I am surrounded by assumptions and expectations that are incorrectly pinned upon me. There is this assumption that I’m able to cope, that I’m ok. There is a huge expectation of me to start catching up on university work and be able to do so. People assume that I’m better and that I’m out of the woods. It’s all so… Far from reality.
On Thursday (after a sleepless night), I went to a hospital appointment where nobody seemed to care about the emotional impacts of my physical health hiccups at all – not even the psychologist who saw me in clinic and decided to join the appointment. I was alive (just, and not thanks to them) and that was enough. It didn’t matter that I had so nearly died. It didn’t matter that I was scared. I tried to talk about how I felt and the silence and expressionless faces told me that it didn’t matter there. The psychologist said it was such a huge deal and a big change to see me engaging with treatment. I found this ironic, seeing as the people sat before me were part of a healthcare team that totally bailed on me in February, refused to try anything else, and basically left me for dead, therefore burning any bridges I would ever build past and present. In my brain the whole appointment was a test that they spectacularly failed. After so long of them not caring, and me not being able to face appointments, I was totally overwhelmed when they just assumed that I was fine with everything and ready to engage now and booked not one, but TWO appointments for next week. I don’t know why I let them just sort of spring this on me. I was so overwhelmed I just went with it. But no. I should probably cancel those. Because they are… Nope. Too much too soon.
I left, feeling smothered and kind of like a caged animal, and I walked past campus but refused to take a shortcut and cut through it. I couldn’t face uni… And yet, I grabbed some food, and went back to my flat, and then headed onto campus for my lab. IT was a mistake. It was too soon. I couldn’t people. I was hugged. People who had no idea I was even in London were happy to see me. It overwhelmed me. WR Uni Friend knew the state I was in but didn’t know what else to try other than normal conversation and that… No. First my voice was deadened and monotonous, and then I just couldn’t talk at all. I withdrew. My mind crumbled, although there was nothing really left to fall apart. I switched off. I was exhausted from being up all night. At one point the module lead for that lab walked through (the lecturer I’d emailed a few weeks ago from hospital, who responded amazingly), he leant down to my level to talk to me and told me I had e legitimate excuse for missing assessments and stuff and would not be expected to catch up on the work at all. I said I’d missed so much and didn’t want to get kicked out and would really still like to do the work, and eventually he agreed that he would mark it for feedback but wouldn’t put my grades on the system.
My personal tutor was running the lab session. I was emotionally overwhelmed and physically exhausted and I fell asleep. First I just curled up on the desk, my mind in turmoil, completely overwhelmed, and I wrapped my arms around my head just to block out the world. And my tiredness took advantage of the darkness and the quiet. I was woken by her calling my name. She told me that if I was going to be there the least I could do was make the most of being in the lab. She didn’t talk about why. She wouldn’t go there, that’s beyond the boundaries that were set out to me last year. My friends were kind of shocked at the lack of support they thought they witnessed, but I was so scared to tell my personal tutor I’d been in hospital that I just didn’t. Uni aren’t supportive, so my disability advisor and the one helpful lecturer are the only people who know. Anyway, I removed myself from the room. I went into the toilets and messaged my new hospital friend and she just got it, and we just messaged.
I phoned My Fellow Third Wheel after the lab. He didn’t know what to say so he made things a little worse. I got on the tube to Embankment so that I could go to McDonalds along The Strand. In doing so, I saw the Christmas lights there.
This is significant, because about a week ago I got a flashcard and made a list of all the things I want to do in London at Christmas time before I y’know… cease to exist (I was trying to give myself something to… Something).
My list included things like:
- See the Oxford/Regent/Bond/Carnaby Street Christmas lights
- See the Covent Garden Christmas decorations
- Go to Leicester Square
- Go to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park
- Wander around the Harrods Christmas section (can’t afford anything but we used to do this when we were younger just for a day out)
- See The Strand Christmas lights
- See the Trafalgar Square tree and carols
- Go to various Christmas markets
- Go ice skating at The National History Museum or Somerset House
Anyway, from The Strand, I got on a packed commuter train from Charing Cross, and went to Sidcup. I saw Auntie Godmother and her family, but I was hollow and beaten and I just wanted my dog. I had dinner, had a long chat with my eldest cousin where I actually felt like a helpful human being… And I just felt part of a family. They were compassionate and understanding and they weren’t angry at me in the slightest. And then I went back to the house where I feel like a pain in the butt. But I was granted by the wagging tail of my furry rock, and I loved the fact that he couldn’t stand the thought of being apart from me, because he just made everything feel ok. He wakes me up when I’m unwell because he seems to know what’s going on in my blood before any test does. I feel safe sleeping when he is around. I’d been away from him for one night, and in that one night I nearly died and didn’t know until I happened to check by chance. I wanted the safety of his nose. My mum told me this was stupid, that I couldn’t rely on a dog. She seems to forget how many times he has saved my life. So I wanted my dog. I didn’t want to be with my family because they really aren’t good for my mental state right now. Remember this. It becomes relevant later.
