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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Midsummer Malaise

What's happening to me now happens sometimes, maybe twice a year. I just get hit with a deep sense of malaise, no desire to do anything, not even things I enjoy. It doesn't seem to be a function of weather or season; it can happen anytime. Summer vacation when the kids are home, though, seems an especially bad time. Though when I have to work isn't prime time-out time either, though I can generally get through on autopilot.

I used to power through these times. Just push through. And the sense of weariness and malaise would last 5 days to a week. Then one time I just gave into it. Did nothing but lie about (this was pre-kids), and the feeling passed after two days. And I realized that giving myself the permission to be fallow was a better solution. Or a quicker one, anyway.

Which isn't to say I'm doing nothing. Everybody is getting fed and the laundry is up-to-date, and I took my kids to a museum yesterday and worked on a paper I'm writing for an hour yesterday and will put in another hour today. But I also just laid on my bed and enjoyed the breeze coming from the mountainside behind us and listened to the cicadas. Twice. Last night and again this morning. My husband asked me if I was sick, as I never sit down (or lie down) except to work on the computer. No, not sick, just....listening.

So what do you do when the doldrums hit you?


Mari said...

Giving into your "malaise" sounds like the right thing to do, Jessica. I believe our internal states can teach us so much and that it's good to "listen" to them. I like to think of you allowing yourself to do absolutely nothing and just enjoying the summer breeze and the sound of the cicadas -- such a Japanese sound for me! The field needs its fallow spaces.

Chris said...

I've seen a Bukowski video where he advocates just sleeping/staying in bed for as many days as are required to overcome the malaise. Of course, very few bosses (or small children) are sympathetic to such plans. For me, when I get too tired to read or concentrate on reading, I reach for a P.G. Wodehouse or Tom Sharp novel. They generally get me laughing so violently that I am soon cured.

James Esch said...

Hang in there, Jessica. I like the idea of staying in bed, lounging off the malaise, though this is difficult to achieve amid family/work/house obligations and my many habitual distractions (ipad, internet, books, music). The next time I get into a funk, I'm going to try this.

Jessica Goodfellow said...

Hi Mari, Chris, and James,

I'm happy to report the malaise is lifting. Lazing about does seem to do the trick, though when I look at all I've done the last two days, it's not exactly lazing though it's been 75% of my usual productivity. The key is, I think, not feeling like I have to do anything. I'm glad to hear I'm in good company with Bukowski. Thanks for all your encouragement.