A Day in the Life of lemming
I wake as usual, fearful, after about four hours sleep. Fears about serious and long-standing important things I have to do about home maintenance, and of the consequences of not being able to get on with them; and also about the lesser tasks I’ve pencilled in for myself, mainly involving communicating on the internet, with people who mainly know me passingly at most. As usual, I feel too fearful and unsolid to take charge of any of these, or even to present myself in writing to others. A fear is that whatever I do will be likely to make more difficulties that I can’t cope easily with on my own and that will make things worse for me.
I have no-one to share any of this with. The only people I meet occasionally are in a U3A group, none of whom I yet feel on close enough terms with to disclose any distress, or need of support, or non-dependent neediness, except perhaps in an emergency. Perhaps, not unusual, I call out M’s name. I’ve not seen her for over five years. I get up, have a light breakfast, then return and half doze, with Radio 4 background, until 9.
Today, not so usually, I decide to avoid the internet, including incoming emails, and any problems it will make. It’s usually the thing I turn to after breakfast to get my mind going. I find myself picking up on problematic or uncertain things that others have raised, then ferreting around to try to get to the truth of the matter, and maybe arriving at something in my head that can usefully be said to help solve or resolve. Often I arrive at just an appreciation of complexities that require further work that I’m not up to doing, and I say nothing. It is often not rewarding.
So, instead, I sat on my bed reading a childhood memoir by an academic whom I’d once read. I congratulate myself for feeling a bit better for deciding to avoid the net, and note that my mood, and a feeling of being able to cope, has improved, even to the point of feeling able to interact with others, if the occasion arises. I do find this generally, that if I manage to get myself working successfully at something, even just walking somewhere with a purpose or where I can feel at home, I do feel more a real person. Some newsgroup replies that I’d been anxiously mulling in my head for days also spontaneously crystallise themselves for me, now that I’m more relaxed.
In the afternoon I’m hit by dozing, as expectable. I congratulate myself for clearing a trip today to a supermarket from my worrying mental have-to list. Avoidance can sometimes be beneficial. But I also find that thinking of writing this report brings back mental tension that overrides the earlier benefit. How to get things in it right? How to cram into the word limit?
My phone ringing from an unknown number has the same effect, that endures. I didn’t
answer it as I can’t deal with the self-presentation or self-assertion. At worst it could be from a utility with whom I’m having a complex dispute in which they appear to ignore or not to understand my written submissions, or to refer them to someone who will. All I want is openness and professional competence that I can trust. Instead it can be very stressing and upsetting, even threatening.
An evening Horizon programme on OCD nicely occupies me. I know some of the work of the presenter, and it’s better than most episodes at presenting plain meaningful content, some of it new to me. (I don’t have OCD, btw.) But even here I find the ‘science’ still depressingly far from providing any true sense of understanding; not much different from when I was once involved in research myself. I mourn the fact of being the kind of person who’s too much needed work, to provide me with a sense of agency, purpose, and well-being which it’s often unable to provide. As the evening goes on I begin to feel, as fairly usual, human, open, capable, sharing, not a case.