Normal Service Will Resume Shortly

Content Notes: Mental Health, Neurodiversity, Bipolar Disorder, Plurality/Multiplicity, TERFism, Personal Identity, Posthumanism. Length (~18K). PDF.

0. Vicious Cycles

Another year, another extended absence. What a year though, right? Given how 2020 has demolished any claim 2016 had to the title of ‘worst year in living memory’, and that 2008 and 2012 weren’t exactly peachy, I’m really not looking forward to seeing what 2024 will bring.

For me, last year saw another entry added to the list of ways in which my body is trying to sabotage me, and it wasn’t even COVID-19! I can now add mysterious metabolic problems that translate carbohydrates into crippling fatigue to a list that already includes chronic cervicogenic headaches and poorly managed bipolar disorder. Trying to sift discrete symptoms from the cacophony of miserable noise has been pretty difficult, and it’s taken a long time not just to glean what was going on but to find a dietary regime that leaves me cogent and capable most of the time.

Worse, this all started after a medication (baclofen) that really helped with the above mentioned headaches induced an extended period of hypomania which resulted in a significantly worse depressive crash than usual. (Score one for the hypothesis that mania causes depression.) Add in the nightmare that is caffeine withdrawal, and January-March 2020 was extremely unpleasant, even before the pandemic hit and our collective perception of time coiled in upon itself, turning each day into an exercise in coping with indefinite isolation. In particular, watching myself try and fail to deliver comprehensible lectures on Aristotle to first year undergraduates as, unbeknowst to me, my morning croissant slowly sent me into a stupor, felt like some special Sisyphean punishment for my hubris in thinking I could ever be a university lecturer.

For much of last year I felt like an away message in human form: “I’m afraid Pete isn’t here right now, but he will be sure to get back to you when he is able. Normal service will resume shortly.”

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