Taking Steps

The last few days have been… Weird?

I took a lot of first steps. Or at least significantly helpful steps that gave me whatever I needed to keep going.

I woke up on Sunday empty and lonely, completely broken. I didn’t want to do anything. But I didn’t want to stay in the state I was in. I didn’t want to sit in the room alone and I was so, so desperate for some company.

I went on a very, very, very long walk (almost 14km, which in my body is a HUGE deal). I stepped out of my flat with a desire to walk as far away as possible until I couldn’t take another step. I wanted to get away, as far away as possible, from… Myself. From everything. I was curious to find where walking along Mile End Road would take me if I kept going and just didn’t stop, and I had a vague idea about walking to Hyde Park in my mind.

I briefly reconsidered my plan when I became knackered half way along the corridor to get to the lift in my building, so I decided to head in a general direction – central and beyond – with no idea where or when I would stop.

It was a huge comfort knowing that no matter how lost I got in the city that stretched itself out before me, I would never be far from a tube station, and so could always find my way home. I realised there was also a comfort in the very act of getting lost – of being surrounded by something so much bigger than myself and my life; to feel small and have no attention upon me whatsoever, the illusion of fitting.

I stopped in the pub to treat myself to a plate of scampi and chips, just to not have to eat alone again. To my surprise, the pub was packed and most people around me sat at tables alone lost in their phones (I sat writing, feeling like a complete nerd).

I walked a brilliant route mostly consisting of straight lines. I turned once at Cannon street and the rest of the time just went straight. I walked through places I knew and places I’d never been before

  • I walked down The Mall for the first time of my life, right down the middle of the road in the pouring rain.
  • I stood in front of the gates to Buckingham Palace, which I’d never done before
  • I wandered past the bottom of the Walkie Talkie building and it reminded me of going there with my mum on the 20th birthday I didn’t think I’d see.

It felt like home. I felt so small and inconsequential in comparison to the city I was surrounded in, and I was so surrounded by people and conversation that even over the sound of The 1975 playing in my headphones, I could hear the hum of city life. My body protested at first, but my denial was powerful enough to drown out its protests until eventually I forgot about them. It felt easy. Almost how I’d imagine healthy people feel when they walk about – I didn’t feel like I was lifting my legs through soup, like I didn’t have the energy to move another step. I didn’t feel (very) dizzy, I didn’t feel anywhere near close to passing out, and I was breathing fast but not so fast that a medical professional would have panicked. And that felt powerful. Because I remembered a few months ago being in this city in a wheelchair – being bumped over kerbs and wanting to sink into the abyss of my own shame at the weakness that it represented to a body my brain was convinced was capable of so much more. Remembering that, and seeing the reflection of myself in the widows I walked past, striding along the pavement like a normal person… It felt so amazing.

It was so freeing to just walk with nowhere to be. It calmed my mind – I thought of nothing. I felt free, refreshed… Ok. It felt amazingly, amazingly good.

I made it all the way to Hyde park (which felt like a HUGE achievement), and made a detour to the 7/7 memorial, where I read all the names and cried, for personal reasons. I walked all the way through the park in the rain, until I ended up at Lancaster Gate underground station. The only reason I hopped onto the central line was because my phone was about to die, not because I actually had to stop walking. I felt like I’d out-walked everything.

Another day the city saved us, it gave your heart a place to hide” – Goo Goo Dolls, Lucky One

And then (after being grateful that I’d got the central line because it was the only line running to Mile End station for some reason, and stopping to help a lost looking lady and her dog find an alternate route) it all caught up with me. I got home, and according to my blood I was in the midst of a medical emergency. But I felt good. I couldn’t understand it. I was so confused. And then I passed out and came round three hours later when the fire alarm went off briefly. I decided I’d sleep it off, which worked for about half an hour until HK Uni friend called me (she’d bought me paella, so it was an awesome phone call). I didn’t go back to sleep after that. Until last night.

And I slept so well last night, because after I spent my afternoon sat with Portsmouth Uni Friend in her flat (I didn’t tell her it was because I thought I might collapse and didn’t want to be alone), the new psychiatrist I approached, called me. I didn’t tell her any diagnoses, but she immediately latched onto the trauma thing and told me what I’d already been told. I felt ridiculous and abnormal for the way my mind is, but I’d never seen somebody who had training to deal with PTSD, just psychologists who talk about the emotional impact of serious health complaints or who I saw because of my health stuff. In 20 minutes she was a bigger help to me than any non-uni-parent-human that I have ever spoken to. She told me that I wasn’t abnormal or a freak, the things I said were commonplace after traumas and stuff. She understood the impact it had on my life and how out of control and frustrated it can make a person feel… She noted that it stopped me going to hospital when I needed to and said that this was the thing we’ll work on first – the flashbacks and the nightmares. It was so amazing. She said she would email me some things about coping mechanisms before we meet, as I hadn’t been given any and told her that was the main reason I wanted to see her. I’m meeting her next Thursday. I told her what a huge step it was for me and she appreciated just how much it had taken to reach out to someone.

So it doesn’t really matter that I spent all day today feeling unwell.

I don’t even know why I wrote this. I rarely share the good, and nobody really seems to care about it. But these things all had huge impacts on me in many other ways.

I went from

No way but through (but far too late and maybe just not for me?)

Right back to

No way but through.


5 thoughts on “Taking Steps

  1. It’s so great to hear some positives! And so happy to hear about the psychiatrist- good luck with it all and it’s amazing you’ve reached out- be proud! Will hopefully meet up soon?!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s so strange to see what a difference just being understood makes. I have a friend who understands sort of, but never anyone who made it feel so normal and told me that there are ways to get through it and stop it all happening. It was so comforting to hear that reassurance, that it might not be in my head any more someday


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