Comfort of… Bastille?

“As the world falls down around us

Give me something to remember

I am holding on

In the back of my mind

For dear life, dear life

Holding on

In the back of my mind

For dear life, dear life

Oh I, Oh I

I am holding on for dear life

Oh I, Oh I

I am holding on for dear life”

Bastille, Comfort of Strangers

Words fail me a little bit at this current moment. When I heard those song lyrics, I stopped dead. Everything melted away, and my brain curled up in those words like a comfort blanket. I had been fracturing, bursting at the seams, suppressing emotion that I couldn’t allow myself to feel but was most definitely there. I was torn. I was on the edge of letting it all go, of falling apart. And then I got a message from a friend asking if I’d heard Bastille’s new song. Immediately, I almost laughed out loud. Whenever I hit a tough time or get bad news or something, Bastille (the band whose music ended my emotional isolation in the back of an ambulance when I was… 16? if intrigued, see this post) seem to drop a new song or a new album.

I searched it online. Hit play. Listened until the chorus played, and this song just… took me. A total calm rose up and engulfed me and had I been alone, I may actually have shouted YES at the top of my voice. It was the same feeling I got when I heard Pompeii for the first time in the back of an ambulance, when I heard Good Grief for the first time as I walked out of a hospital ward after almost dying and being told that waking up everyday was pretty much like playing Russian Roulette… the same as I felt when they dropped a new album a day or two after I’d had surgery and was laying in bed writhing in pain until that haunting voice played  through my headphones and removed me from the world for the entire length of time it took to listen to all those songs.

I’m pretty sure this latest song is written about being in a relationship with another human (I may be way off there), which I most definitely was not, but the beauty about all forms of art is that people are free to interpret that art in any way they want. I have no doubt that this song said something to me that it was never intended to say when it was written. But it sort of woke me up to myself, it gave my brain an ally, it gave me words I could twist and put to something I couldn’t verbalise or even accept before. It was like a “Eureka” moment… It brought all the guards in my brain down and finally let me admit that I am not ok with how things went, I am not “not feeling” all the things I think I should, I had simply, as my counsellor noticed I do often, dissociated myself from the things that hurt too much to go near.

On the surface yes, I can ignore how I feel, I can tell myself I’m not disappointed yet, I can try to ignore the fact that three (wait, how many days ago was Wednesday?) days ago I had heart surgery (and not only did it not work, but I somehow feel worse, and the second part that needs remodelling if we have to attempt again was too close to my phrenic nerve so… asdfghjkl… and I have no idea what to do or where to go and it changes all of my imagined plans because is this all I am now? A tachycardic, fluid retaining, coughing, breathless, swollen, oedematous mess?) but in the back of my mind I am in the middle of a storm, clinging to this tiny shred of something that remains. Hope? Maybe. And I am being battered by emotions (not only from the past few days, not only from my health. There’s a lot hanging around and churning around back there), torn apart, ripped apart, withering, worn out, exhausted, beaten, probably ready to throw in the towel and walk to the Grim Reaper with open arms. In the back of my mind, in the part I ignore, there is a battle, and I am holding on for dear life. Paralysed by it all, completely lost, completely terrified, and just clinging to anything. That anything, right now, is this teeny, tiny hope that there is something that can still be done. And I didn’t realise that, couldn’t accept that, couldn’t work out why I wasn’t entirely happy and felt tense and bothered (or even admit that I was any of those things)… until I heard those lyrics and my great big deluded, ignorant conscious mind turned around and went, “oh yeah.”

And then… click. I am disappointed. I am falling apart. I’m devastated. I’m terrified. I’m wondering if I will ever be able to have a job, what will happen about the final year of my degree. Will I ever be able to go for a walk again? In the back of my mind I am still feeling all of the things I refuse to let myself acknowledge, and they have been burning slowly, like a fire. Those flames have silently eaten away at all the foundations that held me up. And the thing is, before I can rebuild, I need to crumble. Just demolish the wreck that is left and build something new to take its place, before the rot spreads. That’s kind of how I work. But I’m really great at pretending to everyone, including myself, that I am fine.

And then along comes a song, written by people who I never have or will meet, about a situation I probably can’t relate to at all… And it says all that needs to be said. Enough for me to stop hiding from myself, to let down the barriers, to accept what I am trying to shield myself from and have in doing so let silently destroy me. Weird. Awesome… Bastille.

Medicine saved my body. Music saves my soul. In ways that nobody and nothing else can. (Hey, it moved me enough to post twice in a few hours rather than twice in one month). It kind of brought me… Home.

I was so lost, and I didn’t even know where to turn or what to do or how I felt or what to reach out for, I was just crumbling and trying to pretend I wasn’t. And a song I’d never heard before just shut me down. Totally. Shut all of that. Down. No idea how long for.

This is why I never go anywhere without headphones.

 

Advertisements

Hornets With Squatter’s Rights

This post is raw and… wrong. Wrong as in “incorrect” because words fail me in areas that only tears can adequately fill right now (I. Don’t. Usually. Cry.) and so this post doesn’t paint a replica of the picture I am looking at. It comes somewhere within a mile though, and it dances around a topic that may be triggering to some people.

My mum told me today that I am like a different person since yesterday. And I’m not. My head is still in a terrible, alarming place. Something inside of me is trying to choke the life out of me, and an even bigger something is telling me to choke the life out of myself. I hurt. Not in the way I’m used to – chest pain and other niggles are a part of everyday. But emotionally, I am going to collapse under the density of this darkness, going to explode with the pressure of this agony. I’m lighter, though. I’m so, so relieved. I didn’t realise how much I had been dreading going back to living alone in my studio until I knew I didn’t have to any more, and the release of that weight made me feel like I’m flying. Which is deceptive. Because my smiles are genuine, and it’s so, so much easier to act normal today (I actually managed to, and I haven’t had enough anything to do that for a few weeks now), and now that I’m not being so crushed it feels easier to try. But… that doesn’t make it better. I thought it would. I didn’t understand that you could be in such agony, and watch grains of the absence of that feeling slip through your hands. People think I’m physically well – people who don’t understand the impact hearts and kidneys can have upon a human’s ability to function. People who assume an invisible illness is a non-existent one. People who fell for the mask I have worn for so, so long over every singe flaw, every single struggle.

I had to break before I could admit to anyone that I was breaking. In front of them I ground to a halt and stopped functioning and socialising and caring and looking after so many aspects of myself, and I withdrew and… I hid it all so well nobody noticed. I pulled it all around me to keep everybody safe, and nobody saw, until I was so lost that nobody could pull me out, and even then they didn’t understand the gravity of the situation. Hello, I am being crushed. This is because some of the people I have surrounded myself with are selfish and ignorant beyond belief and use me as an emotional punchbag or for attention, because they know I will always be there. It’s because the majority of the people I’ve surrounded with just didn’t know, just could not comprehend and still can’t. And I don’t blame them for that. Even my own mother was ignorant (although not intentionally). She complains that I don’t talk but shuts down every discussion, particularly if feelings creep in.

I just wrote the entire rest of this post, and then deleted it, because it does not belong here. Oh ok so apparently tears are a great idea to my eyes right now. Excuse me for a while…

Edit: FYI the re-attempt at this next half says nothing I feel either. It paints the wrong picture. It sounds pathetic. And I’m sorry for it, but I wrote it, and I don’t want to make this post pointless. 

 

No look do you know what, I can’t even. I CANNOT EVEN HANDLE THE IRONY. I cannot even write the irony. Because I can’t handle the hurt it just drove through me.

I just feel let down.

I always make an effort to be there for my friends, to poke the hornets nests of their minds until they let out the swarm and I take the stings with them to save them from at least some of their pain. I have been used by people. Only a few people, but they used me. They let me take sting after sting, then they put me in a position where I had to take them, messaging me when they knew I was fighting for my life telling me they were going to end their existence and putting their life in my hands. They took everything I had and then left me in my emotional overdraft. Even when I tried to say I couldn’t be there, I couldn’t take any more stings because the hornets in my own nest were eating me alive… When I was so emotionally drained and broken beyond broken myself, these people took. They used. They were selfish and they never took any of my stings, never even offered to (not that I would have let them but the intention speaks louder than the action). They added hornets to my nest. They put their own hornets into my nest to relieve the pressure on themselves, and it made them feel better, and it killed me inside, and they didn’t care, because they didn’t hurt any more. They saw strength or whatever else they think I am. And before them I was stung near to death and they just. Kept. Sending their hornets my way. Even when I said, please don’t, I can’t any more (which was so, so hard for me to say, and rang alarm bells in the few people who genuinely know me).

Some people appreciated that and thanked me so much for being there for them, and left me to quietly handle the hornets alone but let me know that they were there. Some people poked my hornets nest but I grabbed onto whatever flew out, tore out the stingers, and let them deal with hornets that could no longer do harm but that got them in a panic nonetheless. Because people are afraid of anything stripy… But anyway. Some people ignored that. Some people went even further and ignored me because I no longer served any purpose in their lives.

And then I get a message telling me one of our lecturers left.

And the concern, the concern I’d voiced before and acknowledged but no longer had no room to feel. They wanted to bake him a cake and arrange a thing and make sure he was ok. The had these huge plans to be there for somebody they didn’t know. And I’ve picked so many stings from my mind that I took for that person because I wanted to, because I wanted to take them all, because that’s me, that’s who I am, that’s what I instinctively do for my friends, and I knew this person didn’t want to hurt anybody, and was stinging themselves with their own thoughts… And I tried to expose my own hornets now. And.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at the irony, at the amount of concern and the action and the responsibility felt for someone a couple of times our age with his own huge support network around him who actually know about his out-of-uni life… These people that I know inside out, these people who came to me when they wanted to end their existence, who I spent so long telling how necessary and worthy they were until the hurt passed and a few words stuck… These people who I carried through hard times on a broken, fractured, bleeding mind that could not support itself and really needed their help, because it was dealing with bigger (but not bigger because everything is relative) things than they could ever imagine… These people that are meant to be my support network… They.

I was just lost for words, to be honest.

I still am.

And I’d started this evening to feel like maybe I could claw back something. My mum and I wrote all my uni hours onto the calendar, because she likes to organise things and stuff and decided to organise my life; and I was trying to force myself to imagine that there was some comfort in the idea that I only have to go to uni for a few hours at a time and then I can escape again in order to appease the thing trying to make me choke the life out of myself… And I bought a week-to-view diary and a weekly wall planner thing, and I filled it out. And then like that. Imagine I clicked my fingers there. Just like that somebody shut the door and trapped the hornets in. And I just lost it all. Just like that.

Blissful ignorance. Clueless bliss. Only, I was open, and if that person knew me, they would have known. Some people just…

Aren’t there. I’m a difficult person to be there for. I can’t even complain. I can’t even.

And the reaction and response told me things about myself that that person never meant to say.

It said I didn’t matter.

It said I mattered less.

It said my problems weren’t problems.

It said nobody understood me.

It said I didn’t matter like I thought I did.

It said nobody would ever kill the hornets or even smoke them to subdue them for a little while (I guess my dog is like smoke in that sense).

It said there was no concern.

It said nobody would miss me.

It said… Go.

