Have just returned from a fabulous retreat at St Cuthman’s, a beautiful 17th century house with enormous lake and gardens, where they don’t do anything organized but just give you a comfortable room, masses of lovely food and the run of an extremely good library. What they hadn’t laid on for me this weekend, but someone did, was utterly gorgeous weather all day for two days. All I did was sit in the sun in the garden (had to use a sunshade as it was too hot!) and read. Managed to devour two and a half spiritual books and one and a half novels. This could have resulted in spiritual (or literary) indigestion but didn’t, as I actually took them very slowly and kept stopping to think.
As a result of the thinking I also drafted three poems (well, I think one of them is more or less finished) which is more than I have done in the last four years. I think I need beautiful places and good books to write poetry.
I didn’t get actual indigestion either, despite the lavish food. Then on the way back I went straight to the Mennonite Centre where there was a delightful party to welcome the former director and his wife who were passing through on holiday. We sat out in the garden with candles in jars and had a great time chatting to various other old friends who had gathered to see them. We also gave them advance notice that we want to visit them in Elkhart, Indiana next year!
Now I have returned to almost 70 emails and a double booking for lunch. Am back pedalling furiously and trying to stop myself taking on lots of new and interesting commitments which I know I won’t be able to sustain. Even if I am not bipolar, my moods certainly behave rather like it…
I don’t often quote myself, but about three posts ago I apparently wrote this: ‘I don’t think I am going to go into another post-holiday depression’. What was that about pride and falls?
Basically I’ve been feeling totally horrible since the end of last week, partly triggered by a big upset with Genius Brat last Thursday. Also not helped by the fact that on Sunday at the church visitor drop-in with no visitors, I foolishly volunteered to play Dutch Blitz (it’s a Mennonite thing) against possibly the fastest player in the Mennoverse. Everyone else was slamming down cards at the speed of light and I was sitting there staring at my cards and wondering what they were for… I dropped out after the first round and went and locked myself in the loo and howled. Later a friend found me on the stairs and listened to me for a long time – our church is good at that.
Have been mostly sleeping since that time, but did manage to send off some extracts of my published work yesterday to a lady who wants to publish them in a Christian writers’ mag. This was actually my only really urgent task, so that counted as a good day.
Also managed to get out of hosting a dinner party for US friends on Thursday while The Grouch is having a church elders’ meeting; instead someone else who wanted to see them too is hosting it. I really would like to start having friends round for dinner more, but this is not the right moment. And I have cancelled my sermon for Sunday – if no one else volunteers to do it, we will have a service without a sermon. It won’t kill anyone.
I think I am on the upward curve now but still taking things very easy. I really do wish a psych would diagnose me as type 2 bipolar – it would explain the ups and downs so much better.
…about my mental state in recent weeks – part of the UKCTOCS research project on ovarian cancer screening. I had to say whether recently I had been more anxious than usual, more contented and confident than usual, more uncertain about my ability to fulfil tasks than usual, etc. The thing is, do I answer for a week ago or for now? Doing the form a week ago, I would have ticked all the positives and none of the negatives. But answering for the past few days, it’s a totally different picture – I’m anxious, self-hating, feeling incapable – the complete opposite of a week ago.
And how can one tick ‘no more than usual’ or ‘same as usual’ when there *is* no usual? This really convinces me that I have to get investigated for bipolar disorder. I am not even feeling like the same person today that I was a week ago – and yet a week ago felt so real!