This is where it stands right now:
I haven’t done any school work, except for teaching-related preparation and notes, since turning in the last packet. Most of this has had to do with depression. Recently, though, my reluctance to do school work has been because of a conscious decision to stop doing it. I really want this break. As soon as I stopped, I felt relief. I felt better because I felt relieved of the pressure of having to complete specific tasks by specific deadlines, tasks that would have been impossible for me to accomplish given my depressed state of mind. I didn’t tell anyone that I had stopped working, not my brother, not you, and not Bea (my advisor) because I felt ashamed. My brother will say that I’ve given up and he will accuse me of being a quitter. I am not a quitter. I am doing what I need to do to stay well.
Now that I’ve “let it go,” I need to let go of all the guilt I feel. First of all, I feel guilty for having stopped, even temporarily. It feels like the way I’ve felt slipping out of church or synagogue worship services before they are finished.
I need to see an end to another sort of guilt, the guilt I’ve felt since sometime last semester, my G3 semester last fall, whenever I’ve engaged in one of my non-school hobbies such as knitting or photography (“You’re not writing! Bad! Bad!”). I’m stopping school for now and until July I do not need to feel guilty about finishing Puzzle’s sweater or taking hundreds of photos of her, or arranging my MP3 collection for her to listen to while I’m out at the gym.
I am not the least bit concerned about how I will find “structure” while I am taking time off. My shrinks are more worried about this than I am, clearly. It is possible that I may attend some workshops, depending on what is available. Bea suggested short-term workshops rather than those that go on for weeks.
What worries me is that I will not get better. I have to improve otherwise I will not be able to return to school. I have to have some kind of measurable difference in the quality of my life. Of course, since I keep accurate records, it is easy to determine whether a change like this has taken place. I am not at my baseline–I haven’t been since the end of the fall semester–and I would like to be at baseline. How I am to make this improvement I don’t know. Maybe you shrinks have some ideas. Grad school is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and maybe all I need is a break from the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I’ll get better just by breathing a bit.