This goes again in the life post PhD category. Truth be told, I am sick of even saying the word. And now I am going to (partly) blame it for my erratic blogging habits, which really gives the Bloody Thing a lot more credit than it deserves…
First, I graduated. With dress and everything. I felt really nervous, and kind of uneasy, for most of the day. Then when it was over, I had a good cry–the kind with really loud sobs but not so many tears, if you know what I mean. At the time I thought it was just the nerves, although for no apparent reason – in this country we don’t even have the viva, the public defence of the thesis, so graduation is basically hours of sitting on a stage and remembering which hand to shake the Chancellor’s with. Nevertheless, I was completely spent afterwards, tired, and sort of empty. But I had been feeling like that for a while.
I had some trouble in the past few weeks. I found it extremely difficult to do simple things like getting up, eating, going outside. I managed to get to work but hardly noticed it. I felt hollow. I just didn’t care about anything, while at the same time feeling a desperate yearning for something to happen to me, for me to feel some spark, some passion, some fucking enthusiasm for any aspect of my fucking blessed life.
This is not the first time it has happened. A couple of years ago, in the midst of my candidature, I had a similar episode, and for a few weeks life was just uninteresting. I don’t know how else to explain it. It ended with a few counselling sessions in which we discussed my parents’ feelings towards me being with a woman. Then I went overseas, so I healed, or something.
But anyway. It happened again. This time, no counsellor yet (although I might still see someone. In case). It took me a long time to figure this out and I am not even done yet, but I think I had underestimated the consequences of finishing something like a PhD. You focus so much on getting the Bloody Thing done that you don’t think much about its aftermath. In short, I just found myself deprived of the one thing that had been giving purpose and structure to my life for four years. I have never done anything else, learnt another trade, pursued another talent or passion. (In retrospect that wasn’t so smart). It didn’t matter what job I was doing at the time because I had this bigger, brighter goal I was pursuing…and now that it is over, and it has sunken in, I sort of have to reconfigure my life. Now it’s up to me alone to try and make something out of it, and I am just terrified. What if I screw up? What if I drop the spirit stick????? What if I just end up being average? (Wait. WHAT?)
It’s taken some time, some pills (only herbal for now), a lot of tears, and the support of friends and family to slowly try to make sense of me again. I don’t think I was anywhere near the edge, but that’s because I was able to catch it in time. I shudder at the thought of how many people go about their daily life carrying a similar listlessness inside and shaking it off, or bottling it up, until it’s too much and the cocoon of apathy takes over. Warm, paralyzing, and suffocating.
Honestly, I think I have some depressive tendencies. It just comes back. And with major life events, well, the risk is obviously higher. I don’t know that I’ll ever beat this thing for good, and maybe it shouldn’t even be a goal. I know that there are gestures and motions I can go through to reclaim some sense of normality. There are things that genuinely make me happy, like writing. And others that I do because I have to, like taking care of loves and friends. So I guess that’s the best I can do. So here we go.