And I want to join a gym. My mum suggested we start yoga or something, but I want to run again. I want to swim. And she said no, not until my heart is sorted. But she is out tomorrow, everybody is. And I want to run. For so long I have craved that runners high again. I miss it. It was part of my daily routine for years and it was the only thing that ever helped the hornets. The temperature is finally sub-zero (usual British winter is occurring for once) and I want to get so cold it hurts (like I did this morning when I walked my dog with my next door neighbour and their puppy). Like I said, the only thing that ever kept those hornets out of my head was sport. And that’s what I want. I want to run, even though chest pain is pretty constant now and arrhythmias happen a lot, and just walking through the woods this morning left me unable to breathe… My brain is desperate and lost and it will try ANYTHING to stop hurting, to stop hating itself, to feel less hate about its own existence.

So I’m going to run. Tomorrow morning. And even if I don’t, the thought of that run right now is the only thing… The only thing.

I’m willing to take a chance.

Right now, I just wish I wasn’t sat in the dark crying alone. But it isn’t just crying. It’s aching. It’s fighting with a part of me that I am out of control of that tells me my life is worthless and so I should just do what everybody wants and end it. It’s being at war with this constant weight of feeling like the only way to cope with the choking, relentless emotion is to seek the company of death himself. It’s trying to let out the parts of me I have hidden for so long and failing at doing that properly even here, let alone to people who I have helped let out those parts of themselves. It’s… I don’t even know what it is. I don’t know how to get through it, is all I know. But for some reason today I’m trying. I’m trying to plan and kidding myself that it might make things easier. I’m thinking of trying stupid, desperate things that aren’t as final as the stupid desperate thing that feels like the only way.

Nobody knows me at the moment.

Even I am beginning to find myself in the presence of a stranger, and that stranger seems to have squatter’s rights.

 

 

My hornets seem to be exploiting those squatter’s rights.

 

Over & Done With

I’m moving back in with my parents.

I didn’t expect to be writing that at the age of 20. Right about now I expected to be sharing a flat with a friend, building a life, coping in the way that I pretended to for months hoping it would become a reality. At some point I’ll feel like a failure for writing those words, for doing this – moving back into a house I was so desperate to get away from. In essence, I am reducing myself. I am regressing, I guess. And that’s not what I wanted to do with my life now, with myself. I wanted to feel human. Whole. But you have to understand this – I am not regressing. I am desperate. I am hopeless. I am empty. I am suicidal. I am broken. I am hurting. I am hollow. I am heavy inside in a way I cannot explain – so heavy I don’t even think the world can support me any more, and half expect to wake up having fallen to the centre of a great big black hole. And there is no desperation to maintain my existence, only a quiet crying that tells me that’s not what I really want. I want the freedom it represents. And that is stupid. It’s stupid because life is a gift that I have always been so, so grateful for. And I am so, so lucky. And I know that. But it doesn’t fix things. It doesn’t make the heaviness go away. And then you have to know this – me giving in to the concerns about money that seemed to override any thought for my mental wellbeing at times I totally can’t afford to leave university, because I can’t afford to live anywhere for another year. So I have to go back. But, we figured, I don’t have to live there.

I am no longer a Londoner.

London is no longer home.

London life, this thing I adjusted to and adapted to and was honoured to call my own, is no longer mine. No more night tubes and night buses and random 2am walks by the Thames. No more spontinaety. No more freedom to go anywhere whenever I want. No more London wanderings.

And that, at some point, will break my heart a little.

(Here we go again with the warning that this is about to deal with some pretty… Difficult feelings, that might ignite equally harmful feelings in some people. If your mind has fuel for such feelings/ my words to burn, please avoid exposing it to them. Also, if you do read this, don’t worry about me. Wanting and doing are two different things and an unknown part of me seems to be fighting the involuntary and uncontrollable want).

But I am doing this for me. For the very tiny part of me left crying out that stops me ending everything and injects hesitation into the emotionally driven urge to cease my existence (yes, how confusing. I ache to cease existing and then cry because I have that feeling and want to stay alive. I don’t understand it either, but it tells me part of me is… I don’t know, clinging on to something). I am doing whatever it takes to keep that person alive. I am too numb and drained to make decisions, and so in the end my mum made it for me. One phonecall, the truth about my health voiced, and I was free from the tenancy agreement in my student accommodation.

Kent is home again.

And all I could think was no. I can’t live in Kent because the nearest hospital to my parents’ house is the one where my life was ruined. And I cannot ever go there again (as I discovered the other month). This place holds so much stagnant pain. The years of bullying. I don’t want to go out in case I bump into doctors or nurses or teachers or ex-pupils that I know. It is full of people I wanted to be free from. It is full of memories I swore I would never let haunt me. But it has the paths I used to run every night. It has the woods I cycled through and climbed trees in. Instead of paying rent, the money will go towards my train fares and food costs. I won’t have to human, I can just focus on work and nothing else, and hug my dog when I melt down. That’s the theory, I think. My dad has no idea why I’m moving back. He seems kinda… Actually he’s pretty irritating about it. He sighs and rolls his eyes and is visibly annoyed. He sais in his (many) years of living he’s never met anyone else who feels the way I feel (as if depression is something that should be glaringly obvious to an insensitive oaf who never talks about emotion. Ever). He is cynical and sceptical and scathing, and he told me to just be happier, to stop being depressed. Sure, it works like that.

I want to pick myself up. I am trying, but I am filled with such heaviness that nothing seems to be able to get me out of this rut. Canyon. It feels like a canyon, and to everybody else looking in it’s a teeny tiny rut. I am terrified that whatever it is, I will hit the bottom of it and meet my end while they stand by with no idea I even need a safety net. Because I can say a few things here, but I’m closed off in reality. People can’t read me (unless they’re my uni parents, which always terrified me and then left me super… Relieved?). But anyway. I need to shake some of the weight, and the crippling loneliness and fear of dying that are so significantly intensified by living alone (which, let’s face it, destroyed my mind in a way I didn’t think a lack of companionship could)… That’s not a weight I needed to carry any more.

I will miss watching the sun rise and set over Canary Wharf as I lay in bed. I will miss waking up before the sun and running through Mile End park (which I have only done twice, but hey). I will miss living in Mile End, and the Central, District, and Hammersmith & City lines all being kite strings that tie me to the place I call home. All my medical care is based in London and has been even since I lived in Kent (the joys of being complicated, I guess). So that won’t change. But it means we go back to hospitals not communicating and… Do you know what I don’t even care about that. Everything is slipping. Everything is sliding. I stopped checking things I’m supposed to check. I ignored my heart symptoms and hoped that the decline would just cease to occur if I didn’t acknowledge it. It hasn’t. My days are a swirl of arrhythmia and chest pain and dizziness which inevitably leads to RIDICULOUS water retention, an inability to breathe, the coughing up of a strange pink froth, and an un-fightable sleep that steals my consciousness for hours. I had forgotten how big of an impact a small ball of muscle could have. I forgot how Skippy’s tantrums could make my entire body cease to function – the dizzy headache, the inability to focus my vision and then the inability to breathe… No thanks. Ignore, ignore, ignore… Only… None of my clothes fit. Overnight, it happened. Everything was loose, and by the next afternoon I couldn’t get any of my jeans on, and they had until that point been falling down instantly. I don’t even want to know how many kilograms of water my kidneys have let stay on board to punish the heart that has annoyed them. Who even knows if I can commute? I don’t. I don’t even want to. I have three deadlines on the 13th of January (apparently) and I don’t even know what they are. Should probably care. Can’t. Just can’t. And then even if the heaviness clears, I think about the old man dying beside me and nothing matters all over again in a whole new way.

I got this beanbag for Christmas (always wanted one). And my dog is super happy because when I snuggle into it (I don’t sit on anything else in this house any more) he climbs up onto my lap and snuggles up and we fall asleep like that. He laid across me tonight (2am, to my brain, is still tonight), and I thought about coming home to him every night and I just wrapped my arms around him and… Lit up. And I think it was only when my mum saw a genuine smile that she realised all those she had been seeing for weeks were feigned (my dad just shouted at me when I tried to explain my happiness was an act. He told me I’d smiled and laughed and that isn’t an act. He doesn’t know me. And I’ve mastered the art. Clearly). Anyway, she said I hadn’t been happy like that in a long, long time. And that’s kind of sad, because I wasn’t happy, but I was the closest I’ve been to that for… ages.

Other stuff that happened yesterday:

Went shopping to a huge outlet centre with my mum. We had lunch and just spent a day together and there was no shouting or snapping not even once which was awesome because it meant I was a tolerable human being for a change.

Whilst shopping, got a phone-call from my cardiologist’s secretary saying that I have been listed for a surgical procedure on my heart, possibly a second one too depending on how the first thing goes. No discussion about the pros and cons and unpleasantness. None of that; I was listed before my consultant even signed the letter to inform me that this was definitely the route we need to take. My mum kind of looked at me and said that meant I probably don’t have any other options. Heart surgery was one thing I wanted for new year. I’m grinding to a halt again, getting breathless and I am so, so tired of the chest pain because it seeps everywhere, spreads. And I mean… It can’t signal good things, can it? So it just almost constantly reminds me that Skippy is an idiot, and I don’t want to think about that right now, because I was busy concentrating on the other hiccup that keeps very nearly succeeding in its mission to kill me.

Got home to scan results. No inflammation, so Cedric (small tumour) is a solid thing. And given the history and the presentation and stuff, the surgeon wants Cedric OUT, along with the “underlying cartilage” he’s grown from/ attached himself to. In fact, no other options were given or discussed. I was more sort of… Told. Twice in one day. That I’m going to have a general anaesthetic. And it didn’t phase me. Because that’s just normal life. That happens. I’m used to it, cool as a cucumber about it, and it is pretty much as much of a big deal to me as my dog eating his dinner – it has to happen for life to be y’know, possible and present, but it isn’t a huge great thing. In fact, surgery is good news, because it is a route back to normality, or a method of never having to face that reality again if it goes horribly wrong. Either way, it means an end. In theory. And that’s all I want. A break. From everything. Just to… Breathe, again. Because I have been drowning for so, so long. (Surgery also means that there’s something people think they can do to help, which means HOPE, when I am capable of finding such a thing again).

So yeah, these are my 1am thoughts (even though it’s now 2am. Good one brain). I’m laid in bed with a great big bear of a Labrador sleeping on my legs, and the weight of him there is saving me from the weight within myself, sort of. And I am writing. Things that I am not posting here. My sadness has something to say. Also I’ve sort of accidentally written 9,000 words of a (not a novel because hello this is just me writing, but some sort of crappy story, but not a story because that word makes it sound silly to my brain, but yeah) thing, and I have no idea where it’s going, and it’s probably awful, and it’s not related to any situations or reality at all, but it seems to be my… Backup plan? Maybe I am trying to write my way out of this canyon. Then again, this blog does say Trying To Get A Life – writing my way out of a rut. So… That’s kinda what I normally do. Until now. Until it isn’t working. Until forget the heart and kidneys and physical health hiccups in general and my mind is the thing that poses the greatest threat to my life. I think. I don’t know. That’s my fear.

