I am going again. I can feel it. I can feel the gradual deterioration gaining speed as this downward spiral becomes a fall instead of a steady descent, life’s way of reminding me that no matter how carefully I place my feet now, the ground beneath them is going to crumble and I have far more than a few feet to fall. I would gather my effort and get ready to fight this again, but there is no energy left, there are no new moves to try, no punches left to swing that this situation cannot predict. I am defenceless against myself, and I don’t know how to deal with that now.
The rest of the world’s solution seems to be denial. They won’t let me think of the unthinkable, nor of the inevitable, and yet it is on repeat in my mind; I play it on repeat like I did with all the songs that I used to love but played over and over until they lost all meaning, or at least until I could no longer tolerate the sound of them. Now I am sick of the tune of my own thoughts, more specifically of my own fear, yet there is no pause button. And like an irritating, ‘nothing’ song, I cannot understand how this fear came to be, how my brain even gave it the privilege of a record deal, or how my mind let it reach the top of the singles charts.
I wasn’t scared. I wasn’t scared until I lost the ability to stay awake for more than a few hours without sleeping for three. I wasn’t scared until I spent most of my reading week in bed, feeling too unwell to leave it, with no idea who to turn to for help because I have no idea who will try for me any more. And even then I guess, I wasn’t scared at first, but I broke whatever it was that was keeping that fear at bay, turned down the denial I was using to drown it out, and now it is roaring in the front of my mind over everything else. I wasn’t scared until I freaked out, pushed everyone away to try and protect them, and failed to deal with the situation alone.
I think I am expected to be brave in the face of this. But I am not ashamed to admit defeat any more. Strong things flex under added pressure, under extreme circumstances they flex to the point that they are remoulded and pressed and contorted into a shape that is alien to them, but allows them to remain whole. I am also not afraid (although, I guess, slightly ashamed) to admit that I am not strong either. In the face of pressures that I don’t think any structure could withstand (let alone skin and bone) I proceeded to crumble almost into dust, and the person I was seems to have been lost in the wind. The voices of the people I relied upon to hold me up also seem to have been holding me together; they left me alone under the impression that I would set like concrete, and instead I escaped through the cracks. I thought I had found my feet, and I thought I was coping, but it turns out that when the mould was removed I could not maintain my own structure.
Right when I need the most help of all, I push away the people who offer it. I’m not sure why, because at the same time I want to wrap my arms around their legs like small children do to their parents, so that they can’t walk away from me. It’s a selfish thought process, because only one of us needs to crumble under the weight of this situation, and that person should be the one who is completely out of control of the body that is doing this. There are people who would be there in a heartbeat if I could figure out how to let them, people who would hold my hand if I could bring myself to reach out and let them take my weight. But instead I withdrew into myself, locked all the doors and threw away the keys. And now I regret that, I regret throwing away the keys because I don’t know how to let myself out of this fortress of my own thoughts.
I got to the point where I didn’t want to carry on. That thought began to be turned up louder and louder and I wasn’t sure what to do with it. It’s still there, and I’m still not sure what to do with it, which is reassuring because it means that I currently don’t want to act on it. But getting out of bed is no longer difficult just physically. Emotionally it is like attempting to wade through waist high mud, and often I don’t have the energy to deal with either of these challenges. But I get out of bed anyway. I switch off and I switch on at the same time, and I am grateful that I have another day, another lecture or assignment, and a purpose. I have a reason for being even if it is lost in the shadow of the fear that just ‘being’ should not be this hard.
This morning I found myself sat in a statistics lecture sleeping, and on the occasions that I was awake, trying not to cry because I felt so unwell that I didn’t know how I was going to walk out of the room. I sat in a lecture theatre full of people and felt like I was the only person there. But I was there. And that was what made the whole thing worth it. I was in the room, maybe not quite holding my own any more (and it was probably pointless because I didn’t take any notes) but the fact that I was there meant that even though I am so close to doing so – I had not yet given in. Even though the number one single in my brain at the moment is “I give up, I give up, I give up”, a part of me that I still can’t quite locate just keeps whispering, “No you don’t, no you don’t, no you don’t.”
So I am scared that I am going to end up dealing with another medical emergency in the very imminent future, shaking death’s hand yet again and hopefully turning down its offer of a permanent residency in whatever comes after life (let’s not discuss the whole is there, isn’t there an afterlife? thing). But as I sat there my brain pulled out a quote that it had clearly been saving for a (literally and metaphorically) rainy day such as this, and I realised why I do anything any more – why I’m still at university, still working every free second, still refusing to take a break from my studies, sleep walking through this degree and wandering through life like a zombie because I am emotionally dead:
“I didn’t come this far to only come this far” – Tom Brady
Rather than jumping from this sinking ship, I will go down with it. It has carried me too far for me to abandon it now. But you cannot imagine the terror of watching the water level rise around my ankles. And I will never ask you to drown alongside me.