Some days all I can do is sit staring into space as minutes, hours, huge tracts of time go by.
Doors bang as others leave the building in the morning, and slam when they arrive home at night. In between those times, the letter box clacks, mail and spam hits the mat, buses trundle by; workmen, delivery men come and go, Jehova’s Witnesses (or some other unwanted intruder) press the buzzer in vain, gangs of school kids yell, squabble and banter en route home for their tea. The sun rises, brightens, moves slowly from the small bedroom window past the sitting room, to the other side of the block, then dims and sets. The sky darkens, the moon comes up and I barely notice.
This time is interspersed with the bare minimum of activities; getting up for tea or water, using the loo, feeding the cats, cleaning the litter tray, going to bed.
At these times I still manage to care for my cats when I can’t for myself, but I thank God that I took them in, and that I love them enough to honour the small but important responsibility of being a kitty momma, as goodness knows what would happen if they weren’t here.
Days go by.
I know I’m coming out of the worst of it when I want to run a bath.
I know it’s not a false alarm if afterwards I want something to eat.
I never want much.
Sometimes I have something wholesome like a slice of wholegrain home made bread toasted, and spread with butter and Marmite.
Sometimes I want an orange, mango or some other fruit, craving something fresh and juicy for my dry, foul tasting palate, savouring the moment it soaks up the liquid goodness like a brittle, wispy, under watered plant.
Other times I just open the cupboard or fridge and grab anything that stops the hunger pangs until an authentic desire for food returns.
But sometimes only a Crunchie and a cup of tea will do. I usually have a stash tucked away for such occasions.
Lest you confuse this with a binge, let me clarify that this is not so. One Crunchie does not a bulimic splurge make. And it’s usually the only thing I have or will eat all day.
Let me set the scene.
I’ve had a bath. I’ve cleaned my teeth. I’ve combed out my wet hair, put on clean pyjamas or a robe, moisturised my face, made some tea and am curled up on the couch, fresh and clean as a small child, waiting for a story before going to bed.
A new drama or movie will be about to start on TV. Whilst watching telly can be unhealthy, addictive escapism, I actually want to watch this programme as opposed to blindly gazing at anything that happens to be on the box for hour after hour, and I will most likely turn it off and go to bed when it’s finished.
I carefully open the Crunchie which is cold from being in the fridge, and slowly, tenderly snap off a small chunk, push it to the back of my mouth with my tongue and bite down. The firm coating yields, the honeycomb shatters and my mouth fills with the slightly burnt taste of sugar and smooth, silky milk chocolate.
I then take a sip of boiling hot, milky tea, and the remaining shards dissolve along with the chocolate and flood my mouth with sweet, sweet comfort and a powerful sugar rush.
I slowly, carefully continue in this way, savouring each mouthful until the Crunchie and nearly all of the tea has gone, whilst losing myself in someone else’s story playing out on the TV screen. I then fold the wrapper until it is as small as can be and pop it in the bin.
When your cry for help has been unanswered, when you don’t love yourself enough to eat proper food, and you’re still waiting for The Man (as opposed to ‘a man’) to appear, all you can do is give yourself 10 minutes of oral, sugary comfort and thank Tuesday it’s Crunchie.