I shook for minutes before finally hitting send on an email that, until I actually came to write, I never saw myself sending. My phone made a whooshing noise as my admittance of defeat flew off to various staff members at my university. I am not sitting your exam because my heart is a poop. Please can I sit it in August. I will so totally be back next year. Please don’t kick me out (a brief summary of the multi-paragraph ramble that I wrote).
I left it far too late to send it but I was hoping I would never have to. I shook because I was scared of the responses – scared that there will be a “we told you so” or an “it isn’t my job” or a “why are you bothering me with this?” – I don’t expect to be supported there any more. I feel like I’ve fought through the past few months alone, against the university rather than with them.
Until the ten minute coughing fit and resulting crackle and wheeze in my lungs that occurred last night, I was still cocooned in the foolish illusion that I was going to somehow make a miraculous recovery and make it to the exam this morning. I hadn’t revised, I don’t even know the location of my scientific calculator and I had no idea what to expect, but I wanted more than anything else to sit that exam. Even as my lungs crackled and popped like a bowl of rice crispies with every breath (ok so if you aren’t from a country where they have this kids’ breakfast cereal then just ignore that reference) all I kept saying to people, genuinely more worried about this than anything else, and panicking about only the issue behind the following sentence was
“I have an exam in the morning” Oh no, I do not. Deep down I knew that.
I also knew it shouldn’t be important at that moment, but I couldn’t let go. I can’t let go. I am so, so frustrated with myself, with my body, with whatever is making all of this happen… But I still feel lucky, and I’m still relieved that I’m the one experiencing the first hand unpleasantness instead of any of the people I care about (and even those I haven’t met yet).
Over the last few days many comments have been made about how unlucky I am to be so unwell, so many members of staff have said I have a lot going wrong for someone so young; I’ve been called a “poor little thing” and a “toughest cookie I’ve encountered yet” and people have told me that I’m an inspiration. I’m not unlucky, and I’m not an inspiration. I’m human. I hurt and I bleed and I cry and I break down. I want more than anything to give up sometimes and I’m not here because I didn’t – I’m here because there was no easy way out. There was no option but to keep living no matter how much parts of me wished it would stop, just so being me might be more bearable. That’s not inspirational, it’s weak, it’s ungrateful. If they want to see inspirational – they should meet my friends and family, should see the people who stood by me when everyone else ran… I think I have the easy part.
I can shut this out and focus on an exam, on university, and that has been what has got me through the year. They can’t shut it out. They have to watch the things I can’t see, witness the things I won’t remember… They cry far more than I do. I hate how unfair this is on them. But on Sunday night, my friends got experience conversations with me under the influence of morphine, and I think briefly, for the first time in a while, I made them smile. Humour usually gets me through, I spread so much pain just by existing that it’s nice to spread laughter at every given opportunity.
Recently I’ve started designing moderately humorous t-shirts that I’m hoping to start selling over the summer. It gives me something to do now that revision is unnecessary, and sort of provides a back-up plan for when I totally fail the first year of my degree and have to take that year out that I turned down late last year.
On the bright side, at least now that I’ve accepted (haha so totally not accepted, but I’m trying to accept) the fact that I won’t be sitting my last two exams until August, the exam stress is finally starting to subside enough for me to sleep. (Or maybe it’s just because I’m ill – either way yay sleep has been happening). Ironically, it was probably exam stress that has tipped everything over the edge. When it nearly kills you twice, you know your exam stress is a little extreme. I’m rubbish at dealing with stuff like that on my own. I sent an email or two at the start of exam season to try and address this. The responses weren’t helpful. I’m hoping the replies I get today will make me feel a little less like my final shred of hope has withered and died.
My exam starts in an hour and a half. And I still can’t accept that fact that I will miss it.