The sun rises bright and cheerful at the start of a normal day. Nothing unusual about yesterday. Nothing bad happening tomorrow. Nothing to be nervous of today. Why, then, is this stupid head of mine so heavy? I have been woken by my four year old's chirpy morning optimism, and it's like knives to the brain. "Shut up! Your voice is searing through my head!"
Of course, I don't say that. I think it, and I hear myself trying to sweetly convince him to get into my bed for a cuddle in the hope he'll fall asleep. He doesn't. And he wakes his sister with his endless talk.
Moving as if through water, I haul myself out of bed. I flick the kettle on as I walk through the kitchen. Change a nappy, make a coffee, make two bowls of breakfast. Congratulate myself on not giving my coffee to my one year old. Reflect briefly on the madness that would ensure if one year old Duracell bunny baby WERE to be given caffeine. Make second coffee and be grateful it hasn't happened.
By the end of my second mug, I realise that I haven't actually tasted anything. I knew I was drinking it, and at least I remember making it, but I haven't enjoyed it. But the caffeine kicks in and I get up to start the daily grind.
First thing — load the dishwasher with yesterday's stuff. I open the door, and stare at it blankly. I know the dishes should go in there. I kind of remember what it should look like when loaded. I just can't put the two together and figure out how to get to the end result. There's nothing there, just a blank. I panic slightly at the fact that I am 33 and can't remember how to load a dishwasher. Panic quickly dissolves into helpless tears.
Little footsteps pad up behind me, signalling the approach of my youngest. She looks at me, bemused, before stretching her arms out for a cuddle. I swipe the hot streaks of failure from my face and gather her up, refusing to let this affect her.
"F*** this. They're only plates."
I get her dressed, but the effort of doing so myself is too much. At least I've got pyjamas on. Going back downstairs I notice the general chaos around the place and my heart sinks to my stomach — normal people don't live like this. Then again, normal people don't forget how to load a dishwasher. I pop into the living room to check on my son, and feel intensely anxious when he spots me in case he wants me to join him in doing something. Let off lightly — he only wants a drink.
My day passes in a never-ending stream of requests for food, drink, fix this, find that... a day like all the rest. Only unlike all the rest it is hurting me to be here, to do those things. At some point I must have had a flash of inspiration and figured out the whole dishwasher mystery, because there were clean plates for lunch and dinner. At some point I did laundry, because when it rained I found myself in the garden, pulling it off the line before it got wet. I got dressed. Couldn't tell you when. I just coasted through the physical details of my entire day. I do so little, yet by the time my long-suffering partner gets home from work I am exhausted.
I have spent my day battling with this thing, this... worm in my brain. It eats my normal responses and emotions and excretes irritability and inability. I have looked at my beautiful baby girl, seen the smile that normally melts my heart, and felt nothing. She has sat in her highchair at the end of a meal and watched me stare blankly as I try to summon the energy to lift her out. My son has brushed past me today, and it made me recoil in near disgust at the sensation. The noises of the house, of my children and their friends, have overwhelmed me, confused me, created a fog in my head. Simple tasks have felt like IQ tests, most of which I have failed dismally. The effort of just existing, just surviving through all the noise, the movement, all that breathing...
I'm too tired to work out how to cook dinner. He has to rescue us all and do it. Again. Maybe once I can feel something other than twitchy I'll feel bad for this. For his life being work, keep family afloat for the evening, bed. Work, keep everyone alive, bed. For now I can appreciate, from a logical standpoint, what he does, which is a pretty big deal. Using logic requires a lot of energy right now.
And then they're asleep. They look so peaceful, so perfect. It's like looking at a really nice photo. Visually pleasing, but it doesn't evoke anything of note. Perhaps I'm just too tired to feel it.
Yeah, let's go with that. I'm just too tired.
Only now it's 2am, and I'm still awake.