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One Week to Get Fit to Work

4 min read

This is a story about being ready to roll...

Living out of a suitcase

My car's not road legal, the hotel isn't booked, my shirts and other work clothes aren't washed and ironed. I managed a few days without tranquillisers, but I still guzzled 2/3rds of a bottle of red wine and used a sleeping pill to get to sleep last night. My hair's grown long and I need a shave. I spend more time thinking about setting my affairs in order and killing myself, than I do about the practical steps necessary to prolong my suffering: another town; another job and yet more isolation and loneliness.

There's a huge gap between where I am in my mental state and where I need to be, if I'm going to go and make a good first impression, and keep up the charade until the work is done; until I can finally collapse in a crumpled heap.

There are important pieces of a liveable sustainable pleasant life which are simply missing; absent. Family, friends, community, social support network; a partner or best buddy. Can you imagine spending 28 days in complete isolation, except for a few messages exchanged via social media? Can you imagine spending a couple of years working your arse off trying to get to the point where you felt financially secure -- no longer on the brink of bankruptcy and destitution -- but seemingly never making any progress?

Yes, we've all experienced moving house, breakups, making new friends, starting new jobs, going to new unfamiliar places, having to somewhat re-establish ourselves. So what? You did it, it was stressful, and now you're relaxed and all settled in nicely. The bad memories fade quickly and the good ones dont: you can almost look back and laugh at all those unsettled times you've been through. For me, the unsettled times are so frequent that the bad memories never fade. I'm caught up in a never-ending series of very stressful events.

Out of economic necessity, I need to ready myself to re-enter the workplace one week from now. I need to look well presented, I need to be on the ball and I need to sustain a certain degree of professionalism until the work is done... I'll need to be able to get through week after week of hiding the fact I'm sick and struggling. I'll need to be able to cling on and hopefully make it through to the other side, before I hit the wall.

One day I'll wake up and say "I just can't do it anymore" and I won't be faking it; I won't be making a fuss about nothing - I really will have nothing left to give. Whether that's day 1 or day 101, or whether it's sufficiently far into the future that it doesn't affect the charade, I can't say. Obviously I worry that my health will fail me too soon; my energy will be used up and I'll be of no use to anybody, which means letting people down; no more pretending to be OK.

Having a week to prepare yourself for a period of effort that you don't feel in any fit state to face is not a nice prospect. Even if I could just sleep for the next week, I don't think that would be enough. There are practical preparations. There are things that are really toxic to my mental health - like living out of a suitcase - that look pretty unavoidable. There's the futility of going to a place where I have no intention of staying, beyond a few months, so why make friends there? Why put down roots? Why make myself comfortable; settled?

So, I continue to be unsettled. I continue to live without anywhere I really call 'home'.

It's a week to get myself into some kind of bare minimum state so I can go and get some more money, but no matter how much I earn, it all seems to just disappear... an exercise in futility; exhausting futility... except maybe for the banks and the landlords, who profit handsomely from my efforts, while not labouring at all themselves.

That the only reason for any of this stress is purely to service loans, pay rent and pay bills, hardly has me jumping for joy; it's hardly a big motivator. There's seemingly no light at the end of the tunnel.

So, as I try to sort my practical matters, rest, live healthily, and generally prepare myself for another stint at the coal face, I'm struggling to find much meaning in it; much reason to live.