I had to take some time off to get my life back on the rails.I have worked nearly 18 hours a day, every day, for the past six months, ensuring a slow but steady output from both my studios. I haven't had any time for myself. A week ago, I realised that I was living in the sort of squalor you read about in those stories where the neighbours notify the police of a 'strange smell' coming from the house next door and they discover a long-dead bag lady buried under piles of decaying rubbish in the living room. It wasn't just 'artistic' mess – discarded paper, tubes of glue, empty paint pots, hardened brushes, and broken segments of pencil or charcoal – although there was plenty of that. There were layers of grime, dried salt spray, food particles, and drink stains on every surface atop which were strewn unwashed clothes, stale underwear and even a handful of lube-sticky tissues. In between were skewed piles of reference books, unpaid bills and other papers, and tipped-over cardboard file boxes spilling their contents under chairs, the daybed, coffee table and desk.The physical disarray underscored just how far I had let tiredness deteriorate into an increasingly disordered mental state. Exhaustion had overwhelmed my working and living spaces just as it had my health. I decided to stop working for a week. It was only then I recognised the bad shape I was in. For a few days, it was all I could do to stop crying and catch up on lost sleep. When I woke this morning, I was calm for the first time in a month.The long, slow process of cleaning my house is penance – I can't afford to let myself slip into this state again. It also gives me time to figure out how I'm going to do things differently.