;

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.”

– R. Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

In my mind, this post stopped at the end of that quote. In reality, I also almost stopped recently – wrote a final thank you card pleading for forgiveness, and a list of contacts, stuck both tear stained articles on the wall at the end of my bed, and prepared to curl into the darkness of whatever waited beyond daylight and moonlight. I could not see the wood for the trees. There comes a point when you are so tired – tired of hurting (physically and mentally), of thinking, of sinking, of almost dying, of being, that all you want is a break. And when life won’t give you that break, when it sees your white flag and doesn’t cease its fire… Your mind, the lone and weary soldier, pulls out the revolver that has until that point just been a comforting presence in your metaphorical waistband and decides that it has no option but to pull the trigger whilst the barrel is aimed at its own skull. The unpleasantness cannot take you alive. The pain is not one you can endure.

I am in a great deal of physical pain after my latest heart surgery, taking morphine and tramadol just to try and sleep through nerve pain caused by scar tissue sitting on top of a nerve. But my mind… nothing could numb that.

My revolver was medication. Medication that sat there, sparing me from further unpleasantness when I took it at the prescribed dose, but that any higher dose was also my revolver – deadly. Quick. Freeing. The knowledge of that was enough of a comfort to keep me going. There was a failsafe. I didn’t have to hurt forever. Just one more day. And then the next day, just one more – and while I couldn’t imagine it, I knew there would be a day where survival wasn’t a task, but something I didn’t have to think about. And then came the day I wrote that card, and made that list, and could not stop the tears.

I have been saved all too often lately by words. Words that came from places I didn’t expect them to, from people who understood me in ways I wished those closest to me could. First, my personal tutor at university (who I also almost died on last week, because my heart is an ARSE) – with one simple sentence about PTSD that took away the stigma my mind sharpened and used against itself, and completely transformed the way I saw myself. I used the support available for me. I asked for help I had been turning down for years. Then, the other night, a dear friend, amazing human, and creative soul behind this blog, who accidentally saved my life with words that found me in a place that nobody else (myself included) could.

And then I remembered the poem that begins this post.

The emptiness of oblivion is comforting, tempting, enchanting, but not a destination I am yet supposed to visit. I owe it to the humans whose kindness and understanding have been transformative forces in recent weeks, to move beyond its temptation, to carry on going wherever I’m going. Those people made me realise that feeling like this is not weak, nothing to be ashamed of, but understandable, excusable, human… and survivable, somehow. I made no promises to them anywhere outside of my mind, but I cannot betray them. I made promises to myself – to get this degree, to do something, to raise money to help fund research so that other people’s bodies might not drive them to the hell I have been to/through. And thanks to people (some of whom I have never met) I see myself as someone worth keeping promises for. I have a long long way to go before I get rest or respite of any sort, physical or mental, and I have to accept that, grit my teeth, turn off, and keep walking – sobbing and screaming and writhing in pain if that’s what it takes (also things that before I took as signs of my own weakness, and now acknowledge as a strong person doing anything and everything they have to but give in). It doesn’t have to be easy, and I know it won’t be. My situation is tough, it’s even recently been described to me as “crap” by somebody I expected to brush it aside. I’m allowed to find it tough. I’m allowed to hurt so much I can’t keep going. It’s ok to cry myself to sleep, to want to never ever wake up again. But these thoughts I keep inside are promises I have to keep. I have an unimaginable amount of miles to go before I am allowed sleep.

The way out of this is not six feet under, or wherever the wind may take my ashes. It’s through.

Agonisingly, impossibly, soul destroyingly (yes I know destroyingly isn’t a word)

There is

No way but through.

I sat myself down and had a thought at myself (if that’s even a thing).

When you can’t run, walk. When you can’t walk, stumble. When you can’t stumble, crawl. When you can’t crawl, drag yourself. When you can’t drag yourself, roll. When you can’t roll, just hold on. When you can’t hold on, reach out. When you can’t reach out, scream. When you can’t scream, talk. When you can’t talk, whisper. When you can’t whisper, blog. If you have to fire your revolver, fire it into the sky. And through it all, play Bastille. It’s colder six feet under. It’s lonelier when your ashes have been dispersed by the wind. There will be far more tears if you let go, the difference is, they won’t be your own. There is no way to live this life, or to be a spectator to it, that does not involve hurting. And no form of pain is a choice or a flaw – it’s a limbic system and nocioceptors (hello inner biomed student) – unconscious, understandable, protective, logical measures. Don’t expect to live and not hurt. Don’t expect to hurt and not still find reasons to smile. Pain may right now be all you feel, but even if it is ever present, it is not all that waits.

