Posts tagged melancholy
It seems I’ve often started entries like that. Perhaps it’s a longing for a simpler time, when the Internet was easily accessible by only those who knew how, and a simple hello world was an incidental communication that everyone understood as an “I am here.” For me it has, I suppose, become a simple mechanism of reminding myself that I exist. Doesn’t that sound depressing? Well, perhaps that’s because of how I’m feeling at the moment. No, dear reader, I’m not feeling particularly depressed, but I am bathing in the subtle melancholy that has been my default state of mind for the past decade or more.
Let me spin you a story. At the time of my last entry, life was grand. I had been working as a doctor for a certain amount of time – approximately 3 or 4 months – and I was enjoying myself. I’d probably just commenced my surgical rotation, from memory, and life was ticking along in his noble a fashion as it could’ve been. Two or three weeks later, that was different. I’ve never dealt very well with rejection, and never have dealt very well with relationships ending. When you’re in a position where you think you found The One, it is a bit hard to deal with the fact that that doesn’t prove to be true. At any rate, my relationship with the girl I referred to on this diary as Miss Butterfly ended in early May. I was shocked, horrified, pleading, self-destructive, and rapidly cycling emotionally from complete highs to complete lows: and that was all just in my head. Luckily, remembering how my last breakup experience went, I was proactive. I spent time with close friends, I saw a counsellor, I received medical assistance to help me sleep, and I had several of my most favourite people in the world come to stay.
Life moved on. And although it was an empty life, to some extent, it was liberated.
Over the next few months, several significant life events occurred. I underwent my first-ever general anaesthetic, to which, I’ve been told, I was hilarious to behold. I sat interviews for general practice training, as a means to get in to palliative training down the track, and despite being a doctor only six months on the job, I scored in the top 10% of applicants in Australia. Naturally gratifying, if slightly unexpected. That said, I’ve often been called an overachiever, a high achiever, or just fucking nuts.
I continued to work as a doctor, completing my surgical term, and working in the emergency department. I enjoyed ED a lot more than I thought I would, I was working with a lovely group of people, fantastic supervisors, and it was nice to be doing real medicine again. Then, moved onto psychiatry.
Psychiatry has always been a mixed blessing for me. In fact, I have often been told that I would make a good psychiatrist, and have been complimented on the quality of my work. What is not understood by the people I work with is how difficult I find walking onto the ward, every single day, and making it through the 8 to 9 hours that I spend their without turning into a blubbering nervous wreck. I remember, as you may if you’ve read this blog before, and/or have far too much time & the use of the search tool on your hands, that several years ago in medical school when I did my psychiatric rotation with my dear friend Kate, that on day two upon leaving the ward she and I both turned to each other and said, I think I need a huge hug. I almost suffered a complete breakdown on my psychiatric rotation. It’s not a proper post here without a slight amount of pop psychology, so let me just throw in that as an infj, I tend to walk through life with my empathy dialled up to 11. This, I have found, is highly self-destructive on a psychiatric term. In a psych unit, there are patients who’ve lost the ability to be themselves. This is an affront to human dignity and is something that I most abhor.
As such, psychiatry is to me most difficult to deal with. I was however, aware that this was likely to occur on this rotation, and as such I entered into it with an open mind, and with the expectation that I needed to dial myself down. This was going well until the middle of my third week of term. It was on a Wednesday, just before lunch, but I managed to inform a patient that he was not permitted to go on escorted leave that day, and thus was punched in the face. Security were present, and the patient reacted aggressively regardless. He was sedated, collected by the police, and taken to a more secure unit. I was shaken, but managed to compartmentalise it as something that, well, had been properly risk managed, and as such there was no potential for any other result at that time.
Exciting story, what?
So that’s work. I’ve been on leave for two weeks, which was planned before my assault, and has been a combination of incredibly relaxing and anxiety provoking. Relaxing in that I got to go home, visit my family, caught up with some of my most beloved people in the world, and drank a lot of good coffee. 😉
Anxiety inducing, in that Things seem to be happening between myself and one of my closest friends in Tamworth. This was… Unexpected. Not badly timed, not unwelcome, just incredibly difficult for me to currently deal with. Let me set the scene. In Tamworth, I have three close friends. We are a… Gang of four, if you will. Three of them are female, and there is me. Now, I find myself increasingly attracted to, inspired by, and unable to get off my mind, one of these three in particular. Luckily for me, she happens to be the single one of the three. Looking at the situation, I am fairly sure that there is some reciprocal interest on her part as well. From friendly/close body language, to continue gentle teasing, to finding even my most inane jokes hilarious, to the occasional glance across the room, to shared smiles and winks, I am fairly sure that I am not making up the signs.
