Since Thanksgiving, basically, I’ve been a bit of a rudderless ship.
I mean, that’s not entirely true. I have accomplished things. I submitted a manuscript to some publishers, and I hope that it is successful because I really do think the topic is one that needs to be addressed and shared. We had Christmas. I’ve been planning and promoting Anxiety Disorders and Mormonism. We bought a new car and sold our old one. So it’s not like I haven’t been doing anything.
But it’s also been a strange month or two. My husband toyed around with the idea of going back to school to get a more solid computer science footing and help build his career. He decided against it and has been doing some independent learning instead. I’ve been thinking since then about going back to school myself. I don’t need to go back to school, I suppose. But people have told me that it would be good to have some more, I don’t know, legitimacy behind my name if I want to be writing or speaking or organizing events.
It’s hard, though, because I’m at the education level where the next step is a PhD. And a PhD is a big deal. It is a lot of time and work. It’s not like my masters dissertation, which was basically a few months of research and study, so it didn’t really matter if I didn’t LOVE what I was writing about. A PhD is commitment. It’s four plus years of my life spent trying to become an expert, more or less, in something. What do I want to be an expert in? What would I want to talk to people and know almost anything about? What would I want TV stations or news reporters to call me about for my opinion because I was an expert in that field? What do I want to write and think and breath for the rest of my life?
Sure, that sounds dramatic. It probably is. But the point stands. Try thinking about it yourself. What are you really, truly passionate about? What has remained through everything else? I have a quote printed off somewhere that says “look for the dream that keeps coming back.” It’s like that. What keeps coming back?
I mean, people tell me that I should go to school for mental illness or mental health, study to be a counselor or something. But honestly, I don’t want to do that. No offense to anyone, but I do not want to counsel people about their mental health. I don’t want to sit in an office and listen to people all day and try to help them solve their problems. It’s not that I’m not interested. Stories are interesting to me. I love stories. I think it’s fascinating. But I don’t have the empathy or desire to try and work through other people’s problems with them. I’m an observer. I always have been. I like to see why or how something happened and what effects it brought about or why it turned out the way it did. I like to see how other people reacted. I don’t think I could be a psychologist or counselor or anything like that. I like to write, sure, and put my thoughts out there. But I don’t want to work through it all with you. I’ll leave you to do that on your own time and with your own resources. I’m happy if my writing helps you or inspires you, of course, but I can’t provide much more than that.
This is, probably, why I don’t love my calling as Relief Society President. I mean, people think, oh it’s so great that you have this experience with mental illness because you can help so many people and be there for them and give them advice. But I don’t actually like talking to people very much. I don’t like visiting with people. I can understand what they’re going through once I’ve heard their story, sure. I get it more than people who haven’t lived with a mental illness. I feel it. But I don’t particularly have any grand advice to give them besides to go see a professional and work through it themselves.
That’s the thing about mental illness. We can empathize. I can let you know you’re not alone. But it’s up to the person, really, to get help. I can’t force you to get help. I can’t solve your mental health issues for you. You have to decide to do it yourself and put the work in personally. So it’s hard for me to be RS president because people expect me to talk to everyone and solve people’s problems but not only do I not want to do that, but I actually can’t. It’s exhausting to me to even think about it too much.
And speaking of exhausting, I got really sick a few days ago. I had a cold like most people probably for the most of December, but it suddenly attacked me, like violently. I got aches and pains and felt like I could only lay around. I coughed and it racked my entire chest and back and made me want to crumple in pain. I became so feverish (I rarely get fevers) and sweaty and felt like I was going to collapse. I had goosebumps so intense they hurt my skin. I tried to hypnotize and meditate my way to sleep, willing my aching muscles to melt into the bed. I thought maybe I had bronchitis or pneumonia or something, but after a chest x-ray and visit to the doctor, it was determined I just had influenza b.
(I even got the flu shot this year)
So I’ve been holed up in my house, napping, doing sinus rinses, losing the ability to hear properly in one or both ears, excreting mucus, drinking tea, coughing, and looking like death for many days. I’ve been watching Wes Anderson movies and reading J.D. Salinger when I’m awake, trying to willing myself to think of what I love and what I’m passionate about enough to study for four years, even though I know I don’t actually need to get a PhD. I’ve been hoping for publishers to call me. I’ve been thinking about life and illnesses and the body. Frankly, it’s been exhausting, or I’ve been exhausted, yet I feel like I don’t do anything.
So that’s my life. And yes, I still have OCD, though I must say that being so tired and sick has made me not so worried about contamination. I mean, I’m not so worried about spreading my sickness to my family. I haven’t really gone out, so I guess I still have those fears about getting other people sick. But I haven’t quarantined everyone or anything. I haven’t sprayed down the house yet. I’m too tired. So I guess that’s nice?
Sorry for this long, rambling post. It’s just indicative of what my brain is like right now, I suppose. And my husband told me to write about my life right now, so here you go. Hopefully it made some sense.