Finally, I have been taught that it’s ok not to be ok. That’s the most valuable thing any lecturer has taught me, the most precious gift a friend has ever given me (thank you blogging human, you know who you are). Something I hope not to let go of. Something I will someday pass on.

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14 thoughts on “;

    • Thank you, that means a lot to hear. This is a totally new realisation for me, and it was brought about by a single sentence that I may someday share. It actually means a lot to know that people read the things I write and have such responses to them, so thank you an awful lot for providing evidence that there was a purpose in sharing them. Someday I’ll find a way to get these words to a wider audience (I’m not quite at the “if you like it share it” level of confidence yet – and by not quite yet I mean AT ALL haha). I was told it was ok not to be ok many many times, and then people told me things that said it indirectly. Their words, and one sentence from my personal tutor, sat in my mind and chipped away until suddenly… it was ok to cry, to find it hard… and it… made sense. I hope you have that moment, please let me know when you do, I’ll be waiting xxx

      Liked by 1 person

    • I am! I thought you may be pleased to know. Physically I’ve almost died a lot. I spent most of December in hospital, got out, and then developed an abdominal abscess and ended up having emergency surgery because rather than eating up to the skin, it ate its way down and spread out. They left my abdomen open and sent me home – specialist nurses were in our house over Christmas and New Year, and I was high out of my mind on morphine, but at least I was home and with my dog. They had to leave my abdomen open, which was gross. Finally now, only the very top layer of fat and skin are left open, as they cannot be stitched. Leukopaenia and infusion sites in the abdomen, as it turns out, are not a good pairing. I’m still on very strong painkillers for nerve pain etc. Struggling. But you know what, hearing from you means an awful lot. We should find a way to communicate without blogging though, if nothing else, just so you don’t have to look for an obituary if I die.

      How are things with you? How’s little one? How’s work? Did you have a good new year etc? So so glad you commented. And kept reading. Means a lot to know people actually read what I write, seeing as I’m too scared to share it in places people I know can find it (i.e. Social media – not that I use that any more, because it was bad for my mental health). Hope you’re ok

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      • Your body should strongly consider reading a book on physiology – it might find some useful tips and tricks on how to not find new ways to break itself. On second thought, let’s not give it any new ideas!

        An open abdomen for Christmas! How… cheery? Seasonal? No, no, those aren’t the right words. Let’s choose … annoying! Painful! Frustrating! Intense! Yes, those are better. 😭😭

        Things are keeping on keeping on over here. Little one turned 4 a month ago, and gets distressingly smarter each day. She’s currently curled on on her dad’s lap “helping” him play video games. “Go up those stairs!” “Mercy!” “Click there… I want to look at the cute little birdie picture in which floor, go back!!”

        I popped an anal gland abscess on a lab today and thought of you, strangely. It was very welcome to open the blog and find a post 🙂 how is the fuzzy rock holding up?

        I think it shows you the email I use to post? You can always email me! I Facebook, but don’t use most other social media (twitter, Snapchat, instagram).

        Long- term are you a candidate for gabapentin for pain? It is fussy with kidneys, and can make some people feel foggy, but for others it seems to help a lot with chronic nerve pain.

        I’m off for a 3 day weekend, which feels a lot like a heating pad and a new book 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ok I am so sorry I didn’t respond to this. I read it, there was so much to say that I told myself I would respond when I had time to do so properly, then everything hit the fan, I got so overwhelmed I couldn’t human, and the response never occurred. Anyway…

        I’m definitely not going to give my body any inspiration! Yes the open abdomen has been a very strange thing. Today, it finally seems to no longer be open, so that’s pretty great.

        Ok so that situation sounds ADORABLE. I don’t know what it is about 4 years old that sounds so much older than 3 but… it really does.

        Ok the anal gland abscess made me laugh because I know (hope!) that you thought of me because of the Labrador part, but it could be read that the anal gland abscess inspired thoughts of me and I just find that TOO FUNNY.

        I don’t really use social media any more, I only have Facebook anyway so mainly use the messenger app.

        Ooh three day weekends are great, how was it? I am sorry of having a pre-weekend-weekend. University were pretty great and when I went to my personal tutor like “hi ok so I want to leave now because I almost left my own existence and I need to take something off of my plate,” he made it so that all my coursework deadlines went away and I can be assessed differently to everyone else by doing different tasks. So now I have time to breathe and allotted today and tomorrow to just… breathing again.

