The Great Fatigue

Where do I even begin?

If I were John Irving, or Jeanette Winterson, or Angela Carter, or Haruki Murakami, I guess I’d begin with the perfect sentence. But the perfect sentence eludes me today. I am grateful for the day it is, at least I can say that much. Grey skies and rain. Not some bright, sunny day, mocking me, forcing me to draw the curtains. But no. The pitter patter upon window panes… Muted tones that are gentle on my eyes.  And yes, I am so very grateful.

So readers, this is me.

Many times have I written about depression, and about bipolar, and about anxiety, but in the recovery, in the softened glow of the returned self.

But not today, dearest readers.


Today you will find me very much in the thick of it.

The depression has come, stealthily, like a thief in the night and robbed me of my joys.

A 6 hour playlist of relaxing piano renditions of Disney classics streams on YouTube in the background, at least a little soothing. And a collection of essays by Anthony Bourdain on the bed beside me, with my two cats at my feet, while I sit here, legs outstretched under the covers. I love my cats, I do. And I persist with Bordain, for all every other book in my bedside stack has failed me miserably. At least there’s no bullshit with Bordain. Facebook feels only too full of bullshit today. Full of all too easy platitudes. To love myself. When I think that I must, but still also find me like this loathsome. Or that I am not a tree, I am a wild thing. But I am not beautiful like a tree. Or that I can begin a life again even at 80. But how many times must one start their life, over and over and over again? So whatever the fuck any of that means.

And I know how it may seem, but of course… I have the makings of a perfect day. Dozing felines, a book for comfort, and oh for the luxury to be in bed on a rainy day. But you see, it has finally settled upon me. This last phase. The Great Fatigue.

At first, I was hopeful. Searching my soul, and the universe, for answers. Finding a feather in my path, here and there, and keeping each as some sign that all would be okay. Plucking a wildflower on a walk for my little vase. Witnessing like a miracle when a dragonfly flew in through my lounge window one evening. Yes. Signs that all would be okay.

Then came the weeping. Nigh 2 years on his passing, the loss of my grandfather let loose the floodgates. Be it in a song, a memory, and even more, a feeling. How he had once made me feel. You see, with the weeping, with the feeling of being so very different, my soul longed for his soul. Longing for his unwavering celebration of my difference. My biggest fan. I pray to him still. Beg of his guidance. Some days, I feel relieved, heard. Others a fool. But I pray still.

But prayer is difficult now. In this, the Great Fatigue.

The Great Fatigue has settled in my body, making of itself a cosy bedfellow.

In my fridge, there sits a pot of homemade tomato soup. Half a pot of pasta. Half a pot of savoury rice. Three quarters of a roast chicken. And there were three rotten tomatoes sacrificed to the composting tupperware upon my better judgement with my third cup of coffee for the morning. The carrots should probably join them. A dozen eggs on top of the fridge. They’ve been there untouched for over a week now, much like the tomatoes. Both usually favourites of mine. There’s more in my store cupboard. Tinned tuna. Tinned chickpeas. Etc. Firm favourites the lot. But in this phase, they hold little appeal. I crave only the bitterness of coffee, stronger and stronger still. And the occasional drag of a cigarette.

Truly, I wish for a bottle of dry red wine and salted dark chocolate, a snap of the darkest salted chocolate and a slug, and another slug, within my instinct to retreat altogether from the day… But wiser, I reject this baser, animal instinct. And take my meds with another coffee, all the stronger. My palate is addicted now to its bittersweet. Yet the taste of wine lingers, beckoning, for all I resist.

And I feel the pull, Disney be damned, to submerge myself in Portishead. Submerging all the more, but I must resist. I will not succumb altogether. For maybe there is still a little fight in me.

Only a little fight, for my usual walk to and along the beach shore has become abandoned. But at least I console myself that no one would expect it of me anyway in this inclement weather. The yoga mat implores me, but I refuse to make eye contact. I have a car loaded to the hilt with books for my part-time gig, but again, thankfully the rain has spared me the guilt of unloading for today at least.

The electricity simply will not load. I make that a problem for future me.

