I walk home, except I can hardly put one foot in front of the other so I stumble home, my steps barely moving me forward, every movement a huge and calculated effort. As I make my way through campus I am fully aware that I look drunk. But I’m not. My legs can barely hold me up now, and I’m beginning to lose the ability to walk in a straight line as the brain fog rolls in. I should probably be scared by this situation but, again, I’m not. The only thing on my mind is making it to my flat, specifically to the bed that waits for me within it. I know I won’t be able to leave it for a few hours, if at all, but I just want to find somewhere soft to fall. So much for working this afternoon. I admit defeat in one area and inject all my efforts into another, telling myself that I did well to make it this far, that meeting two of my school friends for pizza was so worth it, yet at the same time wondering what the point in it all was.
The point was living.
It’s reading week, but I went to the half hour lecture this morning because I refuse to fall behind if I can help it. For some reason I went to a group study session straight afterwards (that not everyone in our tutorial group bothered to attend) and… I broke. Because I told them. I told them even though I didn’t want to tell them. I told them because the situation forced me to. I was asked what the point in me even showing up was, was asked why I bothered. And a smile on the lips of the person who said that should have softened the blow, but it didn’t. That should not be the hardest thing right now but it was.
Why am I here?
Why do you laugh when you ask me that question? Why do you shake your head like I’m stupid? For weeks you’ve judged me for carrying on when I could give up, telling me I should prioritise my health, which will not change whether I sit in a lecture theatre or not may I point out. You don’t understand and you won’t understand. I like to think it’s concern that drives your reaction, and at the same time I recoil in response to it, because I do not need concern right now. I need normality. That normality is sitting in that group session working on a poster, that normality is sitting in a lecture and having my thoughts diverted away from the places that I am otherwise powerless from steering them away from. And yes things have been difficult, more difficult than you could ever imagine. And maybe in my situation you might take a break, but you aren’t me. My grades are not suffering. I am quite honestly in love with this degree, and gladly let it eat every thought and every spare minute of my time because I do not want to think about what may take its place… Days of nothing, days with no reason to wake up, days where I stay in bed feeling ill instead of trying my best to ignore it and stumbling through campus like a drunk.
And if I am burning myself out a little faster, then so what? Nobody needs a log fire in the summer. So I’ll burn a little brighter, a little faster, while I am able to, and while there is a point.
I get home in the middle of the afternoon and I’m not sure if the bed rushes up to meet me or if I rush to meet it, but either way I somehow find the energy to pull a blanket over myself, and admit defeat, wallowing in reality, pumping myself full of medication, and letting my eyes close. I wonder if this is it, I wonder if my body is going to listen this time, but I don’t have the energy to worry. While you do whatever it is you’re doing, I curl up in my room alone, feeling like death warmed up, my skin pale and my heart racing to the point that I am too dizzy to lift my head even if I could somehow find the energy to do so. I manage to kick off my shoes, but not to reply to the texts I am receiving. Your name pops up on the screen, still going on about the poster that I currently don’t care about at all, and I settle into this feeling and let it take my afternoon away. I don’t remember falling asleep, but when I wake up the first thing I do, even though I still can’t leave the bed, is open my laptop and study. And I will do it all again. Because I care about this degree in ways that you never will. It means things to me that you will never imagine. And because there is every point in me turning up.