Miles Off

“I can’t really words today, sorry” was what I eventually sent to my mum in response to the chain of unanswered messages I had been receiving throughout the day. I couldn’t reply to anybody, my brain shut down each time it read a message, it didn’t even know how to respond to a simple hello. I’ll try to tell you how much of a kind of… crisis… I was and have been in,  but you won’t get it. You won’t get it because even I don’t get it and because clearly my ability to write words is enough to make people think that I can function. You won’t get it because words cannot possibly do this justice and I will pick the wrong ones and place them in an order that makes me sound like I can function, like I can human, like things are so much more ok than they are. And so the following words are pointless… Yet still present. Make of them what you will.

There was about four days of washing-up all over my bedroom floor – plates not even scraped, food slowly drying out (I am usually almost obsessively neat and clean, but the cleanliness of my room tends to reflect my mental state). There was rubbish everywhere – on the floor, on the bed, in the bed. I, like everything else in my room, was festering, degrading, rotting from the inside out. And I had no thought. I’d been able to act more normally, but I’d been masking an ever growing void that threw me right back to where I was. I sat, and nothing mattered, nothing mattered because no thoughts were being generated by my brain. Nothing. For no reason I was holding back the urge to cry – not just to cry, to sob, to fall from the bed to the floor and just let go. It was such an effort it almost hurt. I swung between that, still unable to think or feel anything other than a sudden desire to cry… And utter, utter emptiness. I’ve been emotionally numb before, but this wasn’t numbness. Numbness is heavy, numbness is suppressive and… there was no heaviness (other than when I was almost crying). There was nothing to suppress. I just sat there. And I didn’t know what to do, because I couldn’t work out how to function. My brain did not know how to function. It just knew how to hurt for no reason, so much that the pain was almost physical. With no emotion behind the emotional reaction.

Messages appeared on my phone. My mum asking if there was any particular food I wanted for Christmas day… And then what I was up to. Two friends, trying to have normal conversation. (No more Almost-brother-sixth-form-friend, because the night before I’d been mid-converastion and he kept asking me how my day was and I kept asking him to please not – because I couldn’t even deal with that question and had no thought – and he kept on and on until I buckled and just backed out of all human interaction). I couldn’t reply. My mind shut down and couldn’t figure out how to human, what it was supposed to say.

I went out and bought a bunch of cleaning stuff. I sat on my bed upon my return, and I couldn’t even. I just couldn’t even. I couldn’t function. I could not compute. And my mum messaged me again, and I finally replied after taking several minutes to figure out how to words. And she was different.

Message 1: ?

Message 2: You ok?

Message 3: Do you want us to come and pick you up? 

She knew my dog was probably the only thing that could get through to me. She called me. And I couldn’t really talk. I sort of half talked and half groaned and mostly tried not to cry for no apparent reason.

I was picked up after standing out in the rain for ages. I went back to Kent. It rained the entire evening. It was my nephew’s birthday. My sister was there. My sister is always happy, and my nephew is always rude and obnoxious. I couldn’t deal with that. When I walked in the front door I was met with an “ooh look at the face on it!”

I was also met with what multiple people thought I needed. My dog ran at me and was so excited he threw himself onto my lap when I sat down, and sat with his butt on the floor and his paws on my shoulders and just nuzzled his head right under my neck. And for so long he just sat with me and demanded cuddles. And I just held him. My furry rock in a storm I didn’t understand. And he was there. And he didn’t try to talk to me, and he didn’t think he understood, and he didn’t care that I couldn’t words. Because dogs don’t need words. They read people so much better than other people do, probably because they don’t have to listen to the lies and the acts that people put on to hide their true state. He just wanted me. And he wouldn’t move. And nobody told me off for sitting on the floor (like they usually would) in fact, my mum took photos. And then my dog ran around and around the house because he was so excited he couldn’t stay still. But he came back, and he’d demand cuddles, and I just held him.

My nephew was sulking about his rubbish 17th birthday. He’s been spoilt rotten, but also been told off for lying and disobeying people again. If I’d been able to words, I’d have told him that on my 17th birthday I’d had surgery between my ribs two days before so was in pain and could hardly move. I was also still in hospital a few doors down from the room that gave me PTSD, and the three friends that turned up on my birthday sat talking about school (I’d been in hospital for over a year so had no idea about school gossip), which made me cry for about 15 minutes, and only one of them noticed while the other two just chatted away across the bed. And then one of them said they’d been forced to go by parents and were only there for free food. And I hardly saw my family. That isn’t too bad for a birthday, and his, as he was healthy, home, got a load of presents and money and cards and HIS MOTHER WHO HAD FLOWN FROM DUBAI TO SURPRISE HIM… wasn’t bad at all.