I’m me, but something else is at the wheel, and it wants to bail on this whole “life” thing. It’s so strong that I don’t know how long I can continue to overpower it. One of us is going to run out of the energy to fight soon, and I’m terrified that… It’ll be me.

But it won’t. My furry rock has… Secured me to the planet.

The Things I Tried Not To Think

Warning: This was not a typically merry Christmas, nor was it a Happy New Year, it was an entire machine gun full of trigger warnings, and it is the reason I haven’t posted for over a week. I fell apart. What you are about to read is what I wrote in the notes section of my phone on the occasions that I was with it enough to form words. It doesn’t show the hours I spent uncontrollably crying, or the hurt so bad I could almost feel it, or how close I came to something that starts with s and ends in a funeral, and tears that aren’t mine. It doesn’t talk about the real issues. It’s superficial. It’s the overflow. But for now, it’s all I can offer you. This is me.

25/12

“I came as close as I will ever come to asking for help

I said: I don’t know what to do with my life

She said: Just go wherever it takes you.

I said: I feel very lost and very unhappy.

She said: Obviously.”

That was it.

26/12

“They will let me go.”

27/12

“Do me a favour and tell them this… Tell them thank you. For everything, but mostly for enduring me. Tell them sorry that they had to meet me, to be burdened by me and probably by my health too. Tell them I’m sorry for ever existing. And thank them for putting up with all of that… (and I have never meant anything more).”

“[My emotion] switched back on and all I could do was feel. All I could feel was hurt. And all I could do was cry and buckle and deflate and write suicide notes and not find the right words or a sure enough way and then cry again and crumple more and race backwards through all the things I run from and just long for [the end]. All I wanted for Christmas this year was to [cease existing]. I died in so many ways, but not in a way anybody could see, not in a way that concerned anybody else.”

This was the day we had Christmas with my grandparents.

28/12

“Do you have any idea what your PRESENCE is doing?

Do you have any idea what having you here is doing?

My mood in the last week has done this (mimes falling off a cliff) because of you

Having you around makes our family… Difficult

You can’t stay here. That is not an option.”

She says all this to me, because I tried so hard not to cry in front of her, and told her I didn’t want to talk about why because she’s just shout. So she followed the suicidal heap of me upstairs, and shouted. Because we’d been to my grandparents and I sat and cried at the dinner table and she said it made an atmosphere. So I phoned my grandparents crying too hard to get words out properly, and I apologised for existing. And that’s what I do. When my mind is serious about going, I cut ties. I cut the emotional ties that bind me to the commitment of my existence. Slowly, systematically, it began with my confused grandparents.

“Talking didn’t help, but I cried so much that afterwards I couldn’t shed another single tear”

29/12

“University is the right thing for me but I honestly don’t know if this is the right time to be doing it.

I told her I thought she was going to let me go. She just stood there and hugged me for a very long time and asked how. I said I thought she was just going to leave me to kill myself. I thought she was going to leave me to go. She said sometimes just talking helps. It helps her. The words I said were interrupted and argued back against and I was told that my brain is wrong. That made me feel worse but it made her feel better. In her mind she was helping. In his mind I’m to blame (the whole next paragraph does not belong here. It’s too private. So… Imagine its contents before I continue). He said he was just reacting to me… So basically, kill me now. Kill every last cell of my being, please.”

This was the day we drove for three hours to my sister’s house and three hours back to spend Christmas with her and her family, and there were a lot of extra notes that I won’t write here.

30/12

“Run away from London and curl up in the countryside.”

“I am terrified to let myself get close to people. I panic, I freak, and yet all I want is to be close to someone, anyone. And I don’t know how to. Not my parents. Not [our extended family].

I started systematically apologising. I wanted to apologise for existing, but I couldn’t do that. I started with my grandparents. When I’m suicidal, like seriously having to make an effort not to end it all – I cut ties holding me to existence, the final strings.

I’m broken. I have caused so, so much hurt. And I never meant to, but they are right. The pain that pours out, it’s all my fault.

So I will apologise to them all. One by one.

[…] And I decided there I wanted to die again. Not again, because I never undecided, I just wanted it more again. Only I don’t. I do that to run from the hurt. I don’t want to be dead my mind just doesn’t want to hurt any more and so it runs to the only coping mechanism left that it can try – the only way it can think to never have to hurt again at all.”

31/12

“I am increasingly becoming obsessed with cleanliness and disinfecting

As I lose control over myself, I grab it everywhere I can

I have reason to fear germs. I’m prone to infection, and in a recent hospital admission they found I was leukopenic. But I’m more terrified of dying. So I melt down about the thought of getting an infection that won’t affect any of my family but will run riot in me.

Need to leave uni. Can’t cope. Asked that question directly ad realised the honest answer is no.

Dreading going back to London. Dreading it. Like, I collapse into this heavy pit of crushing dread. I feel heavy, numb, so heavy I’m drowning in life and time just wades into the mire I am flailing in and drags my drowning mind forward through the things that are killing it.

All day my heart had a party. It hurt. The head rushes were more intense and more regular than normal. I felt lousy. And this isn’t about that. Yes, some of this is caused by my physical health, but I am a normal person behind that and I have normal things going on.

I don’t know what to do with my life.

My dog thinks my bed is now his bed.”

“I am impossible to love, and almost as difficult to care about. I know. When people say they care I FREAK out and push them away. I know. I don’t talk about stuff.”

“I’d like to apologise. Just that. An apology. To everyone who knows me, because I’m sorry you have to go through that.”

31/12

“I don’t want to go back to uni. I don’t know how to go back to being alone. I don’t know how to go back to trying to be social and feeling lost and overlooked in one of the most densely populated parts of the country. I don’t know how to go back to the pressure that will eventually give rise to stress, and the lack of support. I don’t know how to go back to being without a dog, without something warm and alive to cling to in the aftermath of a flashback or a nightmare, without a safety net to wake me up before my body even lets me know it’s trying to die again. I don’t know how to go to a cold, modern, EMPTY studio where 14 square metres fits my kitchen, study area, bedroom and bathroom all into one space. I don’t want to be penned in. I’m not an animal built for a city zoo.”

(another piece too private and personal to belong here) “And it’s as if all the things we had to work to (…) It’s as if that never happened. This perfect being stands in place of all of that and it tells me “this is all on you” and they both omit, forget, overlook. They tell me it’s normal (…) And in that moment I know I will never forgive either of them. I feel betrayed. Mostly by myself.”

That was when my 17 year old nephew, who has a nut allergy, ate a sandwich with pesto in it. He didn’t go into anaphylaxis, but he had a shot and a cannula and that’s a HUGE deal to healthy people. And a huge deal of it they made, with outpourings of sympathy over social media and everywhere. And I was worried about him obviously, and it sucked, but it showed me that people care so much more about him, because nobody gives a crap about when I am in intensive care fighting for my life.

“And it’s at times like this that I want people to go to hospital with me, to see what I go through, to gain perspective on a line hurting by seeing a central line stitched into the most sensitive areas humanity could think to develop major veins. (…) I am shouted at because not everybody has been through things like me and if I hadn’t been through all of that then it would be a big deal to me too. It never was.”

“I don’t even want to start uni work. I just want to [not exist].”

1/01

“I give up and I want to end it all, but after weeks I sent my friends messages to tell them what they mean to me, and their responses were adorable. I had no idea I meant so much to them, no idea what I’d done to their lives. And without knowing what I was thinking, Uni Pal told me that could I please not leave uni because I am her reason for carrying on, and the reason for (something else). And I remembered this life I have there that isn’t bad. And I want those people around me. I want to be enough for them. I will go back for them? I don’t want to go back, my brain hasn’t un-decided that it’s quitting. What I really want is to write a book. And then another and another and another. And get a puppy to train as a service dog. And a place to live, maybe rent a place here (where my parents live, where I grew up, the money I pay in rent for my 14 square metre room will get me a 3-4 bedrom house on a train 28-70 minutes from London.

What do I want for the next 364 days?

(a big long list including heart surgery etc. that ended like this)

  • I want to feel like it’s ok that I exist.
  • I want to feel wanted
  • I want to matter
  • I want to not hear the hurt and pain in the voices of people I’m meant to care about or whose lives my simple presence destroys. I want to die. I want to set them free
  • I want to feel like I fit
  • I want to be less lonely and alone
  • I want to leave university
  • And die
  • I want to die
  • But I don’t
  • I want to run
  • I want to go to Barcelona with my friends
  • I want to swim
  • I want to be the person they deserve or die trying to protect them from myself

I am poison

I want to not be poison any more. I want to apologise to every single person I’ve ever met and apologise fro my existence, for bothering and burdening them, for the fat that they had to meet me. I want to run back through time and build walls around myself to keep out the people I let in. I want to run back to all the times I survived when I shouldn’t and trip up the doctors that saved my life in the brink of time so that they don’t save it. I want to go back to [the main event in hospital that gave me PTSD] and tell the dying dregs of myself (because that’s where I really died, back then) I want to tell that girl to bite down on the scar over her radial artery. (Very graphic description of what would happen if and how that girl could do that). … Ans when she stops drinking and passes out she won’t bleed much more and it will be too late and she’ll be free from it all. I want to give somebody else all the extra time on the planet that screwed up girl has been given. My family hate me, but not me. They hate what I do to them and say they love me but they tell themselves that because they can’t not care. I am poison. I am a thorn. I am faeces, pure excrement. I do not belong. Two lines on this family tree will never join to me. The damage is done.”

And then I wrote out this

“[My name]

9/3/1996 – 7/8/2012

RIP

I just want to be I.P”

Because I died when that man… I died back then.

“My heart doesn’t want to leave uni – it has already left, and now my head realises that ni is not good for it, for me, right now. But my head is afraid that when this crisis clears, it will regret leaving. I can’t even think about starting uni work, I just meltdown at the thought.”

“They said we’d discuss options, discuss plans, but all of that is forgotten. It was just lip service – they stepped in and to them offering empty words was enough, they had done enough, the situation was saved. Only… It wasn’t. It opened a void, it tore my heart to shreds. There was relief, briefly, until I discovered that this was the end of their support, there would be no discussion, and I had to pretend things were better because they seem to think things are. And then it was assumed that I’m going back to uni, like I could suddenly miraculously cope.

They don’t know how to not un-help

I don’t want to go back. I don’t want to look a these people and they don’t understand that-

These people half care. They care as much as they know they should, it doesn’t run deep. The hurt runs deep, and they tell themselves to care. They’ll get over my death fairly quickly.”

This was a very twisted part of my brain speaking. I know it makes me out to be the sort of scum that should be at best assassinated and at least wiped off the face of the earth. So whatever you thought of me, I’m sorry. It isn’t my physical health that poses the biggest threat to my life at the moment, and with the state of my heart/kidneys, I fear that’s going to put me in hospital too.

There are more jottings. For another time. For now, I have to decide whether or not to give up the contract to my flat and move back with my parents. I have a couple of hours to make that decision, and have to be moved out by Monday. Guess that’s that then.

Feeling is so, so much more dangerous than not.

Really do not know why I shared this. My brain doesn’t care about anything at all at the moment, so I’m not yet drowning in regret over putting this lot out here but… I will, I think.

