Today has been… Interesting, for want of a better word. Unfortunately, I cannot guarantee that you will be able to say the same of this post, but here I am writing it anyway.
I am functioning on an odd (yet not uncommon among students during exam season) mixture of sleep deprivation and complete and utter panic. It turns out that the exam room is the only place my brain deems safe enough to fall asleep. Until a couple of hours ago, revision was the only thing on my mind. I had settled into a routine of setting the timer on my phone for an hour, studying for 45 minutes, and then allowing myself to nap for the last 15 minutes before the timer ran out (or not, because insomnia and exhaustion are both currently my best friends). And then Skippy (my heart) decided that being in this awesomely productive routine wasn’t enough fun. It decided my brain didn’t have enough things to panic about. And it had a funny five minutes. Except it wasn’t funny, it lasted a lot longer than five minutes, and I eventually completely freaked out (just as it settled down).
I can’t even describe the sensation. Initially I ignored it, until I almost passed out in my bed. And then came the ache that swelled in my chest like a wave and rolled out to my shoulder (which had been visiting me on and off all day, and been, I now realise stupidly, ignored. Denial doesn’t work with some things, apparently). At this point I decided I’d check my pulse rate, only to discover that it wasn’t so much a rate, more a chaotic dance routine (one worthy of my little brother, who has absolutely no rhythm). I got a little bit scared at the speed with which it switched between racing and slamming on the brakes (my heart is basically drunk driving). Multiple possibilities of what I should do next went running through my brain. But naturally, I went back to revision, to try and push all thoughts of my heart out of my head, after messaging my future flatmate so that if any disasters happened someone at least knew what had gone on.
It’s hard to focus on revision after something like that. I was, and still am so, so tired. I’m not sleeping, because my brain has once again managed to pin a disproportionate level of importance on these exams. People expect me to do well. I am very much feeling the pressure of that expectation. Nobody says its ok to fail, they just say “even if you have a bad day you’ll fly through” which is probably supposed to help, but actually really doesn’t. At all.
I started to wonder if I’m doing the right thing by being here, by standing alone in oblivion facing the monsters of normal student life on top of those I have for so long been trying to run from. People around me are melting down just under the exam pressure, and now, on top of that, like a glistening cherry on top of a cake, is the worry that I am pushing it too far, that my body is going to bail. I was asked to write a short piece for the magazine of a newspaper about exactly this, but I can’t handle any extra pressure right now, any extra deadlines. I am backing away from everything. I am backing away from myself. Today, right now, I’m a little afraid – of a few groups of cells inside my body that make up the organs intent on rebelling.
I didn’t realise quite how much exams had got to me until I realised that it is now 8pm and I haven’t eaten anything today except the small bag of popcorn I ate with my eyes shut (was too tired to keep them open) in the very, very early hours of this morning. I’m too busy freaking out to be hungry. I also realised that I have barely had anything to drink. I haven’t washed for a few days. I think I’m actually wearing the same top I came back to uni in. Since 10am when I figured out this little routine, I have studied for 45 minutes (often longer) and started up again right when my 60 minute alarm goes off. I need to get everything back into perspective. I need someone to be blunt, but not harsh, because I’m ridiculously emotionally fragile at the moment. I need someone to tell me that I can afford to screw up an exam or too. I need to get a grip. None of these things look like they are going to happen anytime soon.
Anyway my fifteen minutes is up. I need to try and revise. But my heart feels weird. And it aches. And the knowledge of that is seeping through my attempts to revise the histology of whatever I’m currently looking at. It all looks like blobs. Pink blobs everywhere. Just pink blobs. Unless a different stain is used to colour the tissues, in which case I occasionally get to cluelessly stare at black/brown blobs whilst pretending that I’m not currently a little terrified of my own body.
Three more weeks of this is going to be interesting to say the least. But I’ve already survived the year and managed to keep my head above the water as far as grades are concerned (just), and I’ve been much, much more unwell than this.
Anyway, on a final note, may the fourth be with you!