I’m not writing now because I have anything in particular to say. I’m writing because the day after tomorrow, my cardiologist is going to do a pretty new procedure (new enough for Google never to have heard of it, and for it to be a last resort that he didn’t want to do on someone so young) which involves remodelling a small area of Skippy (my rebellious, idiotic heart)… if my heart behaves enough for him to progress that far (while I’m under anaesthetic other heart things are happening first). You’re probably expecting this post to be about that now. Which makes sense, because you probably expect it to be my number one topic of thought at the moment. It isn’t. It has been blown far, far out of the water by… words, actually.
Before you read this, I need you to know that my life is great. I know that. I know I’m lucky that my situation is not worse, and that there are plenty in ways in which it could significantly be so. I am frustrated that my mind is beginning to let other thoughts shout over that reality. Forgive me for letting that part of me write this post. I am already embarrassed by many elements of this post. Ignore it, if you will. (Oh and obviously, because that part of me wrote this… Trigger warning).
The day after I was due to have this surgery previously, just after I was starting to function after completely melting down about its cancellation, I opened the front door while home alone, and a serious crime was committed against me. I had several uni deadlines the next day, and my achievement of the century is that somehow (after being with the police until late at night, and sitting with a detective and then a counsellor) in 2 hours, I wrote 90% of a 1,000 word essay (which I’d admittedly had over a month to write, but my head has been BEYOND a mess, and I haven’t been great at… humanning… hence the complete lack of posts), referenced the entire thing and wrote the last 300 words within 20 minutes, and submitted it with 7 minutes to spare.
Three days later it all became real, and while my parents continued freaking out and buying security cameras and locking every door and window in the house (too late for me, no comfort at all, couldn’t take back what had happened), I turned into a MESS. It doesn’t matter how. It doesn’t matter how worrying or completely crippling my mental state was, or the things the mental aftermath of that crime stopped me doing (accepting human interaction, leaving the house, tolerating my own existence, to name just a few. Just talking about it to the police on the phone in the days afterwards made me shake with fear and fight the urge to vomit).
And I’d love to tell you I got over it, but it continued to eat me. And slowly, just as my world was starting to turn again and revision (I call it revision, but actually it’s trying to catch up on the 160 hours of lectures I have to make up by the 3rd of May when my first exam occurs) began to become an actual thing… I went to stay with an individual I can only describe as my idol. Family. But also a heroine. My idol, since I was 9 or 10 years old. And I was torn down with words. Three hours. Every element of my life, of who I am, was attacked. Mainly my health. My Achilles heel. And I was left… Empty (and writing a suicide note at 3am, a feat I’ve never managed to complete before. If a kind dog had not limped into the room to demand a cuddle and let me collapse into his fur hysterically sobbing, I may not actually have made it much further along the road of my life).
I can’t repeat the words that were fired at me. They attacked parts of me I don’t wish to share here, parts of me I hide (and so, were commented upon incorrectly and in a VERY damaging way). They were enough to cause outrage and horror among the few family members who I repeated them to, even parts of the half of the family I will never belong in (they all have blood and marriage, I have a deed poll). Enough for them to understand and not tell me I was an idiot when, 24 hours later, my attempts at words were still washed away by great sobs that I could not control.
My brother in law had cured my fear of all human contact with his greeting hug earlier that weekend, and, suddenly able to find comfort rather than terror in human contact, I found myself wrapped in my oldest sister’s arms apologising profusely for my tears (because I don’t cry) an awful lot, and being told they were more than justified and she didn’t even know what to say. And you’ll be all “oh for goodness sake they were only words”. But they were words attacked and destroyed and invalidated every part of me.
An individual I until that point idolised, accused me of making everything up to get attention – my health issues, the serious crime (even asked me if I had enjoyed it)… (and then told me they ignored either topic because they didn’t want to “feed me”). FYI, that’s so ridiculously absurd, because the police have forensic evidence, and also I’m not sure you can fake NEAR DEATH or want to experience NEAR DEATH especially when you have counselling for a phobia of HOSPITALS. That individual blamed me for everything, every problem within my parents’ household, despite that individual not living there or seeing anything they were commenting on. Told me I resented them for almost dying because it took attention from me (actually, it was one of the most traumatic periods of my life, because somebody I loved almost died, and I was old enough to know that, and too young to be told what was going on. I still burst into tears at any reminder of it even now – one of the few things that never fails to bring me to tears, because I was too young for people to realise it affected me, and I’ve never really dealt with it)… And it went on, and on, and on. And I had no emotional ground to stand on, nothing to fall back on, to rest against, to hold myself together. I was washed out. Empty. I had gone there to be by the sea (which was AWESOME) and be with my brother in law (my brain decided he was the only safe human in the world for some reason) and to heal. I had gone there because that home always felt like my own. It felt physically and emotionally safe because of my brother in law and the support I had received there previously from my heroine.
