I just walked back to my flat in the rain. And I hoped that people might mistake the tears that threatened to fall from my eyes for raindrops sitting on my skin. I put up the hood of my coat to shut out the world more than the rain. The sky was crying with me, I felt less stupid, but still stupid enough to hate myself for crying, and incredibly alone. Ignore emotions and they snowball – they gain so much momentum that you are powerless to do anything except let them crush you momentarily, wait for them pass, and watch them leave. It’s not as simple as that. It’s not as fast as that.
Last night, before I went to sleep, I started another blog post that is now in the depths of wherever never published blog posts go. The first two paragraphs went like this…
“There have been so many times this week when I’ve considered giving up on university. I haven’t (thankfully, because without university I would have nothing) , but there have been a few too many moments when I’ve wondered why I’m putting myself through so much. I don’t have time to fall further behind, so as my immune system grows weaker and weaker I decided the sensible thing was to push on. I don’t like doing nothing. I keep going until I fall down. I don’t class myself as ‘ill’ unless it is some sort of medical emergency. But I think my body has had enough. And so have my emotions. All of me has had enough. I can’t deal with it right now. And I don’t even know what ‘it’ is.
Work isn’t bothering me any more. I seem to have reshuffled my priorities into a more logical order. Health. It’s scaring me. I’m having oesophageal/ stomach issues which make eating an unsuccessful experience. The infection I had is progressing exactly as it did before (and I mean EXACTLY) despite me being on antibiotics, which terrifies me, especially when I get headaches. I can’t even deal with the thought of being in a hospital again right now. (boring medical part over). My body is trying. For a while it was winning. For a while I found a way to shut it all out, to ignore the emotional bullets ricocheting around inside of my head. And suddenly I’m not winning. None of me is winning, none of me is coping, none of me right now feels ok.”
Despite setting 23 alarms (I’m not even joking) I slept in until 8:55… I had an assessment at 9:30. I did’t want to get out of bed. I didn’t want to face the day. Even as I left the door something was pulling me back towards my room, towards my bed, where I could have crawled under the covers and avoided the rest of this morning.
Yesterday morning I got stuck in a lift. (over the course of the day many more people got stuck in the same lift as well, so it must actually have been broken rather than me being an idiot). I am now too scared to get back in the lift, and our flat is on the fourth floor. This makes living with a heart condition pretty interesting. It also meant that I nearly fell down the stairs on my way out of the building this morning.
I had a workshop. We worked in groups of four. I was tired, I felt very ill, and emotionally very fragile. It is incredibly frustrating being the only person to have studied English Literature in your (one quarter german, one quarter american) group. When rewriting a poorly written and illogically organised article, it is helpful not to just re-write exactly the same sentences. My inner-English nerd was freaking out at the conversational tone, repetitive nature and grammatically incorrect sentences of our science article. I corrected the mistakes, gently… And explained why things didn’t make sense multiple times. And they rolled their eyes. They exchanged looks. They insisted they were right and then eventually realised what I was trying to say and realised that certain things just didn’t fit or make sense. If the work hadn’t have been graded, or had my name on it, I would have just let them hand it in the way it was. Because they made me feel how sixth form made me feel – small.
I was just about holding myself together when I noticed that I had a lot of missed calls from a London phone number – the hospital I only just escaped from (which I can currently see from my kitchen window). Then I got a text saying that they want to move my procedure forward to tomorrow morning at 8.45. (Scroll back up. Remember how I felt yesterday about hospitals, before I woke up this morning already completely done with today) They wanted me to ring them back. I couldn’t. I couldn’t ring them back because it was the final straw. I couldn’t deal with it. I didn’t know how to deal with it. I sat there with tears stinging my eyes for half an hour. I held it together until I left that room; I walked out into the rain, and I cried my entire way home.
The original date on which they wanted to carry out the procedure was the 5th November, but I’m going to see Imagine Dragons in concert then and I’ve been looking forward to that all year (I still haven’t told the hospital this). I don’t want to have it done tomorrow either. I don’t want to miss any more lectures. I have a 9-11am lecture tomorrow morning on the medical school campus, and I do not want to be sat in a hospital over the road while a legend of a lecturer talks about a subject that I find fascinating. I don’t want to fall further behind. I don’t want to miss the re-scheduled meeting with my academic adviser… Were all of the excuses that I came up with. And sure, they are contributing factors, but the simple truth is that I can’t cope with the emotions that is going to throw into my mind. Emotionally I’m not ready to have some guy looking at my insides so soon after his colleagues messed up so many times. I will never be ready.
All I kept thinking, over and over, was “what is the point?”. What is the point? Why did I get out of bed this morning?
Wait. I was up against some stuff and I still got out of bed this morning. And I don’t know how, because I looked as rubbish as I felt, last night it once again became too painful to eat any food so I was so hungry that I felt sick (I invested in a milkshake and a smoothie to solve this issue, even though I can’t afford to fritter money on such things) and I genuinely had to fight with my thoughts to persuade myself to leave my room this morning. I didn’t want to, but somehow I did. And yes I cried. In public. And I hate to cry, even when I’m alone… But I made it through that morning too, unscathed despite what my emotions may lead me to believe. I came home and I continued to try not to cry (and continued to fail in my attempts to do so), and then I started to write a poem, because I refused to sit and stew in the corrosive pools of my own thoughts. I typed and typed until my emotion stared back at me out of a screen. And then, emotionally empty, and still close to tears, I dried my eyes, I made lunch, and I carried on with my day. This is not a game, but if it were, I’m pretty sure I’d be the winner by default.
Step 25 to getting out of a rut in life:
Do not define the success of your day by how happy it made you. Getting through a good day is easy. Riding out a bad day is tough – it demands resilience and determination that you just don’t have. And yet you make it through. That is the success – achieving something that you never dreamed you would. Now look back, see how many times you’ve done that before. All those days that you wrote off, those moments that you didn’t know how to survive, those times when you didn’t know how to keep going… And you’re past them all.