Saturday, 28 September 2013

Long time...

...and the time keeps getting longer.  The days are getting shorter, true, but I'm still getting older with them.

I suppose I should be grateful that I'm alive to be remarking to myself on my increasing years.  It's a quiet, rather dull grey day here in west London and I have put a load of washing out, so I'm hovering periodically at the window to keep an eye on the weather.  In between drinking large quanitities of herb tea and eating noodles for lunch.  I have also bought a big batch of sensible groceries, had a shower and finished reading "The Help".  Which was terrific; one of those books that really live up to the hype. Gut-wrenching at times, moving, angering, inspiring, and beautifully written.

I've been away, for a week in peaceful, rural, damp and dramatically foggy Cornwall.  That's probably why I'm feeling a little introspective and depressed today; a mixture of tiredness from the journey back and the general post-holiday-slump-plus-concommittant-blues that I seem to get every time I have a decent slab of time off.  God knows what I would be like if I hated the place where I work instead of being fond of it.

Last week I was staying in a place that had wifi, but I didn't have a computer; I was staying with a television-phobe, so there was no tv; and none of us have fancy tech like i-pods and portable speakers, so there was no recorded music either.  A complete brain detox and wind-down, with no sounds except gulls and jackdaws, human voices, the odd fishing boat pottering about in the harbour, and once or twice a helicopter overhead or a larger ship coming in to port.  Plenty of fresh air, albeit rather wet fresh air a lot of the time.  Bit of walking, bit of chilling-out, bit of reading, and a much-needed rest.

I wish I knew why this always happens to me after a holiday.  I should love to come home refreshed and re-energised, upbeat, determined to profit by my time off and the perspective it has given me.  But despite my best efforts, each time, to think optimistically from now on, I still find myself instead feeling like dust and ashes.  Stale, flat and unprofitable...

I looked in the bathroom mirror this morning, and saw a plain, plump, serious-looking woman in her late forties, with her grey-and-brown mixed roots showing as her hair dye grows out, and her spectacles sliding down her nose.  She doesn't look interesting or like someone anyone would bother to get to know.  She doesn't look as though she has a story of her own (much less a whole head full of them) or anything about her to make her of interest to anyone.  She looks tired, even after a week off, and rather grubby and rubbed-about-the-edges, like a beaten-up old recipe book.

I look around my small room in this shared flat, and I see nothing but muddle and clutter; junk I ought to throw away (but don't), half-filled sketchbooks, notebooks on unfinished writing projects...  I think of how many times I have gotten nowhere with something I thought I was doing well at; how many times I have failed, by my own and others' standards.  A sense of my own worthlessness bubbles up in my mind, gradually filtering through the topsoil of confidence until it is saturating every thought.  And I feel, I know, myself and my life to be mere dust and ashes.

It's depression; only mild depression, thank God, but recogniseable nonetheless.  I've had it before, I suppose it's likely I will have it again.  I know it will ease, and then pass (or, my inner voices of doubt and self-condemnation whisper, it will get buried again under a blanket of denial and avoidance tactics).  I will come through it.  It's partly because the journey back from Cornwall to London takes about ten hours and after ten hours either sitting in a car or sitting on a crowded train I am tired and rather stiff.  I know all this.  But I still feel flat.  Stale.  And dust, and ashes, and all the rest of it...

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