Frustrated. If there was one word that could express how I feel right now, sitting on my bed on a Monday afternoon, head still spinning and body still aching, is bloody freaking frustrated. I hate being sick — it's inefficient, ineffectual, and downright boring.
My body gave up in Bangkok last Friday. Instead of exploring the city and dining at hot tables such as The House on Sathorn or Baan, I was cooped up in a hotel nursing a convulsing stomach (damn gastric!) and doing nothing except eat, sleep, and trying to sweat out a persistent fever and flu. Fish congee is now practically coursing through my veins. And I've perspired through five T-shirts (and counting). This is not sexy.
But beyond being frustrated, it's also a wake-up call. That dogged friend, Burn Out, has been knocking on the door — sneezing fits, headaches, a never-ending runny rose — and finally, after 6 months of long days, late nights and a severe lack of sleep, big bully Burn Out has pushed down the door and given the body a good K.O.
What have I learnt? Well, for what it's worth, here's what I've pieced together over my enforced long weekend of hot soups and pain killers...
10. As a friend, Burn Out is super encouraging
He always pushes you that little bit further — "C'mon! Just a few more hours and you'll finish that last story" — knowing full well that on the other side of little, or no sleep, is a precipitous crash and burn. And the clincher? All that effort to 'get shit done', has now resulted in a much larger pile. Of shit. To get done.
9. You're pissed at Burn Out, but you forgive him anyway
Because he comes whimpering back, tail between his legs, all doe-eyed and saying, "I was just trying to help you achieve your dream." And you believe him. Partly because you want to. But mainly because you think that hard work is the formula for success.
8. So you continue to listen to his lies
Like, "Drugs cure everything." But you soon realise that drugs don't really help with peace of mind (Is this all there is?), gastric pain (which, apparently, requires a long-term change to eating habits and a 'stressful lifestyle') and looking paler than Obi-Wan Kenobi. In a sand storm. And viewed through a hologram. Now that's pale.
7. And you learn that dizziness is a sign of fatigue
But sometimes, it's also a sign that you've been popping way too much Aspirin. Thins your blood. Lowers your blood pressure. You get up, and then you get right back down again. #TrueStory
Long hours in front of the computer. Forgetting to eat until 5pm. Burning the midnight oil, that becomes 2am oil, and then 4am oil...
6. With Burn Out back by your side, you confuse bad habits with discipline
Key examples: Long hours in front of the computer. Forgetting to eat until 5pm. Burning the midnight oil, that becomes 2am oil, and then 4am oil. (Actually, who uses oil nowadays? The only oil I need is massage oil to get that knot out of my right shoulder.)
5. But Burn Out is promiscuous
He's been sleeping with Arianna Huffington (causing her to pass out and break her cheekbone); he's played around with Goldman Sachs CEO, Lloyd Blankfein (who is now undergoing treatment for lymphoma); and he's also had a fling with JP Morgan CEO, Jamie Dimon (throat cancer). And there's countless millions more. They might not all admit it, but Burn Out has been a friend who has turned into a sadistic foe.
4. Burn Out is a bad seed
If you plant him in the ground, he will grow up marijuana. And not the good medicinal kind used in moderation either. Burn Out doesn't believe in moderation. It's all in or nothing.
3. Then you realize that Burn Out is your Blake Fielder-Civil
You know, the drug dealing ex-boyfriend of Amy Winehouse that ruined her life. He doesn't care for you. He just wants the fame and the money. Ain't nothing but a gold digger...
2. But therein lies the problem: Success
Our definition of 'success' is too myopic: Money, fame, power. It's not sustainable. It's not healthy. It's not holistic.
1. And, at the end of the day, it's not worth it
Sacrificing your health and well-being for the pursuit of 'success' is not success. I used to hit the gym at least three times a week. So far, I've only managed to go six times this year. It's now November, people. That's it. Burn Out, we're breaking up.
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