I suppose, of all the ‘First World’ problems, Burn Out is one of the most frequently mentioned.
In Britain, especially, we have a tendency to underplay any problems. Like the Black Knight in Spamalot says when he loses an arm: ‘T’is but a scratch’! We’re almost apologetic about complaining. I often hear (and I use it myself frequently), ‘I’m not starving in Africa so I can’t complain’. Well, no, we may not be starving in Africa (and God – and rich countries – help the poor people who are) but that doesn’t diminish whatever we may be suffering from. There will always someone in the world who is ‘the worst off’, but comparison is ridiculous.
If you crash your car; if you lose your job; if a relationship with a loved one breaks down, then you’re suffering. There’s no point repeating the mantras of: ‘Well, at least I’ve got my flat/health/cat/holiday to look forward to. We should admit to being in emotional pain; someone WILL hug us. Maybe even a stranger. I think the vast, vast majority of us would help a stranger in distress. I know I would. We don’t hug enough. Just that human contact will let someone know that they’re not the only human being on the planet; because that’s what suffering makes you feel like.
Anyway, back to that Burn Out thing. SO many people nowadays are working ludicrous hours just to survive and maybe treat themselves to a tub of Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough once a month. We get sucked into this vortex of gradually giving up all the things we love because we have less and less time which, for some unexplained reason, we devote purely to work. In the end we even forget how to spell the word Pleshure…..Plejure….Pleshoor. But, seriously, this can lead to, or exacerbate, many mental health issues. It can also make us lose those special relationships with loved ones and even to forget what life is.
I lost all my money (which wasn’t much) nine years ago when a small terraced house I bought back home in Leicester went horribly wrong. Since then, I’ve worked three or four jobs as well as writing (and acting occasionally) to survive in the whirlwind that is London. In the last two years I’ve been ill on more occasions than I can remember; I’m constantly exhausted from working thirteen-hour days; the last time I went to the cinema there was a man with a large organ at the front (they really should move him on) and, if I have the strength to go for a quick small Merlot after I finish my final job of the day at 10pm, I fall over after one…….. Actually, that’s nothing to do with tiredness; I have the alcohol tolerance of a gnat.
I recently started doing a Mindfulness course, and this has made me realise that I AM in control of my life after all, that my creativity is being numbed by overwork and bone-deep fatigue, that I’m losing touch with friends and the ability to have fun because I’ve unwittingly jumped into this pressure-cooker that will very soon spit me out into a Victorian sewer where I won’t have the strength to look up to see if there are any stars (slightly over-dramatic, but you know what I mean).
So, I’ve decided to work less (well, less than thirteen hours a day, anyway) and spend more time living and doing the things I love. This will also allow me more time to be creative. I’ve decided to go back into acting (I’m currently shooting a new showreel and am extraordinarily excited about the prospect of returning full-time to the profession – I really miss it) and I’m going to give myself more time to continue with the current writing projects, which are:
20:40 – My new play about depression which now has the following creatives on board: Alex Pearson/Producer, Andreas Ayling/Production Manager and Julie Osman/Director. We’re lining it up for an Off West End run in the spring of 2018.
The Midnight Gang – My fourth David Walliam’s adaptation. Hugely thrilled and excited to have another of David’s brilliant novels to adapt for the stage.
Shooting For Rainbows – the Young Adult version of The Rainbow Player, which I’m writing to give teenagers a straight acting gay role model to associate with.
Gay Pride And No Prejudice – I’m in the process of organising a public reading of my other new play to attempt to get investors and producers on board.
So, all in all, I’ve had a tad of an epiphany……well, more of a ‘piph’ really. And there’s me being all British again.
Have a lovely autumn everyone. Peace and enjoyment of life to you all.