I woke up this morning after a near normal amount of sleep. Initially, I thought this was a great thing. But after a few seconds I felt the unmistakable symptoms which signalled a severe decline in my health, and realised I had deteriorated far below the level I had reached in hospital. Because I slept. I was so exhausted from two nights of next to no sleep, and emotional everything which transitioned into emotional nothing… That I couldn’t fight the sleep at all. I slept through every alarm I set. I woke up and gave myself some injections a couple of times, but that was all I could do, all I was capable of. So I woke up in a state that meant a few hours later I wouldn’t have woken up at all. Here it was – life asking me to fight when I had nothing left to give. I went into autopilot, like a zombie. And when I can feel, I think I’ll think about how life isn’t supposed to be a fight, I think I’ll wonder if just existing is supposed to be this hard.
The thing is, I think I know everything I’m going to go through. In the brief moments in which I still feel completely dead (I’ve been emotionally numb before but this is something else) but clearly something hits my subconscious, I found myself sobbing so hard I couldn’t hold myself up any more. And there was not thought or emotion behind it, just suddenly there it was – this big emotional reaction in the absence of anything I could feel or put words to. And that isn’t going to be the end. That’s before I feel. I spoke to my new in hospital friend, and my uni friend that has the same cardiologist as me. The former completely understood, and the latter has a mother who is a counsellor and seemed to think it was good that I could see it.
I’m going to have to hurt.
My brain has completely shut down – no thoughts, feelings, no nothing. For 18 hours I didn’t say a single word, not because I didn’t want to, but because I opened my mouth and there was just nothing in my brain. Nothing. I couldn’t function at all. I was so lost in the void in my mind. And I got to that state because I felt so much, got so distressed and so traumatised and so broken, that the only way my brain could cope was to not to cope at all. At the end of the day, my brain is kind of like an animal – I’ve tamed it, but when it is in danger, it reacts primitively and instinctively and its only focus is survival. So it did what it had to do. It was in so much emotional pain, a constant state of pure terror and panic and hours of tears and helplessness… And then it listened to an old man die, an old man who I still see every time I sleep, whose dying breaths will be fresh in my ears for months to come… And it didn’t have the capacity to feel any more. And it didn’t know what to switch off. So it switched off everything. It shut down.
And all that emotion, everything that it didn’t know how to feel, didn’t know how to contain… I’m going to have to feel it all. At some point, it’s going to find me again. At some point, my brain is going to remember how to human, how to feel. And I am going to break. The suicidal urge is going to be very, very strong. My hospital friend knew that (we’ve been messaging non-stop all day, telling each other things we know the other needs to hear, understanding each other in ways healthy people can’t, joining each other in the despair and the futility and the feeling that we are nothing and can’t cope and are worthless and encouraging each other and promising to carry on for each other and together). The uni friend that has the same cardiologist as me also acknowledged that. And I have nothing left to fight it with. I have nothing left to even be scared about that fact with. Everything is going to feel futile. I am going to hurt emotionally so badly the pain will be almost physical – it will stop me functioning. I cried so hard I couldn’t breathe today, with no feeling behind it. When the feeling returns, I am going to cry. And cry. And cry. I am going to hurt in ways nobody can imagine. I am going to feel everything. Helpless, desperate, I’ll want to die but I won’t want to die, and so I’ll cry because what I really want is for this all to stop, but I know that my life is in danger and I could die and I’ll freak because there’s so much with my life I want to do before I die. I’ll hate the world, I’ll hate my doctors, I will push every single healthy person away (that process has already started, they throw optimism at me, and they try to understand and think they can relate but really can’t, and then they talk about normal stuff, and I can’t deal with any of that at all. I appreciate the effort, but I just can’t right now. They think they understand but they don’t and that makes things worse).
All the emotional responses that I should have had are going to hit me all at once. Holding on through that… Well I don’t know. At least nobody will miss something that is already lost. I did have a brief thought earlier. Just one line of thought:
I don’t want to die.
