My own personal t-rex

My sister P and I were sitting in a McDonalds in central Amsterdam, chowing down to whet herbally induced appetites, with Kyle and Danny the American backpackers, and playing ‘would you rather?’ Would you rather, we asked ourselves and each other, mouths full of noms:

‘Have a gang of ninjas to do your bidding, or a t-rex?’ (t-rex)

‘Be plain and clever or beautiful and stupid?’ (plain and clever)

‘Give up oral sex or cheese?’ (cheese, even when I was as stoned as I was that day!)

This conversation occurred to me the other day when I was thinking about mental health. ‘Would you rather tell people you were a smoker or had a mental illness?’

Yes. I thought so. (Smoker)

I don’t know if it was the town I grew up in, the group of people I socialised with at the time, or the fact that, perhaps, teenagers are just awful, but when word got out when I was 17 that I had been prescribed my first ever anti-depressants, the local boys referred to me as Prozac woman. (I preferred titanic tits from form 2). Not very sensitive!

Many years later, despite the public health initiatives, despite the raised awareness, despite the RUOK and the workplace health awareness, and the John Kirwan book – I don’t think I’m the only one who doesn’t like saying they are not OK. It’s just like a broken leg they say. Nothing to be ashamed of they say. Well, no, until it’s you or someone you love. And most of the time it’s easier to hide than your own personal t-rex.

What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?*

It occurred to me over the weekend that:

  1. I am quite hard on myself
  2. I catastrophize at every opportunity, and
  3. I put a lot of my emotional capital into my work

And as a result, the recent work upheaval has not been very good for my soul. I’ll say this though; I have had episodes of depression before – and this is not one of them. I am feeling a bit low, and a bit hopeless, and a bit frustrated, but I’m not crying or having dark thoughts that would give me cause to seek (more) help. Times have certainly sucked, but they have sucked harder.

We had a course on resilience at a former workplace. The general thrust of it was not to let the knocks of life get to you too much, and keep things in perspective, and have the ability to bend back into your previous shape after you are stretched. I guess resilience is just something I am going to have to start employing more.

And the whole thing has not been an entirely fruitless experience. If you ever end up reading my novel you may come across a character who is bloodless administrator with the warmth of a reptile. She may not entirely be a work of fiction.

 

*theatre reference