7 Days of Rest and Relaxation

In which Tom rants about self-care culture, reads a book, and sleeps for a week.

😴 😴 😴

The year is 2020 and self-care culture is peaking. From rose-quartz face rollers to bespoke kombucha enemas tailored to the pH levels of your rectum; it seems we’re eating this shit up faster than capitalism can spit it out. Everybody and their dog has some sort of mood disorder these days (can you blame them?) so it makes sense that this in an industry on fire.

It’s no crime to want to feel better, less depressed, happier. I must confess I have gone to embarrassing lengths in my adult years to sooth my innate sense of sadness. Chinese dirt, ASMR, meditation, squeezing ice cubes — you name it, I’ve tried it. It hasn’t been until recently that I’ve noticed the pressure I put on myself to ‘get better’ and ‘just be happy’ does more of a disservice to my mental health than I may have thought.

Now I’m not here to slander self-care culture (SCC). In our current climate of disease and a looming financial crisis I think a bit of TLC is essential. My issue lies in SCC’s marketing strategy; “These gummy vitamins are endorsed by Kylie Jenner’s Italian greyhounds and will make you shit rainbows AND clear up your haemorrhoids!” Like if you only try a little bit harder you can achieve this Americanised ideal of happiness. But it doesn’t matter how many days a week I scream positive affirmations (“I CAN DO ANYTHING GOOD!”) whilst doing star-jumps and sit-ups, my depression won’t budge. In fact, the bitch has renewed her lease and is taking great pleasure in making budget reviews on all of the time and money I’ve invested in Happinessβ„’.

Scraping the bottom of the SCC discount bin led to my discovery of Otessa Moshfegh’s latest release, My Year of Rest and Relaxation. It is the ultimate companion for those also struggling to summon the faintest will to live at the moment.

Don’t be discouraged by the seemingly privileged protagonist; “young, thin, pretty” with “many of the advantages of life,” including an insane inheritance, an apartment on the Upper East Side, and a total babe of a Wall Street fuck-buddy. I, too, had my reservations at first. But in the face of a global crisis and an impending lockdown I succumbed to Moshfegh’s incredibly unlikeable character.

In fact, I became sordidly invested in her pledge to dedicate a year of her life to sleep. Waking once every three days to eat a slice of pizza, change her pyjamas, and mix herself a sleep-inducing cocktail of prescription sounded like the ultimate hero’s journey to me.

Whilst a year in bed sounds like a wet dream come true, I have not been blessed with the deep pockets of this Upper East Side sleeping beauty. Thus, in honour of R&R and the legendary Diet columns of Man Repeller, I decided to pledge seven consecutive days to being horizontal and unconscious.

Enjoy my slow and comfortable descent into life as a semi-human bedsore…

😴 😴 😴

Day 1: Slept til midday. May have bought light-up dildo, silk jockstrap and Joan Rivers memoir during half-sleep. Can’t wait to see what turns up in the mail. Rocked up to Dr [REDACTED]’s lecture 20 minutes late. Honestly don’t think I missed much; he spent majority of the two hours yelling at 18 year olds and trying to be relatable. Maybe he needs the light-up dildo more than I do.

Day 2: Slept through all of my alarms (did I even set any?). Was probably too hungover to function in the real world today, anyway. Watched Bridget Jones with flatmates, argued about the merits of Mark Darcy, and stumbled into (another) wine-induced slumber.

Day 3: Set my alarm for 08:30. Another for 09:00. Finally, at 10:00 I rose to pee and refill my water bottle before returning to bed and playing on an interactive deep-sea diving app. Made it 995 metres deep before I fucked off into unconsciousness again.

Day 4: Dragged self out of bed on fourth alarm for breakfast with flatmates. Post breakfast saw me drag self straight back to bed where I proceeded to have LUSH dreams about Harry Styles serenading me and telling me it’s okay to wear pyjamas after noon. Thanks Harry, I needed that.

Day 5: Woke up butt-naked to two contractors measuring the windows in my room. At this point I have well and truly succumbed to my own mediocrity and am fresh out of fucks required to adjust sheets or apologise for bare ass. This is my week of rest and relaxation, people.

Day 6: Left flat once at 16:00 to make public appearance and remind cute boy at coffee van I exist. Even showered and brushed teeth for the occasion.

Day 7: Flatmates have all left for holidays. Can finally sleep uninterrupted. Think they were starting to cotton onto sleep experiment when they saw me leave my bedroom in pjs at 15:00 for tub of Haagen-Dazs Salted Caramel (superior to all other ice cream flavours, btw). Started feeling lonely at 21:00 and pillow-humped way to a victory while listening to Harry Styles and crying.

😴 😴 😴

R&R Debrief.

Leaning into your own mediocrity is a mood. And also a totally valid form of medicine.

Snuggle up to all the nasty thoughts rampaging through your brain. Because, bitch, cleansing your crystals under the full moon isn’t gonna do shit to clear out that depressive juju (when I said I’ve tried everything I meant it). But ignoring the world — the terrible fucking world — to masturbate over fake nudes of Mark Darcy (fuck you, he’s hot) for a week can teach you that your secret shames can also be your greatest comforts.

So go ahead. Self-isolate. Take an 168 hour nap.

I’m here, and I’m alive. I eat, I sleep, I poop. And sometimes that’s enough.

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