Sunday, 8 February 2009

Sunday Night Blues

When any fit of anxiety or gloominess or perversion of the mind lays hold upon you, make it a rule not to publish it by complaints but exert your whole care to hide it. By endeavouring to hide it, you will drive it away. Dr Samuel Johnson
I have Sunday Night Blues (SNB) again and I am going to publish it by complaints. My Northern Irish friend likened write-up SNB to "back to school tomorrow" syndrome, except, as she said, it's "back to that evil bloody thesis." Just when you're getting weary and would like nothing more than a hearty soup and thirty minutes of a beautifully written novel, just when you should experience the inner glow of knowing that you are living your passion and that you have (in fact) enjoyed lovely company all weekend, and just when you hope to gently close your eyes with a soft sense of wellbeing, self-dislike for not doing enough (or sometimes any) work over the weekend comes and ruins it all. Then, just for a laugh, your inner voice asks questions like:

  1. Why have you still got so much write-up to go?
  2. Did you peak academically at age 22?
  3. What are you going to do after submission?
  4. How are you going to support yourself in that awkward, in between thesis and job/post-doc period?
  5. Why don't those students in their early twenties, the ones in College who you are fairly nice to, but don't particularly want as active or enduring friends, seek out your company?
  6. Why do you still seek the approval of those you don't particularly know or admire?
  7. When are you going to get married and/or have children?
  8. Why do you generally not feel particularly fussed about either, but then sometimes feel inadequate when others talk about their achievements in these areas?
  9. Why do typically handsome men (like those two beefy, prominent-jawed guys at the Aussie bop last night) always want to engage in "banter" with you in a completely humourless and therefore slightly aggressive way, and why do they seem so attractive to nearly every other woman?
And I've found that Dr Johnson is right. Coming up with reasonable answers to these questions is not nearly as effective as suppression and sleep. To bed

I have had another read of this post and comments, and I have concluded that if you're in a "fit" then simply acknowledging your worries (in a blogpost, if it's not going to be an amplifier) and moving on to something immediate and tactile is the way forward. I know I could never be so thoroughly English as to dutifully follow the Dr's advice. In any case though, you do have to wait for a calm, cloudless moment to start to come up with answers. I seem to often forget that even after all my years of meditation and reading.


Twin Palms Road said...

How strange is this.

Watched Mulholland Drive last Monday when snowbound at home - couldn't work it out at all.
Much cleverer 19 year old daughter watched it later - also perplexed.

Had a 'fit of anxiety and gloominess' last week and your Dr S Johnson quote was brilliantly appropriate.

Love your new format - very pleasing aesthetically.

You are so clever.

Miranda W. said...

I hope suppression and sleep served you well...oddly enough, I often find that not taking Johnson's advice and publishing my anxiety by complaints is the most effective method of making it go away (or at least offers a--perhaps false--sense of catharsis). So I hope one or the other worked for you...these are not the questions that our minds should make us ask, let alone answer. Put another way, the blues blow.

Was really lovely to see you and The Boy on Saturday...must do again soon!


Academic, Hopeful said...

I am terrible at actively choosing suppression (Miranda). I much prefer to express myself, but the washing up and The Wire helped in the end. Sleep - not so much.