In New Zealand February 6th is a public holiday, presumably to celebrate Bob Marley's birthday, which is a pretty good idea for a holiday if you ask me.
On Wednesday I was still struggling, badly. I locked myself in the loo, writhing around with my head in my hands. I sent Lucy, my mental health guru, a high-importance "URGENT!" email basically saying that I couldn't cope. When I get those sorts of emails at work I normally delete them instantly, though luckily Lucy didn't. She said I should arrange a meeting with my boss which I did. My boss was about to take her retro calculator from the eighties, which weighs about two pounds, to the meeting but I told her she wouldn't be needing it. "I know I haven't been performing lately," I said. "Haven't you?" she said. I then mentioned that I'd been taking anti-depressants since 2001 but none of that seemed to bother her. I then figured that there can't be many jobs where if you do your work nobody says anything and if you don't nobody says anything, so I should probably stay in my job a little while longer. The "meeting", if you could call it that, cheered me up, and even the "state of the nation" address later that afternoon - a bit like a school assembly - was relatively optimistic given the current economic situation.
Yesterday things seemed a lot better. I was still a bit sluggish, maybe working at about 60-70% of capacity, but compared to the previous couple of days I was racing along. I generally felt things were getting back on track, until ...
I was plunged into tennis hell. Unusually, we were playing indoors. The conditions inside were inhumanly hot and humid and I hated every minute of it. Sweat was pouring off me. I tried to conserve energy both during and between points while my opponent, who was quite a bit older than me, didn't seem to mind the humidity one bit. My forehand has gone to pieces in the last few weeks so I tried to hit backhands whenever I could. We ended up in a tie-break in the first set and I jumped out to a 6-1 lead. Five set points, bang-bang-bang-bang-bang. He hit clean winners early in the rally on the first two set points. I can't remember what happened on the next two (which would suggest that those two points were where I really lost it), but on the fifth we wound up in a rally that went for at least fifty strokes, possibly a hundred, and everybody on the two adjacent courts had stopped play to watch it. Suffice to say I lost it, and the next two points, to lose the tie-break 8-6. After such a shitty week I didn't deserve that. Worse was to come. The second game of the second set was the longest I've been involved in since the Hemingford junior club champs final in 1996. When I finally succumbed in that game, that was it. I remember thinking, it's OK for you mate, when you get home you can tell your wife and kids you've just won this match saving all these set points, then spend the next day on a boat or whatever with your mates and invite them all back home for a barbecue, while I haven't got a wife or kids or anyone else for that matter; all I've got are my pills and this tennis match. For all intents and purposes, I'd thrown in the towel, something I'd never done before on a tennis court. I was screaming, banging my racket against my head (I've still got a headache now from that) and blasting my second serves ("blast" is a relative term there), generally acting like a prat, and lost the second set 6-love. I was really upset when I got off the court, more because of how I'd behaved than because I'd lost. Then I had to play doubles with this 16-year-old kid who has technical skill in abundance. All I wanted to do was get home though so I just went through the motions. I had that "spacey" sense of detachment I used to get years ago, where I felt I was watching the match, or whatever else I happened to be doing, rather than actually being involved. I found myself focusing on the rivets in the joists attached to the ceiling, and things like that, rather than anything going on in the match. Most of the time I had no idea what the score was. Then to my surprise I heard someone say "four-all" and that brought me back into the moment a bit. We took out the first set 7-5, blowing a few set points along the way (as they came and went I thought I was involved in some bizarre comedy), but when we won that set I realised our opponents weren't actually that good, particularly the fat bloke who I didn't play in the singles, and it was a match that we should win with something to spare. I spent the whole of the second set thinking, hit to the fat bloke, hit to the fat bloke, which was as complicated as my thought processes could go. I hit to the fat bloke, constantly, while my partner hit booming aces and forehand winners. We won the set 6-1.
An aside - I'd played my singles opponent once before, about three years ago, when I had a lot more confidence, not just in my tennis shots but in everything else. I beat him in straight sets, saving three set points, bang-bang-bang, in the second set.
Despite the surprising doubles win, given my emotional state, I was shell-shocked when I came home. I spoke to my mum and dad on the phone and went to bed just after midnight. The next thing I knew, I heard the ferry announcements. It was 9:30. I'll spend the rest of the day trying to made inroads in my to-do list, of which writing this blog post was one item.