Friday, 25 February 2011

Am I Depressed?

Today Stan, my life coach (ahem), asks me if I am depressed.

"Not in the way that I was in my '20s," I reply. "Honestly, I've known depression and I don't feel sad like that, but I've no enthusiasm for anything, I feel physically exhausted and I just don't know where to start on everything that feels wrong at the moment."

I suppose that could be depression.

I feel like a human balloon, thin and burstable. Just one little prick would be enough.

The meeting does not go well. I feel embarrassed and sorry for Stan that I am giving him so little to work with, as he puts it. Don't go to a life coaching session when you're feeling exhausted and not like making changes. It's horrid sitting on the sofa knowing that you're being utterly crap. Unfortunately the fee doesn't buy positive suggestions - you have to come up with them yourself.

Stan asks what the single biggest obstacle to me changing my job is and I say the first thing I think of which is that it is not knowing what I want to do next.

"I don't know," I say. "I have some ideas, but do they add up to a life?"

After a digression into the art of self-sabotage, Stan asks me to come up with some ways of researching jobs that I might want to do. He suggests inviting ten friends to dinner and getting each of them to bring a person unknown to me. Then the twenty-one of us can spend the evening eating and talking about how we started doing the jobs we have done, which should give me some ideas to start with.

I say: "But I don't want to cook dinner for all these people and have them in my flat (which is beyond untidy). I can't even be bothered to call my friends," and it goes downhill from there. In my mind a grey haze descends.

Finally I say, slightly hysterically: "Probably the best way for me to work out what I want to do is to give up my jobs. Not being able to pay the rent might get me thinking." Fortunately Stan doesn't agree. You have to be very careful what you say in life coaching sessions. I wish I hadn't brought up the subject of my jaw ache. It leads to a line of questioning that reveals that I grind my teeth at night, that I have a mouthguard to prevent this and that I don't use it.

"Why?" asks Stan.

"For sexiness," I say at last. "Although there's very little of that at the moment."

After Stan finishes pointing out how fucked up that is and that no one is going to see the guard while I'm asleep, we agree that my tasks for next fortnight are to wear my mouthguard at night and to go away on my own for three days very soon and have the proper rest that my recent holiday did not give me. I am sad that it means going away without Virgil but it's probably for the best.

I leave feeling like a failure and slope off to the city to while my way through a late shift. I'm so good at self-sabotage, maybe I could be a professional sabotager. I could be like an anti-life coach, someone hired to talk you down from your aspirations and explain the impossibility of changing anything at all.

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