They say that  moving is one of  the top three causes of stress in a person’s life.  And yet, I do not feel stressed.  I mean, I know there is a lot to do, and as the move gets closer not enough time to do it in.  I also know that my stress levels will increase as this goes on.  I just do not feel stressed.  However I know that I am.  There are two reasons I know this:  firstly, I can no longer relax.  Every time I sit down, or leave the house for anything other than work, I feel guilty, like I shouldn’t be sitting or enjoying myself when there are linens to bag and nik-naks to box.  If I could, I would just do it all now and sit by the front door in the same clothes for the next 3 weeks eating takeout and waiting for the removal men.  This, however is unrealistic. In fact, I do need to pack everything, but some items will be needed before we move.  So those do not get packed.  They lie around taunting me, concealing stuff that does need to be packed and letting me know that although they will need packing, now is not the time.  I still need to shop and cook.  After all, just because we are moving, it doesn’t mean that we no longer need to eat, or do laundry, or clean.  (In fact cleaning is even more important these days because we are moving furniture and emptying shelves and let me just say that dust bunnies is a very cute way of saying dirt.  We have dust lions, not bunnies)  I think I have moved off topic.  Where was I?  Oh yes, the guilt.  The vague feeling that there is definitely something that should be getting done, and if I am not doing it, it isn’t doing it itself.  I have found myself mid-conversation asking D if she minds if I throw away the 2 m Cadbury’s chocolate fingers box (empty) which she got for Christmas 2009. And before you ask, we weren’t already discussing the usefulness of empty biscuit packets measuring more than a metre.  We were possibly talking about something really important, like she’s telling me about her dream in which we were at our old house, but it wasn’t our old house, and I was really thin (or perhaps ginger) and then I said that she ought to cut her hair and did I think it might be that I have been sending her subconscious messages about the length of her hair? You know, serious life-changing stuff.  Again, I digress.  I find myself distracted and guilty a lot and I assume that this is one of the ways in which my stress is finding an outlet.

The second clue is my sleeping patterns.  I long ago accepted that as I got older, I became like one of those dolls whose eyes shut as you lay them down.  No longer am I able to read or watch TV in bed because, quite literally, I only need to be horizontal for about 5 minutes before I am asleep.  My sisters, who used to sit on my bed at night and talk to me about their lives, learned about 10 years ago that I never actually heard anything after “so here’s the thing…”.  Also the fact that as I am falling asleep I tend to talk complete bollocks in brief spurts gave them a clue.  So it is not the falling asleep I am having problems with.  It’s the staying asleep.  More to the point, it is staying asleep until morning.  By morning I mean 7 am.  I know that’s mid-afternoon for you parents out there, but it is morning for those of us who do not have children or a job that requires us to be anywhere before 9 am.  So  seven is therefore not a lot to ask.  I struggle to sit upright on the couch and stay awake for the whole 10-11 pm episode of whatever show I am watching because I don’t want to go to bed too early to avoid the super early awakening.  So far this hasn’t worked.  Whatever time I go to bed, I wake up between 5 and 6 every day.  Once I am aware, I just can’t go back to sleep.  I know I will be exhausted at about 2 pm, but I just cannot switch off.  My brain starts thinking about everything I have to do and even though I keep telling myself to think sleepy thoughts and go back to sleep, that’s it, I am awake and tired. I lie there in the pre-dawn trying to breathe evenly and not think about boxes and filing and things I should definitely not forget.  It’s not like I live somewhere where I could just sit on my balcony and watch the sunrise in zen contemplation.  I live in London.  The sunrise isn’t pretty or uplifting in the  residential area I live in and getting dressed and jogging to a park is a bit excessive (not to mention extremely unlikely).  At that hour of the morning, everything that you need to do – or can think of doing – needs to be done after 9 when everything opens/comes online.  So there are these 3 hours in the day when I am awake against my will. I lie there in denial for about half an hour and then get up and start packing/sorting.  By the time D comes down for breakfast before work, I am already thinking I need a nap. So even though I do not feel stressed, it turns out I am, and sleeplessness is the way it is manifesting itself.  Of course there are worse things.  Some people lose their hair, or lots of weight, or their minds.  I just lose sleep.  And when we get to M minus 5 days I am sure I’ll appreciate the extra 3 hours.