I discussed the situation with my shall we say best friend, Meghan. Although she issued a caveat that it is incredibly hard to tell without personally knowing the people involved, she agreed with my opinion. This was both gratifying, and terrifying. Gratifying, because it’s nice to know that even when I’m having the effect of the high school crush as an adult, I’m not completely misreading things-I hope. Terrifying, in that I now to do something about it. Oh yes, I am aware of how pathetic & insignificant that sounds. I am, however, poorly equipped to deal with this situation. For a start, I find it incredibly hard to express these feelings in the spoken rather than the written word. I also have found that my autonomic responses i.e. adrenaline shock, increased heart rate, and mood swings make finding the right moment difficult. There was almost a right moment last night, until I decided, probably incorrectly, to wait.
Yesterday, I also went and had a chat with a psychologist, which is always a very liberating and very damaging experience. Liberating because it is nice to talk to someone and turn off all of my filters. They have been only five people in my whole life whom I am able to speak to with absolute honesty, filter-less (I’ve been in relationships with two of them, one of them is the aforesaid spelling mode Meghan, one of them is an old friend from Sydney, and the other curiously enough is this new friend in Tamworth – a good sign?). Damaging, because it brings certain things to the surface that I typically keep drowned far beneath.
At any rate, the psychologist’s opinion of my current state? Ask this girl out. I have, I told her, always put the greater good above myself. This is a very infj thing to do. Other people are more important, and remain so. I’m aware that this is self-destructive. I am aware that it is self pitying. But as Amanda the psychologist said yesterday, “you deserve to be happy too.” She’s right. As much as anyone does deserve it, I do as well. I just wish that it wasn’t so damn difficult, and that I could easily summon the courage to make it happen.
I suppose I am also terrified, that the answer will be no. The signs seemed to point to the opposite, my pessimism tends to reject them.
I can’t go on like this. I am careening from functional to non-functional and I suspect that there is an enormous positive potential in this situation, I just find myself overcome with dread that I could be wrong.
I wish there was some way to know. As a friend up here said last night, at dinner time, when I mentioned to him that I thought I was going to go for it-he is one of those up here who has, I am sure, picked up on matters, but is the only one to have commented thus far-he said that there’s only really one way to know for sure. He is right.
Wish me luck, dear diary. You’ve been a record of many depressive, and happy things over the years. Why don’t we kick off with a happy one this time.
It’s been a little while since I posted – a few things have happened, and I’ll do a more detailed and thrilling exposé shortly, I promise. Right now though, I want to tell a brief story.
Those of you who stalk my daily life on Facebook may have noticed on Saturday just gone I posted the following as a status update:
What a fracking odd day so far. Slept in which was nice, breakfast at gastronome which was delicious and ran into a patient whose baby I delivered a month or two ago which was lovely, coffee at elephant boy which started well until… well, ran into someone very unexpected, then went to Dick Smith and bought DVDs to master MedRevue and found out that they didn’t work in my burner, returned them and… same damn problem with another brand & kind, so that’s irritating as all hell, and now I’m sitting at home feeling trifled with.
Now, some people know a little of the story, some people none at all, and in a way I’d wanted to keep it at that. It’s something that I’ve exorcised in various ways in the past, but as I found myself fuming down the pavement on the way home, a line from my on-again-off-again novel elohim came to mind – “no more ghosts.” Thus, this post.
When I was studying creative arts I made a group of very good friends, all amazingly wonderful people. One of them in particular at the time, I was taken with for quite an extended period. We did the good friends thing, the flirt thing, the coffee thing, lunch, etc. Everything was, how you say, “on track” until Something Happened.
Something? Yes. What? Who knows, honestly. To use a crude term that I write infrequently – I have no fucking idea what happened. We went from being very close, kind of dating, etc, and then boom, I was suddenly figure of contempt number one. I shrugged and tried to move on as best I could, but it got worse – all of a sudden any comment I made in a class, regardless, was punctuated by very interesting facial expressions and occasional vocal disparagement. I began to be excluded from social events, initially that she was organising, and gradually fell off the radar. By the end of the degree, I think a year had gone by where we’d have been lucky to exchange words half a dozen times – going from multiple emails/texts in a day to a wall of silence was something rather dramatic, as it seems.
