Do Not Burn, Even When Apparently Empty

On Friday evening I planned to have a super productive weekend – catch up on work and show the world that, like an aerosol container, you shouldn’t burn me even when I am apparently empty, unless you want to ignite me and get a bit of a surprise.

I forgot to consult my body on this plan. It’s general attitude seems to have been “Excuse me… nope!” I woke up at a reasonable hour today, shut my eyes for five more minutes, and the next time I opened my eyes, expecting my phone to tell me the time was 8:40… It was 12:30. Determined not to waste the day, and to cram in as much productivity as possible, I showered, I studied until my laptop battery died on me… and then while it recharged, I realised that I was exhausted, so I decided that I would curl up and recharge myself too. Unfortunately I curled up on my bed… Under a blanket… And the next time I looked at the clock it was 16:30.
I gave up on studying then, because I finally accepted that pushing myself would only add to my exhaustion and therefore inhibit any future efforts to study as well. Sometimes, as difficult as it may be, you just have to listen to the part of yourself that you’ve ignored. I’ve been ignoring the fact that my body is fighting off the tail end of two infections on top of its usual health issues. I’ve been ignoring the fact that I was in intensive care a couple of weeks ago. I spent so long stood still in life that now I’m trying to sprint through it and catch up.
My attitude in situations such as this is perfectly summed up on one of my favourite song lyrics:
“My body tells me no, but I won’t quit, ‘cause I want more”My body, Young The Giant
Sometimes that attitude is helpful, but today I realised that most of the time it is probably just plain stupid of me. Sometimes in order to achieve more you have to stop and give yourself a break before you fall apart. Because trust me, when you don’t, you do fall down. Determination is great, but there is a very thin and very blurred line between determination and denial, and denial is dangerous – a hopeful ignorance so many of us use as a crutch to stumble on through tough times. But we could run through those tough times if we ditched the crutch and treated the injury that slowed us down.
I am trying to catch up on everything, and make up for everything I missed, and I know that in doing so I will push myself (at least physically) beyond breaking point. I was so lost in the stagnated, rotting poison of my defeated mind, that I want to make up for it. But the song currently blasting out of my headphones is correct –
“You are never gonna get everything you want in this world, first things first, get what you deserve” – First things first, Neon Trees
Over the past week I felt like everything was going wrong. Each day threw something else at me, and by the end of it I felt emotionally bruised. I have only blogged about the bad. It took up more space in my brain, it left a bigger mark, it overshadowed the good. It takes five positive memories to equate to one negative memory (apparently. Don’t quote me on that, my brain still hasn’t quite figured out how to human, I wouldn’t trust its sources or anything else it says right now) and even if that isn’t true, it certainly feels that way. So I wanted to share the good things. Because when it felt like my entire life was going wrong, some parts were going right, the bad was just shouting over the whispers of awesomeness.

London is an awesome city and I’ve made advantage of living in it. So far I’ve found myself in Piccadilly circus at night, and last Tuesday I went to a science themed open-mic night (Science Showoff 5.1… I will post a link somewhere) which was heaven for my inner nerd (seriously, a whole room full of students and PhD students and academics and journalists and other professionals all in a scientific/ engineering field meant that people laughed at nerdy science puns and we could all have big complicated science discussions in the interval.) It was also hilarious, (I laughed so much that at one point I was in tears)  but before I got the opportunity to blog about that great night out, life gave me a little bit of a kick, and the bad stuff always seems to drown out the good.
So I started thinking. Looking back at the things that broke me will probably break me again. Or make me feel ridiculous, because as predicted, the things that mattered to me a few days ago, I now wonder why on earth I was so bothered about. I didn’t know how I was going to carry on with anything, or what I might do, or how to even… (see my point? I didn’t know how to human)… but I made it through to the other side, I finally found the willpower to pick up the smashed glass from my bedroom floor and start working on myself also.
I do this a lot. Life is a cycle and within it there are many more cycles. I climb and I fall. We all do. I spin around and around in this cycle of fierce determination to do something productive, and an overwhelming lack of motivation to do anything. And sometimes they both fight at the same time. But I achieved something this week, and I got some likes on my blog posts, which actually helped me more than you would think, because it made me feel like I was good at something when the universe was making me feel like a bit of a failure at life (so thank you to anybody reading this who liked a post recently).
i did something that I don’t normally do. I started looking forward. I looked forward at the ‘ifs’ (If my heart would let me I would go for a run every day, join the university’s women’s football team, join the swimming club, join the athletics club, sail again…) and then I started planning the next month – writing all the chaotic things that are going to be happening into an organiser. And I decided to go to all of the poetry events I’ve been reading about. I love to write, and it helps me a lot. Over the last week I wrote many, many poems, and I’m considering entering some of the older poetry that I wrote into a few poetry competitions (because why not?!) I’m hoping to attend a few poetry readings and spoken word open-mic nights (because London is a great place to find these sort of events)
I’m going to the cinema on Tuesday with my ‘flat family’ to see the new Bond film, Flat daddy and I are going to Trafalgar Square on Saturday to watch the rugby world cup final on the big screen. The following Wednesday I’m going back to hospital to be sedated out of my mind and let a surgeon poke around my insides. (which I’m already stressing about) I don’t want to tell the university that I will be missing lectures because I am worried that they will push me towards dropping out even more. But the day after that I am seeing Imagine Dragons in concert (their music got me through a lot, has been playing through my headphones very loudly all week, and next Thursday will make everything ok all over again)… And it’s bonfire night in London… So life will be good. Who am I kidding? Life is always good. I was thrown into the flames last week by people who thought I was empty and had nothing left to give… And the frustration that ignited has turned me into a fireball which is spewing assignments and work and productivity everywhere.
Positivity whispers, defeat screams. Positivity is delicate and fragile, defeat is a bully, it is far harder to kill off. Positivity must be nurtured in order to grow, defeat just turns up without invitation and breaks down the door. The good things in your life will whisper, the bad things in your life will shout so loudly they are all you can hear. The bad things in your life will act like blinkers, blocking out the good, focussing your attention away from it. But when the bad stops, that tiny little whisper will be audible again, and when those blinkers fall away, that tiny little spec will shimmer like a diamond. Even when you feel that you are empty, there’s still enough within you to silence anybody who tries to put you down. It is always there, whispering over the shouts of your defeat.
I am thankful to this university for doubting me. Initially I was burned in the flames of their doubt, but eventually the pain gave way to whatever this is… Defeat is still whispering in the background of every thought, and positivity hasn’t quite found it’s voice, but I’m getting there. A few days ago I never imagined I would be in a place like this. I couldn’t deal with anything. I didn’t know how to make it through an hour, let alone another week. I sleep walked my way through a few days, with no motivation, actively not wanting to do any of the things I was doing, frequently wanting to cry for no real reason. I couldn’t see an end. Until I found it. It will take me a while to finish the climb out of that downward spiral, and pick myself up and dust myself off, but I am moving the right way.

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