Yes, well, been a bit quiet here hasn't it? There is a reason for that and the reason is that I haven't been able to write. Wait, that's a bit obvious, isn't it? Duh. What I mean is that this blog (in case you haven't noticed) tends to be a bit on the frivolous side. I do like to write and what I like to write is silly, shallow stuff. If it turns out to be a wee bit funny too, so much the better. I am not one for great thoughts or deep insights. Prefer to stick to daft things my kids have said and ways I have made a fool of myself, often in public. I just enjoy the act of writing stuff that is the direct opposite of the kind of material I have to produce professionally.
The problem is I have not been feeling particularly frivolous or funny recently. In fact, if I am being absolutely honest, I have not been feeling that way for some time. I am just very well practised at maintaining that facade, playing the part of the person who is getting on with things, coping with life. But I'm not. Or rather I haven't been for a while now. I finally admitted this a couple of weeks ago and went to see my lovely and sympathetic GP who listened to me gibber incoherently for a few minutes, asked some pertinent questions and then told me what just about everyone who knows me well could have told me ages ago.
I am suffering from depression. And stress. (The terrible twins, you can't have one without the other) I feel like an absolute fraud, to be honest. I have nothing to be depressed about. Nice house, good job, lovely family etc. I keep thinking about the millions of people in the world who are worse off than I am, who genuinely have something to be depressed about and it makes me feel like a pampered slightly pathetic individual who should just give herself a good shake and get on with it for Pete's sake.
On the other hand, I have clearly been a less than wonderful person to be around recently. My husband was, if anything, relieved, when I confessed all to him - he had known something was wrong but because I wasn't talking, he didn't know what it was. The people I work with have also been great and also told me they knew something was up.
It would appear I have been hiding from people, unable to summon up the energy to interact normally, since "normally" for me is chirpy, cheerful, flippant. All the things I have not been feeling for some time. And I hadn't even realised I had been hiding, avoiding contact with people. I knew that I was panicking when the phone rang, not wanting to talk to whoever was on the other end, and I knew I was avoiding the communal chats over a cup of tea in the secretaries' room, but didn't twig it was any deeper than that. I realised I might be feeling a bit off when it was my birthday and the thought of an evening celebrating with my husband's family (who are lovely, honest!) made me feel anxious and nauseous rather than, well, celebratory.
In short, I had run out of the raw materials I needed to create the facade. The effort was just becoming too much. I managed a day at my brother's house with my parents and all the kids for my nephew's birthday and I enjoyed it, I really did. But by the next morning I was just drained. My stomach was such a knot of anxiety that I could not even manage a cup of tea. And when I can no longer drink tea, believe me, the world is shifting on its axis.
Finally talking about it helped. The medication I am on appears to be okay and I am told it will help. I gather it takes a while to really kick in but I am not suffering any of the myriad possible side effects other than a little nausea, and given that the side effects listed include a sudden desire to throw yourself under a moving bus, that's pretty good. I am due to go and talk to someone professionally in a few weeks (if I still need it by then) and I am due to go away on holiday with the family in a week's time. In fact, it was the approaching holiday that finally sent me scurrying to the doctor. Do you want to know why? Because on holiday I am with the boys and Husband 24 hours a day, which is great. But all I was doing was fretting because I knew I would need to have a good hard cry most days and couldn't figure out how I was going to manage to do so without them finding out. Ridiculous, huh? Even I could figure out that is not a normal thing to be worrying about!
When I first spoke to my doctor I was not sure what had caused this. He reckoned sometimes you never figure that out. However, I am pretty sure it is work-related. I love the firm I work for and the people I work with are, without exception, brilliant. Mad as a hatful of fish, most of them, but great to work with. I am, however, the only lawyer in my office doing what I do which is civil litigation. So there is no-one to compare notes with, no-one to ask for advice, no-one to just moan at. The whole department rests on my shoulders and while I have been doing this job for years, the shoulders seem to be sagging now. If I imagine being at work, I panic. I have convinced myself that I am not capable of being a lawyer and the horrible court action I referred to in passing recently really hasn't helped. For some time now I have sat at my desk and looked at the pile of work I have to do, and I have simply been unable to do it. I can't make any rational decisions, I can't work out what needs to be done and I have been absolutely convinced that the advice I tender is wrong and my opposite numbers in all the court actions are far more competent than I and therefore probably right. Not a good attitude for a litigator. And not something it is easy to admit to oneself, never mind one's work colleagues. Hence the fact that I have hidden it whilst I run in ever decreasing circles trying to get myself and my caseload back on track.
I would still be there if it were not for Husband. He has come over all masterful and ordered me to take some time off work, and since I could tell he meant it, I have obeyed (that's a first!) So I am off work until we go to Canada, trying, as they say, to get my head together. I am going to the gym and sleeping a lot. I could sleep for Scotland at the moment.
I have not however blogged because I didn't know how to write this post. I am still not sure I have got it right but a number of you (and you know who you are) have been kind and thoughtful enough to enquire after my wellbeing and I am so grateful for that. It sort of tipped the balance and made me feel I wanted to try and write about the last couple of weeks. I will, I am sure, get back to normal service soon. Thank you again.