Holes, Holes, Holes…

How is it possible that people fall through nets which function so efficiently to catch others?

I have been trying to write things recently – words to leave behind that might tell my family how I feel, how I felt, how their net caught everyone except me and the ways in which it failed, so that the mistakes are never repeated. I was trying to write things because I wanted to be gone, and because the fluttering and hurting in my chest occasionally made me wonder if I was going to wake up, if the asparin in my blood would do enough to stop a clot from killing me even if I did. That’s the bad thing about understanding exactly what is going on inside of you – you know all the ways in which you can go wrong, all the ways in which you could lose your pulse irreversibly, how powerless you’d be to stop the cascade of events inside yourself that would lead to that moment should they start, and how easily and unpredictably they could start (with no way of stopping that initiation at all).

In my mind there is always a reason to fear not waking up. The above, most recently, is the front runner, but the things that were chasing me before are still nipping at my heels. They haven’t gone. A teeny tiny slip, a moment of taking my eye off of the ball, and I could fall into their hands. My health hiccups don’t take breaks – sometimes they rotate and take it in turns to put real pressure on my existence, sometimes they team up and from a deadly team, but there’s always one on-call. Skippy (my heart) has been happy for a couple of months and now he really isn’t, but the other stuff will not rest. Skippy will agitate it all, and it will all agitate Skippy. I wondered a few times what it would be like to be ill in a way that was horrifically unpleasant but not life threatening. I wondered, without the stress and fear of so much uncertainty and responsibility over your own existence, whether it is easier to… Be. I think that’s probably when I broke down in tears.

The rest of my (many) tears, however, have not been about my health (or about what made me cease to feel or think for a very long time, because my brain CANNOT go there). Health issues suck, yes, but they are my normality. This, now, is all I know. The fear is no longer a fear, but a weight. Sometimes my mum says I look like I’m carrying the weight of the world, but I only carry the weight of one world – my own.

In the last few days, as my brain has switched on and gone into numbness, and my oldest sister has been around from Dubai, I’ve been hit by family stuff. Not the usual fireworks that occur between me and a particular individual or the dynamics between me and my parents as a collective, but the more general stuff. Stuff like falling through a net that I watch wrap itself around people who aren’t even falling, somehow dodging the love passed between members of a family whose name I share but whose blood I don’t, and who make me feel that without even realising the impact of their actions (having my nephew in the house is NOT good for me at all, but I’ll park that matter right there for the moment).

Their safety net is not for me. Nor is their concern. For a long time, a very long time, I tore myself apart trying to be let in, wanting to be loved like I see them love my nephew, like I see them love each other, wanting to be close. Just to feel close. And then I stopped trying, like I did with someone I share a house with. Because if I didn’t try and I got no return, then that didn’t hurt so much. Only it still hurts. To want to fit and to never fit. To share their name but to not look like a single one of them. To watch them pour concern over each other’s trivial issues and not bat an eyelid at how many times I almost die. At me, when I sit in a room. In the posts they make on social media about sister-in-laws and siblings and… And I finally, finally realised that blood is important. Blood is belonging. And I will never have that. I am the odd one out, in genotype and phenotype (genetically and in appearance).

My mum’s family. Well, they aren’t close geographically or emotionally. My uncle lives in Hong Kong, my granddad moved to America and now Thailand, my grandma lives closer to France than to us… Aunty Godmother is great – she cares, but I think it hurts my family (and by that, I mean my mum, because she’s the only person in this house who seems to give a crap about where I am) that I spend so much time there.

I thought I was getting on a lot better with my mum. I rarely speak to Dad and have no real desire to interact with him, so we live two separate lives in the same house, and things work a lot better for me that way. His love doesn’t matter to me. I gave up on that a very long time ago. I wouldn’t know what to do with it if it was shown to me in the way it has always been shown to my little brother. But it matters more with my mum. I care a great deal about my mum, despite her accidental insensitivity about my emotional state, frequent tendency to shout, and general friction between us (she’s a perfectionist and I am far, far, far from perfect. I’m not even acceptable. Barely adequate. And my health isn’t even that). But all I wanted recently was my mum. I just wanted her. So I started stealing hugs from her, sort of ambushing her at (often inappropriate but) random moments and just wrapping my arms around her, showing her affection in the only way I know how.

I think she’s jealous of the relationship I have with the dog – she brings it up fairly often. But I thought we were getting somewhere. Acting falsely happy around her is enough to kid her that I am. She’s oblivious. She doesn’t know me. That’s my fault, but she thinks the child she knew is the damaged adult that I am. She thinks she knows my habits and how I work and she hasn’t know any of that for a long time. She has no idea who I am. The person who made me knows me the least. Anyway, she’s hardly shouted. For various reasons (mostly because I have no motivation to do anything, even to exist, and am in a very bad place emotionally) I decided I was done with uni. I want to quit. If I carry on, I want to move back to this house, to my old room (although NOT all the time my nephew is here, which made me just decide I should die instead because he’s here for another year and a half… Only I don’t want to die I just don’t know what else to do if I can’t be where I need to be, and so then my brain just crumpled and tears occurred… Thoughts are not helpful things at the moment). But I thought that my brain saw her as my mother again. I thought she felt close too. And then I said,

I feel like we’re sort of a double act.

How do you mean?

Well we’re going places together and we’re getting on-

We don’t always get on.

I don’t know why I expected her to run with it, to share the sentiment, to reinforce it. But that’s what I was looking for her to do. And I didn’t test the water. I stupidly thought it looked safe so I jumped right in – I don’t love, I don’t open myself up like that, and showing her affection (not love, affection) was a huge deal. I let myself be vulnerable in that moment and I looked stupid as a result. And then the wall went back up. And defensively I refused to allow myself feel anything towards her. Which hurt. Because I do. I was. Starting to feel again. And I don’t want to live here, I can’t stand to live here, but I’d been near tears the day before at the thought of ever leaving again. And so I ended up lost. No idea where to go, or what to do.

And so, on the eve of Christmas eve, I found myself laying on my bed, clinging to my great big Labrador and crying into his fur, and I looked at him – this great big bear of a dog who saw I was upset and knew that meant I needed a cuddle, and I looked right into his eyes and sincerely, with all of my heart, and through tears, said,

Thank you.

Thank you for loving me.

Thank you for just always being there. 

And I looked up at the ceiling and I said thank you for my dog. I wanted to go, and I’d been writing letters in case I did something stupid (don’t worry, I don’t have the balls or the motivation) but more because my body does such stupid stuff that I appreciate what a miracle it is for me to wake up most days. And I wanted to lurch towards death. I didn’t know how to, but I wanted to. There was nothing to me – no substance, no nothing. I wasn’t dead in my mind, I was numb but there was something in my mind because there was a heaviness – an emptiness that had a presence. But I didn’t. I was so lost in the world in that moment, and there was just this great big ball of fur in my arms, this physical thing that never stops showing me how much he adores me and literally follows me around the house as though he’ll die if we are separated for more than a second… And I just held on to him. My heart did another long run of arrhythmia, and, not phased (probably should be but hey), I asked it to just not, and I just held on to this great big living thing that looks at me like the sun shines out of my butt hole and refuses to stop loving me even when I don’t talk to him. I had no idea where I was in life or what on earth to do with it, or how to anything, but I had something to hold on to. And I could not let go.

I realised he was the one thing that could never find it in his heart not to love me, or even not to like me. We could never grow apart and there is nothing I can do to push him away. I can’t screw up, like I have with every human I’ve ever met. I regret ignoring him only to find that I have already been forgiven. We don’t communicate in words – they mean as little to him as they do to me. And in the absence of shallow words I know his affection is genuine. He makes me feel close to something. And that’s why home is where my dog is. That’s why I come home. Because my life felt so empty for so many reasons that I won’t mention, and when I suddenly find myself in the presence of something that is so protective of me, so intent on being by my side no matter where I go – so clingy and needy and desperate for my attention all of the time… It fills the hole in my heart that all of this longing just bleeds out of all day every day.

I honestly wouldn’t have made it past that moment without a paw to hold. I have shut all humans out at the moment. I feel like my family wouldn’t care if I died. I feel forgotten. I know I withdrew to places nobody knew how to follow me to because they couldn’t understand. I am hard to care about, and I am near impossible to love. I screw up. I hurt people by exposing them to my health issues. I try, and I don’t know how I try to be something that might be part of this family, I just know that whatever it is, it isn’t trying hard enough.

For the past few days I’ve mostly sat in numbness, re-writing a novel that I wrote when I was in sixth-form and watching films on TV while my dog lays on my bed with me… But sometimes (very, very often today) the heaviness of my emotional numbness gives way to this great big roaring ache that just makes me cry or curl up in a ball and pull a blanket over my head to block the world out.

My mum asks what’s wrong and I can’t tell her. I can’t tell her because she can’t see it. She can’t see my point of view or the reasons I feel the way I do, and she doesn’t want to entertain the idea that this family she chose for me isn’t mine to be part of at all, that it has broken me. So she’ll shout. She’ll tell me I’m being ridiculous. She’ll tell me I’m wrong. She’ll tell me she doesn’t want to have this conversation any more and that I’m talking nonsense. She’ll decide that she doesn’t need to worry because there’s nothing up, and a few minutes later will act like everything is fine and normal. Her way of coping, I guess. She knows our family is full of holes.

So I started looking for puppies online. I want one to train as a service dog, mostly to take away the fear that I won’t wake up by doing what my current (untrained) dog inconsistently alerts to, but also to help with my PTSD. I need a focus, and a reason to live, and a reason to leave the house (my dog can’t really go on walks any more). I love my current dog so much and I feel guilty because I don’t think I’ll ever be so attached to another dog, but fluffy cuteness isn’t why I want a puppy, I… It doesn’t matter, because my parents refuse to let me have another dog in their house.

I’m kind of trying to find places to live, and also trying to figure out how to live. At some point I should probably figure out how I feel about impending heart surgery and multiple runs of a new arrhythmia that my heart hasn’t been caught in before, every day (I am retaining so much water as a result of this that my stomach is so distended it just pushes my t-shirts up off of it so they look like crop-tops). I’ve had a lot of hospital appointments this week – discussions and scans of my head and hours spent trying to get blood from my scarred veins (waiting to hear the outcome from the surgeon that’s going to deal with that issue). At my appointment yesterday one blood level was so disastrously bad that the hospital’s machine couldn’t even measure it – see what I mean, not just one health hiccup trying to wreck my body! I should have panicked – the nurse did, but the consultant stayed a little more chill. Either way the discussion we had left me near tears when I left.

I should figure out what on earth to do if I leave uni – how to afford to live wherever I end up living (I can’t afford to live in London for another year so let’s hope that if I stay at uni I’m well enough to commute). I mean, I should do a lot of things, but today I didn’t get dressed, hardly left my room, and spent most of my time in bed (this is also partially due to my heart being AN IDIOT).

My family is super important to me. I long to be close to any of them and fail to do so. That’s why Christmas is so important to me – a day where I get to see lots of family members, and everyone is happy, and I can just sit and watch them all. Being out of hospital for Christmas is enough of a present for me, seeing family is the only gift I ever want. But this year I’d like something else for Christmas.