At any rate, I did shrug and move on. I was seeing someone else, life was going very well, medicine was starting up, etc. She continued at the uni but I encountered her at a distance maybe once or twice – and by this point I’d given up on building that bridge and was now simply in a “forget, forgive” mode.
I attended the launch of the creative arts student magazine in 2009 then – some two years after we’d exchanged words. Facebook told me a few hours before that she would be there, but hey. I’d moved past any rancour, and I figured apart from a few pleasantries I’d spend the night chatting with other friends – and I tried. I did get a cold shoulder though… to the extent that I was physically ignored, and it spread from her to another friend as well. That was… disconcerting. After all, those that know me know that I tend to get along well with people – almost anyone, as a matter of fact. All part of the personal charisma, as Miles puts it. This situation though, with my creative arts ‘friend’, was a shock to the system.
Fast forward almost exactly two years and I’m sitting in Bowral in my favourite café, having a coffee and reading on my eReader, when a voice from the past says “hello Ben!”. No, not her, but a mutual friend who’s engaged to one of my other creative arts friends. We chatted briefly, and then she told me – oh yes, I’m here with so and so and such and such. Come and say hi! We’re right next to the door.”
My internal monologue at that point was something explicit. That said… I did it. I ordered a second coffee to go, and went and said hello/goodbye. I actually got acknowledged, too, which was interesting, even if it was a smile and a nod that still had a flavour of contempt about them.
At this point, I left the café and wandered back home, eventually, semi-fuming and semi-upset. It’s hard to quantify why, she’s about the only person in the world who can make me feel like that. I suppose it’s a bit of dehumanisation – I wouldn’t look at a piece of garbage that way – and also the whole “what the fuck happened again?” that inevitably crops up when this goes through my mind. Maybe it’s because, unlike other infjs, I don’t really doorslam – and I feel that’s what’s happened here to me.
Anyway, I went home and started playing around, did the Facebook status – and within thirty seconds someone messaged me online saying “it was X wasn’t it.” We then had a very cathartic conversation – as my confidant knows me very well and knew the situation at the time, hell, we started dating at the end of it and were together for a few years. Anyway, she helped me feel a lot better about the whole thing, which is something I’m thankful for – I seem to have gotten a good friend back. So that, at least, ended the day on a positive note.
Names? You want names? Sure. Ask me in person. Otherwise, well, I leave you with a song by Gotye – it’s called “Somebody that I used to know.”
Sadly, or not, sometimes that’s all we get out of it. Actually – yeah. definitely not. And nowadays, that’s just fine.
I’m not a massive fan of this time of year. Sure. The plants are blooming, there’s some gorgeous flowers, the weather is beautiful, everything is green, etc… but. Well. It’s my birthday this week and, as you may know, I’m not a big fan thereof.
I don’t dislike birthdays, don’t get me wrong – I’m quite happy with a sing-along and a slice of cake, etc. I just hate mine.
No, it’s not some stupid bullshit about getting older or anything like that. It has to do with self-loathing and disliking being the centre of attention for praise/etc and…
Okay. I’m just not going to even try this week. Maybe later.
Okay, this post is likely at this point to be several things. It’s likely to be morbidly depressing, quite possibly irritating to read, will no doubt contain some absolute pure arrogance, will sound at times like complaining and perhaps wistfulness, and will definitely make less sense that I would like it to. I apologise in advance, there’s just one or two things I need to get off my chest by writing them down, and, well, this is I suppose my forum for that.
Oh, some of the initial subject matter may be a little unfamiliar for some – for others, may sound like a broken record. I do apologise, again, for the quality of this post, its potential tone (as I think it through) and its potential for repetition. All right? Wünderbar.
The past few days to weeks have proven quite difficult for me in a specific way, and that is a way tied into personal identity and identification. It’s a constant source of amazement to me how unimportant this can be for some – possibly one of those NF personality things yet again – but for me, actualisation of self and being able to point at a (possibly arbitrary?) concept and say this is me is an absolute vital thing.
This came up in an email with a friend a while back, actually, when talking about apathy and the desire to improve. I’ll quote a few lines:
The easiest way to explain it is to say that I do seek to improve myself, but my mechanism of doing so is by helping other people grow. Thus, as your friend said it – I want to help others. Helping others helps me find meaning, and to people like me, we so desperately crave meaning. So when I say it’s not about me, it really isn’t. I’m merely a reflection of what I do for others.
