I am at home, in Canada. I’m here because my aunt is dying. As my dad would say, “we’re all dying”, but I mean imminently. Pancreatic cancer has done a hit and run like some kind of bioterrorist. She is undergoing chemotherapy to see if her life can be extended a little. I am home to try and eke out a few more hours together before she dies, and while she is still healthy enough for visitors. My trip will end soon. My next trip will not be until late May, which might be too far away.
I’m sitting here today wondering about suffering and stress, selfishly, my own. I’ve been feeling despondent for quite some time now. When I think about it, I think, well it’s just because the financial strain is too much. You want things that you cannot have because of financial inability. But want is just desire, and desire is the root of suffering, according to Buddhism. So all I have to do is stop wanting things. It does not seem like a tall order. Just let it go.
So why do I still feel like shit?
Maybe you are depressed again, my thoughts said.
But it’s spring! The darkness should finally be over. It’s time for productivity and warmth.
Ever since the light has come back, you have been on the verge of panic and destruction. The change in light has increased your anxiety, not alleviated your dark thoughts.
But I’m still on meds.
I do not know how I got there, via what train of thought, but I have returned to ruminating on the question of my PhD. I can’t seem to get anything done on it. I can’t seem to read, or work, or feel interested. But is that depression, or is that dissatisfaction with the topics at hand? I can’t figure it out. Depression causes disinterest and disinterest causes depression. They’re both there, fueling each other, but theoretically, fixing one will fix the other. In fact I have to fix the right one, or it won’t work. If it’s really that I’m disinterested, only altering my topic will fix the problems, as changing meds or changing depressive patterns will only temporarily fix that side of the problem, meanwhile my disinterest will ultimately re-fuel the depression. If it’s depression, fixing the disinterest will only switch my focus, and the depression will smolder on.
None of that even takes into account the issue I have often struggled with of life events vs. disorder. My aunt is dying. I am going through severe financial stress. I spend most of my time right now away from friends and family. These things are life events that are bound to cause rough times. Whether or not those rough times result in the symptoms of depression, should you seek treatment for it when there is a discernible, (probably) temporary cause? When you are going through troubling life events, you are supposed to feel bad. It is part of the experience.
Likewise, when you are disinterested in something, you are supposed to be disinterested. How else would you tell?
This would all sort itself out with time, if only I had time. More time is not permitted on my visa. More time is not permitted in a capitalist, competitive market. More time means more money spent, which I do not have. I have to get productive, and I have to get productive now. The life events can’t be allotted time to run their course.
I guess that answe