I want to be able to do everything. I’m ambitious – when I, long-time hater of sport, completed a 5k run a few weeks ago, one of my friends immediately asked ‘So what’s the next challenge?’. Setting and achieving goals gives me a sense of accomplishment and self-worth, however fleeting, and I don’t really get that from anywhere else. Not for lack of trying, either. I’d love to believe the people who say I have intrinsic worth or good qualities, but I just don’t. So it’s down to me to try and fix that, and I have to make the challenges harder every time.
Sometimes just getting through a normal day is a challenge, but that doesn’t count – most people can do that, right, no one’s going to sponsor me for going to work or taking out the bins. I was struck by a friend’s explanation of how their mental health issues can affect their daily life, shared recently on World Mental Health Day – more than half the time, they said, ‘ I can only do half of what I want – so I can do work but not socialise, or socialise but no cleaning.’. I was struck because it so starkly expressed something I try desperately to hide from everyone, even myself, about my own life. I cannot do everything. I can’t even do most of it.
On an average work day, I get home and spend the whole evening on the sofa. I’m there now. My husband cooks the dinner, he makes me a cup of tea, we watch TV or do crosswords or I read a magazine. I rarely do anything in the way of housework, because the working day (a scant 9-5) and commute (less than 45 minutes each way, half of that if I’m up to cycling) have worn me out. Today I had to make a basic decision about who in my team should do a particular task, and I just sank into panic to the point that my team noticed and had to help me choose. Excellent leadership skills I exhibited there. On weekends I am sometimes productive, but sometimes not. I do the bare minimum of admin for Rainbows and Junior Church (my two voluntary ‘jobs’) and that’s enough. If I socialise one evening, I’m even less likely to be productive the following day.
Because my husband is kind and caring and (for the most part) boundlessly energetic, I can get away with this. Things are less tidy than I would like, but the angst I feel looking at the mess isn’t sufficient to outweigh the enormous weight of listlessness that dogs me once I’ve struggled through the essentials for each day. I wish I could do something different every night of the week and not take most of the subsequent week to recover, but that happened pretty recently and I know I just can’t. And I hate admitting that. If I try to function too much, I crash. I’m not content with staying within my pathetic, weak, mentally-ill capabilities. I don’t want to. And I am extremely stubborn. And maybe a few moments close to the sun are worth the crash afterwards. I don’t know. I’m not sure I care.