Thank goodness, the weather seems set to warm up a bit so maybe I will as well. I’ve had to have socks in bed and though I resist turning the heating on, I have to wear jumpers in order not to start shivering. But my main preoccupation at the moment is not cold but fatigue. Why am I so tired all the time? I can’t be – in fact I’m sure I’m not – the only person to be wailing this on a daily basis. Why am I so tired all the time? I had a lovely sleep last night, eight hours of the dreamless and I woke feeling… exhausted. Why? Should I go to the doctor? It’s been a while since I had a thyroid function test so maybe it’s that. Maybe it’s lockdown? I thought getting more exercise would help, and it has, to an extent but come ten o’clock I’m invariably shattered. It’s not that I’ve been busy, rushing around all day; but maybe it’d be better if I had? Maybe then I’d have some sense of purpose instead of being stuck in this ‘I-must-write-because-I-can’t-help-writing-but-it’s-not-getting-anywhere cycle. But if I give up, where is there to go?
Then again, maybe it isn’t me; I was reading the other day about how climate change is affecting people’s mental health, and surely exhaustion has to be a part of that? In a way it’s worse than a war; in a war the danger is present and immediate and you take steps to keep yourself and others safe – assuming you’re a civilian. But right now we’re being told of a threat that is approaching daily, getting worse almost by the hour, and yet most of us feel paralysed with impotence. It’s like sitting in a cave hearing an enormous monster coming ever closer and not knowing what you can do about it.
I believe that we have the power to tackle climate change if the will is there. But too many people are slow to realise the danger; too many greedy corporations want to hang on to their profits, too many governments want to hold on to power. So like many people I feel infinitesimally small and totally impotent. And that is exhausting.
Another thing that’s exhausting is rejection. I had an email from the BBC yesterday thanking me for my radio play but unfortunately… It wasn’t in the least unexpected – I’d have been astonished if they’d liked it, for all sorts of reasons, but it’s another blow in a long sequence of blows. Sometimes you wonder what you’ve done in a past life to deserve all this – but as with every rejection, you pick yourself up and carry on. But that takes energy.
Or could it be that I’m just getting up too early? I can’t seem to stop being a lark right now. So I think we should change the collective noun for larks – forget exaltation, it’s an exhaustion of larks.
I thought I’d scheduled this post for yesterday afternoon but it didn’t come up, so here it is. I’m happy to report that energy levels increased after a bike ride along the canal; the weather has also improved, so that’s all good. And… the Hay Festival has begun. I’ve never actually made it to the physical festival but my sister lives not too far away so I have hopes of going next year, meanwhile this year’s festival is all online and free. I kicked off with a conversation between Michael Rosen and a hospital doctor about his near-death experiences and the values that underpin the NHS; it was very heartening.
Thinking a little more about fatigue though, I’ve decided that there are other factors involved: the first of which is caffeine. It’s impossible to get this right: caffeine, we are told, gives us a false energy which has to be paid back later like borrowing money. Caffeine will keep you going for a while but in the end makes you tireder, not least because it can keep you awake at night. Recently, more or less by accident, I’ve almost given up caffeine; I couldn’t stomach it when I was ill and when I got better my tolerance had decreased along with my desire for the pots of hot, strong tea which kept me going every morning. So I’ve reduced my consumption to one cup a day made with a tea bag which as everyone knows is not nearly so strong as leaf tea. The problem is that this lack of stimulants could be what’s making me tired. Maybe I just have to persist? Maybe it gets better? But OH once gave up caffeine for FIVE YEARS and was permanently exhausted for the whole time. So what are we supposed to do?
But going back to climate change I think an important factor here is the action – or inaction – of governments. Johnson talks green but does nothing; in fact his actions are positively detrimental to the environment; approving coal mines, relaxing the planning laws, giving HS2 the green light – it’s all greenwashing and like everything else he says, he doesn’t mean a word of it. But what right-wing governments generally do is to place all the onus for action on the individual. Can’t find a job? Nothing to do with us mate – it’s down to you. Can’t afford to buy a house? Tough; you should have made more money. Finding it hard to go green? Don’t blame the government, just try harder. We’ve seen this with the coronavirus, how they fudge the advice and then blame individual citizens when things go wrong.
I get a dozen requests every day to sign petitions, write letters, lobby my MP or email the Prime Minister about something. There’s too much to oppose and the Labour Party aren’t doing it. So maybe that’s why I’m exhausted. Although actually today I’m not feeling too bad.