I’d like to feel like I matter to the people who are my world. Were my world. Could be my world again. I don’t even know. They just matter. A lot. They matter a lot to me.

I’m not blogging regularly at the moment. I’ve given up on people; I’ve stopped looking for safety nets and hands to hold and I feel like my words are pointless. I took a break for a few days and it’ll probably be quite a few more before I post here again. This is the new stuff, the stuff my brain breeds when it can generate thought. There’s a lot below the surface that I can’t deal with. I’m falling apart a little bit.

I need to figure out how to stop, and I don’t know how to do that alone.

Merry Christmas, anyway. And if I don’t post before, happy new year.

If you need a new year’s resolution then…

Don’t let people feel forgotten. Don’t be a hole in their net. Please. We assume people automatically know how much we love them or how much they matter to us, and I always try to tell people how much they matter because I know how much people need to hear that sort of thing. People need to hear it because nobody every says it. Your family, your friends… I don’t know, you could save them from… This. You could fix the hole in their safety net. They might never have to fall.

Proof That Humans Are Inherently Butt Holes

Did you know that the first part of a human being to develop is its anus? We’re deuterostomes, which means the first opening to form during embryonic development becomes our butt hole (in other organisms, called proterostomes, that first opening becomes their mouth). To put it simply, humans are built around their butt hole – if it comes first, everything else is developed afterwards and around it, I guess. Which figures (as well as being incredibly ironic, I feel), because people are arseholes really, aren’t they? All that comes out of most of them, is a heck of a lot of (you know what word belongs here without me writing it, right?). Seriously, the first time I learned about deuterostomes in a lecture, my brain was all “oh that makes sense, because human beings are arseholes.” 

(Trigger warning. All the trigger warnings).

This evening things got so bad that I couldn’t handle being in my house any more. So I went for a walk. I was in the kind of mood that I was in on the day I left my flat in Mile End and walked 13km to the other side of Hyde Park. I wanted to walk and walk and walk until my body couldn’t take another breath, let alone another step. I put on the falling apart pair of old trainers that I practically lived in all through sixth form (and until that point hadn’t worn since), I stepped out of that front door… and I never wanted to come home. I walked briskly, the biting cold welcome because I was dead inside and also because I just wanted to hurt. I played music loudly enough to drown out everything else, I held back tears, and I tried to force my feelings to develop enough that I could identify them and figure out what on earth they were. I was running away from the things I couldn’t face. I was running away from my insensitive, toxic family members, and I didn’t want to go back. I couldn’t face the thought of stepping back into that house. Every time I tried to my brain was all ASDFGHJKL and my attention would be lost to the music again.

Processed with MOLDIV
Walking in the dark. A route I so often walked, but now as a shadow of the former self to whom it was familiar.

I walked the route I used to run/walk with my dog (it felt SO WRONG walking those paths without him, he usually joins me on my walks). I walked past my old junior school, past a house that used to be a second home to me (I could still see in through the window at brother friend’s parents sat there watching TV), past the village shops and the Christmas tree they lit last night. I looped back past my old infant school and the little library that shares the grounds with it… And I couldn’t handle the thought of the walk ending, as I got closer and closer to the house I’d needed to get out of. The trouble with living in the countryside is that you can’t just walk and walk until your body says no and then get on a tube and go home. You have to walk in a loop, because public transport is few and far between and the footpaths lead to literally nowhere. Beautiful places, but nowhere places. And there are a finite number of loops to walk.

I didn’t look before I crossed the road. At one point I walked in the road because I hoped it might make me feel alive. I didn’t want to get hit by a car, but when I thought about my own body lying mangled and broken in the road with the final moments of life leaving it, I wasn’t too bothered. All that bothered me was the thought that I might end up in a hospital, or worse, the hospital closest to where I was, and that I couldn’t handle. So my brain was all ASDFGHJKL and it shut down until I’d moved on and it could re-awaken.

Maybe I should cry for help

Maybe I should kill myself” – AWOLNATION, Sail (one of the lyrics that played in my ears as I zoned back into reality)

I started to think (and this is pretty much the narrative of the train of thought that happened)

The man I call dad has nothing to do with me, I have nothing to do with him – it avoids me ending up a beaten down suicidal mess. My mum is so disconnected from me (and insensitive about my mental health or emotional wellbeing) that there’s nothing between us any more. I can’t trust because of things that happened in my past. In the absence of an ability to trust, I cannot love (because isn’t the latter simply the sincerest form of the former – to lay not only your belief, but your heart, in somebody else’s hands?). Correction – I cannot trust or love anything that isn’t my dog. Words are shallow and mean nothing to me, and animals can only speak in actions, which mean so much more. They aren’t fooled by superficial words when they greet each other – they go straight for sniffing their new companion’s butt. I like that. If someone can see the most unpleasant, awful parts of me and still want to be around, they’re cool by me. But we hide that behind a smile, and promises that we are dependable and we will always be there and I’ll never let you down. Anyway. Enough of that.

The university don’t care about me at all, and why would they? I’m a tiny microbe in an aquarium full of intellectual tropical fish all on show – I am part of the ecosystem that sustains the importance, but I am not important. To them I am just my student number. If I left, it’d be a huge knot out of their hair. Secretly I think they just wish I’d hurry up and die. My family criticise me a lot. They worry about the insignificant things because they have no perspective. My mum is the only one who really talks to me – my little brother is a teenaged boy and… Her husband… Yeah. She’s hung up on whether the dishwasher is full or who left a plate where or how I make the sofa look a mess when I sit on it with my stuff. I inconvenience them and do everything wrong (or so it feels). Then my mum says she loves me. And I’m sure she does, but words mean nothing to me. Words mean nothing to me because they are so easy to say, so easy to hide behind and mislead with. Actions are the language I listen to. Behaviour.

My friends would move on just like all the old ones did while I was in hospital. They say they’ll always be there and that they aren’t like the friends I had before but… So did everyone else. Everyone who walked out of my life told me those words. Everybody was different to everyone else. But they were human. They were inherently arseholes, and eventually that came through.

Over the past couple of weeks I have asked for help and support as my mental health crumbled around the ruins of my physical health. My doctors ignored and dismissed me, only focussed on getting me out of hospital or keeping me alive, no matter what the price to pay, no matter how cruel or how painful or how scarring (both mentally and physically) the treatment may be. The psychologist I tried to talk to said nothing, she sat there and smiled and asked me how university was going and when I told her I couldn’t feel and I’d watched a man die, the (probably supposed to be comforting) smile stayed and she just. Said. Nothing. And then told me it was good to see me engaging with treatment. My mum just shouted.

I just want to die. I want to hurt. I want to feel something. I want to escape this. I want to die. I want to be dead. It’s the only way I know how to deal with my mind.

“THIS KID’S NOT ALRIGHT” – AWOLNATION, THISKIDSNOTALRIGHT

I reach out for support and it isn’t there. I reach out for a human hand to hold and all I find are assholes and then… Four paws. And now some arsehole has taken those four paws away from me for no reason.

And there it was. There was the reason I was falling apart. My furry rock – the only thing in the world I trust, the only thing in the world I trust, was not there. And I now it’s pathetic that a dog means so much to me, that he has been able to do so much for me, but he was the only reason I was in that house. Yesterday at 12:30, a family friend said he wanted to take my dog for a 5-10 minute walk. Then he said he’d drop him off this morning. This morning turned into this afternoon. On social media he re-created this photo that I’d made my profile picture, and made it his profile picture too.

Processed with MOLDIV

And I began to think I may never get the dog back. I had considered going back to university this evening, but knew I wasn’t ready. If I had, I wouldn’t have seen my dog for weeks, and I wouldn’t have been able to say goodbye.

And then my mum walked into the kitchen, as I was sat there kind of imagining a sharp something running through my own soft flesh, and almost aching to make that imagining a reality because I just could not handle anything and I just… I felt I needed to hurt. As a punishment, just to feel something, or to override whatever was going on in my mind… I just wanted pain. She started shouting. She said I’m screwing it all up (my uni career) and that she won’t have me sitting around here for a year because they can’t take it. She said I was taking people down with me. She told me not to talk to her about how I feel because she couldn’t help and she didn’t know why I tried. Because she’s my MOTHER. Because that’s what mothers are for. Because who else in the whole world do you turn to when you can’t turn to your own mum? I tried to explain that I told her how I felt not so that she could help it, but so that she could stop un-helping it. She just went on and on shouting like I should care about any of what she was saying and I’d already explained time and time again that I CAN’T RIGHT NOW.

She told me whether it was good for me or not I had to just go back to uni and just do it. She told me it’s only a few weeks until I break up for Christmas. It isn’t only anything. Then she said she understands I have problems. And then when I said that university wasn’t a helpful environment for me at the moment (trying to take responsibility for my own mental health) she shouted “and you think being here is helping?!” She told me that I’m risking my entire future. She doesn’t get it. She doesn’t get that if I go back there I’m risking my entire future even more because I genuinely think I’d probably take my own life. It isn’t a threat. I don’t want to. I’m scared that I would. All she cares about is my degree. I wonder how much that will matter to her if she was sat at my funeral. Even then she’d never understand. She said she doesn’t do mental health. And then she stopped shouting and pretended nothing had ever happened. So, tentatively, I just went along with it. We talked about dinner. After all that. We talked about dinner.

I mentioned our family friend taking my dog for a 5-10 minute walk yesterday. 31 hours later. 31. HOURS. Later. He brought my dog home, stiff and in so much pain he could hardly get out of the car (because he’s an old dog and had been allowed to run around for far longer than 5-10 minutes).

Processed with MOLDIV
This photo was taken before the front door had even been shut. My dog walked straight into the house, found me, sat right on my feet, and refused to move. He didn’t want to be apart from me either. Neither of us ever had to be separated. There was never any need.

But the arsehole wasn’t done living up to its embryological developmental first stage. He called my dog to say goodbye to him, and my dog wouldn’t move (he is literally following me anywhere and refuses to leave my side and it’s just brilliant to have that back). My stepdad pretended to be my dog, whining in a high pitched voice, “No don’t leave me, please don’t leave me” and laughed at me, because he too is an arsehole.

Sorry I stole your dog only… I’m not sorry. My dad laughed with him, clearly they were both highly amused at how distressed I’d been in the absence of my furry rock. My dad had obviously told him how I’d been. *cough* arsehole *cough*

Anyway, shouldn’t you be at university?  Was the next question.

I pointed out that I wasn’t because I’d nearly died 5 times in the last 3 weeks.

Well when you do die can you die quietly?

They then laughed when he said he’d have the dog for good then. This is an individual who likes to joke about me dying like it’s something funny. It isn’t. Some jokes are just insensitive.

Life has taught me how rare it is to find genuinely decent human beings (on account of the fact that they seem to be inherently arseholes), and I treasure the few that I have had the pleasure to encounter (including those of you across the pond, who I have never met, but know though this blog). And those people are even more remarkable, because it takes a whole lot of something to overcome an inherent thing. We’re designed to be selfish and look out for ourselves beyond others I guess… And for people to go against that, to overcome that. It goes a long way. It takes a special kind of person.

