The One-Day Breakdown: Vital for Balance

Last Wednesday I had a one day breakdown.

I was tired from working quite hard at a part-time job I really enjoy but I had awoken with an overwhelming sense of futility and general gloom.

I walked the dog in the hope that the feeling would lift, but as I stood shrieking at my puppy in a sodden field, the drizzle lightly falling down the back of my neck, I felt worse than ever.

Jesus, I couldn’t even whistle convincingly!

I didn’t even have the respect of my own dog!

Chasing crows is a better option than being with me!

I got home and showered. Sometimes hot water and a hair wash will do the trick, right?

I then made the catastrophic mistake of stepping onto the scales.

In spite of my best efforts to resist wine, angel cake and Wagon Wheels and to live largely on a diet of eggs and kale, my weight had apparently soared by a pound and a half.

And that was the final nail in the coffin of a grey day.

I gave in to the wave of existential nihilism and let myself be propelled towards the sofa.

Bugger the diet!

Bugger the housework!

Bugger the seeking of a whole new future by sitting in front of the computer and writing an award-winning novel/screenplay/sit com!

I switched on Netflix and fell into the cushions.

For four hours I sat, transfixed by The Good Wife (Season 5 – OMG! I was in NO WAY expecting that!). 

My dog sat on my lap, along with the hot water bottle and shared a pack of Oreos with me. (I’m not worried about his weight. He chases a lot of crows.)

Netflix kept asking me if I wanted to continue viewing.

I kept assuring Netflix that I did. (Netflix: ‘You ok, hon?’)

By the end of the four hours the dog could recognise the words ‘objection’ and ‘over-ruled’ and my mood had changed.

I’d gone from despair about my weight, my future prospects and the chances of ever fitting into my skinny jeans again, to plain guilt.

Having grown up with Catholicism, guilt is an emotion I’m all too well acquainted with.

Oh, the guilt I have endured!

Here are things I have felt guilty about:

  1. Having sex
  2. Not having sex
  3. Drinking too much
  4. Eating too much
  5. Not clearing my plate when children around the world are starving
  6. Under achieving
  7. Spending money on frivolous things
  8. Being generally quite frivolous
  9. Buying a diesel car
  10. Flying
  11. Voting for Thatcher in 1987 
  12. Struggling with dwarves
  13. Swearing in front of my children
  14. Swearing in front of my dad in 2004
  15. Using facial wipes
  16. Wipes in general
  17. Not knowing where the stop cock is
  18. Crashing a friend’s car on the second weekend at university
  19. Not topping up the bird feeder
  20. Spending four hours in front of the telly

Oh yes, I recognise guilt.

My husband got home from work and looked at me lounging unhappily on the sofa.

“I’m having a breakdown,” I explained.

“It’s not a breakdown,” he said as he handed me a large glass of Sauvignon Blanc, “it’s a day off.”

“It feels like a breakdown,” I replied, “I’ve been entirely unproductive.”

“When you were at university, this is how you spent half, maybe two thirds of your life. And you never complained about feeling unproductive then.”

The man is right! I had fallen into the trap set by adulthood.

I do not have to feel guilty about doing nothing on a day when I had nothing planned and nobody expected anything of me!

Bugger guilt! This is an Executive Youth lesson! Everyone should treat themselves to a one day breakdown every now and then.

Under the following circumstances they are compulsory:

  1. Tax demand from HMRC 
  2. Failure to pay off credit card resulting in huge interest charge
  3. Not getting new job or promotion at work
  4.  Realising you’ve missed the deadline to apply for new job or promotion at work
  5. Message from doctor’s surgery asking you to attend for smear test (women only)
  6. Social media alert to ex partner’s new relationship status
  7. Hearing from any source that a loathed acquaintance has publishing deal/been signed by record label/will be presenting prime time show/is going to the Oscars to style A list celeb/has made it onto Bake Off (even though it will be so much less good on Channel 4)/has won Nobel prize
  8. Backing car into resistant materials
  9. Unhappy score on the scales
  10. Being out for a delivery of something requiring a signature

If you can’t find a reason to suit yourself from the list, please feel free to add your own.

Happy Breakdown!

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