I told myself I’d have a break from university in order to avoid breaking, and somehow found myself sat in the library at almost 10pm this evening, having been there for over five hours. I never go to the library, but my room is currently a tip, and as a neat freak I couldn’t handle staring at what can only be described as a landfill in combination with the isolation that I feel being shut inside here. Usually I’d have been completely freaking out at the amount of work I had to do, and I got to the stage of pre-freakout (which was enough to push me out of the door), but I’m kind of dead inside at the moment and that seemed to smother any sort of emotional reaction whatsoever. I finally did a piece of coursework that I’ve been meaning to start for a week, completely gave up with another, and then wrote about assays used to test for diabetes (which I found super easy, having had most of the tests myself).
I locked my computer and went home at one point just to collect the parcels that had been delivered (the MP3 player I ordered when bored in yesterday’s lecture, and the new earphones I ordered last night) and returned to save all my lecture recording onto the MP3 player so that I can listen to them over and over without having to have my laptop open or use data on my phone. I tried to work, but it wasn’t thoughts that distracted me (ok, so there were the odd trains of thought about how pointless it all was, and then how pointless everything was, and then a further downward spiral) but my mind was just numb. I couldn’t focus much. I sat staring at the keyboard a lot.
I got a message from an individual who was trying so hard to be helpful, advising me that they’d got themselves in a rut lately and that the best way out of that sort of situation is to get back a sense of proportion and reality.
Great. People think I have no sense of proportion or reality. They have no idea. It is proportion and reality that put me into this rut when I finally allowed myself to face them. Do they think I’m being a drama queen? I give up with humans.
I’d already decided to spare people from my presence by completely withdrawing and sitting alone in lectures (ok this was mostly because I can’t face people at all, but also through guilt).
Uni Babe continued to be an absolute babe though.
I’ll always do my best to be there for you, and try and understand what you’re going through. You’re so tough and I don’t know how you do it, but I’m so proud that you are xx – Uni Babe
I felt slightly reconnected with humanity, and let her know how grateful I was. I haven’t been that great with words though. My brain just can’t.
And then proportion and reality started asking if there was anything people could do to help, and saying that she would always always be there, and I still wondered if she understood just what’s inside my head right now. I feel bad that my friends feel responsible. When I cried in my lab on Friday several of them asked what they’d done wrong and started apologising for the way they’d spoken to me and stuff. I genuinely don’t think they can even comprehend what I’m going through right now (ok so that proved that they can’t) which feels isolating but I guess is also good, because it would tear them apart too and I care about them too much to let that happen.
I bumped into my old best friend from sixth form in the library (we have so many of the same thoughts that it’s scary). She bought me a hot chocolate because she’s a legend, and I saved her the computer next to me using my coat and a couple of textbooks on sexually transmitted diseases that the guy next to me left behind. She sat next to me, and my brain felt like I was back in our sixth form common room, and it was nice.
I was arranging to meet a friend who kind of knows the mess I’m in at the moment, and the state its put me in, when she told me that her eating disorder had ruined her day and she’d spent the day wondering which vehicle to throw herself in front of. Out of the blue. Completely casually, adding that she counted it as a productive day (obviously joking). As someone who has been tearing themselves apart with thoughts like that an awful lot lately, I didn’t find it amusing, and I was obviously worried. The trouble is, I can’t deal with my own stuff right now. My own stuff pushed me to and beyond the point of wanting to end it all (trust me, I’m already dead right in the head right now). She knew I couldn’t cope, and she messaged me saying something so huge because she didn’t want to bother or worry her other friends. I kind of just stared at my phone as words saying that it (life with an eating disorder) sucked and that she couldn’t do it any more. And I felt responsible. I didn’t know how to words. I couldn’t think and had been unable to all day. I was falling apart. And suddenly someone had put their life in my hands. I tried so many times to reply. One time my friend had to take my phone off of me. Another time I threw it. So many times I put it back down.
