Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Don't read this if you need to be cheered up

Tomorrow I have to go to someone's house with the children and eat and socialise and then go out and be outside and drink and socialise some more. I can't have too many drinks, because in the evening I have to drive to another city and find a parking space and find an old friend and eat with her and pretend I haven't turned into too much of an old hag. Without a hairdressers appointment first. Which would help, but which would be too much to add to today. Then the day after that, when I would happily recover from tomorrow, I have promised to go see my cousin in the city. I want to find something nice to take her because we haven't seen each other in ages. I think I will just nip into the Oxfam shop and get her something from there. It's close. It's easy. It feels like a good thing to do. My lovely sister, may her curries always include a korma, came to see us two days ago. I couldn't get outside my lethargy enough to fully appreciate her. I get so self-centred when I'm not chirpy. Can't get out of my head.

I've finished The Noonday Demon. I found the chapter on evolution fascinating. The author, Andrew Solomon, explained that depression is seen as a leftover from our tribal days. If a member of the group challenged the social order and was unsuccessful, they would get depressed and unable to try to move up the ranks again. This would be good for their genes because the strife would end. I found it amusing that in an aside he added that society no longer works like this. He's obviously never been a housewife.

Another thought I got from the book was that depression can stop people trying to hard to reach a goal they are never going to reach. Depression makes you unable to continue, thus providing a lull in which you can reassess your life and go in a more productive direction. It knocks those uppity thoughts right out of your silly little overambitious brain. Like if you entertained the ridiculous notion that you wanted to be a novelist when you couldn't even manage as an academic.

Rather comforting was the assertion that anxiety and sluggishness can be helpful in a mother. If you stay in your hut because you can't face the spiders and the snakes and the neighbouring tribe, then your kids are more likely to pass on their genes. Again, he thought this only applied to the past. Again - not a housewife.

A very useful concept I take away from the book: seeing moods as weather. Sure, you might be stuck in a month of drizzle, but sunshine is still possible. Drizzle doesn't make future summer not exist. The illusion of permanence, of eternity, is unhelpful. I find it quite a stubborn illusion.

I have to keep going outside. Start going outside. Jack has come to the age where he can go to the shops. He's out right now getting us our lunch. Where is the person who was tidying all the drawers into vertical bliss? I started Jack's room yesterday and had to stop half way. His school work and books are tidy, the rest I meant to do today. I must must must after lunch. I also have to stop scratching my face to pieces. It's getting to the stage makeup can't hide any more. Maybe I should stop writing this as well and definitely not send it out into the world. Maybe I should stop reading about depression. After a while, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I've just finished a large tome, am in the middle of two more and I have two waiting to be read. I have to go outside. Outside my mind, outside my little world, outside what I know, outside what I consider safe. I'm the same person who travelled to New York City on her own, staying in a hostel, in the post-9/11 world. It's fine. It's okay to go out there. To do things. The worst that can happen is I die.

13 comments:

  1. Outside sounds like a good idea, but I know it's not as easy as saying "I have to go outside." I think you may benefit from a more constructive book -- maybe the one Ms. Moon has recommended, by Matt Haig. (Do you read his blog? Ms. Moon's blog links to it.) Anyway, I can't pretend to speak from a position of coping with serious depression, but I always found that getting out and doing things, as unappealing as it may have seemed at the time, always helped. So your outings tomorrow may come at a good time. Hugs from across the channel!

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    1. I have started to read his book today. It seemed to reset something in my brain this afternoon. Something that made me think - okay, today was crappy but I was friendly to people and I did my best so it's okay. And then I cooked a gorgeous meal with chickpeas AND avocado.
      Thanks for the hugs! They help.

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  2. Oh, Mwa. I know, I know, I know. I woke up this morning and can't imagine eating or going anywhere or doing anything and the last few days I've been so blithe and cheerful. My husband's sister is meeting him in a nearby town and they are going to go fishing and she always rents a beautiful place in a little town I adore and I am expected to go down and stay with them for at least a few days and every time I do this I end up in a sort of panic and terror and say "Never again!" and race home for safety. And I think- how ridiculous! She's a lovely woman and I do love her but...what? I don't know.
    I don't know anything.
    I do know that I wish that I had not given up on my writing. Please don't you do that. Please.
    I love you.

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    1. It's difficult if you are expected to do anything, I think. I often feel like there is no way I can measure up to that. I hope you find a way to make it work for all of you.
      The writing - I need to pick myself up off the floor, I suppose. I'm just finding it hard without confidence. I will try.
      I love you as well. You know that.

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  3. I think Andrew Solomon sounds a right pompous git. But I don't think academia and writing have much to do with each other. Lots of great writers were not great students. You are a great writer. And your post did not depress me at all. And I am chronically depressed! Have you tried any medications? Or therapy? I have found that really good therapy can be lastingly beneficial but never really found the right meds. Might take another crack at it. Lately I find I'm regretful for all the good times that I wasn't really there for and all the times I wasn't really there for my husband and son. We all deserve better.

    Also, you are right. The moods are just like weather, ever-changing. And it can be so hard to believe in summer in the midst of January.

    I think you are very brave. And strong.

    -invisigal

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    1. Invisigal! You come to the rescue at the best times. And always make me feel better. Truly a superhero. I do wish I could read a blog of yours.
      I have tried therapy and have been wondering about going back for a 'top up'. I'm not sure where my therapist is working these days.
      Thank you for coming out again. I think of your masked presence, ever-vigilant out there and it makes me feel better.

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    2. Thinking of you and hoping you are feeling ok. I know it is selfish of me to enjoy others' blogs without reciprocating in kind but truth be told I usually have a hard time stringing together a good comment much less a whole blog. Perhaps I should start one even if it's dull just on principle. Thinking of you.

      -invisigal

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  4. I have no idea what to say to this. I wish I had a solution, I wish we could all fix each other and have the magic answer. So I don't know what to say. I'm not in a good way at the moment either.

    I'm feeling the need for some counselling, to unburden all the awful things I think and feel. I wonder would that be helpful for you at all?

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  5. Hugs and I am glad if you were able to get outside. You too are brave and strong.

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  6. Believe me I have been there too and I know that sometimes you don't need tons of advice, just sympathy. It will pass. In the meantime, keep active and take strength from your children x

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  7. This is a powerful post, because it says just what this feels like, this anxiety/depression/inertia, so we who know it too, can discover we're not alone, and can remember that it passes, we survive. We survive. Thank you, dear Mwa.

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  8. I don't get depressed much, but do spend a lot of time indoors and on my own. Even for someone not facing your challenges, it's essential to get outside. I hope you start to feel better soon.

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  9. My last therapist told me to not read depressing stuff, to not watch depressing things on tv, like the news. That advice, which I took, has helped, or else I was close to the end of the depression cycle by then anyway. Get out into the sun, if any, and take care of yourself, don't spread yourself too thin.

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