Despite the fact each day feels like it lasts at least a week, these days I barely seem to achieve in a week what I used to in a single day.
As mood and energy are so often linked I thought I would try and track the high and low points of a typical day.
LOW: trying to get up in the morning. I’ll have been in a not-quite-awake, not-quite-asleep state for a few hours. It is so difficult to focus or concentrate. I desperately want to go back to sleep but know it would only continue to be very restless so I may as well get up. If only I can remember what it was I was going to do… oh yes, get up…
HIGH: sitting down with my smoothie. Through the bleariness I have somehow managed to peel a banana and drop it in the blender with a handful of grapes, maybe some frozen cherries, brambles or strawberries if they’re in season, along with a good couple of splashes of fresh orange or pineapple juice. The sweet fruitiness works its way around my mouth and down my throat and is the nectar of the gods. The only interruption I will tolerate is Meg asking me for a sip of it.
HIGH: my bowl of home assembled muesli. The local health food shop sells a muesli oat base and separate bags of mixers. Every 10 days or so I stir together the base with a tropical mix and a dried fruit mix, and add some pumpkin and sunflower seeds, dried cranberries and a few chopped dates. My tub of assembled muesli is richer and more fulsome than the finest bought packet breakfast cereal, and costs half the price. It’s a wonderful variety of taste and texture and sets me up for the day.
LOW: by mid morning I’m beginning to slump. My bed is calling me and I’m finding it increasingly hard to concentrate. By the time I sit down to my coffee I’m yawning away and it feels like every blood vessel in my body is aching for a stretch and a nap.
HIGH: espresso; how many ways do I love thee? The first sip tastes like horseshit marinated in tar. The second causes the right half of my face to squeeze tight as a pirate-sounding “Aaaarrrrrrr…” exits my vocal chords. The third is the sweetest taste known to mankind as the caffeine starts to work its way into my system. Slowly I awaken; drawn forth from a long winter’s hibernation. My mind stirs and for the first time in what seems like a lifetime, I begin to feel alive. Truly alive. And I could weep.
LOW: After an hour to an hour and a half, the devils brew starts to lose its potency and my ideas and strategies of global domination begin to feel like something I should put off until tomorrow.
HIGH: a bowl of Maggie’s homemade thick vegetable soup. Maggie insists that soup is one of the easiest things to make and cannot understand why more people don’t do it. Yet I’ve rarely met anyone who can create something so tasty and so wholesome with a handful of vegetables and some hot water. What for her is second nature, cannot be matched by any of the companies selling their deluxe like-granny-used-to-make soup-in-a-carton, for a small fortune.
LOW: for a while after lunch I’m OK, so long as I don’t try and do too much, but as the afternoon wears on I sink lower and lower. By 2pm my concentration has vanished, by 2.15pm I’m moving at a much slower pace. By 2.30pm I’m slurring my words and having problems keeping my eyes open.
HIGH: I crawl into bed. The mattress, the sheets, the pillow – these are my closest friends and they welcome me with soft murmurings and gentle whispers
LOW: an hour to an hour and half later I have to get up. I’m not going to go back to sleep no matter how much I cry, beg or swear. I stagger back downstairs.
HIGH: a cafetière of rich dark roast coffee. Much smoother than the espresso, it caresses me back into life. I feel positively civilised. I can hold conversations on any topic you choose and sound knowledgeable and informed. I can solve problems, give sound advice and make babies chuckle. Not only will you like me, but your mother would too.
LOW: as the afternoon draws to a close I begin to experience withdrawal symptoms. Tingling sensations stream throughout my body, my hands feel like they are shaking even if they are not, and my judgement is impaired. Now is not the time to ask which of the Fortune 500 companies you should be investing in.
HIGH: dinner! Oh dinner, my saviour. Food to be smelled, tasted and worshipped. I gaze adoringly at my wife and children and breathe in my sense of wonder at how beautiful they all are.
LOW: I have to stop eating. I don’t want to. I want more. It doesn’t matter how much I’ve had, it’s calling out to me. My teeth are gnashing, my mouth is watering, my taste buds are screaming out, DON’T STOP! GIVE ME MORE FOOD! GIMMEE GIMMEE GIMMEE. I have scraped my plate so clean it barely needs washing up. My children are selfishly eating all theirs and not letting me have their leftovers. Little bastards. I wonder what the kids would taste like… I have to tear myself away from the kitchen table and withdraw to another room with a cup of fruit tea until I’ve calmed down and the cravings have subsided.
It never gets any easier.
HIGH: my bed welcomes me, this time with a warm wife to snuggle. As we fall asleep, nestled in each other’s arms, could life be any better?
LOW: 4 hours later and I stir into consciousness, of a sort. I’m so tired I feel physically sick. But I cannot get up. All I have to look forward to is a few hours of restlessness where I’m not-quite-awake, but not-quite-asleep.
And so the day begins again.