There was so much pressure on me not to screw up, not to say the wrong thing. And I didn’t know what to say. I knew I couldn’t make the person on the other end of my phone see how amazing they are, how different reality is to the way that arse hole eating disorder makes her see herself. And I didn’t know how I was meant to respond. Honestly, I was kind of horrified. Kind of pleased she could at least open up to me. Kind of hurt that she hadn’t even considered the possibility that I was broken and breaking down and had cried in front of her and tearing myself apart (apparently she doesn’t quite understand my situation either). But before anything else I just wanted to be a good friend. I didn’t know how to be. I didn’t know how to be a good human, a good student, a good person. And for a long time I haven’t been a good friend – I’m too ill to be there for people. And yet I had to be. I felt responsible for her life. I had been chosen because she cared too much about other people to bother them or worry them, which kind of hurt a little. But I tore myself apart trying to find the words. I lost my mind. I broke a little more. But I was too dead to feel. Too dead to think even. It took me a long, long time to reply. But I found words. I tried to be sensitive and thoughtful and not say the wrong thing. I tried to help. I was so worried. I put everybody above myself, and my friends matter a great deal to me (even the crappy ones, which this person was not, which meant I worried even more). I was scared I’d fail and that because of something I said or didn’t say, she’d kill herself.
And then after a while she casually went to normal conversation like nothing had happened. And I couldn’t even. By that point it was past 10 o’clock, and my friend, who I call “Batman” and I were sat in a chicken shop.
The whole time we’d been together I’d seen in her face she’d wanted to talk. Consciously or subconsciously she’d been dropping not-so-subtle hints. I knew she needed to talk. She knows me well enough to know I’m a complete mess. She also knew I wouldn’t talk about it, because I just… Can’t. Because she knew there was a lot on my plate, she told me she didn’t want to talk about stuff. But I can make her talk, and I did. We sat in a study room at my accommodation, and I poked the hornets nest. She was unfocussed and clearly needed to let it all out. Something unpleasant happened to her last year and she’s still suffering serious emotional consequences.
I know how she works in a way others don’t (mostly because we’re the same person divided between two brains). I’m ridiculously blunt and say whatever I think (but gently) so people know where they stand with me, because I think that’s what they deserve. She opened up. She continued to open up. She said she hadn’t talked about it for a long time, but it was clear that although she was much better than she has been, her mind was a mess. I didn’t care about my stuff, I was kind of humbled by the fact that she didn’t want to dump her stuff on top of mine. But I told her to forget it, I told her to talk. I wouldn’t take no for an answer, because I could see in the look on her face that she needed that.
I’m good at dealing with other people’s feelings, at putting them into words. I know how “Batman” wrks, and I know how she thinks. She laughed when I got things spot on. I knew her thought processes without her needing to explain them and I know how refreshing it feels to be understood. People had been pushing her and pushing her to get help, and I knew it wasn’t that easy. So we talked about that. We talked about antidepressants and that they weren’t a sign of weakness (if only I could listen to myself). We talked about getting help and steps she can take and the people she needs to talk to at uni and stuff. We talked it all through, my scrambled brain somehow injecting logic into the conversation. And because I know how she works, I talked her round.
I helped her see what she knew and supported her in her decision to do what is right instead of what fear tells her to do. She knew she needed to see someone deep down, that the way she was feeling and the things that were becoming larger and larger in her mind could not stay. Waiting for a GP appointment didn’t seem like a good plan. It didn’t seem quick enough. She was too terrified to make the phone call and couldn’t face going (remind you of anyone??). So I told her I’d go with her. Until gently, there was a “maybe” and eventually there was an “I don’t have a choice do I?” with a small but reluctant smile that said I know I need to do this, and it feels like a relief to take the step, but I don’t want to at all. So I said I’d go with her. I said we’d do it together (and we will. Every step of the way because she doesn’t have to do this alone). Even if we have to walk past the door 20 times before we walk in, even if I have to scoop her into my arms as soon as we’re done and let her cry on my shoulder, even if she hates me. It’s such a huge step and I’m so proud of her (I told her that, and I mean it).
