The Empty Square

I’m finding it really difficult to care about anything at the moment. I’m oddly apathetic all of a sudden, and it is a welcome relief.

I slept for a couple of hours last night. A couple of hours is all I manage at the minute. But I managed to sleep. The night before an exam (I kept a sleep diary during the main exam period and discovered I was getting about 2.5-7 hours of sleep a week. It broke me. I felt drunk. I couldn’t think. I felt unwell – although that may have been the peripheral oedema and tachycardia and ascites that were also slowly developing but hey…). I didn’t revise. I kept attempting to revise but I just wasn’t bothered enough, there was no panic and therefore the panic revision that I usually rely on did not occur. The trouble is, only a totally two hours of non-panicked revision had occurred over the previous two days as well. I was not prepared and… I couldn’t care. My brain latched onto bigger things that it could not overcome and wrestled with those thoughts until suddenly a weird calm spread over everything. I watched tv. I fell asleep on the sofa, and the woke up and began watching tv all of again. Over and over. As we got in the car to drive to London I remembered I had an exam and thought I was going to throw up, but the feeling soon passed, and turned out to be because I hadn’t eaten and was stupidly hungry. Had a full English in the pub along the road from campus. They’d rearranged the whole thing and frankly ruined it, but it was great to wallow in the memories that being in that pub dragged to the front of my mind, and I messaged multiple people with images of the new layout (aka the abomination).

It was so lovely being back on campus. I mean damn, something filled me up from my phalanges to my frontal bone and my sagittal suture (toes to the immovable joint between the parietal bones of the skull… See! My brain needs to biomed! It just needs to biomed! IT has so much pent up biomedical science stuff that it needs to unleash!). I wasn’t happy, it was weird. I was… Alive again. I was buzzing, there was a spring in my step, I was flying towards that exam room because I had a purpose, and I belonged, and I was here even though so many people told me I wouldn’t be… And also, there was no Winston the wheelchair. I missed university so much. Being back no campus filled me with the same feeling I used to get approaching theme parks as a kid, but better. It was like coming home. I had been so lost the day before, so… Just… Asdfghjkl… And suddenly everything snapped back into place as campus just appeared around me. I was back home. I was back in the place that gave me a reason to wake up and a purpose and a sense of achievement. And it was doing it all over again.

The exam saw me sat in the corridor outside the wrong room for about 20 minutes. I still didn’t revise – I messaged a couple of my uni friends and was actually more worried about the fact that I wasn’t worried about my exam, than I was about sitting the actual exam. It went ok. I don’t like maths, but I was so happy to actually have to think and apply myself for the first time in a few months that it was heaven. I enjoyed the challenge and the puzzle, although I think I’ve got at best 50%. The invigilator in the room with me was lovely and went to university in my hometown so was the first person I’d encountered at uni (other than uni dad) who had actually heard of the area and knew where it was! We had a long chat at the end and she was so lovely I felt like I’d sat the whole thing with a friend quietly sat behind me. I came home. Hugged the dog. The nephew and I went shopping and I bought myself the pair of trainers I want (the first pair of trainers I’ve ever paid full price for, but still no more than £50). My nephew bought himself a barbell and a dumbbell set and a workout bench, which we wrestled into a shopping trolley that then gained so much momentum under the weight that we lost all control of it. We met my friend there and she came back with us, and we just sat and talked for ages which was nice (she shared my enthusiasm for my colouring book with loads of abstract drawings of London in it – she goes to a London university too and also seems to miss the city that has stollen my heart).

Anyway, enough of the rubbish. I actually wanted to talk about a specific thing this time:

So my run of posting every day has been broken. I’m kind of glad, to be honest. I was starting to feel a lot of pressure to post and felt I was beginning to write utter nonsense that wasn’t really worth reading. I wanted to just take a day or two to have a break between posts, and only blog when I had something that felt worth saying or something I need to let out… But I hadn’t skipped a day since the 5th of May and even being in the ICU hadn’t stopped me, so I figured stopping for myself was a pretty feeble reason to take the pressure off of myself and post as and when I feel like it. That may be every day, it may be multiple times a week, it may be once a week… It hopefully won’t be a five month hiatus as has been known to occur before.

I started this blog as a space for me to let out things that I couldn’t release anywhere else. It motivates me to do something with my day and it is a fantastic coping mechanism when I can see now way. I needed a place to be honest, and where nobody knew my name (ok if you’re smart you know my surname – when I started blogging I had no intentions of hiding who I was, but self esteem and a lot of other factors changed all that). If my family knew the things I let out here I’m sure they’d freak. But this blog has for a long time been my way of coping. It makes me feel less alone, and likes, comments and follows make me feel like I have a purpose in a really pathetic way, when I cannot see they way through particularly tough times. I’ve met some incredible people through it and received some amazing support that has helped me when I really needed it. I blog for myself, and I was losing sight of that. I was starting to blog for the sake of blogging, because I didn’t want there to be an empty square at the top of a page.

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But I need to let the squares at the top of this page be empty in order to stop there being empty squares in other areas of my life, in other areas of me.

Emotionally today I’ve also hit a bit of an empty square (apart from a few seconds where I felt a weird relief that dragged with it a complete calm – I could do all the things I’d been wanting to do, but without the guilt of feeling like I should probably be panicking or revising or panic revising).

I started looking up swim sessions at the pool where my old swimming club is based. I can’t go to any private leisure centres here because I am not a millionaire and the person I was going to sign up with has now gone back to uni, but the pool I am referring to from here on in was used as a training camp for some country’s team prior to the 2012 Olympics, and it always used to be my favourite pool to train in with my swimming team. I swam my first gala in it. I held my first swimming medal and trophy in it. I threw myself off the diving boards after long training sessions while our coaches stood on the side and watched us, and I walked to the end of the top diving board, counted to three, and stepped off so quickly that my dad thought I’d done it many times before. I swam lap after lap, kilometres each night, with my swimming team’s logo on my cap and my name printed in black letters beneath it. Walking back into that pool and having to get into the boom pool because I am not fit enough to swim even a full length of a 25m pool will be difficult. Memories will flood my mind. But not like flashbacks. No terror. A smile is the only thing these memories will induce. Memories of the time the pool drain ate my kick board… And then shortly after ate the spare one my coach threw at me. Memories of running around in the changing rooms as they were turning all the lights off and shutting the pool down at 10pm. Memories of doing race starts into the pool and the shock of the cold. Memories of drills and groaning as we saw the warm up sheets (I would do anything to be able to complete one of those warmup sheets, to even see one again). Memories of drowning even though I hadn’t breathed in water, of coughing up fluid even though I hadn’t inhaled any, of cramps and a wheeze that my asthma inhaler wouldn’t fix and feeling far too out of breath and exhausted to complete swim sessions. Memories of getting out and hiding in the changing rooms so my dad thought I’d completed the entire session… Memories of fading. But memories of who I was, nonetheless. Memories that fill me with warmth.

I thought I wanted to go to a bunch of other swimming pools, but I’m now filled with a weird sense of nostalgia. How fitting that I should begin again in the pool where it all began. Swimming lessons with my primary school… PE lessons with my secondary school (where I swam my lengths underwater because I refused to go first even though I was the fastest and that way I could just overtake people by swimming underneath them because I was too embarrassed to go round them)… Opening the doors and sitting by the breeze when we were melting because it was too hot… Filling swimming hats with water to make water balloons… Realising I could do something. Making the best bunch of friends I could ever ask for, friends I haven’t heard from for years… And I will be there again. Home.

And then there will be no more empty square.

No way but through

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