I just… I didn’t need to encounter any arsehole-like behaviour tonight, after the conclusions my brain was already drawing. I don’t have the guts to ever act on those urges. I hope. See. I’m scared. In the presence of my dog, they seem to just be replaced with an urge to cuddle up with him and hold onto his fur until the storm passes.

But anyway.

A lot of people just never develop beyond their arsehole.

An Unhelpful Familiarity

Nobody can really understand why I’ve put myself back into an environment that is so unhelpful to me. The people in this environment fail to see the damage they do to me. They tear me apart and say it’s because they care, they take out their feelings on me as if I am oblivious to the impact it has on them, and forget I will have feelings about the situation myself (and that I am all too aware of the impact my health has on them without them driving that reality through my heart like a knife).

I was woken up today to go and have the flu vaccine at my local pharmacy. The local chemist took me into what can only be described as a converted broom cupboard, and stuck a needle in my arm. He went to ask me if I was ok with needles, but this guy has seen my prescription, so he actually laughed at his own question before explaining that he didn’t really need to ask that to someone who stuck a lot of them in themselves every day. He’s an awesome guy. Not only a gentleman but a gentle man. He reacted in the way that most health professionals do when they hear that I do biomedical science. Our conversation instantly veered off in this direction, about science and the future and options and stuff. It was actually really helpful to have this discussion with a pharmacist, as I’ve had this conversation with so, so many doctors (many of whom have done my degree too), but never really with anyone from a different field.

I’ve decided that I want to do a masters degree, but my mum told me immediately that that was far too expensive for me to do. After the masters, I’m still torn between journalism and research, but I think I may go down the PhD route… I say this, and I don’t even want to finish this degree. Anyway, the pharmacist was so helpful to talk to because he’d done a masters and a doctorate after his degree, and he told me to go for it. My mum then, to my surprise, told me to go for it. If this woman changed her mind any more often she’d basically have to be the British weather.

My mum and I went out with my grandparents to see the new home they will be moving into as soon as they can sell their house. On the way my mum got a phone call from a family friend (the one in his late 30s who calls me sick note and thinks its funny to joke about me not living until my next birthday or Christmas and stuff) asking if he could take my dog for a short walk. That was at about 12:30. It’s now past 9pm, and my dog isn’t back. He isn’t coming back, because instead of taking him for a walk, the family friend took him to work with him on a building site over an hour away, and then decided to keep him there. My dog. My dog that I can’t sleep without. My dog that gets severe hip pain after walking a few hundred metres so I know will be up all night crying with someone who doesn’t know how to help him or probably where he even hurts. My dog who is the only reason I am in this house. My furry rock. The thing holding me together. So when my mum told me casually that the family friend had called and said he wouldn’t return my dog until tomorrow, to my absolute horror, I cried. I just broke down. I felt a thing. And it hurt. And I wanted my dog.

He gives me the safety I need to sleep because he wakes me up when I become unwell. I was away for him for one night on Wednesday night and in that night I nearly died and had no idea until it was almost too late. He wakes me from my nightmares and holds me while I shake, sometimes not even remembering the dream but riding the adrenaline rush it induced. He is the only reason I came home. I hate this house. My mum is so… No understanding. She’s so stress about things that just don’t matter like how her kitchen looks, and she gets angry at me for not putting away all the washing up that my family leave on the side and other ridiculous stuff… Anyway. I was thinking of maybe going back to London on Sunday night, which means that this is the last night I would have with him, and I was robbed of that by someone who isn’t even part of this family. I hardly ever see my own dog any more, and he’s old and his health is failing him, so the time I get with him means so much to me. I really need him right now. I want to hold him and just never let him go whenever I am with him, and for the first time in his life he cries when there is a shut door between me and him. (Trigger warning, maybe? Probably. Ok just… Warning)

I went upstairs, and I sat in my dog’s bed (which is an old quilt folded up on the floor next to my bed), and I wanted to calm down. So I went to reach for him, because he calms me down… And there was no dog. So I cried even harder and I was just like WHAT ARE YOU DOING SELF??! And I couldn’t cope. Without my furry rock, there was nothing to cling to in the rising water of whatever was in my mind, and I drowned in it. I thought about hurting myself. I really, really just wanted to hurt. Kind of as a punishment for being so stupid and pathetic, but also because I was crying but had no idea why because the feeling wouldn’t fully happen, and being emotionally dead is so weird that I just wanted to feel something, just to remind myself that I was alive. And then my brain jumped the gun and it wanted to do more than hurt. It wanted to go. I didn’t just want to, I ached to. I physically ached. I have not wanted to die like that for a long, long time (except this time, there was no other emotion behind that feeling, usually there’s a whole jumble of thought and feeling fuelling it, and this time it was just there). I didn’t even want to be dead, I just couldn’t cope and death was a solution (I know it isn’t. There’s some rationality in there somewhere). And I know it’s so pathetic that a dog can hold me together, but in my current mental state he’s the only thing that can. I can’t understand how he helps me. I know I’m pathetic, I get that you probably want to slap me as you read this, and I’m sorry.

I went downstairs, and I sat on the sofa, and my mum went off on one. She shouted. She said I was being selfish, she said I was stupid, she said I was sulking. And then she shouted at me to get a grip and stormed out of the room. She returned a while later, ready to go out for dinner, and wanted a plan about university. I learned that I’m not ready for that yet, I’m trying to sort my mind out, I really am. She shouted at me. She told me I either had to go back or leave. My dad made this big deal of stomping off to get in the car showing he couldn’t possibly stand to listen to my response. I tried to say to my mum that I was on the verge of a mental breakdown (if not kinda in the middle of one) and she kind of sighed in a tone that gave off the same sort of vibe as an eye roll. She dismissed my statement, ignored it. She has no idea how on the edge I am right now, I don’t think anybody does. My mind is such a mess. I’m struggling. People think I’m ok, I’ve even had comments on here where people think I’m getting it together because I’ve put stuff out in words… I think my brain just hides behind that. I think these words are its distress call.

This house is toxic to me. It’s toxic. The antidote is my dog. And he’s not here.

“Can I just ask you something?” My Fellow Third Wheel said to me on the phone the other say. When I said yes, he continued, “Why are you there?” After some confusion, he clarified himself, “Why are you at uni? You really don’t sound like you want to be there and you’re really unhappy there, so why are you doing this to yourself?” And I could no longer find a justifiable answer to that question, so I removed myself from that situation.

A lot of people reading this will ask me why I stay in this house with my family when it usually makes me so unhappy. It’s familiar. And I know how to deal with familiarity. When I can feel, it destroys my mental state and makes me feel inadequate and hate myself, but right now I can’t feel. I know that being surrounded by my family really isn’t helpful right now. My mum doesn’t understand, and is not helpful at all. The man I call dad hates my guts. Honestly, I can’t even exist right in his eyes I’m sure. I often feel like I can do no right by him, so I no longer try to. My brother doesn’t notice whether I’m here or not because he’s so wrapped up in his technology and stuff. But I don’t know where home is. I don’t know where I belong, and I am so lost and so empty that my brain is just craving familiarity, no matter how destructive or hurtful it is. I know how to deal with that destruction. I know how to handle it. The feelings from this will roll like water from a duck’s back. And the best place to start again, to reassemble yourself or even start looking for pieces, is from the place you know better than anywhere else.

It’s a place I don’t need to be, but at the same time a place I do need to be. I think.

I don’t know.

I’m so dead inside.

And I didn’t know what to do without my dog. So I watched the rugby and then downed A LOT of beer, which should start to hit some time right about… Now. I know it wasn’t the thing to do, but I didn’t know where else to turn. It was another familiarity. Around this time last year, when everything went wrong, I couldn’t face reality unless I was drunk. I couldn’t even get out of bed without downing a cider first. I’m ashamed of it. And I know it’s wrong. But it… It was all there was tonight.

Awake (Because Of Her)

I felt like I was going to pass out. Mum was on the phone so I started serving up dinner for my nephew and my little brother, and I started sweating like I’d just run a marathon in the middle of the desert while wearing a ski jacket. My legs felt weird, all of me felt weird and I… Dismissed it and carried on. Until I sat down and the world really started to feel weird. So I checked my pulse. I couldn’t find one in my wrist – my heart clearly couldn’t be bothered to beat hard enough to provide a peripheral pulse strong enough to feel. I put two fingers over my carotid artery and found a weak pulse. I started the timer on my phone. 4 beats every second. 4. Beats. Every. Second. Oh Skippy (my name for my heart), not now. Dude, not now. I was already in very mild acidosis again, and trying to pack my stuff to leave for uni. I was cold to touch, but I felt like I was melting, so I stood out in the garden in the cold, the world spinning in a way I’m not sure it is meant to. And I was incapable of worrying, because I’m seemingly incapable of feeling at the minute. So I just sat back down and decided that if I ignored Skippy, he’d slow down. No need to worry, because the rhythm was fast but regular. Right?

And then I packed my stuff up into my uni backpack. And just before we left I went upstairs to put my slippers in my room. Mistake. Stairs + Skippy on a good day = tantrum. Stairs + Skippy when he is beating way too fast and is getting tired = walking back down the stairs with him missing beats and feeling like he’s skipping and flipping and rolling and writhing in my chest. It knocked the breath out of me. The world went black. My feet somehow found the next step. And then the next. And I grabbed the handrail, and I made it to the bottom, my head floating, my heart FREAKING. I told myself it was all in my head, and got in the car.

And then we set off for London.

We sped along the motorway as all the idiot drivers in the world seemed to gather so that they could cut us up, and I just didn’t want to go. London wasn’t home.

When I was seven, my favourite artist was Cat Stevens. My dad used to listen to his Cat Stevens CD in the car, and at the age of seven I knew all the words to all the songs. I sat in the car on my way to London today (now yesterday), and I wrapped myself in the comfort of that album. It played in my headphones and I was suddenly in my mind curled up in the back of the family car on a long old drive, safe and contented. And I remembered every word to every song. I sung softly, quietly, and internally I cried the tears I couldn’t let fall.

Getting out of the car was the hardest thing I’ve done in a long time, just walking away from this metal box that could take me all the way back to my dog and to familiarity that may be unhelpful right now but is exactly that… Familiar.

According to the “DRAFT SAVED” bit of this webpage, I started this post 10 hours ago. I was going to go on to say something along the lines of “I spent the day with My Fellow Third Wheel. He overslept but turned up with food, and we had a feast and we talked and we watched TV through my laptop and it was so good to just hang with him and be with someone who just gets me. And on the way to London I arranged to go see Auntie Godmother and co. tomorrow evening, and she persuaded me to stay…” But my writing of it was interrupted by a phone call. It was a phone call that started at 20:18 on the “today” before this one, and turned into a series of non-stop phone calls and consecutive FaceTime audio calls that lasted until 05:37 today (wait… That’s 9 HOURS). It was a call made by a person who didn’t think I would answer (my uni friend with the same cardiologist as me, who I met a month ago at her own surprise birthday party), and so was stumped when I did, but had just wanted to remind me that people care about me, and that I matter, and she was there. It was a phone call where I spoke about the lessons I’d learned listening to an old man die, how we spend all our lives focussing on things we tell ourselves matter and neglect the things that really do.

It was a phone call that saved my life. 

