I am mad. I know I am mad because I have turned down a permanent, full-time Senior Lectureship this week, choosing instead a temporary, part-time job. I have chosen to go where I can work with other people whom I know, and who want to work with me, rather than to be unknown, and alone in my research.
If I were well…. if I were well, I would have been able to take the permanent job; move to its location, faced the workload, not worried about waiting another three years for mental health care to kick in. If I were well, I wouldn’t need to consider where mental health care is based.
But I am unwell. And somewhere near the top of the waiting list for the help that I need. So, I have decided to make myself available for that help. To stay where I am. Wait for three days a week of therapy. Three days a week. But can I really do that? I’m not even well enough to have it yet. The irony. And I have to take a career break. And then, what if I can’t hack it? Why, oh, why, oh why, didn’t I just put my career first, like I always have before? Taken the path of least resistance, gone for the secure option.
I am mad. I went to see Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time last weekend. By the end of it I was a quivering, molten, wreck. Waved good bye to extended family, and then wept. Wept because I saw this teenager on stage, getting help for their anger, the temper tantrums that were said to take place where I had temper tantrums, their anxiety, saw him making steady progress. I saw the mother, explaining that motherhood was difficult. The marriage torn apart by it. It was so close to home. I wept because my childhood behaviour was so out of control; because my adult behaviour feels that way too; it hurts people; hurts me.
Wept because there are still some people who do want me, because things could get better. There was a line in the play, when the teenager says something like:
And when you look at the sky you know you are looking at stars which are hundreds and thousands of light-years away from you. And some of the stars don’t even exist anymore because their light has taken so long to get to us that they are already dead, or they have exploded and collapsed into red dwarfs. And that makes you seem very small, and if you have difficult things in your life it is nice to think that they are what is called negligible, which means they are so small you don’t have to take them into account when you are calculating something.”
My God is much bigger than my anxiety, my relationship problems, my anger. To Him, they are negligible, even though He is still working with me through them. And one day, those things will be negligible to me, too.
I know the play was a story. But there’s truth of my story in it, too. And God who loves me is helping me write that story.