The major reason I came unravelled a few months ago is I reached a state where I felt *no point* to life, and that I couldn’t find one – I’d lost direction and meaning, and in doing so, I lost my sense-of-self. That’s hard, Miles. I kind of anchor my world around that sense, and without it, I had nothing.
To expand on that: the sense of meaning is vital to a concept of who I am, and without that concept, I kinda unravel. I did that back in my psych rotation, as some of you know, when I lost my sense of self to the point that I felt like I was emotionally about to shatter. I came very close, actually, scarily close looking back. The reason behind it is neither here nor there, but had a lot to do with emotional attachment to certain people which were unavoidable and were eventually dealt with, through the magical means of poetic expression. Am I over that? No. Am I functional? In that regard, yes.
The current situation stems more from a word I’m uncomfortable with, namely, charisma. In the past few weeks, six of my friends (or similar) have referred to me as charismatic, or to my “personal charisma”. This has been difficult for me to process, not just because of the word itself, but because of the emotional reaction I’ve had to it – and the further reactions it has dug up.
Apparently, I have a great personal pull. I am likeable. I am ‘popular’. People ‘love’ me. I attract people. People listen and value me greatly.
What. the. fuck.
Okay, yes, I get on well with people. I admit that. I like people. But I have never, ever identified as popular, nor as a centre of attention, or as having personal pull or charisma. If anything, I have always felt the opposite and have considered the evidence, as someone pointed out, to be rather one-shot or aberrant rather than ‘a thing’. Being forced to face this has actually made me incredibly upset internally and uncomfortable – recall what I said a few paragraphs back about meaning and self? This little word has destroyed my current sense of self. Yes, okay, I admittedly must say “I suppose it’s true”. But I never really accepted or processed it, and so now I’m feeling existentially fucked over. A friend told me “you’re seriously complaining about being good at too many things. Seriously. You need to value other people’s opinions more, that’s really it.” For me though, that’s hard.
I identify as many things. I identify, firstly, as intelligent – I mean, this is probably the arrogance talking, but well, rather so. I identify as talented with language. I identify as caring & thoughtful of others. I identify as a loner and someone who needs space. So I’m going through a crisis of self here, brought on by a very positive comment in every instance.
It’s affecting me elsewhere as well. I’m feeling like I’m becoming emotionally unstable again – this afternoon, for instance, I was at a family barbeque, had a great time seeing everyone for Father’s Day, was feeling great, drove back to Bowral and got out of the car and felt “wow, it’s amazing to be home, weather’s fantastic, love it here, etc” and then half an hour later was feeling absolutely shit mentally with no reason nor rhyme, and just could not get back on top, until I had dinner with a house mate who gave me a big boost and then I did the ironing while singing love songs and feeling great, and now… I’m sort of in the middle.
There’s no major life stress I can blame right now for it. There’s no real agonising decisions to be made, I don’t have a major issue occurring in the next few weeks (apart from my birthday which I plan to ignore as much as possible as god I hate them) and… that’s it.
I’m just not sure what’s going on upstairs with me right now. I was almost morbid before, as… okay. Sometimes I’ve described living as me as a bit like acting – I put on a different mask for every group I’m with, just about, and it’s rare that people see through them – there’s two people I know outside the immediate family who have actually punctured those masks, which is damn well horrifying at times to a control freak like me. That said, I begin to wonder how much of me has become the mask – and how much of this charisma bullshit is because of people seeing the external face and thinking it’s the inside… and then I tunnel down and it’s still there and I freak out because I’m losing control of me. It’s like wearing someone else’s skin, but the skin is changing the inside, rather than the inside hiding away behind the mask.
The only bright spot was a touch of idle googling finding me this:
INFJs tend to question and examine their own motivations constantly. In moderation this is admirable, but some go so far as to decide that any “selfishness” (which often translates to taking care of themselves instead of others, for once) in their desires is completely unacceptable. Needless to say, this can cause a great deal of stress for the INFJ in question, which they sometimes resolve in a rather convoluted manner: by deriving a Higher Principle from the “selfish” need. (“It’s not OK to object to the proposed menu for the company dinner dance because I don’t like it *myself*, but it *is* OK to do so because it’s not nutritious, or doesn’t take into account ethnic preferences, vegetarians, etc.” — all of this subconscious.)
