So, for the first time in about a year and a half, I’ve found myself in a bit of a funk the last three weeks. I won’t quite call it a depression (as I’ve been there and this isn’t the same all-encompassing pit of darkness that turned me into a sobbing puddle of a person for longer than I’d like to admit). But it is familiar. And awfully persistent. And seems to be getting worse. And I know where this road leads.
I know exactly when it leapt out of dormancy… I got home from a wonderful (but too short) family vacation, having had the most AMAZING drive home through the Kootenays. And the near-euphoria I felt that day (Okanagan peaches! ice cream! gorgeous clouds and mountains!) burst into a fireball of anger when I plugged back into the internet, just as the whole “legitimate rape” business was tearing across the Twitterverse like wildfire. I had this whole vision of ragequitting my uterus, which in my twisted mind involved me cutting open my abdomen, ripping the damned thing out of my body and flinging it across the room, like a strange new kind of hara-kiri. (It didn’t help that I had just watched the original 1962 samurai movie Hara-Kiri the week before). That was the trigger.
And then, through my rage-goggles, it was fascinating to observe the reactions to the whole incident, on Facebook, on Twitter, on the blogs I follow, etc. And my own reactions, both to the comment in question, and the aftermath thereof. It seemed like whatever thoughts and feelings I had, somebody else had already expressed them. And more eloquently than I would have. I wrote a couple of blog posts. And then deleted them. I couldn’t imagine what I could possibly add that hadn’t already been said. A feeling of irrelevance.
It got worse when I counted and realized that I had almost a dozen nearly-finished posts that I’d written in the last 6 months. And I’d never gotten around to just hitting “Publish”. Because I never felt that they were “good enough”. Or “interesting enough”. Or “witty enough”. A feeling of irrelevance.
It got worse during conversations with friends who are amazingly talented and doing terribly interesting and awesome and impactful things with their lives. While I feel like I’ve been stagnating for years. A feeling of irrelevance.
It got worse when I started thinking about my upcoming birthday, and how I’ve had a few birthday experiences in recent years where I feel like I could have disappeared and nobody would have noticed. No, I never tested that theory. I wasn’t willing to risk that the hypothesis might be true. Because that would confirm my feeling of irrelevance.
It doesn’t help that I’m an introvert. It doesn’t help that I’m a highly sensitive person. It doesn’t help that I’m in a field where the work is pretty much solitary and where there is very little affirmation of relevance. Ever. (Academia rather sucks as a source of affirmation, unless you are brilliant at self-promotion, just plain brilliant, or and/or super passionate about your field – guess what, I’m none of those things!)
I know I need to make some changes in my life and find ways to create more meaning for myself. I know I need to keep connecting with the amazing people in my life who support me, celebrate my quirks and weirdnesses, and are as willing to share my pain as well as my happiness. Because I know they’d notice if I just disappeared.
But I’m also making a conscious choice to not let this thought monster get the better of me. And so here I am. Writing. For me. (And for my sister, who is obligated to read everything I write. ‘Tis the nature of our familial obligation.) I guess this is my way of giving myself permission to be relevant.
And to say to depression: you can just fuck right off.