it……

  26. Exhaustion is so cruel. I have no wisdom, just empathy. And this, I have fun with my husband during the good times, i don’t waste a single second. I think that kind of living builds up a kind of reserve that leads to acceptance and patience during crabbiness.

  27. You are so not alone! I ditto what rai said. There is not much sleep happening around here right now with a 15 month old who is getting 4 molars in all at the same time; and I sometimes have turn-around shifts at work. I stomp and scream and slam and cry if one little thing isn’t just right. All the Zen in the world isn’t enough for a sleep deprived mom.

  28. I was glad I could hold the tears in until I was in the car on my way home today. And it all started with maternity pants with a too tight waist (seriously… aren’t they supposed to, like, STRETCH?!?!! – grrrrrr!). If I wasn’t so tired, I could have perhaps dealt with that. And with the lab person who drew my blood with so little care that five minutes after I already had a bruise. And with the fact that the stroller I liked weighed about half a ton.

  29. It’s better now, many many many years later. But I still quiver when SHE is tired, even though I know what to do now.

    Make sure HE knows the deal. This is not something to spring on an unsuspecting male. Once warned or sensitized, then OK… You can relax and be the bitch when you’re tired. HE will know what to do. (Yes Dear!!!)

  30. I am the same way when extremely sleep deprived and even more so when hormonal. I went through extreme periods of anxiety and insomnia when preggo with the triplets (because that’s not a stressful situation). The docs ended up telling me to go back on anti-depressants during my fourth month of pregnancy and take ambien for a week or so to get myself back on track because they were worried about the stress levels on my babies. However, most docs are so much stricter about meds when pregnant – I was just a freak with three babies at once who couldn’t deal very well. I still think it is b.s. that they didn’t give you the real cough syrup since it wouldn’t have hurt the baby but guess they were just being extra conservative.

  31. I am convinced that being pregnant makes you CRAZY AS A MO-FO.


    Ask me about when I thought my husband was having an affair with his best guy friend. He wasn’t, but you could not tell me otherwise.


  32. Erm. I once sobbed for half an hour when we missed the turnoff into Costco. (Yes, we turned around, but we’d missed it and apparently the world was going to end.) And my husband knows to NEVER raise important issues with me (or let me talk about them) after 9:30 at night, pregnant or not. So yeah, I hear you.

  33. When I get the flu, I hallucinate. HARD. What sucks is the first 3 times I visited my boyfriend’s parents house to stay, I caught the flu. I think the climate is different down there. They probably thought it was a cold and I am overly dramatic.

    I hallucinate hard, all day, about anything. If I spend 3 days lying down doing NOTHING then I’m okay by the 4th day. Last time I spent 3 straight day and nights hallucinating about how the sheet looked like ET and talking to him. its horrible. My boyfriend YELLED at me last time because I was being “anti-social”. Excuse me!

  34. I know I cannot make any life changing decisions when I am sleep deprived. I feel overly emotional about things that when I’m rested and clear headed don’t usually bother me at all.

  35. This happens to me when I am either really tired or really hungry or … god forbid … both. All rational thought leaves and all I can do is cry and yell and be upset for no reason until I get some sleep and/or food. It’s not pretty.

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