My dog isn’t allowed up on my bed, but when I got under the covers he put a face and his paw on the edge of the bed until I threw an old blanket over the top of the covers for him to lay on. He started off at the foot of the bed, but he’s so big he doesn’t fit on it width-ways, and he clambered up the bed so that he could use my stomach as a pillow. And he fell asleep just staring at my face and wagging his tail gently whenever I looked down at him. And I fell asleep holding him. Empty, but no longer adrift, no longer floating off so far that nobody would be able to pull me back. I couldn’t talk and I didn’t have to. He didn’t need to understand to be there. He could read me like a book just from my body language. He recognised a need for companionship and comfort and he provided both of those things. I couldn’t deal with humans, but my dog pulled through.

My mum was not unhelpful for once. She was careful. I was so bad that she acknowledged there was a serious issue. But she asked me why I was suddenly so bad. And it isn’t sudden. That isn’t sudden. I’ve been this bad since the day I listened to an old man die and it pushed me over an edge which I was already losing my grip on. I briefly started to feel things again, and then in the last few days I fell right back to where I was. And… I don’t think you’d understand how bad something has to be for my mum to notice it and not to just try to logic it out of me or shout or whatever. She tried to be sensitive. She kept asking if I was ok, and I couldn’t answer, because I didn’t know what to say. She went out to a Christmas party, but she messaged me to ask if I was in bed and if I was alright. I think she saw that in that moment I was dead inside. She asked if it was because of the new stuff with my heart. My brain just shut down again. Because no, it isn’t. I don’t have the capacity to feel about that yet.

It didn’t last. I woke up yesterday and could talk again so she just figured I was back to normal.  At one point my mum was all “oh what now, you were happy a minute ago!” But no, not happy, no. She said she understood that (when I pointed it out), but she doesn’t. She started to expect me to care about normal things again, like where I left the saucepan to soak after I’d used it and how big the gap between the door and the doorframe was when I left the room and pushed it “to” behind me. Her misunderstanding and resulting accidental insensisitivty returned. She called me out on stuff and criticised tiny things tat don’t matter (but that were brought up multiple times and weren’t even things) and if I’d been able to feel I’d have felt so inadequate, but I didn’t, I just felt heavy. We went out as a family without my nephew and bought a Christmas tree. My mum and I went in one car, and my little brother and dad went in the other. Mum and I got there first, and I chose a tree. Nobody else really cared apart form Mum and I, and so we went with what was meant to be a 6-7 foot tree. It’s 8 foot at least (and his name is Gerald). There’s no room for an angel on top so she’s sort of balanced precariously on some branches. We decorated the tree and there was no magic for me like there normally is. I just sat and held my dog, and when he left the room I called him back and he ran at me tail wagging and sat right by me.

Then my cousin called me (Auntie-Godmother’s oldest child) and I could her that she was outside, and it turns out she’d melted down and “taken the dog for a walk” because it was the only way she could get out of the house. She didn’t really know what was overwhelming her; she had a few things getting at her, but there was more that she didn’t really understand yet… And for an hour I calmed her down and talked to her until I knew she was safely back home, and then I wrote a huge long message for her to send her mum, and then as a responsible adult I also messaged Auntie-Godmother to let her know that her child was in crisis. I managed to human enough to deal with that. I said what needed to be said, I told my cousin I was proud of her for the way she dealt with the feeling and thanked her for sharing with me. I promised her that her mum cared and told her honestly that our entire family is proud of her (honestly, she is an incredible young woman). I assured her she wasn’t a disappointment and that if she spoke to her mum it would get easier. Auntie-Godmother is super in-tune and understanding about mental health issues and emotional issues. She listens, she talks, she comes as close to understanding as any healthy person ever can with my stuff, and she doesn’t ever shout, and balances just the right amount of logic and compassion. And they talked. And they both thanked me. And my cousin felt better.

