“Have you ever been so far below
You could only see light using a telescope
Point it up to the sky and wonder why does hope
Feel so far, but look so close?” – Patent Pending, Brighter (my fellow third wheel played this song in the ICU and I heard this first verse and fell in love with it before I’d even heard the rest)
I wake up and I can’t wake up. It is 11:30am. I should be on a train to Edinburgh right now. I should be speeding away from all of this with one of the nicest humans on the planet, not waiting for a refund on the tickets and the accommodation and kicking myself at the loss of £60 to cancellation and processing fees. I should be able to human with no problems. I should be able to do a lot of things right now, but life has a funny way of imposing limits that we never saw coming. I want to put on a pair of trainers and go for a run. My body protests when I try to stand. I press my legs against the bed and hope the feeling within them that I need to run off will subside.
I make food that I force myself to eat. I listen to the new X Ambassadors album which I found last night (their music was there through a lot of crap over this year of university, and I have a huge amount of love for it). Almost on repeat, I listen to the song Unsteady, and ironically zig zag my way about the house to its words. I learn about the latest events in France and love humanity and hate the people who with acts like that clearly prove they are not human at all. I hug my dog. I get in the shower. I get out of the shower, and as I do so I see myself in the steamy mirror.
Usually the heat of the shower makes you all pink and warm and healthy looking, right? For those first few minutes out of the shower I usually look alright. This time it seems to have washed away the mask I had been placing over reality. I am drained of colour. My cheeks are sunken, my eyes are too, and they are half open like I am drunk. I’m breathing through my mouth because I can’t really breathe, and there are huge, huge shadows underneath my eyes. Ah crap. I think (you know things are bad when I can’t ignore them). I look a lot worse than last night. I am losing. My heart starts to sink but then doesn’t. I start to get angry at my body but then don’t. I get scared but then push that emotion away too. I stand here for a minute rushing through every emotion my brain can possibly generate, until I don’t know how to feel or what to feel but I know that this is not good and I need to deal with it.
Unfortunately, all my body wants is sleep. It does this. It gets very very unwell and then becomes too unwell to deal with anything itself. I curl up on my bed thinking no self, get up, go do something. Do not go to sleep, you probably won’t wake up if you don’t make any efforts to rescue this. And my body screams for sleep, this huge oppressive force seems to push me down further into the bed and I don’t even attempt to fight it. I close my eyes, knowing it is stupid, knowing I need to do something, but it isn’t a voluntary sleep. I cannot fight it. I am powerless to it. My dog takes his place beside me, carefully and quietly watching me as I drift off. I pay X Ambassadors through my headphones and try and fail to keep my eyes open. I don’t pause to think about how wrong this could go.
I am just glad when I wake up.
I am not glad to find that I now feel as rough as I look. No. No, no, no, no. Please. Please just no. No. I can’t deal with this, I have nobody left to turn to with it, they burnt the bridges and I ran from the flames instead of fighting them and they let me down and they gave up on me and I… Just a small break before the next emergency admission? Please? My body can’t do this. It can’t live day to day like this. You’re killing me life. You. Are. Killing me. Body, you hear that? Get a grip. Everybody, anybody, anything please get a grip.
I freak out momentarily, before I take a deep breath and get a grip. I stare at myself in the camera of my phone. I look alarmingly unwell, and usually even when I’m in the process of fighting for my life, my body manages to maintain the illusion of relatively normal levels of health until it is in real, real trouble. There would be no doubt to anybody who saw me now that I am in a serious situation. But something weird happens. I accept it.
“And if the world gives up
We’ll carry on
Turn the volume up
And we’ll sing along” – Patent Pending, Brighter (this particular bit reminds me an awful lot of my third wheel’s reassuring words and amazing support through the last week and a bit).
I don’t know what I am feeling, and I know physically I need saving, need a lot of help (on Wednesday my fellow third wheel had to wrap his arm around me and hold me up so I could walk 5m to the toilet. I literally needed supporting)… But emotionally I am ruined right now. I cannot deal with this, I don’t know how to feel. I have been left but am expected to seek the help of the people who didn’t care enough to make a plan for me or even attempt to tell me how to manage things at home. They left me living in fear and they have left me to fate. They know about my PTSD and how scared and untrusting I am of medical professionals and they still chose to act in the way they did so that they would not be responsible if anything went wrong. Well it is going wrong. And now my mental health is preventing me dealing with the physical because their actions and attitudes have wounded me in a way they will never appreciate but should. I am scared and I feel abandoned and I feel let down. There is nowhere to turn. Well there is, but that road is closed until there has been further maintenance.
I am losing. I sleep and sleep and do not feel rested. My eyes will hardly stay open, I don’t have the energy to eat and I am running out of the energy to move. If I stand, I run out of air to breathe and pant like I have just run a marathon. And then I get angry that I was left like this because I am so complicated that people refused to take responsibility in case they screwed up. I see their point, but if I do lose, let it be known to the entire world that they did nothing – that I was just told to go from a Norfolk hospital straight to my local A&E because the hospital wouldn’t accept a transfer but couldn’t turn me away if I was on their doorstep, that they would “just put in another line” (not that simple AT ALL) and treat me there until they could make a plan. Yes. That is the grand idea the consultant in Norfolk eventually had. That is what it came to.
I sent an email to London the day before that. And I said a word I never ever say. I said a word that I only said one time out loud during that whole admission, on Wednesday, when my fellow third wheel (who does not react emotionally to anything by his own admission) nearly cried.
I asked for help.
I took a huge, huge step. I swallowed my stubborn determination to fend for myself alone.
And I was ignored.
“Oh, hold on
Hold on to me
‘Cause I’m a little unsteady
A little unsteady.” – X Ambassadors, Unsteady (This song – which is currently pretty much on repeat – very much reminds me of my fellow third wheel helping me try to walk and holding my hands and hugging me when I was an emotional mess or scared over everything. Now it says everything I want to say to him and to everyone else – help. I need a little help right now. I need a little support. Please be there)
If there is still no way but through, then I will not find that way alone.