I woke up at 1pm the next day, having spend the night with a chocolate labrador curled up in bed with me using my ribcage as a pillow, staring up at my face as I drifted to sleep, his tail thumping against the bedding each time I opened my eyes or moved my hand on his fur. I was at the stage where I was starting to switch back no mentally but couldn’t deal with my health, so was just… Not. I was treating myself and taking my medications and everything, but I wasn’t consulting anyone or checking my blood glucose levels or monitoring the acidity of my blood or going for any blood tests (I have the stickers for a bunch of blood tests I am meant to go and get. No.). I can’t throw that back into my brain without breaking down again. Breaking down. Is that what this is? A mental breakdown? It’s an acute deterioration in my mental health that I’ve never experienced before but is that… I mean… Am I broken? Anyway, I can’t stand to see bad blood results or have them told to me so I’m just not letting those blood results exist. My way of dealing, no matter how wrong it may be. Wonderfully oblivious to how bad the situation is, just like everyone around me who seems to think I’m better. If they get that peace of mind through ignorance, then so do I. Right? Wrong. Stupid. No, that’s not why I did it, it’s just what I use to tell myself this isn’t so bad.
I spoke my philosophies about what is really important to Uni Pal, and she, like my friend who saved my life with a phone call, told me I need to write a book. So all I did yesterday, all day, was write out my thoughts on that. Not even 2,000 words. All day. That’s all I had to show. But it is an entire something more than nothing.
I heard a phone call. Nobody thought to bother me with its contents because nobody thought I should care. Nobody thought I had any right to. My nephew did, because it was his great uncle. My sister was on the phone, it was her uncle. My dad was cut up – it was his ex-brother in law, and they were close. But I wasn’t allowed to be. He was assumed to be nothing to me. But this guy, when I met him when I was younger a couple of times. He included me. He made time for me. He made me feel part of a family that wasn’t mine. He talked to me, and he gave me this big long pep talk about how blood didn’t matter and people who thought it was all that did were people I didn’t need in my life. He’s in a coma. He has a tracheostomy. I learned that in one overheard bit of the phone call. Nobody would tell me anything. I waited until they talked to my nephew.
Turns out the uncle that isn’t mine to call uncle has a huge tumour in his throat and couldn’t breathe. They think his cancer is back. He did so much for me in terms of settling into the new family that formed when my parents cemented the joining of our families by making my little brother… He’s such a nice guy, and he lives all the way over in Canada. I thought that I should feel stupid and guilty for being so concerned for him, I thought my family would be angry and they did get a little snappy at me because they don’t see why he should matter to me. But I remember a talk he probably doesn’t even remember having with me. And it meant a lot. Nobody would tell me anything. They were confused as to why it even mattered. And then I tried to figure out how I felt about the situation, but I couldn’t even get upset or hurt because I COULDN’T FEEL EMOTION again.
So I mean… I bought myself a wireless printer online because it was less than half the full price thanks to black Friday deals. I walked to the shopping centre near my family’s home with my nephew and we nearly got locked in WHSmiths. I bought stir fry and loads of soft drinks and fancy fruit juices (apple, lime and mint anyone??) and then I bought myself some study incentives – flash cards and a very cheap but new fountain pen. Turns out the fountain pen made my writing SO MUCH neater (I write with my left hand after my dominant hand was half paralysed by some surgery, and usually have to write half a page of random letters before my left handed writing is neat). I sat with my nephew and brother and they wrote with their non-dominant hands too, and then got annoyed that my left-handed writing was neater than their dominant hand’s writing… And then we just sat and talked. Until 11pm.
I got out stuff to study because I felt like I should but didn’t care but don’t feel pressure but sort of know I probably should. I wrote the title Time To Attempt To Uni and ten minutes later put away my study stuff, with my brain all ASDFGHJKL, having written three words half way down the page: yeah ok NOPE.
My brain just cannot even is not ready nope.
I am trying so hard to get back to normal and I think I keep running before I can walk. Even tiny steps are too much. Asdfghjkl