Just being with my dog also helped me human enough to speak. I started making lecture notes on the stuff I’m weeks behind on. I attached no importance at all to the task, so frequently stopped and did absolutely nothing for hours – that’s the point, I wasn’t making the notes because I knew I needed to catch up, I was just… I didn’t know why I was making them, they just were something to do. And I was exhausted so I napped a lot. But when there was nothing to fill my time and I felt like typing, I’d just monotonously type out lecture slides. I got through half of an hour long lecture over the course of an entire day. I’m… 6 weeks (13.5 hours of lectures) behind in that module, and it doesn’t matter to me at all. It probably should, because I have an exam in that module on Wednesday, which I’ve also not been able to attach any importance to enough to care about. And see this, this is wrong, because it gives the illusion of coping, of trying to get back on track. And that isn’t what happened. That isn’t what went on inside my mind, there was no thought process, there is no obligation, there is no importance attached to this at all. I feel nothing towards it or about it. Nothing. I just did a thing on autopilot, dead inside, not even taking in what I was typing.

Words mean nothing. They are empty air. And these ones are particularly crap, because they don’t say anything right at all. But they’re enough to make some people think I’m alright. People are intent on trying to relate, or in asking me how I feel. And I can’t deal with that. I can’t answer the latter because there’s no thought and no feeling and I am so done with humans. I can’t face anyone. Weirdly, until she disconnected from me again, I think I just wanted my mum.

And you still won’t get it, because I just read through this and it doesn’t say things right at all. It doesn’t get it right. These words are miles away from just how broken and in crisis I am. But people just want words from me. So… Here, I guess. Have 2,421 of them.

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20 thoughts on “Miles Off

  1. I’m sorry, London Blogger Friend. You’re right in that nobody can understand. Some of us may have chronic illnesses, but they all affect us and our ability to human and world and stuff and ahhhhhhhh differently. I’m also going through things at the moment that I’m finding words aren’t adequate to explain, no matter how hard I try to put the right words together.
    I’m glad you have your furry rock right now. I just had 3 of my fur babies snuggling on me because they know I’m just not right.
    If you can’t words or human, it’s ok to not reply. I’m still thinking of you and want things to get better for you (I know you’d probably laugh at that if you could feel, but I don’t know how else to say it, so…yeah.)

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    • This isn’t just/entirely/even due to my health issues directly. Yes, the emotional disaster was triggered by a hospital admission and my PTSD, but I shut down upon the event of someone else’s death. There is more to me than that, and there is more to this than that. I’m not sure what it is, and I’m not ready to try and explain what or why. When I can, I will. Until then, nobody can understand, although some come very close. These words are wrong, I don’t want to go here now.

      Also, grieving is a process. You start by letting it all out, but in letting out everything that you’re feeling and holding in, all you’re doing is accepting the fact that you need to grieve. It’s a process. There are many steps. It takes time. Longer than you’ll want it to. It’ll be frustrating. Set yourself teeny tiny goals. You’re looking at the bigger picture and trying to get there so that every time you achieve something all you see is that it isn’t what you want in the end, and it feels like a failure. Tiny goals help you feel like less of a failure, and you need that at the moment. Tiny, realistic, achievable goals – no matter how stupid – give you a sense of accomplishment and of something to hold. You also need that right now. I don’t think the time to start trying to do this is right now though for you, I think that’s a little way off. A problem a lot of people have is figuring out HOW to grieve, and I could tell you what would work for me (if I knew) but that might not necessarily work for you. You have to do something that you can’t at the minute – you have to step back and take your foot off the accelerator (or “gas pedal” as you say across the pond) and let your feelings catch up with you. Right now yo care a lot about the child you want, but it sounds like you blame yourself for not being able to have one at the moment and in that frame of mind you are never going to give yourself a fair chance. There’s so much going on with you right now that it’s probably hard to care about yourself among it all. I don’t mean about your health or the future you want or being a mother – I mean YOU. You aren’t those things, but it is easy to judge the failure of those things as failures of your own. Separate yourself from all the things you are and the place you are at. I’m not sure how you’d go about doing this, but I’ll get back to you on that one.

