I’m lucky to be sitting on an airplane for the fourth time this holiday. I like being carried in this slow rhythmic motion, up and down, as though in a cradle. I like the gentle vibrations, the soft blankets, the quiet dimness, the isolation from the world.
It’s been 3 weeks away from home, from the white slopes of Hokkaido to the cluttered, vibrant streets of Tokyo, to the cold marshy meadows of the Cotswolds and the familiar grey streets of London. Before this journey I was in such a poor state of mind that I didn’t even want to fly anywhere. It seems characteristic of disturbed minds to desire for all things to remain as they are. And perhaps it is that which leads to the curious tendency of depressed people to cling to their depression and reject possible routes out of suffering even where such routes clearly present themselves. In retrospect now, I am glad I embarked, glad for the excitement of Japan and the comforts of London. Three weeks away from the writing and reading and the anxiety of too many words and too many muddy thoughts, I feel like I’ve had a good mental reset.
The past few days the thought of going home and school starting has been filling me with a sickening sense of dread. In part, I am afraid of the sadness coming back. A few days ago I heard a song that I used to have on endless replay on those difficult nights where the pain prevented me from getting done any of the work in front of me. Suddenly I felt a wave of memory and an accompanying anguish. It is strange how sounds and smells can trigger such sensation-rich memories. Every time I think about looking at notes or cases I feel sick inside, as though I can no longer separate the sight of my law materials from the inner anguish I struggled with whilst they sat in the background.
I’ve been bathing in comfort since coming to London. Though many people have been away travelling or busy with family, I still had ample time in the presences of familiar people. I sat in friend’s flats, enjoyed high teas, went for walks through the familiar greys and reds and dark greens of the streets. I enjoyed being the sole occupant of a large bedroom. All these things relaxed me, and also made the thought of going home more daunting. I fear being separated from all that is familiar and kind. I fear the harsh programs and structures, and how artificial and inorganic they make life feel. I fear that sense of disconnect and the anxiety of not knowing what is going on and not wanting others to know it. I fear the fatigue from having no place to rest at home. I fear how it made me lose the quiet assurance I have always forged ahead with.
I remember whenever it rained and I needed to get out of the house I would just put on a jacket and hop onto my bike and cycle out into the downpour, with hardly a sense of the silliness of it. Just go, I would tell myself. It can’t be helped. Now I wonder that I did such things. It was that constant disconcertedness, coupled with anxiety and depression that numbed my sense of reality and drove me to do silly things or to carry things out in a silly way.
As I type this the plane has just gotten rocky. Over the PA a crew member tells everyone not to use the lavatories and the lift infants out of the bassinets. Perhaps I also ought to stop writing for now, and just allow myself to rest in the rocking of this vessel for the last 3 hours of my flight. Perhaps now, after bringing home these pieces of my London life packed into my suitcase, I will be able to live a little more like myself.