It was a phone call that meant someone would know if I lost consciousness. It was a phone call that lasted so long because she stayed on the line just in case, until she finally fell asleep and I hung up, letting her grab a couple of hours of sleep before her 9am lecture (I am placed miles before studies in terms of priorities with this friend). It was a phone call that meant I was still awake at 3am to feel a sudden deterioration in my health. Therefore, it was a phone call that made the difference between living long enough even to post this, and dying in my sleep within an hour. It was a phone call during which I went on an emotional rollercoaster, realising that after way, way more treatment than I should have required, my blood sugars were plummeting at a highly alarming rate – the horror of realising the helplessness, that I couldn’t get out to get anything and had no food left. It was a phone call in which I couldn’t feel anything about that fact, and then vaguely experienced something close to panic, and then decided this degree isn’t worth this, and then cried. I cried. I was so, so scared. It wasn’t stopping and I was terrified. I didn’t want to die. And this totally calm voice at the other end of the phone told me I wasn’t going to die, it was all going to be ok, and she’d call and someone would come and help me.

If she hadn’t cared enough to just check in. If she hadn’t spent hours trying to help me untangle my feelings with empathy (not sympathy), understanding and psychology knowledge passed on from her psychotherapist mother… If I hadn’t answered that phone… If I hadn’t have checked my blood sugar and seen a near VERTICAL line on my continuos glucose monitor’s graph (my blood sugars went from above 33mmol/L to 9mmol/L within half an hour, and kept on dropping at that rate)…  If I’d checked half an hour later… If I’d been asleep, as I would have been if she hadn’t have called… I would never have woken up again.

And that…

I think that’s terrifying (I’ll figure out how I feel about it when… All the feelings my brain is stupidly suppressing (??) hit me like a train).

I don’t want to do this anymore. I cried that into the microphone of my headphones with both hands on my head, still not fully feeling an entire emotion and unable to fully freak, so panicking so mildly that there was no adrenaline. And I don’t mean living. I meant that I don’t want to die. I don’t want to go to sleep and almost not wake up any more. I don’t want to live life on this knife edge any more. I just… Broke. We’d started off sorting out uni stuff, drafting an email and discussing work and her telling me she and my other friends would help me get caught up with all the coursework I’d missed and dampening the subdued flames of my fear .I’d read her the email I received in December last year from the deputy head of our school of the university, and she’d been kinda shocked at how unsupportive they were. She understood my concerns about missing any uni at all then. We talked about the lab session this afternoon, about whether or not I would go. She said she’d swap lab sessions and just sit and pretty much run the entire thing herself so I could sit there and just not have to human. We felt a little odd when the friend who left me in resus to go and study messaged me after a week saying she’d seen I was back in London via the tracking app that my friendship group uses to figure out where I’m at (in case of emergency) – I mean it was just an odd way to introduce the subject is all. And none of that mattered afterwards. But how amazing that someone would do all that? That’s a friend. Right there.

I don’t know what to say.

I don’t even know how to feel and I can’t even just let the emotion play itself out so I can figure out how to feel because I CAN’T FEEL.

My heart is super unhappy (heart rate over 140 while I’m laying down), for a long time I couldn’t see properly and hovered on the verge of unconsciousness. Nothing made sense, and in order to figure out what to do I had to throw a load of drunken-sounding illogical stuff at my friend before we found some sensible (and she trusted my judgement towards my health and how to manage it WITHOUT QUESTION, for which she is even more amazing). I feel absolutely drained of all energy. I feel unwell. But I’m alive. And I figured out that I want to be alive. I just don’t want to be in London. I don’t want to waste my life on this degree. What’s it for? I was here, alone, and I almost died. I was away from the dog who would have woken me up way before that point (really should re-evaluate the service dog thing I feel). And I was here for a bit of paper. What’s it all for? It isn’t what matters. I am 40 miles away from the things that matter. Modern life is all so superficial.

“Social media has given us this idea that we should all have a posse of friends when in reality, if we have one or two really good friends, we are lucky.” – Brene Brown

Today was another day I almost died. There have been about five of those in the last three weeks. I looked down at my body, and I asked it to please stop. Please. I cannot handle all the health hiccups. It feels like rapid machine gun fire.

“It hasn’t been a totally smooth road, but in the whole span of things I feel like a very lucky person.” – Edward Furlong

It all feels so surreal. So quickly I was almost gone. My blood sugar levels ended up dangerously low even after I’d spent almost 45 minutes eating every gram of carbohydrate (and eventually spoonfuls of neat sugar) in sight. If I hadn’t been awake to do that… I can’t. I mean… It doesn’t even feel real. I’m kind of in a state of numb shock. So out of control so quickly. And far, far too close for comfort.

None of my other uni friends know I’m back in London. I don’t know how to face normal people.

None of them are even awake I expect.

One of them is sleeping having spent the most ridiculous amount of time on the phone to me. And I am not sleeping the forever sleep, because of her.

Words fail me.

The Inner Workings Of My Mind

Yesterday I finished re-reading one of my favourite books. It was a book that opened my eyes to a whole new level of understanding about the human mind the first time I read it and made me shout YES at the pages a few times, and it is a book that I hoped would provide answers to me in my deadened state when I re-ordered it a few days ago (It’s a non-fiction-but-kinda-fiction-because-she-made-up-the-cases-from-her-experiences book called The Skeleton Cupboard by the way).

As it did the first time I read it, it really helped me to evaluate myself. I’m not stupid. I don’t need a therapist to untangle everything and find the root of my issues. I have an analytical, logical mind which is fully capable of identifying the roots of its issues. I often found myself several steps ahead of the psychologist I am meant to see about the emotional impact of my physical health, and she often said what I already knew, but in a patronising, dumbed down way. I’m not one of those people who has no idea why I’m a mess. That’s not what I need help with. I know how an I know why. I am entangled in the roots of my issues, and what I need is a weed whacker. I need help with the coping, the fixing. That’s what I don’t know how to do, and that’s where the frustration lies.

I really don’t want to go back to university. I looked around myself last night and I just didn’t want to leave. I don’t want to carry on with this degree at all. I just don’t. I don’t know how. And when I jump back in to uni… Well, I was already drowning and breaking under the work and the pressure… And now with over a week’s worth of work to catch up on (on top of everything I already had to make up) I will be so out of my depth. I’m only going back tonight so that I can go and see my nurse tomorrow morning. A night alone. A night without my dog, who is the only living thing that I want to be around at the moment… A night alone with thoughts that I can’t handle… It’s daunting. I think the expectation from my family is that I will go back to uni. I have a three hour lab session tomorrow afternoon, and if I’m in London I can’t not attend it. If I miss another, the uni will probably push me to drop out again (even though I could just do the lab report from a set of model results). If I do the lab, then I will have a piece of coursework due in a week’s time. Mentally I can’t cope with that at the minute. I can’t think enough or focus enough to work. I can’t think enough or focus enough to function. Before this hospital admission, coursework was already breaking me. Now… In this mental state… NOPE.

I haven’t told any of my friends that I will be going back tonight. They don’t understand how I am right now. They’re far too optimistic and… Fantastically oblivious to what I’m going through. The way they act shows me they have no real appreciation for how broken I am either physically or mentally, which is not their fault at all. It isn’t plastered across my forehead, but some of them think they can relate when they really can’t and that makes things really difficult for me. Even after I explain that I can’t face talking or anything in my current state, they try to have normal conversation, which I look like I’m capable of, but at the minute I’m not.

Right now I feel like I have

“the appearance of a human being, but nothing more.”- Tanya Byron, The Skeleton Cupboard

I’m not saying this to be horrible or trying to be awkward. I want more than anything to be able to be there for my friends and support them, but their lives are so wrapped up in uni (like mine was a few weeks ago) and they project that stress onto me – they talk about it, they expect me to care about work and assignments and worry with them, to validate the way they feel so they aren’t alone in it. And I can’t right now. I have no interest in hearing about coursework or trying to help them find answers to the questions, and they cannot detach themselves from that stuff because they don’t have the perspective that my crappy health has given me (interestingly enough, their latest lab session seems to have been measuring insulin levels, which is kinda ironic). I’m not explaining it right because I sound like an ungrateful idiot. I just feel so disconnected and stupid when I’m around them. They are normal. They are happy, and in some cases not so happy and want me to help them fix that. I can’t cope with either of those things. It overwhelms me, just at the thought of being around a group of people or a friend who is happy to see me makes my brain all asdfghjkl. I can’t deal with my own dampened down emotion right now, and I don’t seem to be able to deal with anyone else’s either.

“In familiar places and with familiar people, I am feeling lost and overwhelmed” – Tanya Byron, The Skeleton Cupboard (Ok so this was a guy talking about the early stages of dementia, but I feel the words can be adapted to explain how I feel about life right now).

At the minute I’m home alone with my dog (who used me as a living pillow last night as he slept in my bed with me). I’m waiting for My Fellow Third Wheel to arrive, because even though he’s miles off the mark this time in terms of understanding what is going on in my brain, he understands more than most. He isn’t emotional. He’s super calm and rational and impossible to panic. He was going to visit me in hospital. but when he found out I was back in Kent he said he’d see me yesterday (but then he was busy so…). He has promised me a long hug, and he’s going to buy a load of food and we’re going to sit and watch films or The Grand Tour Episode 1 (which I’ve already seen but he hasn’t). He’s there. He’s there in a way other people aren’t. No emotion, no skipping over whatever I just said and trying to have a normal conversation which then kinda totally shows he hasn’t understood what I tried to tell him. He tries, and he gets it wrong sometimes, but I am getting it wrong every time because I’m stuck in this rut. He said we can not watch TV, that he will sit here and I can throw all my s**t at him and let’s hope some of it sticks (which I thought was a rather funny way of putting it).

He knows that what I don’t need right now is to be told I’m not broken. Why do people do that? You take a huge step and admit your vulnerability, and they throw it right back in your face, dismiss it like it can’t possibly exist and you’re an idiot, and tell you that you’re not broken, you’re ok, you’re strong, you’re a fighter, you‘ve got this… Like… Like you’re not allowed to break. Like you don’t know yourself. They tell you that you’ll get through it and then they dismiss it and are all so I went to the shops yesterday and got a sandwich for 10p how ridiculous is that?! Instead of offering you support when you so badly need it, they kid themselves that you’re fine without it, probably because they don’t know how to offer it. But telling someone they’re fine or they’ll be fine when they have never been further from it is not… Helpful. It’s what made me withdraw. I kept getting messages like that. I kept having conversations like that.

I don’t need to be forced back together into a functional human that is easier for people to look at. I need to disassemble myself fully in order to reassemble myself. And he knows I don’t talk. He knows I get lost in myself. And he knows where to find the parts of me that are left lost in my mind somewhere. He’s the kind of friend where we will both happily just sit in silence in each other’s company for hours. He’s happy to do that. So am I. We do our own thing but sat next to each other on the sofa, and just the company is reassuring. He is in no great rush to fix things. He knows it takes time. He knows that if he pushes me I’ll just break more, and I’ll stop replying to messages and avoid all contact with even him (one of the two humans I am currently communicating with, both of whom are chronically ill, one of whom – new hospital friend – is in and out of hospitals and nearly dies a lot too). He also knows that I don’t do this to be difficult.