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      • I do know what it’s like to experience death. You know I’m a pharmacist, but what I really am is a pediatric pharmacist at a children’s hospital. A pharmacist is an integral part of the response team when a patient codes. My patients, unfortunately, are children. I have seen babies, children, and adolescents die right in front of me, to the bewilderment of their hysterical families. I did the best I could to contribute to keeping the child alive, but…it’s stupid to say it wasn’t enough because we always do everything humanly possible to ward off death, even though sometimes it’s only for just a little while longer. But when a death occurs, you walk away feeling hollow. The doctors and nurses all comfort each other, but no one cares about the pharmacist. I just silently walk away with a code box or two under my arms to get replacements for so we’re ready for the next one. But it never gets easier. You never get used to it. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you’re still shut down from experiencing that man’s death, it’s ok. Really, actually dealing with death is not an easy thing, even if it’s the passing of a family member. But when you don’t know the person and still happen to witness it…honestly, it’s something that stays with you. I still remember all their names. Am I “over it?” No, not really, but I know that every time I step into the hospital, it could be time for the next one. But I think you need to grieve that man like you’d grieve anything else. As a process that takes time, with those teeny tiny steps you mentioned. You’re not just going to get over it. You will heal from it, but you’ll never forget it.
        I still don’t know what works for me as a grieving process and I think you’re not sure what works for you either. But we’ll be on this journey of grieving together. How about that? You gave great advice on approaching grieving, but I think it’s something we both need to do in our own ways over completely different things. I’ll let you know if I have any breakthroughs. But please be kind to yourself and take your own time to grieve.

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      • Thank you so much for trying to help. I know how to grieve and am usually very switched on to my own mind and how it works. Like I said, I am fully aware that nobody can understand this until I explain this in a way that allows them to. I said I didn’t want to go there yet but I can see I need to say something to stop others feeling like they have to try and go there in my place and end up miles away from where I am.

        This isn’t over the death of a man. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back; I reacted to it and responded to it and I will carry it with me, but I’ve seen a lot of death in hospitals, usually of children and babies on the paediatric wards I was on. This isn’t a reaction to that at all. At all. People respond to different situations in different ways so I don’t think people ever truly understand each other fully but can definitely relate. I realise now that I probably won’t share the inner workings of myself. I understand the reasons for what has gone on in my head, but other people’s reactions make my brain crumble when they think they understand me but don’t – mostly friends, or people who can partially relate to one element. But nobody could possibly understand because nobody knows enough to, apart from the friend I made in hospital but then those friendships are weird and within a couple of hours you’ve heard someone’s entire life story.

        I keep a lot of things held back from here. This blog is not me laid bare, it’s the overflow I can’t hold in and I keep a lot inside. I understand myself very well, but nobody will understand how broken I already was when that man died. I was already broken and beaten and at that point longing for death to just take me. Words can’t do the state I was in justice, I don’t cry and yet I cried so hard I couldn’t breathe. I’ve only met one person that understood the hopelessness laid on top of the panic response and why it was there. It wasn’t to do with being chronically unwell at all – that’s my life, I’m used to it. Acutely unwell due to that is different. Almost dying every few weeks, the emotional roller coaster of that alone, and then knowing it won’t even stop, it’ll happen again. THAT got to me. But not that alone. This isn’t an isolated thing that led to it. There are so many things, my PTSD in that instance leaving me in a constant state of pure terror and so many emotions from situations I’d been in before that my brain was like a pressure cooker on top of various other factors. The numbness hit. Add to that the emotions surrounding a person’s death and the pressure got so high my mind exploded and the contents of it were lost. I went beyond numb to completely unable to talk or function. I went past suicidal, even that felt pointless. But it didn’t because I couldn’t feel. I’m not explaining anything now and I’ve come to the decision that I probably never will here because I’ll clearly never explain it in a way anybody can understand. I don’t expect anybody to either so please don’t feel pressure to try. Nobody knows my mind and how it works (other than my uni parents who somehow learned to read me like a book) and that’s deliberate because it’s safe. I got hurt too many times before and I don’t give opportunity for it to happen again. So please don’t feel bad. I didn’t want to go here now. I wasn’t ready. I think I’ll take a break from here for a little bit. I’m sorting out my room, spending all the time I can with my dog, and not letting my brain wander forward or backwards – just focussing on now.