Like all NFs, INFJs care deeply about people, both as individuals and in terms of humanity as a whole. INFJs are notable for their exceptionally strong empathic, even psychic abilities, which can sometimes cause them discomfort and even pain in their dealings with others. Perhaps because of this, INFJs truly open up to only a few intimate friends–usually very long-term relationships or obvious “soul mates.” Paradoxically, INFJs often appear to be extroverts to most of the world; they are almost always friendly, sympathetic, and interested in people, and sometimes positively charismatic. This can be puzzling and disappointing to those (usually I’s) who are drawn to them in search of a non-surface friendship, and find they just can’t get very far.
So… it’s not just me? Doesn’t make it any easier. Maybe I’ll start looking under rocks for how I’m supposed to put my worldview together again when it managed to fall off a shelf and break. Who knows. Might find something else there I’m apparently like. You can read more at Signal River.
So the last entry here was… melodramatic? Perhaps. It’s not often I use an ellipsis to title things these days except perhaps as an expression of “i am lost for words.”
I was lost then. In some ways, I still am now, but at least I’m being semi-verbose around the issues. Ah, life.
This evening had a surprising event contained within. I was sitting in front of the gas heater in Merrigang, watching my eyes in the mirrored glass, and found myself telling that reflection, “I just wish I wasn’t alive right now.” That was a slightly disconcerting moment – I assure the gentle reader that I am in no sense suicidal, so please do not immediately leap for the telephone, but there was just an incredible detachment there, as if it didn’t matter.
The weekend however has been full of ‘stuff that matters’. I was part of the production crew and cast for MedRevue, which was a hell of a lot of fun – as I told Miles, I love theatre and I hate theatre, the hate being the five minutes before and five seconds after I walk onto the stage, the love being everything else ever about it. The show was fantastic, the cast were really amazing – we have some wonderful talent. True, there were a few moments where I was ready to tear my hair out from stress, but (for you, Jessie), a friend called ScarfGirl was perfectly placed with a few words, a smile and a hug that just made the stress melt.
A pity that… ah. No. Not tonight – to continue:
Right up until open, of course, but when the audience burst into laughter we had them. The second night was tougher, but the show was tight and once a seductive parody of an Irish neurologist swaggered onto the stage I knew we had them for the second time, and we were golden. Afterwards, we broke down the pieces and went to my absolute favourite of venues, being a bar, where I had a single drink (of the non-alcoholic type), chatted in the corner with a few people, and then left reeking of cigarette smoke.
Interestingly, I was shadowed most of the evening there by my poetry swapping Miss Butterfly friend. I’m not sure what’s going on there at this point.
Anyway, went home, had a few hours sleep – I’m close to nine hours in three days now, hoorah – and then attended a gathering of my mother’s family today, catching up with cousins, including some second/third cousins I haven’t seen since I was, oh, not old enough to recall. That was… the easiest difficult thing. Actually, I met (again) my mother’s cousin, Phoebe, and it was an interesting moment. I walked through my grandmother’s kitchen door (between the kitchen and the dining room and she just stood up, her face went a little pale, and she just mouthed “oh my God, that’s Ben.”
I didn’t have a beard the last time and I would have been in my primary school years – sure, there’s some resemblance, but no, more the fact that she was best friends with my mother I think. All in the eyes, I told her later, and she said that, the carriage, the slightly twisted/curved lip-smile, and just a certain indefinable something – a je ne sais quoi, perhaps.
I suppose that’s part of the contemplatory part of the evening, there. I love my family dearly, and I don’t see them often, especially the extended extendeds, and that, I think, is something I shall have to rectify in the future. I am a trifle uncomfortable with it all, I must admit – there are certain subjects I avoid and don’t discuss often, although I’m getting a few digital (scanned) photos in the next few days from cousin Phoebe, which is something I didn’t really think I’d want, so… that will be interesting. Possibly difficult to deal with, but as yet, I am unsure.
Lord. Lady troubles, death, family and theatre. I was going to talk medicine as well, but I don’t know that I can tonight. I need to go and read some fiction and then just fall to sleeps, I think. It will be nice, I can sleep in tomorrow without any issues due to the magic of schedule-free day (although I pay for it with a Fuck-you Tuesday!), and I should be receiving my new computer in the mail tomorrow… yay for new technology!
I wrote another letter to Jessica this evening. It was hard. I tried to write a poem. It was impossible. Too many issues with ‘X-Girls’ to pick one, too many fragments, too many memories, uncertainties, and just too much damn feeling.
No more ghosts.