        My laptop decided to die two weeks ago just as I went to start writing my dissertation on it, so that was super stressful. My new one arrived yesterday which is probably contributing to this weird ability to breathe easy.

        Hope all is well. Again, so sorry about the delay in responding!

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  1. Your exquisite words are exactly what I needed to hear right now, London Blogger Friend. I’m so glad you’re still with us. 😊 And let me just say, I’m glad your open abdomen experience has turned out better than one I witnessed through work…it didn’t end well.

    I would say more stuff since we haven’t talked in awhile, but my brain can’t do things like it used to anymore. 🤷🏼‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very sorry I haven’t responded. My heart deteriorated to the point that I couldn’t stay conscious for more than a few minutes, and it was 48 hours before I managed to ask for help. That was a while ago. I still can’t sit up. But now I can stay awake, and lift my head, and yesterday finally escaped hospital. But I have huge decisions to make about very radical surgery and… ok you know what I’ll just explain in a post (but probably not for a while, because I can’t function physically and emotionally I’m just broken).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dear London Blogger Friend! My first thought was to say my heart aches for what you’re going through, but on second thought, I decided that sounded really stupid and insensitive given the very literal heart aching you experience all the time. 🤐 But know that I’m thinking of you. Making surgical decisions are among the hardest to make, especially when it involves radical procedures.

        What can I do to help you? Not CAN I do something to help you, but WHAT can I do? What can I do to help put your brokenness back together? I do believe in the power of prayer. I could send you what we call “snail mail”, which is just letters by post, but only if you’re comfortable with what that would require. I want to help you in any way I’m capable of doing.

        Love you, hun. Many hugs! ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

      • You leave me lost for words. Thank you isn’t big enough.

        My friend is currently on the phone to me from an Imagine Dragons gig in Birmingham. I have tickets to their London show on Wednesday, and it was meant to be for my birthday. I’ve had tickets to see them twice before, and been in hospital critically ill instead and wasted tickets. I don’t care that my heart has taken my ability to walk, or that it’s jeopardising my degree, or that it has terrified most of my friends away, or that it has made my body the loneliest place on the planet to be… but it taking this gig from me will BREAK me. There are wheelchair platforms, but right now I’d need a stretcher and there are private ambulance companies sure, but I don’t have the money or the logistic brain to make that work so right now I am sat here crying. And all I want right now in the whole world is to get to that gig somehow. I’m kind of terrified that I might die at the hands of my heart or my mental health, and music has been my release. Imagine Dragons were there before Bastille. I listened to them since before anyone knew who they were. And this gig sounds incredible from the other end of the phone, and I’m realising that even if I had social media accounts to somehow beg for the help of the internet, there’s probably no way I can go. So I’m crying. Very hard. And listening to a phone call of live music that I love.

        Getting to that gig would hold the brokenness together, but I don’t think you can manage that (unless you’re up for an impossible challenge? 😂😂)

        I’d love snail mail. I love getting post.

        You’re too incredible.

        Now, I’ve got a gig to cry along to from the other end of a phone.

        My heart aches too. Literally. Figuratively. It just now seems to be taking my mind with it

        Like

  2. Yayayay new laptop. There’s something so shiny and new and satisfying about making it your own that appeals to my inner nerd 🙂

    Yeah, mostly because of the lab, but a little because of the abscess 😜😜

    Yay tutor. A+ for them dealing appropriately with shit hitting the fan.

    I’ve started physical therapy (physio) for some angry nerves in my neck that send fun electric sparks down my arm sometimes. So far so good. We had the big American football championship game this weekend in my city (the super bowl), and I drank a lot of Pinot noir while watching. I also ate a lot of guacamole. It was a good time!

    4 is much bigger than 3! It’s amazing how much of a person she is but also how little she is too.

    Hope this week is treating you well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very sorry I haven’t responded. My heart deteriorated to the point that I couldn’t stay conscious for more than a few minutes, and it was 48 hours before I managed to ask for help. That was a while ago. I still can’t sit up. But now I can stay awake, and lift my head, and yesterday finally escaped hospital. But I have huge decisions to make about very radical surgery and… ok you know what I’ll just explain in a post (but probably not for a while, because I can’t function physically and emotionally I’m just broken). Will respond to this properly at some point as soon as I can

      Like

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