        In order to heal I need to shut out everyone and everything for a little while to let my brain get to a place where it can handle stuff like less of an arsehole. Tiny things tip it over the edge right now and those tiny things tend to be people. I blog to help myself, but it isn’t doing that right now. It’s more a source of exasperation because my words mislead people at the minute and that just makes my brain crumble under frustration at itself and… Yeah. I need focus on getting past that stage so that there’s something in my head a little more permanent (that will stick around and stop wandering off and letting the void remain empty), and I realise now that the way to do that is to sort out my room and spend time with my dog and just figure things out. It’s going to be hard because I’m not in a state to deal with anything, and this isn’t down to you, I just now realise that this isn’t a helpful place for me at the minute and I need to temporarily stop things that I enjoy but that are unhelpful… In order to get into a mental space where I can enjoy them again. Still doesn’t make sense, sorry.

        Thank you so much for your friendship and for caring and for trying to help. Sorry I make it impossible. (Also I read on your blog post a while ago after you quoted me that you felt the need to keep my blog private for anonymity… I wouldn’t have minded if you’d shared – its out there in the internet so although it feels private its actually weirdly really not. You didn’t have to worry about things like that, but it shows how caring and thoughtful you are as a person so thank you)

        Anyway. Thank you for being so kind. I just need a few days now. Merry Christmas.

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      • I’m really sorry. I wasn’t thinking. I didn’t mean to make you go there when you didn’t want to. Please accept my apologies. You weren’t ready and I’m so sorry I pushed you. I just thought if you were having trouble dealing with the death, it would help to know that yes, it really is hard, from someone who knows. But I guessed I messed that up…sorry.
        Take as much time as you need. Hang around with your furry rock and get your room the way you want it (I used to rearrange my room all the time when I was a teenager; it’s so therapeutic, isn’t it?) I still care for you no matter what. But if I don’t talk to you before then, Happy Christmas.🎄

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      • No no no you didn’t mess up, my words just come out all wrong at the moment. It’s not even in my mind at the moment. Nothing is most of the time. Thank you so much for being so kind, you didn’t mess up at all, thank you for caring – can’t think why you care about me because I struggle with that concept about myself but thank you. Of course I’ll continue to talk to you. I really like the fact that you comment on my posts, my brain is a dick at the minute, it’s alienating people and I don’t want to do that to you

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      • I care about you because you’re in need of someone who cares about you. I can’t help it, it’s my INFJ personality (often known as “The Counselor” or “The Protector.”) I see someone hurting and I want to fix it because you deserve happiness and friendship.

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      • And you worry about your capacity to care for an adopted child? This, right here. This is all the answer to that self doubt that you ever need. I mean… Just… A heart as golden (and occasionally inappropriately fast – yes I read your last post) as this… I… You… You don’t need to worry. It’s human to worry and to question yourself and normal to wonder about stuff like that, but look at this right here.

        And thanks. Wasn’t hurting, which was kind of a much worse emotional state to be than when I’m hurting… But now I’m feeling the emotional ouch, so thank you.

        Sorry to hear about your crappy day.

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    • I saw this, I wanted to respond, my brain completely shut down and emptied itself of all thought and feeling, and I forgot how to words. Apologies. Thank you for your concern, your kindness puzzles me because you have no reason to have an ulterior motive behind it and I never really was sure that kindness could exist without one of those. Thank you.

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    • Physically I’m ok… Ok well… That’s not really true, but I’m not in an emergency and I’m not in hospital, just myself.

      In other ways I am not ok at all. Although I’m in an awful place right now, today I can words again, not sure how long that will last though. Please don’t panic if I just shut down again. It’s happening a lot. At teeny tiny things. I have cut off all communication with the world that isn’t this one… Involuntary and instinctively. Thanks for caring. Genuinely, thanks.

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      • I will try not to worry, but I will admit to checking the Kent obituaries just in case- not even knowing what I was looking for.

        I want to give you peace and safety, but there are so many reasons that it will have to remain a wish.

        This time of year I find myself staring at the twinkle lights and drifting, there’s something about December that feels like the bottom of a hole but also the hope of a new year. I hope that you are able to see a little bit of light in the darkness and emptiness, because we all need something to grasp onto to stay here.

        Glad to see new words, but you are the most important part in this equation. If writing doesn’t help you, then it’s not an obligation.

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      • Thank you for this, especially the last part. I just read it again after deciding to ditch the blog for a couple of days or whatever. I don’t need other people to understand what triggered this or what is going on, I need to move beyond it, and that needs me to cut everyone out and focus on trying to get to a better place somehow.

        Also, I’ll fix that situation at some point. We should become friends on Facebook or something (not that I really post there when I’m not blogging…) erm… I’ll think up something when I’m in a better place

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