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.Perhaps I am worrying too much, but worrying comes with thinking.How can I tell my brain not to think?Eyup calls whenever he can between field exercises.The line is always crackly and there is stomping and marching, shouting and yelling, in the background, which is the complete opposite of my life in Istanbul, where I watch Baby TV and listen to the rain fall on the begonias.“Hello, sweetheart,” Eyup says.“Hi there,” I say.“How’s it going, my love?”“I lost eight pounds,” he says, “but I’m surviving.We do a hundred push-ups, a hundred lift-ups and run two miles every morning.I now have biceps like Chuck Norris and my face is so tanned from exposure to the sun that I would stand out even in a dark alley.”I smile—as if he could see me.“I’ve missed you sorely,” he says, his voice wavering a little.“I’ve missed you, too.”“What were you doing when I phoned?”“I was putting ten droplets of gripe water onto a spoon for the baby’s hiccups and thinking about Doris Lessing.”“Does it help?”“Not really, perhaps it makes it worse.”“Which one? Gripe water or Doris Lessing?”“Both,” I say.There is a brief silence at the end of the line.Then, softly, Eyup says, “Honey, you are thinking too much.That makes things harder for you.”“What do you mean?”“Many people do not constantly analyze and reanalyze every little thing, you know, they just go along with the daily routine,” he remarks.“Like when you know you have to do a hundred push-ups, you just accept and do it.”“You want me to start doing push-ups?” I ask.“Come on, you know what I mean,” he says with a gentle laugh.“Can’t you do without thinking for a while?”“I don’t know,” I say.“Let me think about that.”Why Are We Depressed When We Want to Be Happy?The next day in the evening, the Choir of Discordant Voices begins to yammer inside me.I ask all of them the same question: How is it possible to feel so down when I am, in fact, happy and grateful?1.“Yo, it’s ’cause of the hormones,” says Little Miss Practical.“Everything will be just fine.We can run a few tests and see what the problem is.Take some happy pills.You know what they call them: ‘bottled smiles.’ The mighty hand of Western science will fix the problem in a jiffy.Call the doctor and ask for help.Let them solve this.Be practical!”She could be right.I should call my doctor.But my pride—or vanity—won’t let me do it.I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me or make assumptions about my sanity.My doctor has always been friendly and fatherly, and we have a superb relationship; I don’t want him to see me in my freak-on-wheels moment.“Let me pull myself together first, then I’ll talk to him,” I say.So I make a plan: I will go to see a professional when I am much better and no longer need to go to see a professional.2.“Forget about doctors and pills.What you need is books,” prompts Miss Highbrowed Cynic.“You feel demoralized because you are not reading enough.You have missed the intellectual world.You have missed me.All this baby food and diaper changing have numbed your brain.You need to reactivate your intellect, that’s all.”She could be right.My mind might settle into some kind of order if I start reading novels again.If I focus on other people’s stories, I’ll stop running in circles around my own.Proust will save me.But there is something I can’t confess to Miss Highbrowed Cynic.I have started to suspect that in the months following birth a new mother’s brain doesn’t work like it used to.I couldn’t read even if I wanted to.Forget Proust, I can’t even focus on a tomato soup recipe.3.“You don’t need books, what you need is to take that horrible nightgown off and put on something sexy,” suggests Blue Belle Bovary.“If only you paid a little attention to your appearance it would push that depression right out the door.Let me take you to a hairdresser.Don’t you know that the first thing women should do when they are down is to change their hair? A new cut and a new color will cure the deepest melancholy, darling.”She could be right.I might feel better after a visit to the hairdresser, and from there, to the shopping mall.But I just don’t feel like it.Quite to the contrary, I want to cling more firmly to my oily hair, my pallid skin, my tattered clothes.In a world that feels increasingly foreign, only this nightgown is familiar and comforting.4.“Pure nonsense,” objects Milady Ambitious Chekhovian.“The only reason why you are down in the dumps is because you are producing below your full capacity.I have to get you out of here immediately.Let’s arrange a book tour for you.We need to get back to work.”She could be right.If there was a literary festival or a book signing now, I could possibly ditch this gloomy mood.It is always a morale boost to meet my readers, listen to their sincere comments, answer their questions and do more readings.But I have little, if any, ambition or desire these days.How can I sign books when my hands are tucked into my armpits for warmth all the time? As Jane Smiley beautifully shows in her 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel, there is a difference between the novelist as a literary person and the novelist as a literary persona.Smiley says the literary persona is always a more mature personality, more polished and worked upon and with a different set of duties and responsibilities.It is shaped by three major inspirations—literature, life and language—and is therefore not fully in the author’s control.If Smiley is right, and I think she is, then the gap between my literary persona and me as a living person has never been wider.There is a huge postpartum canyon stretching between the two sides now.5.“What Milady says is sheer gibberish!” snorts Mama Rice Pudding.“You’re feeling this way because you are not focused enough on being a mother, that’s all.This is the time when you have to put everything else aside, all that artistic and literary gobbledygook, and be a full-time mom.Only then will you come out of this depression.”She could be right.Spending time with my lovely daughter makes me feel good, elated and blessed.Perhaps I should close myself off to the outside world and just be a mom from now on.Perhaps I am depressed because I haven’t fully enacted that decision yet.But there is something I can’t explain to Mama Rice Pudding, something that I know she would never understand: In a society where motherhood is regarded as the best thing that can happen to a woman and with an upbringing that tells us to settle for nothing less than excellence, how can I not compare myself to other mothers? And when I weigh myself against other moms, how can I not be envious of their accomplishments and ashamed of my deficiencies? I am not proud of feeling this way but this is what I experience deep down.It is not my love for my baby that I doubt.Love is there, pure and tender, enveloping my soul in its pearly glow.It is my talents as a mother that I find lacking.6.“Try to see this as a test,” says Dame Dervish.“God likes to try us from time to time.He does so through failure and vulnerability sometimes, success and power at other times, and believe me, we don’t always know which case is worse.But remember one thing: Where there is difficulty there follows ease.”She could be right [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]