So begins a poem by Adrian Mitchell called ‘Nothingmas Day’, about an ordinary day which is not Christmas. Sometimes a Nothingmas is all I want – ‘the quiet of
unsung carols and the merry silence of the steeple bell’ is all I can deal with. At the risk of sounding like Romans 7, it’s not that I want to do nothing, but there are plenty of things I want to specifically not do. This evening I am not going to the pub with my colleagues, which means I am neither using up my dangerously low energy reserves engaging with people nor anxiously preserving that energy in a corner. I did not stay at the office until all of my team had left, because I’d done my hours and I was exhausted.
This weekend, I hope to not worry about the people I’ve been most worried about this week, because I’m not their mum or the self-care police and worrying isn’t going to help any of us. I’m going to not call the bank and not go into town to face the crowds of tourists and not think about work. Right now I’m not going to zumba because I’ve hurt my foot and it needs to get better, and I’m not going to eat all the biscuits in the house because although I get a kind of savage enjoyment from doing things that I know I will strongly regret later I can see far enough into the future to know that’s not a good idea.
…And such is my inertia that I wrote all of that on Friday and now it’s Monday and I was late for work because I stayed in bed for two hours after my alarm and here I am on the sofa instead of having a bath or doing the specific piece of self-care I wrote down yesterday because I knew I wouldn’t be able to think of any today, with my unwashed hair and tight chest, listening to upbeat music in the hope that it will have some kind of healing effect. But it’s not working, I’m not working, I’m just dragging myself through the day and I don’t know who to talk to or how to make it better, and I’ll never get off these drugs and I need to practise for the half marathon I entered, as if I believed in myself that much, but I need to rest and I can’t rest because I’m anxious and I’m anxious because I can’t rest. I can’t do anything useful but this leaden despair is the opposite of restful. What I most want to not do is feel like this.