I should have added the word 'apparently' to the end of the title of this post because obviously I don't think nervous breakdowns are offensive. But what do you do when you tell someone you're heading for one and they're offended? Before anyone starts getting worried, I won't be having a nervous breakdown because having recognised the fact that I'm totally overwhelmed by obligations at the moment, I'm re-organising, de-cluttering, and generally off-loading that which I can no longer deal with.
Some of it is my fault, not just regarding too much procrastination over essential tasks and some lax time-management, but also too much volunteering. Or at least being persuaded to help out in all sorts of community spirit type committees and actions.
Here's a short story to illustrate the point. Many years ago in my single days and sharing an apartment with D, we went to the inaugeral meeting of a new Synagogue started by our group of friends. The purpose was to establish a working committee and deal out the various jobs. "I don't care what we do," said D as we walked to the meeting, "but we're not doing the Kiddush." I absolutely agreed with her. The Kiddush was the pits. Essentially it is providing light refreshments for the whole community every week after the Saturday morning service. It involves shopping, setting it all out and clearing it away afterwards. You get a budget to work with and everyone supposedly helps with the clearing up, but it's a lot of work nevertheless.
"Now, Kiddush..." started the chairman of the meeting. Both our hands shot up before he'd even asked the question. On the way home I asked D, "what just happened there?" Neither of us could explain but we were stuck with doing the kiddush for the next two years.
In my old building I somehow found myself on the building committee even though I was only renting. It's a thankless job. You have to organise the cleaning of public areas, organise the maintenance, collect residents' dues, manage the building's bank account, deal with insurance, etc.... The neighbours start avoiding you because you are always asking for money and you start avoiding them because they always have a complaint. When I moved to my present home I swore I wouldn't get involved. It took them less than a year to recruit me.
When I was pregnant I resigned from the building committee but this left only one person doing everything. I tried to persuade him to call a meeting and deligate some of the burden but instead found myself persuaded to only deal with collecting the money and taking it to the bank while he took care of all the maintenance, cleaners, etc...
A new family moved in and I begged my co-worker to bring them on board but two years later he still hasn't spoken to them. I managed to find another resident to collect the money but I still had to go to the bank as the new guy's name isn't on the list of people who can deposit cheques into the account. And, he is very laid back which still left me worrying about who hasn't paid up and asking people when I meet them on the stairs. Of course people should just pay but they don't, you have to chase them.
My life has changed this year. The savings have run out, I am taking on as much work as possible and I am still earning less than I need to reach the end of the month. DD needs more quality attention from me. I'm fed up of living in a tip because I always have something more urgent to do than clean the place. On top of all this, I did something to my back a month ago and have lost hours of productivity through being in pain and having to lie down.
This week I took a sick day from work. Teachers don't do this unless they are dying. If you work in an office and desperately need a mental-health day you take one. However, if you have 40 students waiting for you and another teacher will have to cover for you - well you just don't do it. I was genuinely sick with an inflamed throat, no voice and coughing for England. But I have no doubt that I would not have felt so physically ill if I hadn't been so mentally overwhelmed by the backlog of work.
When I find myself being short tempered with DD because I have too much on my mind, sommats gotta give. So today I took the cheque-book and various other bits of paper and receipts round to my co-worker and returned them to him. "I can't do it any more," I told him and his wife, "I'm heading for a nervous breakdown, I just can't do it at the moment."
Reader, he was offended. The truth is that no one has spare time and our building is particularly problematic. So he has to call a meeting and find some other suckers to take on the job for a while. It would be much easier for him if I were to continue to suffer. It was a hard choice for me: offend my neighbour or have a nervous breakdown. I chose my sanity.