avoir le cafard (French idiom)

Three weeks ago I had to quit work because I was no longer able to cope with having to stand up in front of a class and interact like a normal human being with my colleagues, even though some of them are friends. On Monday I move out of my rented room. And I have no idea what comes next.

I am lucky, of course. Years of depression have meant few nights out and treats with friends so I have enough savings to keep me going for a while and ensure I don’t end up on the streets. I know other people are not so lucky and I am now completely aware how easy it must be to end up homeless and unemployed due to mental illness. When I give a coin or two to someone sitting on a flattened cardboard box in a shop doorway, wrapped in a thin sleeping bag I think about how, if I were less lucky, that could easily be where I am heading.

I am grateful. But I still have no plans.

When I tell people I have no plans, they sometimes look curious, sometimes uncomfortable. Often they clearly don’t believe me. They tend to make a complimentary yet slightly bemused comment about me being a free spirit or “alternative”. They express envy or admiration, even if that is false, even if inside their brain is yelling are you crazy???.

That’s exciting, they say. I wish I could do that. I’d love to have that freedom, lucky you! They don’t believe it, of course. They are happy in their ordered lives with people who love them and a purpose to get up in the morning. I try to humour them even as I drift further away from normality, even as those empty days and months stretch blankly ahead of me as a void I can’t fill.

And I try to put a positive spin on it. I can’t work, that much I know. I shouldn’t be around people too long. Also true. But I am trying to think positively these days. The CBT people tell me it’s crucial. I would get better if only I could stop being such an idiot and drowning myself in positive thinking. So, I tell myself that this is a good thing. A chance to breathe. A chance to re-evaluate. I can write a bit, study, go for long walks, start exercising and eating properly. Figure things out.

All of which could well be true. But it doesn’t make the blankness of the future any less terrifying.

Image result for blank future




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