Wonderful weekend

I rarely work hard but, when I do, it makes the weekend wonderful.

This week I swapped gardening for glossing doors and skirting boards. A lick of brilliant white over yellowy brown makes my home look new.

Gloss releases stinky toxic fumes so as well as feeling tired and unable to shower daily, the back door and windows have been open and the heating up full blast. Inhaling the fumes made me feel nauseous so I stopped glossing on Thursday to enjoy a relaxing fume free weekend.

I still have 3 door frames to paint and to emulsion the lounge but that’s a job for week after next. Next week I’ll get back to gardening and inhaling fresh air. It’s been a decade since I decorated and I forgot how much hard work is involved in living with paint fumes as well as the arm work and balancing on ladders.

I stick to working Monday to Friday afternoons and resting at weekends, not because I have to – my work is unpaid – but to maintain a balance of work, rest and play even while unemployed.

I’m expert at handling unemployment well because I’ve had to do it for a long time. The first few years were hard and I was often restless and depressed. I didn’t help myself by drinking to alleviate boredom. Actually, alcohol just increases the sense of boredom because when you’re not drinking you ask, ‘What now?’ Alcohol also diminishes your ability to find joy in simple things and can get you into a living for the weekend mentality. And the longer it goes on, the bigger your weekend becomes. You might only drink on Friday or Saturday nights but this can easily become Thursday to Sunday. So then you’re drinking for 4 days and feeling shit for the other 3. That’s a drink problem which, if established in habit over months and years, causes mental and relationship breakdowns. It can also lead to bipolar disorder, which happened in my case.

Am I not bipolar now that I rarely drink? No, because I’m now dependent on meds for my mood balance and reducing or stopping them is difficult and takes years.

I am now on a third of the dose I started on 2 years ago because I’m no longer in poverty or homelessness or alcoholism. Having a decent income allows you to do projects like gardening or decorating.

Those struggling on universal credit, especially for the first time, will be finding this situation very hard. Their mental health will be strongly challenged and it’s understandable that some will turn to drink to pass what feels like a long and unbearable time.

But drinking while unemployed is the prime example of the devil making work of idle hands. And you will suffer more in the long term.

So if you want to stay well during this crisis, which won’t be over until a vaccine is found, then find another hobby. Because long term unemployment plus drink leads to criminality, psychiatric services or early death. Not to mention a train wreck of a life.

Yes, I recovered, but I regret the lost relationships with my daughter and mum as a result of all that pain I drank in my 40s when life got harder. I had to lose everything but my life to learn to stop self harming through drink.

I still self harm through smoking despite the threat of a respiratory virus.

Because I’m still an idiot.

A contented idiot.

Thanks for reading. I’ll spare you the excitement of a glossed door photo.

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