The Rubber Bands

It had taken Plan & Action 2-3 months to find the right work test for me, and spring had turned to summer before I got started. At around the same time, things were changing at home. Our lovely roomie R had decided it was time to move on and moved out. We didn’t know anybody, who needed a room, so for the first time a stranger was going to move in. I wasn’t quite comfortable with the situation, but as long as I was on social security, it wasn’t possible for T and I to live there alone. We found a nice and quiet young girl to move in. Everything was going to work out just fine.

It became time for me to begin my work test. DH from Plan & Action was going to bring me enough rubber bands for a week every Monday. The first time he brought the exercise rubber bands in a big yellow plastic bag, and the small rubber bands, I was going to tie them with, in another smaller bag. He explained to me exactly what I needed to do. ”You have to fold the exercise rubber bands in a certain way and tie them together with a small rubber band”, he said. He then showed me how to fold them correctly. There were two colours, yellow and white. It’s VERY important you don’t mix the two colours. He held up two yellow ones in one hand and two white ones in the other hand to demonstrate. ”Like this”, he said. ”Do you think I’m retarded?”, I thought to myself. He wanted me to fold two rubber bands while he was watching me to make sure I had understood the assignment. I felt like mixing a yellow and a white, but I didn’t do it, I was afraid that meant he would stay and explain it to me again, and I really needed him to leave.

The deal was that I had to fold the rubber bands for 1,5 hours a day and then slowly increase the time until I reached 7,5 hours a day. I had to sit at our dining room table and pretend it was a real workplace. I also had to keep a diary of how many hours I worked. I sat down at the table and got started. Fold, fold, tie. Fold, fold, tie.

I couldn’t help thinking about what had happened to my life. 2,5 years ago I had my own business. Now I was sitting here. How did that happen? I kept folding for a little while longer, but I could feel something happening in my body. It had been a while, but now I felt anxiety sneaking up on me. I knew it was a question of time before it overtook my body and mind completely, and I hurried into my bedroom and into my bed. I took a sedative and cried. I cried because I had ended up here, like this. I reconsidered, asking myself again and again and again, if it was possible for me to work, but I knew it wasn’t.

The next day I broke all the rules and brought the rubber bands into my bed and folded them there. I escaped into my own world, where exercise rubber bands didn’t exist. I managed 45 minutes before the real world intruded my thoughts, and I had to stop. ”A monkey could do this job”, I thought. Maybe even faster than me. I wrote in my diary that I had worked for a full hour and promised myself to work twice as much the next day.

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