I have been struggling to blog. I have been struggling to write anything. It may have been related to burnout, a sheer exhaustion brought on by hard work and a sense of unfulfillable responsibilities. Whatever the cause, I have been taking a break, and, nearly a month on, I am finally beginning to recover. I have been avoiding work, and mental effort of all kinds, in favour of becoming reaquainted with myself, an activity desparately needed, considering all that has transpired in the past six years or so.
Over teh last few weeks, I have also been reading, for my own pleasure, rather than work, a trillogy of memoires by Carol Drinkwater, an actress and whiter whose enigmatic half-smile has always entranced me. Her writing about self-discovery, aquisition, loss, heartache and stoic endurance, recovery, rebirth and creativity appeal to me. In particular, she writes in the second book about coming to terms with childlessness, the black void of mourning, and emotional recovery, a subject colse ot my naively maternal heart.
Someone told me years ago never to declare oneself incapable of anything. "If one human being is capable of it," she said "so is every other." There, but for the grace of God.... I wish I had recalled that when I declared myself "not the depressive type." I went through a very angry phase as a teenager, partly precipitated by a spate of depression afflicting several people close to me, a mallady which terrified me in the depth and brutality of its effect. But my eternal belief in human ability to master emotion helped me avoid a similar fate myself, and for a really long time, I was undeniably happy.
It hit me around April last year. Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of Prozac Nation describes the onset and remission of depression as "little by little, then all at once." It's like swimming in a pool on a river, when an unexpected current catches hold of you, and pulls you over a rapid. All at once, you're out of your depth, floundering, turned this way and that by a force with no apparent source, nothing to fight against. And then, just when you think you'll black out from lack of oxygen, it throws you over another rapid, and you land on the pebbled bottom of a shallow puddle. The fall hurts, but at least you cdan lift yourself out.
I don't know what triggered it in my case; changes in my body over which I had little control, 'chemical imballances', the end of a life phase, and a period of uncertainty, the concurrent end of a relationship I never quite mastered, a not-quite love affair that haunts me with its possibilities, deceptively fragile blue eyes and a musical voice, stormy weather, a personal loss i never managed to mourn. Whatever it was, I am gradually moving on. So why do I post this to an academic blog? because I hope it may be useful to others in my position, perhaps, or just because I am seeking to understand it as I do my work. Perhaps its just about making excuses. Either way, I'll have to decide whether this post stays or not. For now, it can languish.