I had the weekend off. Off everything. Officially, I had a 'writing weekend', and I did write and loved it. But mainly I didn't have to do anything for anyone all weekend. Ate on my own, slept on my own, walked on my own. In a place that looked like this:
and like this:
I've come back with recharged batteries. And an overwhelming feeling of gratitude because Babes not only accepts that I need this time off, but also encourages me to take it. I'm already wondering when I can have another one...
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.
I'm having some trouble getting my thoughts written down. Getting my thoughts out. Having thoughts in the first place. I will try to give it a go.
Today, my head was slightly clearer. It started at five-ish when I couldn't sleep any longer. I lingered a while, but then I had to get up to pee, and by then it was nearly half past six and I knew the alarm would go off at seven thirty so there wasn't much point sleeping again. I read a little in The Noonday Demon and it gave me some insights that I needed. Well, they were probably more like reminders, but still. I'm only halfway through the book and I'm not sure I would recommend it, because so far it has read much like an advert for the pharmaceutical industry and its antidepressants. On the other hand, I'm sure the author is sincere when he talks about how his pills have saved him. In any case, the chapter I was reading this morning talked about the connection between depression and poverty, and about how poor people are often poor because they are depressed and depressed because they are poor, and they cannot motivate themselves or pluck up the oomph to change their circumstances. Which made me see that lately, I've been lacking the oomph and I think it might have to do with the fact that I'm still not gainfully employed and therefore have nothing to stop me losing my oomph or slacking on the sofa all day, or pretending that knitting a tiny doll's blanket constitutes a valid day's work for a full grown woman.
I got up with Babes after the alarm went up and sat in my bathrobe having a cup of decaf tea and some cracottes with gouda, bemoaning my lack of action and oomph, until I could see myself through his eyes and how pathetic I was. Then I decided on action. Before action, though, I made the children unload and load the dishwasher (their job, not my opportunity for action - ha!). Meanwhile, I read on in a book I started yesterday: Born to Run. Now there's one I would wholeheartedly recommend to all of you. It's full of thirst for life, full of laughs, full of the will to go. It's made me want to become a vegan barefoot trailrunner. (My shin hurts just imagining it.) I took the children to the park for a picnic and stuck them in the big adventure playpark so I could keep reading. Finished the book tonight. I've already been out for a sneaky barefoot ten metres out on the pavement outside the door. Another thing it's made me want to do, is finally to start checking out potential new houses for us to move to. We should not be living in a terraced house in a concrete street any more. Reading about trail runs and adventures in the hills of Mexico made me feel deep in my bones, now more than ever, that I need to see trees when I look out of the window, and not walls. I'm also considering volunteering in the Oxfam shop around the corner. Some volunteer work should get me moving outside this head of mine sometimes, which would most likely be healthy.
I'm looking forward to the book I will read after The Noonday Demon: Reasons to Stay Alive. I have a feeling I will need it.