(Now excuse me while I science). The frontal lobes of the brain are responsible for the things that make us human – logic, rational thought, our personality, motivation, speech production, judgement, emotion control, social behaviour, problem solving… basically “higher cognitive” functions – complex thoughts. The prefrontal cortex (behind your forehead) is a part of this area of the brain that is linked to thought processing and personality and… stuff. Now let me introduce you to the Limbic system. That’s pretty much everything in you that is innate, the stuff you can’t control – heart rate, emotion, memory formation, hunger, thirst, pain, blood pressure, arousal… I sometimes refer to the primitive animal inside my brain that is reactive and defensive and behaves like an instinctive animal… That part… That exists. It’s the limbic system (the link has a big scientifically worded explanation for anyone who cares about/understands what it says). It’s the part of you that does whatever has to be done to stay alive I guess, it’s the animal part of us. Sometimes when people are super traumatised emotionally (or when they get stuff like dementia/stroke/traumatic brain injury that physically impairs the functioning of their frontal lobes) their prefrontal cortex is just like SORRY NOPE. It can’t handle reality and thinking and processing that reality… So your brain just… Doesn’t. The bit of you that makes you human switches off, and your limbic system is left in control, with nothing to process or control the emotion or anything. We kind of revert to animal form, in a weird way of looking at it.

“my frontal cortex was shutting down. Soon I would only be limbic, running on raw emotion, and this was not a good place to be.” – Tanya Byron, The Skeleton Cupboard

This is what this book does. It reminds me of the logic that I have researched and understood in order to understand myself, and it walks me through my own mind opening doors and explaining why. The state I’m in makes no sense to me, but that’s probably because my prefrontal cortex is being an utter idiot. Knowing that, being reminded of how the brain can respond to huge emotional traumas (i.e. literally deciding not to human) it provided me with an explanation as to WHY the way I am feeling happened on a scientific level. And I like logic, I like being able to understand myself, so this was of some comfort. It helped. Only trouble is, I wasn’t running on raw emotion either. I mean right before I became emotionally dead, I was clearly totally limbic. I was in a constant state of panic, I was wired, I was shaking, all I could do was cry and panic and the emotions were overwhelming – fear, terror, despair, helplessness, hopelessness, wanting to fight, wanting to surrender, wanting to run, feeling caged… So many more feelings, most of which there aren’t even names for. Survival mode. That’s what it was. The animal was no longer caged, my limbic system was in control, I was in irrational, emotional, survival mode.

I felt so much all at once, with nothing to police those emotions or limit them, that when I listened to a wonderful human being die, my brain was like NOPE ASDFGHJKL QWERTYUIOP ASDFGHJKL ——–. And then I couldn’t think or feel or anything for days. I don’t know what happened there. I don’t know what my brain did with that one. I don’t understand how I’m slowly starting to be able to form half thoughts, but my emotions are still foetuses that refuse to mature or develop and are there but unseen – they could never survive or fend for themselves in my brain, and they don’t last for long when they do appear. That doesn’t make sense to me. Why are my emotions so far past their due date? Why can’t I feel stuff properly? Is that in itself a feeling? Why won’t it just all come back? Am I broken? Will I feel stuff again? Do I even want to think fully? Because when I think fully, I know I’ll melt down and go all limbic again. Because that’s what I do. I know myself, and hospitals and stuff like that just seem to overwhelm my prefrontal cortex a little – to the point that its logic deserts me. And it needs to process stuff before the rest of my brain will settle, even though each time I think anywhere near that stuff emotion just overrides logic all over again (there is very little of either right now).

See this. This is how I think. I don’t like not knowing things. I don’t like not knowing what is going on in my body or why it did it (seriously once I know scientifically and medically how I settle a little. Modern medicine tells us how, but we have no idea why. We know how disease occurs. Most of the time we don’t know why). I especially do not like not knowing myself, my own mind, the one thing that should make sense to me because… I am it.

“Welcome to the inner workings of my mind
So dark and foul I can’t disguise
Can’t disguise
Nights like this
I become afraid
Of the darkness in my heart

 

[…]

What’s wrong with me
Why not understand and see
I never saw
What you saw in me
Keep my eyes open
My lips sealed
My heart closed
And my ears peeled

” – MS MR, Hurricane

Sleeping Dogs?

I have to go back to university tomorrow night. And I don’t want to. I don’t want to go back to London, I don’t want to leave my dog. I don’t have the emotional capacity to cope with normal things, normal human interaction (other than a few very specific and carefully chosen people) and I don’t know how to deal with university. I just don’t.

I woke up, and that thought popped into my brain (yes, rejoice! A thought!) and I just patted my bed until my dog climbed up onto it (with a little assistance, because he’s getting old now), and I curled up with him and we just laid there. I just held him. And I never wanted to let go. I don’t want to be apart from him. The affection I’ve been unable to feel towards him for the past few days (or however long it has been) began to stir inside of me, and I just didn’t want to go back to uni life. Not to living alone, not to being alone, not to being expected to function alone and be able to do normal adult/student things. Like go to lectures. Or study. Or shop. Or talk to other humans face to face, and do so in a civil, enthusiastic manner that my mind is just incapable of feigning right now.

It’s not even the workload that’s the biggest problem. It’s the fact that there will be people I know. And they will want to talk. I could deal with one person at a time who carefully thought out what they said and understood that although I looked fine, I was still as broken as ever in ways that even I cannot describe. But not a whole group of people. Not  a handful of close friends who think they understand me and think they can relate to what I’m going through but really don’t, and totally undermine the way I feel in the process and make me feel disconnected and alien and isolated. I can’t deal with trying to normal conversation. I just… I can’t. I can’t even reply to their messages right now. Face to face it’s just all too overwhelming. I cannot deal with being around that many people.

Eventually I moved downstairs, sat on the sofa, and my dog clambered onto my lap and demanded more hugs, delighted that he was finally getting some affection from me after the unloving stone that he’s been smothering with his one-way affection since I came back here. Usually I get really told off for even letting my dog put a paw on my bed. I for some reason told my mum that I had required a teddy bear (I call my dog Teddy Bear when I want a cuddle) and she asked if I’d let him get on my bed. I said yes, and prepared for shouting down the phone. But she was calm. She was… Ok with it. She tried to sound a little annoyed but her tone was playful and said otherwise. So now instead of curling up in my dog’s bed at 2am (and him sleeping in the most awkward position so he can tuck his head under my chin) when I want a cuddle and can’t sleep, he will be sharing mine.

Processed with MOLDIV
Victory is his!

I know I should think about uni. When I was in hospital, my new hospital friend helped me email my disability advisor, and his extremely lengthy response was so helpful and full of support. At the time, I had no response to it. Now that I am feeling half the feels, it is mildly reassuring. But… I don’t think I want to carry on. I don’t think I want to do this degree any more. And I know I’m saying this from a place where I don’t want to do anything any more. I don’t know how to do anything any more. And yet if I want to carry on with this degree, then within the next few days I am going to have to figure out how to function, push myself to walk into a high pressure environment, and crush whatever functioning parts of me I have managed to partially reassemble. I don’t want to do that. I am exhausted with the breaking. I am tired of it all. And yet like I said, if I want to carry on with uni (which I think a part of me that’s just too broken to speak out right now might actually want to do) then I am running out of time in which to save my space there.

So I’ve taken to procrastinating in a really odd way. The past hurts. The present involves only being able to feel partial feelings in a weirdly suppressed way, and thoughts that I don’t know how to face but that never stay in my brain long enough for me to process them anyway… And the immediate future is just asdfghjkl (the reason I have to go back to uni tomorrow because I arranged to meet my nurse on Thursday morning and honestly I don’t know how to walk back into a hospital after the last few weeks). I can’t deal with reality. I just can’t.

So I’ve started looking beyond my degree. Initially I wanted to do medicine. I wanted to make a difference, but mainly I wanted to make sure that the patients I treated never had to go through the things I have been through, that they were never neglected or abused or traumatised in the ways that egotistical doctors did to me. I wanted to spread the idea of specialist wards for adolescents to smooth over their transition into adult care (when I was about 18 I teamed up with a lecturer at a university who had the statistics and the degree and influence but no experience, and I had the experience but no statistics or degree or influence… She implemented the idea in the US and moved there to do so) but I learned you don’t have to be a doctor to make that sort of change. And medicine is far too intense for me in my current state of health – the degree and the job would kill me.

I kinda considered journalism or writing for a very long time, and thought about maybe going on to do a journalism degree. Or a cardiology degree. And then… medicine? But then I started biomed. And I fell in love with anatomy and physiology. And lecturers told me my brain would be wasted if I didn’t do a PhD. And my doctor friends told me I was an ideal candidate for medicine. And then the idea of research started to really appeal to me. Or what about just becoming a biomedical scientist? So many different options and no idea where do go. But I like the idea of physiology, and of cardiology. So I started looking about online. Last night I found a medical physiology course at London university which gives the option to specialise into cardiac physiology, with clinical placements etc. leaving you a fully qualified cardiac physiologist. Now, I’m not sure that’s where I ever intended to go career-wise. But I’ve met plenty of cardiac physiologists and their job seems pretty good. And I don’t want a high flying job. I don’t want credit or attention or anything. I want to blend in and help out… Quietly, without the pressure that a doctor is put under. I think. I don’t even know.

The fact that I’ve been thinking like this gives people (including at times myself) the illusion that I am getting things together. I was all wow brain, you’re so together you can have big serious thoughts about huge in the future decisions. But that’s the point. These things are miles off, they are big decisions but they don’t feel real. It’s kind of like imagining, kind of like a game. It’s stuff that doesn’t matter yet, stuff I don’t have to have figured out. It’s stuff that I threw my thought into to avoid the current stuff that I can’t deal with at all. It is my mind being so broken that it has removed itself from the present situation in a different way – instead of shutting down again, as it slowly reboots, the only way not to crash is to not be here. Not be now. So it isn’t.

We talk about being in the here and now. I’m finally here… Just not… now.

I tried to buy my little brother a combined christmas and birthday present – a sweatshirt from the shop of the basketball team he supports. It was expensive, but I felt like a lousy big sister for not getting him a birthday present (usually my parents just stick my name on a thing and say it’s from me). I thought I was finally being sort of productive, but shipping and tax to get something from the US to here cost more than the actual sweatshirt. And I do not have £80 to be able to just spend like that. So I had to cancel the purchase, which should have made me completely hate myself, but instead (thanks to my deadened ability to feel things at the minute) I just felt a little lousy.

I don’t know a lot of things right now.

I don’t know.

And I don’t know how to go to all the places that my brain is trying so hard not to go. I was always taught to let sleeping dogs lie (although… Is this one even sleeping? I just realised that this applies to this metaphor, and to my teddy bear below).

Processed with MOLDIV
My dog this morning using me as a pillow. 

I have a feeling that the dogs in my mind are going to attack whether I wake them or they wake themselves. I know one takes longer. But both outcomes involve me being torn limb from limb. They are starting to stir. And I don’t want to be alone, at uni, drowning in reality, when they realise how hungry they are.