Because there’s a huge chance that will happen soon, and it doesn’t need to, not if people tried harder. But anyway. That’s as far as I got with that thought. Because my brain was all ASDFGHJKL *IMPLODE* *CRUMPLE* *EXPLODE* *REBUILD* *MELTDOWN* *SHATTER* *IMPLODE AGAIN* and I just cried so hard I nearly threw up. From half a thought.
So this… This feeling again thing… It’s not going to be fun.
But to ever stand any chance of being normal again, I’m going to have to hurt.
“She still remembers a time that was uncomplicated
But sure as the sunrise she’s seen things that you’ll never see
Losses and heartache amount to her strength
But oh how they both take their toll
She’s still here fighting
Better know there’s life in her yet
Time will take us all
And turn us into stone
It leaves us with regrets
And picks apart the threads
Hung over fragile bones
Her hands tell the story of hardships that we’ll never know
Her face is a map of a lifetime on well travelled roads
But those eyes tell nothing of a soul that is spent
Or a heart that is longing for death
She’s still here fighting
Better know there’s life in her yet
[…]” – Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, Life In Her Yet (I introduced my new hospital friend to this song, because I’ve been listening to it pretty much on repeat all day, and I thought she might get the YES moment that I got when I first listened to it. She did. She said it was very appropriate for our situation, that it pretty much just “got” us)
Here are just a few of the things I’m going to have to deal with and be hit with all the emotion from:
- Another hospital admission
- The fact that I almost died
- The fact that it wasn’t the last time, I’m playing Russian Roulette with my life, and I don’t know how to do this any more
- Listening to an old man die metres away from me
- Negligent staff who left me to save my own life
- Basically all the terror and stuff I switched off about the hospital admission will catch up with me
- The helplessness
- Uni – the stress that everyone else is buckling under, with the added pressure of catching up, having to submit documentation for all of my extenuating circumstances, the worry of everything I’ve missed, and the eventual emotional reaction to getting 41% (JUST a pass) in the exam I sat with a supposedly fatal pH of 6.9 and passed out during and straight after (even the cleverest person I know got 40%. So I’m hoping I won’t hate myself too much).
- The fear of uni trying to kick me out again as they did when I missed assessments due to being in hospital this time last year (I emailed my disability advisor yesterday in my deadened state and he sent me a very long reply today basically offering to deal with everything for me and talk to my school of the university on my behalf due to how crappy they were before)
- Going back to living alone, which I’ve now been told isn’t safe.
- Oh yeah, knowing that every time I wake up I’m playing Russian Roulette with my life.
- Having to save my own life, losing sleep to do so, sleep I don’t even have to lose because I’ve been in hospital so the nightmares and flashbacks are hella frequent. Or they will be.
- Family stuff.
- The fact that the hell on earth treatment plan that is so unpleasant my brain couldn’t even think about it and instantly broke down… The fact that it’s now something I have to do if I want to stand a chance. I have no option. I can’t run from it any more. And they’re trying to make it sound like they’ll only do it if I want to, but I don’t know how to even let my brain think about it. And now I don’t just have to think about it. I have to meet a new consultant with a couple of other doctors (which in itself will terrify me enough just at the thought of) and then I have to go through with it. And it might not even work. It probably won’t even work. All that pain and unpleasantness for nothing. For a shot. It could ruin the life I have, make it not even worth living.
- Do I even want to uni any more? At the moment I don’t want to go back, because I don’t care about anything. My mum doesn’t even want me to miss another day of university. But I need to figure out what to do with my life. So that’ll be fun.
And it goes on and on into things I can’t talk about here. And when I say I don’t know how to carry on, my friends say they completely understand because university is breaking them. The normal strains of a lot of very difficult work. I have that too. I have that and then the uni stuff due to my health, and then everything else… and it makes me want to scream at them how lucky they are. And that’s a dick move, because until now it made my heart break for them and want to help them. But that part of me is dead now. All of me is dead now. And to revive it, to regain it, I’m going to have to hurt like hell.