I was born at quarter to three on a hot, sunny, Saturday afternoon in August at my parents’ home on Kingsford Avenue in Nottingham. The popular rhyme goes that, Saturday’s child ‘works hard for its living’ and nothing throughout my life has ever been more apt. Throughout my Mother’s pregnancy with me, my Mother tells me that she simply ‘couldn’t stop.’ She always seemed to be on a mission whether cooking, cleaning or improving the house in some way. On the day that I was born, she woke early and knew that she was going to give birth that day. My Father went off to work at Player’s factory and during the time that he was away, my mother cooked his dinner, made apple pies, trimmed the garden hedge and then called the Midwife. I think my Mother was probably desperate for me to be born, if only so that she could finally just stop and rest.
My Mother always says,’ You have never stopped since you were born. You’ve always been doing something.’ When I went to secondary school at the age of eleven, I also had a ballet scholarship with the Royal Academy of Dance. All my free time was spent doing ballet. The challenges of a brand new and academic school, coupled with all the physical demands on me with dance, meant that when Christmas finally arrived in 1980, I spent much of it asleep and showing signs of exhaustion. My Dad claims that I could barely move for much of the holiday as I was so tired. Yet come January, I was back raring to go and ready to give my all to ballet and school.
This has pretty much been the case throughout my life. I will just keep going and going and then suddenly, I need to stop and replenish my energy reserves. I’ve never been able to switch off. From my childhood, I could never just sit and watch television. I always had to be doing something. This is still the case even now. I need to do something. If I spot a mark somewhere, I can never leave it. I must get up and clean it.
Perhaps one of the reasons why I struggled with depression so much, was that some days I really couldn’t even get out of bed. To me, this was a horrific experience. I’d lie in bed, unable to get up and my mind would be overcome with guilt at all the things that I needed to do. Yet what helped me through this difficult time, was in trying not to be so hard on myself. I developed the mantra, ‘I’ll do what I can. As and when. Bit by bit.’ This meant that I’d end up getting far more completed than if I just tried to tackle everything in one go. Sometimes the sheer size of completing something would be the biggest mountain to face.
Today is the first day of my half-term holiday. I haven’t had a break since July from working. This half-term has been incredibly busy and when I woke this morning, I felt the familiar signs of exhaustion. I’ve had quite a difficult few months recently, for many reasons. I have been carrying on, when in all honesty, I should have stopped. I wanted to give the house a thorough deep clean. You know get everything out of all the cupboards and clean those items like the blinds and behind radiators. The truth is, I just don’t have the energy. I need to reboot. I wanted to write a very long review of the Queen movie that we went to see last night. But my mind won’t play ball and I end up garbling my words, much as I am probably doing now.
So, against every gene in my body, I am going to relax for the rest of today. It’s so hard for me to do. I’m desperate to clean the fridge out. I want to wash the stairs down. I want to make a lasagne and cakes for the week. But cleaning can wait for a day or two. So, can cooking. You hear so much these days about ‘self-care’ and to me that sounds incredibly selfish. But today I’m going to do just that. Watch some trashy film, put my feet up and recharge. I need to do this so that I am ready to face the next half of term with boundless amounts of energy. And writing? Well, that’s all for today folks. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.