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18/05/2024 London

It's Mental Health Awareness Week and I thought I should share something. That's not true. I never knew how to talk about my feelings. Or more importantly why. Why should I? Why should I share? I just don't know how it would help. To share. Or does it going to help someone, knowing that there are other people going through the same thing? I don't think any of us are going through the same thing. What you feel, only you feel. But that doesn't have to make us sad, or lonely. Nor special. Maybe the point of sharing lies somewhere there, where we realise that we are in different boats, but on the same river. Eventually just heading towards the same waterfall.

I wanted to write about how my dad was never able to talk about his feelings. And how hard it was this on my family. But every evening when I tried to put my thoughts into words, I just looked at them and deleted the whole thing. Even when I'm writing this not sure where it's going to land. But I keep doing it anyway, sort of what I did with my life so far. You see that's the other thing with sharing, I don't know what's the etiquette. How much can I share. How honest I can be, how far I can go so that you would understand the truth about me but won't be spooked, so you would stick around for the next sentence. I won't go far don't be afraid, at least not this time. 

I just try to tell a story. There won't be no ending and I let you figure out the moral of it, if there's any. 

So, a while back I found myself in a bakery. After uni -film school- I came to London to try my luck and pretty soon I was cracking up eggs and mixing cakes. I'm already bored talking about this. How can I make this shorter? Well, I worked as a pastry chef for a year and a half and after that I worked as a night baker for about six years. I'm not anymore. Since 2021 I'm free. And I'm going to write it down now. I had a few therapy sessions last year and the lady said, well, sounds like you have PTSD. Which was a bit weird to hear, since I'm not a war veteran, I'm not a survivor of any traumatic event. I just baked. At night. Mostly alone. And I loved it. And then one day I just couldn't do it anymore. I don't know how to describe this. The anxiety was so overwhelming that it stopped being just a thought, it was turning into a physical pressure, a pain, a numb, suffocating weight. And I, just like in a cartoon, sitting on a floursack alone at night had a huge question mark above my head. What is wrong with me? There are people out there who know real pain and suffer. Why can't I just deal with this little episode in my life, and man up, like my father did, and most of the people in his generation. What got me so scared? I loved baking. Working a hundred or more kilos of dough a day all by myself, creating food from just flour, water and some salt. Add some heat, time and hardworking hands, and there's your sourdough. Alchemy every night. I felt like, Anthony Bourdain would happy to have my bread, while Hunter S. Thompson would glad to have a beer with me after a long shift at 11am at the local pub. Repetitive work, and still, no bread is the same. That's how I fell in love with it, and then one day it was gone. I love and respect the craft. But I had my share. That moment on the floursack my body just felt squeezed, like it had nothing left to give. I was never a big guy, usually around 66-68kg. That time I was 59-60. Height: 174cm. I was a ghost. A friendly ghost, but still, you couldn't tell if I had any flour on my face. Won't go into details, but I got pushed too far at work. I let it happen. Because of fear. Losing a job is hard to explain. Getting a job is easy: because of money. But quitting? Why? It’s hard to make anyone understand. But I know it wasn’t just fear, that I eventually pushed myself to a point that I burnt out at work. It was because of pride. The fact that no matter how challenging it was, I was able to do it. They slowly turned the heating on under me, and I got boiled alive. Without noticing it. It gave me a sick joy that I alone tripled the productivity in the bakery. And although this is the truth, I still hate to put it this way, since I feel like I'm bragging. Well, I'm not. Because I was killing myself. And if you think that I was bragging, well than you too need to take a break as well, because perishing into work is not something to be proud of. I know it's hard to understand. I'm just trying to get used to it as well. I was raised by a hardworking man. I'm 42 so I guess if you are the same age, we all were. The nineties told me/us that the business man, self-made man was the one and only role model. At least where I grew up. Post-communist country, trying to act like a young capitalist, building from deprivation, drunk from hunger, ready to consume, caring about nothing but the hope to grow. That's our legacy. Dealing with the guilt that our parents worked hard so we could have this great, and have all the opportunity, so if we can't enjoy it, well that's all on us. 

It's mental health awareness week, and I just wanted to say, that at 42 I started an editing and post production MA here London. Only time can tell if it was brave or stupid. But right now, it feels good. And if I hear or read any stories how hard it is for the industry now and how hard it is to start working in this industry, I'm like ok, fine. It's ok. Because at least I’m where I want to be. Because I know what's on the other end. I know how hard it is to do a Sunday morning shift, that you start at two in the morning, you're waiting for your night bus with some drunk people, who keep asking what party are you going to, and you try to pretend that you are drunk too, so they would leave you alone, like pretending to be a zombie in Shaun of the dead, when all you can think of is to start your shift because the bread felt a bit over proved yesterday so you better start baking it quick, otherwise it will go flat and all that hard work just dies in the oven on you, and then you have two bad days on you, today and yesterday, and the only way to fix it is that you do a better job today and hope for a better tomorrow.

I recently heard, I guess I just didn’t have the ears to hear it before, that you only have two lives and the second starts when you realise you only have one. I guess that’s what happened to me. It’s not easy, but I know if I ever want to work on films, I better stay on this road. I paid a big price to be here. I’m all in now.

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