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Friday, 9 January 2015

The long shadow of unhappiness

The first sign that something was wrong was before I ate lunch. I was walking out of the cafe when my mobile rang. I answered it and it was the real estate agent, who had shown someone through my apartment a day or so previously. He mentioned that the lady he'd take through was looking at something in the "low fives". "What do you mean?" I asked. He explained and I was immediately angered. "If you can't get me the price I'm looking for I can find another real estate agent," I snapped. I was still in the shopping centre and I had not raised my voice. He told me what he thought I wanted to hear and quickly rang off. I was immediately unhappy with how I had responded to him.

I ate lunch at my desk, as usual. There was something wrong with the taste of the sandwich. It was too sweet and not quite right. It was also too thick. After I'd eaten I had a heavy stomach. I was feeling bad. I was unhappy, and it wasn't the phone call that had done it. I decided to go to the bank and transfer money for the nursing home accommodation bond into the account of the company I was dealing with. After I got back home I felt worse and went to bed. I stayed there for several hours. After I had rested I still felt bad and I went down to the shopping centre again. I bought a six-pack of beer in the bottle shop

Back in my apartment I got to work on the beers, one by one. I began to relax. The tension of the morning - the hours of shredding, the thousand small decisions that had to be made, the recall of bad memories from the darkest days, the resuscitation of bad feeling toward my father (I have always had a problematic relationship with my father) - started to dissipate as the beer took effect. I started to interact with people on social media. I resumed the normal position I occupy in my skin, my ageing skin. I was turning back into myself.

Those hours of darkness and confusion, hours of feeling unhappy, remind me to take it easy. On top of the morning's tidying up of my mother's apartment the transfer of a large amount of money out of two bank accounts was obviously a bad move. It was too soon. And it was just after I had returned from Sydney, where all my friends live. It's also where mum is. I had done too much in one day. Despite appearances I had overstretched myself and the price I paid was one of those temporary mild depressions I am prone to. I did another two hours at mum's place this morning but today G was there and we worked together for an hour, which helped.

Today G reminded me how fragile life is when she told me that her grandson's father suicided a few days ago. The man had separated from G's daughter some years before. He was living with G's grandson, who found the body. The man had lost his job then overdosed on the anti-depressants he had been prescribed. He had tried to gouge his own eyes out with his fingers and his 18-year-old son found him in the toilet cubicle with his eyeballs hanging out of their sockets.

Even in the darkest days I had never attempted to do anything like this. I wonder why I have been spared. It must be an accident of birth. Or education (thanks dad for making me do the undergrad degree). Or something. I have been fortunate. But still, I have to take care of myself. Noone else will.

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