I have forgotten for a second morning running to begin my ginger, Olly, on his course of anti-fungal medication before feeding. Bugger. But this brain, this brain in a fog, is no contest as the cats weave in and around my feet urgently while I turn on the kettle, wiping the sleep from my eyes and mindlessly give them three generous dollops.

I have committed to writing a chapter of my novel before the sun sets, but that is looking increasingly unlikely. Or I will write it all the same, but chalk it up as utter drivel.

And I no longer feel at home in my home. I am an imposter, an interloper. I just can’t afford the rent. And I have one month left on the lease. And there are cheaper, crammed places I can’t afford either.

My father has offered me a room. At least. For my silk roses, and double bed and modest but carefully curated bookshelf. And I guess my cats will just have to learn to get along with his dog. And I hope fervently they can all learn to get along.

There are other options for people of my disposition. ‘Housing’. With general rules. Three meals served a day. But I can’t. Or I don’t want to. The mere thought sits in the seat of my belly tasting of bile and failure.

What I wouldn’t give for a simple container of basic amenities on a small piece of land, that was mine, all mine. It has never before bothered me so, being this penniless, this dependent. On good days of writing, I have been all the luckier. And I warned myself it would take time. And I warned myself to toughen up to rejections. Or worse, deafening silence. My pieces lovingly writ, a second novel shy in the making, and a couple of children’s books both begging of me illustration when I finally have the courage to pick up a paintbrush again… Will they ever afford me freedom I wonder. Real freedom. And I wonder. The freedom to breathe, to keep the mania at bay, and the anxiety gone forever. And this, the crushing aftermath. No more. The sweetest kind of freedom.

But the Great Fatigue interrupts my dreaming. And I shudder at the voice that whispers never.

And the vacuum cleaner is broken.

And the memory card on my phone is corrupted.

And my phone is short on space, presenting quite the challenge to my part time gig, and my half-hearted atttempts at self promotion as a writer.  Wait, dont forget. The Great Fatigue so quick to heckle me, and whisper so close. A penniless writer. ‘You’ll just have to get a new phone with more space,’ the friendly tech support told me yesterday. And I honestly couldn’t give less of a shit than I do right now. Happiness hangs delicately in the balance, a phone just a phone.

And why do these Disney classics playing in the background seem suddenly so very sad? Is it their innocence in the face of my malady? That I suddenly find such innocence so fragile? I think they remind me of a very little girl with big, big dreams.

But Beatrix Potter only published at 36, I mentally remind myself, with a factoid that may or may not be correct. But then again, you’re no Beatrix Potter. The Great Fatigue is most certainly a cure for any remaining vanities.

And I feel lonely, but I can’t bare the thought of company.

And I want to don my neglected apron and dice and chop and simmer, but then again, no. I’ll probably just peel back the tinned lid on that tuna, listlessly chewing a mouthful or two, before growing bored of the gnawing emptiness that demands some sustenance. Sustenance I will deny it because the emptiness of my spirit feels all the emptier. And not even the finest sushi or piping hot thai broth or steaming dim sum would satisfy my spirit now.

And I long to read, to devour, the stockpile by my bedside, but the words on their pages do not ignite their usual spark, as I pick them up, one by one, read a smattering, and return each back to the pile. From fantasy to fable to Woolf to an easy read thrown in for good measure, my foolproofs now no escape from this final phase.

A fatigue of the body, a fatigue of the mind and the cruellest, the fatigue of the soul, this final phase I know I shall journey across completely by myself.

Steady now…

I try and think on my rule of 3. Just a list of 3 things for the day. No matter how arbitrary. 3 things to accomplish. Perhaps more… But 3 to start.

Again, steady now…

Brush teeth… Write, no matter how awful… And think on better days, when no matter how penniless, isn’t it a wonderful life, to cobble words together…

Perhaps, pick up Bordain and find a moment of contentment, however fleeting… And even if a warm cup of coffee is all I can manage, surely a warm cuppa on a rainy day is a small, good thing…

So do not be too dismayed, dearest readers. My joys will seek me out again. They always do. And I’ll be seeing you anon.


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