We talked until she stopped stressing over the essay due in tomorrow and finally, at half past the first 1am of today (because of the clock change there are apparently two) I walked her to the reception of my accommodation, telling her not to feel bad at all because she hadn’t asked, I’d made her talk and I hadn’t given her an option, I’d told her we’d go (she feels bad for dragging me away from the library tomorrow – I planned to get there at 8am today just to not be in this room, and didn’t get out of bed until half 1 so… She isn’t keeping me from anything). I promised her that afterwards we’ll go for breakfast or lunch or just do something nice, and then we’ll go to the library and I’ll help her finish that essay (she’s doing and English essay but English Lit was my best subject at A level so I can sort of help). I know how important that first step is, and I have every intention of being there with her.
And then I realised that a year ago (in the first couple of weeks of last November), my uni parents had done exactly the same for me. I remember them saying over and over at me to stop apologising, that they hadn’t offered, they had told, and I had no option but to accept their support (which I learned was going to be there whether even in the absence of my acceptance). One of them took me to my first psychiatrist appointment and sat out in the waiting room until I was done, then took me back to the hospital and ate lunch with me because I was all broken and they knew how much I’d not wanted to go. They talked me into doing the right thing when I didn’t know how too and was too terrified to. They got me to open up and talk about things I didn’t know how to say anyone. And in a way I’d done exactly the same for “Batman” sort of.
We both laughed when I kind of thought out loud and said that I was a uni parent.
And then I turned to her and told her,
“It’ll be ok. It hasn’t been. But it will be. You’re in the middle of the oh but there will be a k.”
She said there would be for me too (I rather fear that there is going to be a full stop instead). She said she was always there if I wanted to talk to, and my response was
“I don’t do that” to which she replied I know. It’s not that I don’t want to talk. I tried to. But every time there’s just this great big long pause and then “I can’t” slips from between my lips and my entire mind implodes. I’m bad at talking. And she, like most uni students right now who don’t even have her added situation to deal with, already has far too much on her plate to handle. It wouldn’t have been fair. It doesn’t feel fair of me to talk to anyone, not this blog, not even the uni parents.
I do all I can, but it isn’t enough. I try to be enough and I’m not. I try to be a good friend and I’m not. People try to protect me because of my health or my emotional state (few know of the PTSD and depression) or because they think my life is way too much for twelve people to handle between them, let alone just me on my own… But my friends come first. They always have and always will. I owe them a lot. They mean a lot to me. And I’ll be with them through every oh and every k. I wish they knew that. I wish I could be enough for them. And I know I don’t deserve them at all. They are such nice, amazing, kind people and every day I wonder why on earth they put up with me. I can’t thank them enough. It’s an honour to know each and every one of them and I am so appreciative of the fact that they are trying so hard.
I find it kinda ironic that I’ve been told to go to the hospital or the walk in centre all week and the only point at which I will go is for someone I truly value (which means someone other than myself). I’m going tomorrow, just not in a way people meant (although I may end up going for myself at some point if my immune system continues to be an idiot and let this infection spread despite the antibiotics I’m on, as it currently seems to be doing).
“You’re in the middle of the oh but there will be a k“ – My Brain, today. I kinda like this combination of words.
One day I’ll be the human/friend/sibling/daughter/student/auntie/cousin/whatever-other thing-I-am-but-forgot-I-am that the world deserves. Until then… Well, I don’t even know how to try at anything right now, but I’ll get right back to trying when the fog clears (it’s super foggy in London tonight, but I’m referring to a different type of fog).
Sorry this went on so long.
No way but through (this have never felt like a more appropriate thing to say at the end of a post. I’m right here with you “Batman” you don’t have to walk through this alone. Ever. Not a single step. Not a single tear. Not a single moment of pain or a single negative thought. I’ll share it all. I’d take it all if I could. Always… That goes to everyone I know, actually).