Endorphins and psychological pain

I am trying to understand what is happening, what began happening last night, and maybe it will help anyone out there who has experienced the same sort of reaction…

Yesterday, I felt pretty slow and disconnected during the day, and I chalked it up to having taken 3 mg of melatonin (which used to be part of my vitamin cocktail for CCRM) the night before. I had slept so little the two nights previous and needed to sleep soundly through the night.

But by the end of the workday yesterday, I was feeling something close to despair. I tried to breathe through it, but by the time I got home, it was more intense. I dropped my bag on the kitchen floor, sat down at the table, and began to sob and wail. I know this will sound overly dramatic, but I actually felt physical stabbing sensations in my chest, belly, legs, arms—it sort of felt like I was being pierced with a knife all over my body.

Without taking off my winter coat, I ran to the bed and crawled under the covers, feeling this physical pain and crying very hard. DH was there, but I barely registered that. I knew I had to get control of myself and kept forcing myself to deep breathe, but then the sensations would come again and I’d start sobbing again.

Eventually, the physical pain subsided, but the psychological pain was still there, sharp as barbed wire. I was desperate to escape it, and, despite all of my yogi/buddhist/eastern teachings, etc., I rushed to the kitchen and downed a beer in thirty seconds. I’m not a big drinker at all, but it was the only thing I knew would have an immediate effect on my system. I drew a hot bath and lay in the tub, thinking, I want to get extremely drunk. I let myself have that thought, knowing it would be idiotic to follow that desire and wind up fragile and hungover all day today. So I just waited for that brilliant thought to pass. I climbed into bed and turned on netflix, clicking on the first thing I found, knowing that I needed immediate distraction, as I was not in a state to make good decisions.

DH made suggestions of going to the movies to see The Hobbit. I laughed without humor. “Come into the kitchen to eat dinner, at least,” he said, and I tried to explain to him that I needed to just be safe in bed and distract myself because I was not okay. He brought dinner to me in bed. I did not talk. I just watched movie after movie—as strange as it sounds, gruesome sci-fi was the best medicine because those movies generally aren’t about family relationships/children and are non-stop action.

I woke up this morning feeling burnt-out.

What happened? Where did all of my positive energy go? My strength? My looking forward? Why was it worse for me on Friday than it was for me when I first found out the news?

So I looked up some things on endorphins and psychological pain. I guess I already knew this, but it was good to read about. Just like when you stub your toe or crack your head, when you experience extreme psychological pain, your body is flooded with endorphins. The endorphins protect you, help you carry on. I remember being a little mystified by my relieved, actually pleasurable reaction to the bad news about our IVF. I remember being able to sigh and smile, love on DH. I remember thinking What is going on here? Why don’t I really feel like crying? I must have had mega-doses of endorphins flooding through me, just as would happen if I’d been cut with a knife.

And now those endorphins that were working overtime are settling back down, reality is setting in, and I am left to seek out my coping mechanisms to get through the long-haul.

I guess it makes perfect sense that the crash would happen Friday evening. I bet my psychological defenses and biology were working in tandem to get me through the work week, helping me not break down in front of my boss and co-workers.

Feeling a little better now.

I’m just now noticing what has happened to our apartment this week—just walked through it and I see that it is a complete disaster. I’m a pretty tidy housekeeper, but I occasionally let things go. But what I see around me is astonishing—dishes piled in the sink, clothes all over the floor in every room, drawers not closed, cabinets not closed, blankets in piles. Chaos.

We’re going to go to a furniture store today and, with the loads of money we have left after IVF (ha ha ha), buy some things for our place. Because we have to make it homier in here—enough is enough. We’ve been living spartanly for three years now.

I also want to get some cheap art supplies today and begin painting again.

I also want to start working on turning this blog into a book.

And at some point this weekend, I’ll begin the next phase of research: donor eggs. But first, a rug, a couch, a coffee table, a set of acrylic paints, and a spool of canvas.

Leave a comment


  1. I think that you more than deserve to buy/drink/not clean anything and everything you want right now. :) I’m praying that you feel better soon. Take care!

  2. A miller

     /  January 29, 2013

    I think I only came down from the emergency endorphins recently. In late December when I had my final ultrasound from my fourth pregnancy, I was numb. Didn’t really cry, didn’t really feel much of anything for weeks. And then dealing with a new, very serious obstacle at work recently sent my whole world caving in around me. While the professional problem was real and devastating, I also recognized it as built up aim from the four miscarriages, especially the one I’d not yet let myself mourn. My partner kept saying I was handling it better than the others and I’d just nod. What I think was going on was my mind and body’s desperate attempt at survival. A hunkering down. A refusal to let myself crash yet again. Alas, it didn’t hold and I guess that’s probably necessary. Anyway, thanks again for your beautiful insight. Yet again, you have described my situation to a T. And I’ve also had two twin dreams recently, by the way. I’m also wondering if this is because I know odds are greater of that happening with ‘donor’ eggs that are healthier than my own. The mind does mess with us in bizarre ways, doesn’t it?

    • A miller

       /  January 29, 2013

      By the way: that should read ‘built up pain. ‘ apologies for any other typos or errors!

  3. I know exactly what you are describing—that post-miscarriage survival-mode. I just sent you my phone and email—maybe we can talk/write some more about what happened for you at work. After my second miscarriage, a terribly unethical thing happened to me at my internship (I was in graduate school at the time) and maybe we can share our stories about what it is like to deal with that *on top of* losing a pregnancy and future child! It is unbelievable what we’ve been expected (by whom? I don’t know–it jus feels like an expectation by some entity) to withstand, to bear like warriors. And here you are, months later, coming down from that endorphin-protection mode—you will get through this, too. I wish you didn’t have to. What has helped me: Yoga, yoga, and more yoga. Hugs to you.

  4. p.s. I meant to say “a month later” not “months”—you never have to apologize for typos or errors with me! (:

  5. ADM

     /  February 3, 2013

    Thanks for the comment and the email. I’ll definitely get in touch very soon as I would truly welcome having a knowledgeable and sympathetic ear with whom to share this next stage of the journey. I’m also dreading my next birthday and so I am trying to find some inspiration in your 39 post. Maybe I’ll find a way to see it as a celebration, rather than something to mourn.


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