Hi. Hello. You well? You look well.
Look, while 2021 was not as awful as 2020, it ended up being A Lot for many of us. Me included. I’ve had two major depressive episodes this year, which I’ve slowly learned is probably going to be my new normal. Ever since going off hormonal birth control a couple of years ago, I seem to have gone through a process of reorientation to my normal hormone cycle after suspending it for a decade, and one of the long term side effects has been trading off one set of mental and emotional difficulties for another. Thank god for my doctor and her exemplary patient care ever since I cried in her office and confessed what a rough time I was having, and the magnificent therapist I finally drummed up the courage to reach out to.
For most people I know, in one way or another, we collectively went through a hyper stressful and bizarre half decade where politics, society, economic theory, and online culture all managed to go mad at the same time. Capped off with a global pandemic for the first time in a century.
God, what a weird time.
Anyway, all of this is to say that writing this year has been more difficult than most. I found I’ve had less to say because, like so many people, I’ve been struggling with the dramatic shrinkage of my world. Growing up as a military brat from a fairly privileged background, I’ve been lucky to experience a lot of the globe from a young age. So to be confined to a one bedroom apartment for the better part of two years, even with my favorite person in the world, has been a total mindfuck. I tallied it up at one point and I’ve spent the majority of my clockable time in a single chair – to say nothing of a single room. It’s been rough. I’m used to a lot of travel, and a lot of change. Two years of stagnation have been deeply weird and upsetting in ways I’m still figuring out.
Work has been a space where I’ve been surprising able to thrive for a long while, but this year – again like a lot of people – I found myself struggling. My American bad habits of not always taking my holidays still linger, even after nearly a decade in the UK. But this year the problem was compounded by the near total inability to travel, even domestically. Meaning that even if we did take time off…for what? Sitting on the couch instead of the work desk that’s two feet away where I’d be sitting otherwise? Time off, when I’ve taken it, hasn’t been restful at all and so I’ve often elected to not take it at all. With predictable results.
Limping up to the end of the year, feeling just bone tired but also conflicted about that feeling.
It’s strange to feel so exhausted by a year that felt so devoid of action. Most of the “plot,” for lack of a better term, has taken place in our heads without us really acknowledging that absent actual catastrophe, the internal world can be the most devastating and emotionally chaotic place to be stuck.
I and most people I know are profoundly lucky and privileged to be in the state of health and relative security. But lots of us have been dealing with actual catastrophe – the loss of people, health, jobs, homes, and safety nets. Others have been caught in the byproducts of catastrophe – the inability to manage childcare and earning income, the collapse of families in the wake of personal or professional loss, breakdowns of marriages and partnerships, breakdowns of companies or businesses for absolutely no fault of their own. And last but above all, people have died. Millions of people have died.
And I the most profound thing I’ve been able to articulate this year is that I’m tired? It feels whiny and petty even to type that and I’m sort of cringing at my keyboard as I do it.
And so, I haven’t written. There are a thousand articulate and profound culture writers and critics doing an excellent job of parsing These Unprecedented Times(TM) through intelligent lenses and nuanced commentary. Nothing I could do or say in my weird, lovely little corner of the internet would contribute to that conversation nor do I have the kind of reach and clout my writing once did. That’s okay, I mostly write here because it keeps my hand in and gives me an outlet to practice the skill of trying distil riotous thoughts into some semblance of order.
But in 2021, I simply didn’t have enough energy to do so and when I tried, the threads I ended up spinning were almost too personal and painful. Being tired or depressed has a side effect of dramatically reducing my general emotional reserves, making my feelings feel more raw or ragged. This is a part of that new reality I’m navigating that I opened with, and also why I’ve been unable to do my long-overdue part two on Trumpism, Mormonism and Antivaxxers. I find myself too angry and sustaining that state long enough to turn it into something better or more productive than rage or despair. Feeling that is…well, it’s garbage and since I’m trying to do less feeling like garbage overall, I’ve chosen flight over fight and simply run from the negativity whenever I could. Cowardly? Maybe.
Anyway, this verbal dump is my attempt to force myself to start writing again, even if I feel I don’t have much to say that’s profound or even interesting. A lot of this year felt like just existing, and that’s not enough for me in 2022. I need more meaning or intentionality than that. I suspect writing will help.
Thanks for sticking around, minions. I’m sure fond of you all