I’ve been trying to finish my blog about Cape Town for three weeks now. I’ve written about half of it so far, with notes for the second half, but every time I sit down at it I can’t seem to come up with anything to write.
Today I decided to write about not being able to write because then at least I’m writing something. My New Year’s resolution to write a little every day, or at least twice a week, has been harder to keep than I thought it would be.
Part of this ‘writer’s block’, if that’s the appropriate name, is that I’ve been feeling quite stressed and down recently. I’ve suffered from depression on and off for years, and it’s a subject I find really hard to talk about. Although some of my close friends and family know that about me, there are still many people that don’t know, and at the moment I’d quite like to keep it that way. The stigma surrounding mental illness has improved greatly, however there’s still lots of prejudice and many misconceptions out there. I don’t want people’s opinions of me to change because of something I can’t control (which I know I shouldn’t care about, but I do). I also don’t want the inevitable comments from people: “But you’re always so cheerful and positive,”, “You’re never in a bad mood,”, “I’m sure you’ll feel better in a few days,”, “You just need to pull yourself together,”, “But you have such a good life/so much,”, “There’s so many other people worse off than you,”, etc, etc, etc. Having said that, this is (apparently – and it’s a surprise to me too) my attempt to talk about it. Feel free to weigh in with your opinion.
I think part of the reason I’m wary of telling people here and at work is that I live in China, where mental illness is even more of a taboo subject than in the Western world. This makes it difficult even to go to the doctor, especially as there are so few clinics or hospitals where the doctors speak English (and this is not something I want to have to have translated by a colleague) and the medical insurance I have from work covers only certain places. (There’s no NHS in China! While I’m on the subject, if you’re in/from the UK and you haven’t signed the petition to stop the privatisation of the NHS please click here or here.)
In addition, we were just told at work (I’m a teacher in an international school) that our week’s holiday in May has been cancelled by the Education Bureau and we’re only allowed to have one day off in line with Chinese public schools (even though we’re not a Chinese public school). I know there’s nothing the school can do about it, and they’re going to try and arrange for us to finish a week earlier for the summer holiday, but it means that we now have a ridiculously long stretch (15 or 16 weeks) with only two 3 day weekends as a break – and it’s not me I’m concerned about as much as the kids who won’t be getting a break, especially when some of them have exams in May (I also feel for the people who had booked holidays for that week and may now lose their money). I’m so glad I hadn’t got around to booking anything for that week yet. I’m trying to stay positive about it as there’s nothing that can be done, so what’s the use in complaining? It’s difficult though, when all you see is work stretching into the future with no break in sight to look forward to (again, I know we’ll have the summer holiday, but that’s loooong way off and at the moment feels like it’s almost unachievable).
Anyway, if anyone has any hints or tips on how to finish the blog entry I’m halfway through, or anything to do with dealing with depression, please let me know. Or should I just publish what I’ve written so far and write the rest as a separate entry?