I planned to catch up on work today and… didn’t. I didn’t even end up back in my flat until the late evening. I had an awesome day of exploring more Christmassy sights around London, trying to shake everything that is intermittently on my mind and just enjoy a magical season in this equally magical (and at the same time in many ways completely not) city.
I slept fully clothed last night, even in my shoes. A bed was made up for me in the sofa, but rather than laying down I slept sleeping up. I woke next to a couple of glasses of drink beside me, and joined SC Uni Friend and her family for cold pizza for breakfast. The events of the night before that had made me feel so out of place I couldn’t settle were long forgotten, and I spent my morning once again sat with a family who weren’t mine.
I then wandered back to the tube station and went one stop back to where I live. I met Uni Pal inside that tube station, and we headed to Covent Garden. We’d been messaging and planning to meet up, and instead of a full English breakfast, I suggested we go there. So… That’s what we did. It was nice to catch up. She handles things much better than I expect and responded in a way that neither overwhelmed nor underwhelmed my brain, which is hard to do at the moment. Turns out that when I was in hospital the guy she’s had a crush on FOR EVER asked her out on a date. She was considerate of my feelings enough to know that it wasn’t the right time to talk about normal world stuff, and waited until today. We wandered around Covent Garden together for ages, we saw the tree and the lego display and all the Christmas lights. We stopped off at a really fancy bakery nearby and she bought me an apple pastry that was AMAZING. I did Christmas shopping for my family and added to my collection of funny/inspirational postcards from my favourite stationary shop.
Because Uni Pal handled everything so well, I took a little leap of faith and told her about the nose thing. When she’s chilled out and out of a state of panicked breakdown about uni work (as pretty much everyone seems to be most of the time) she reacts to stuff in a way that is beyond helpful. In that… She doesn’t dismiss it or underplay it, she acknowledges it and the crappiness of it, and she talks about it until whatever I need to get out about it has been said. A lot of people shut down conversations like that or try to inject optimism, and at that point my mind just implodes.
Anyway, the guy she liked turned up early for their date, so I was ditched a little. I wandered back to The Strand and made my way to McDonalds, where I bought three apple pies, because after trying them yesterday I have developed a small obsession. I kind of started to get used to my own company and wandering alone again, which I felt was an important thing to do.
WR Uni Friend had been invited along by Uni Pal but didn’t turn up. She’s so lovely and I am moved beyond belief that she tries so much to be there for me. But… She’s too positive. She says stuff like “yeah but it could be worse” or “I mean if I was in hospital for this long I’d melt down too” or “yeah but that’s just how people are sometimes” or “you just have to keep your chin up” or “you’re not going to die” like… No. I know that, but it doesn’t help me. It wasn’t being in hospital, it was knowing I had to do it over and over even though I was completely broken and had nothing left to give, it was a man dying beside me… And yeah, that may be how people can be, but people are arseholes, and I’m allowed to be hurt. And there’s often nothing in me to point upwards. I get uncomfortable when people patronise me in that tone and tell me I’m not going to die because they clearly have no idea how close I come and how often it happens. Because reality check: I almost die a lot. It’s scary how easily and quickly it could happen. No life is set in stone, but mine at the minute feels like it is set in putty. It isn’t personal at all. A lot of people behave in ways that my brain just can’t deal with right now, but that it still appreciates as huge acts of kindness and consideration from true friends. That isn’t their fault, but even when some people watched me almost die I don’t think they understood the severity.
When I say I can’t human she still tries normal, happy conversation with me because what else is there to do? (other people kind of pause and address the crap, and skipping over it like this just totally undermines the way I feel and makes me feel misunderstood and completely disconnected and also pathetic and stupid for being bothered at all). When I say something is bad, she tries to tell me to find all the positives and I love her for all of that I do, it just… At the minute… My brain just shuts down to feeling so misunderstood at the moment in ways I can’t explain. Which makes me feel like a dick, because she’s only being nice and it does mean a lot to me. But some people’s reactions and behaviours just aren’t helpful to me at the minute.
Anyway, she called me up and still wanted to meet. We wandered to Trafalgar Square and just stood for a while watching, then we wandered down towards Big Ben and the houses of parliament (past a bunch of war memorials), where there was another big Christmas tree. I took a few photos of the London Eye lit up all red as we wandered back along North Bank. I kept asking WR Uni Friend to slow down but I don’t think she really understood how slow my heart makes me when it has a moment and it was TIRED from so much walking in two days (not a lot to most people, but way too much for me).
I got on the tube and went home and fell straight into bed after an awesome day, leaving WR Uni Friend to continue her route march at a pace she was more accustomed to and that I definitely could not maintain. SC Uni Friend messaged me saying that she wanted to acknowledge what a big deal this weekend had been to me – mixing with people again after being so withdrawn and facing so many people when my brain is in a fragile and easily stunned and confused state. She said I had a lot to be proud of, and that I’d achieved a lot of big things and taken huge steps. I figured out how to ACT normal, but instead of maintaining that and hoping that it sticks, it is important for me never to lose sense of the reality of the situation – that’s the start of denial, and it won’t work. I need to acknowledge that although it is a temporary coping mechanism, it isn’t good, it means I’m not being true to anyone, especially myself, and it basically just lets me hide in plain sight. WR Uni Friend encouraged me to continue the act until it felt like a habit, but that’s the point – that act is just a mask, and I don’t want to reinforce the habit of burying my emotions (if that makes any sense at all?)
Anyway it was way, way too much for my heart. I said it a couple of times on both days to both friends, and neither of them really appreciated just how much of a strain simple walking and London Underground staircases were putting on my body. So today, I was alarmed but not entirely surprised to find that when I took off my skinny jeans, my shins burst out the top of my socks like muffin tops and deep indentations remained when I pushed down to try and feel the shin bone that is normally visible (hello pitting oedema).
I don’t have time for my heart to remind me that it isn’t entirely happy. My health hiccups take it in turns to put me in hospital and I have no intention of going back. Honestly, right now, I just want to go out and do things, and fight for this place at my university because even though I’m not sure I want it, I don’t want it to be taken from me. If I make a decision to leave then I want that decision to be mine. I want to enjoy Christmas time because who knows how many any of us have left?
I have so much uni work to do, and I still have to try and find evidence as to why I missed assessments and stuff before… But none of it means anything to me right now. I’m trying to feel again. I’m trying to find the joy that I know is all around me and the Christmassy feeling that all of London seems to be lost in. I want that magic to replace all the hurting and deadness inside of my mind. And at points this weekend, briefly, it has.
I’m collecting moments. Not things, not grades, not lecture notes, not money. Things that matter. Things that will still matter even in my last moments Things money can’t buy. Memories. Moments. Time well spent.
And Uni Pal clearly got that too, because later this evening, she sent me a few photos of us together on our day and of me that she’d taken.
Tomorrow I’m going to attempt to go to lectures for the first time in over a month, and hope that I’m emotionally ready. If not, no sweat. It’s a lecture. It’s a university that doesn’t care about me any more than I care about the individual components of the computer I am typing this on (only the machine as a whole seems to matter). I’m starting to consider alternatives. I’ve been able to think forwards and I genuinely think I want to live in Canada or Australia or Cornwall after I graduate. I want to make lists of things to do and actually do them. Just… Go for it. Go out and do the things you always wanted to do but never have – go out and capture your own moments, do the equivalent of exploring your London at Christmas.
You have a finite number of moments. Use them. At this time of year especially, they can be kinda magic.