I Couldn't Care Less: That Sinking Feeling

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A hypodermic needle and a vial

That Sinking Feeling

Today I was, slightly belatedly, supposed to be writing my column for this week's post. I had a nice story all lined up about an interesting carer/caree conflict that had occurred to me while at the birthday party of an elderly friend of ours. This morning I was nominally volunteering at a charity shop, but the weather was terrible and there were no customers so there was, in practise, nothing much to do. So I idly meandered round the shop tidying shelves and racks and working up what I was going to write in my head. At which point I found that my heart simply wasn't in it, or indeed in anything else.

The other week I was talking to my doctor about an unrelated matter when he asked about my mental health. 'I've never been diagnosed with depression,' I said 'but I have been prescribed anti-depressants.' 'Then you've got depression,' was his simple reply. He wasn't being dismissive, you understand, but telling me succinctly that you don't prescribe drugs like that to people who don't need them. At times I've felt that I was ready to come off them, but then it's never quite been for long enough. Life never seems quite stable enough. So I never have. This morning I reached one of those periodic troughs where I'm glad I haven't.

I don't feel as bad now as I did then, but I'm still anxious and stressed. My anxiety at the moment is what you might call situational. I haven't worked for six months. That didn't bother me too much at first, because I mindlessly assumed I'd find another job soon enough. Six months isn't really too long a time by the standards plenty of people have had to wait, but even my optimism is failing and looking for work, and not having it, is becoming less a temporary respite from a job, and more like a permanent, regular state of affairs. The way things are. But more than this it means that I can't provide for my family. This hit me powerfully this week when one of our animals had to see a vet, and I needed to borrow money from my brother. He gave it willingly, having offered in the past, without a murmur of complaint and I would not be surprised if he refuses my efforts to give it back when I can. I'm very lucky in that respect. But I can't provide for the needs of my family without help. I know it's not my fault, and this is not a judgement I would make of other people in my position, but in my eyes it diminishes me.

I don't know how much of this is pride, how much is born out of comparing my situation with that of everyone else in my family who all have their own homes, cars, kids and holidays, and how much of it is born out of my sense of responsibility. I think that the latter is the driving force, my intrinsic belief that this is what I should be doing, and the argument that it is not my fault is, in my self-critical mind, countered by the point that my brother and I had the same advantages, upbringing and education. I am not stupid, nor can I claim to be held back by mental or physical disability as my wife can. I just can't achieve what I expect of myself. The depression eats into that feeling, feeds off it and inflates it at the same time, gnaws at me with the knowledge that I have given myself one job and that I have failed at it.

That's my news this week, I'm afraid. Well, almost. The good news is that I managed to get my wife's phone fixed after what seems like weeks of to-ing and fro-ing with various people to get the damn thing to do what it's supposed to. I have a job interview on Friday, a final interview after the previous 2 or 3, for a full time job that pays better than my last one did. My birthday is coming up, and my wife is congregating friends and family around the day to visit at various times. All of this is good and, although I am painfully aware that it doesn't make me as happy as it might have done, it is a reason to be happy if I can find the energy to do so.

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