For a few days, I was suicidal. The person described to me was not one I felt deserved to live, I was told over and over in that three hour conversation that basically people would be happier without me (in different words, but that’s what my self-hating brain heard). All I could do was cry, and sleep. My appetite is usually far greater than would be expected for someone my size, but I couldn’t eat more than a few forkfuls of food. And then I went back to a really weird place. A place beyond the hurt. A far more alarming, more troubling place, in which even my counsellor couldn’t really reach me. I shut down. I couldn’t think at all. I couldn’t function. I felt heavy. I stayed in bed, I slept all day. I’d try to get out of bed and just sit on the edge, no thought about what came next, no thought about how odd that was, just… Empty. Stuck. No idea how to be. And so I’d just fall sideways and, feet still on the floor, sleep again.
I didn’t wash for an embarrassing number of days. Didn’t even change my clothes. Couldn’t eat. No work. Goodbye “catch up/revision” plan. Guilt. Which everyone around me fought to push out of my brain. People told me that my heroine had been wrong, so wrong, that she knew nothing, that nobody else thought that at all (my heroine told me that people would say that because nobody wanted to upset me). I knew it was all wrong. Logic told me that. But my self hatred was so much louder. And it wasn’t alone any more. In a family that I have never felt I fitted in, I found an individual who made me feel more unworthy of involvement in that family than I ever have before, and the whole time they kept saying it was because they cared. They had, until that point, been my heroine. They had also been a little odd with me for a while.
I was more hurt that anybody could even imagine the things that person said, let alone someone who I had, at one point, trusted. Someone I admired. But anyway, my self-hatred had an ally. And it felt like a lead weight. Days passed and I had no idea when or how time had gone by. I cried. I slept. I sat and tried to function. And I repeated that process over and over. I could not. I just could not.
My mum tried to shout some sense into me, telling me I was going to fail my exams if I didn’t do something, telling me that I couldn’t just do nothing. I looked at my dog, my furry rock, and I felt nothing. I looked at my everything and I felt nothing. At that point I sort of melted.
After 10 days of hollow heaviness, I went to stay with Auntie Godmother and family. Instantly, I relaxed. Nobody talked about the crime (although Auntie Godmother was MY ROCK via text message through the weeks beforehand). Nobody talked about what my idol had said (a constant topic of conversation in my parents’ household). I slept. I ate almost an entire meal. I made lecture notes. I came back. My dog was my everything again. Revision began to occur.
Among the chaos I also broke my foot the afternoon before the conversation happened. After what was said to me, I had to be forced to get it x-rayed, because on top of my terror of hospitals, I also didn’t want anyone to think I was “milking it”. The x-rays showed that there was a piece of broken off bone just casually floating around my foot. The physiotherapist who reviewed the x-rays said the black line through my bone was a blood vessel, and that I should come back if my floating bone caused a problem. Today, with the assistance of 31kg of Labrador and a misplaced paw, that piece of bone forced its way out of my foot. A consultant looked at the x-rays and today over the phone said I should go back. So that’s fun. I’ll do that at some point… After the heart stuff. Because I can only deal with one thing at a time.
I’m missing London like someone has ripped out my beating heart (ironically my heart surgery will take place in the heart of the city I love). I miss my uni friends (haven’t heard from most of them, but that’ll be exam stress and my absence both… doing their thing). Seriously though I have never missed a place so much. It’s home. I miss wandering around it every afternoon, or late at night. I miss everything about it. I miss that skyline out of my window. I miss the buzz. I miss the miserable people on the underground. I miss laying in Hyde Park and wandering along the Thames. And I won’t get to live there, because while I was physically and mentally fighting to stay alive, I was out of sight, and my friends have arranged to move in together. And I cannot live alone (not safe, also now terrifying).
I’ve spent the last few days looking forward to Wednesday 19th of April for a very different reason than I did the previous surgery date (oh yeah, they also cancelled the surgery to remove Cedric – growth that bleeds a lot and needs OUT – because I’m too high risk to have an anaesthetic until my heart is… less of a poop. That was meant to happen last week). There is a 50% chance that, if everything goes right, this procedure will change my life. There’s also a chance it will damage my heart and leave it needing a little assistance. Before, I was planning long runs and dreaming of being able to walk from room to room without getting breathless, or without coughing pink froth whenever I lay flat, or without not being able to wear ANY of my clothes because my abdomen is so swollen with fluid… But for the past week or so… The thought of that cardiologist slipping… Has been my only comfort. Because I can’t do this anymore.
My conscious mind may forget to be scared that I won’t wake up, to juggle the stress of trying not to die (which, FYI, is a battle I frequently almost lose); on the surface I might not be thinking about how my health is so volatile it could take my life in a very short period of time whenever it feels like it, all day, every day. But the existential crisis goes on beneath the surface. It burns away silently. Along with the family stuff, and the uni work, and just the normal stresses of being 21, and knowing I will need somewhere to live, and feeling homesick but not knowing where home is, and only having £480 to live on until September because they cut my student lone since I moved to my parents’, and feeling like a burden, and watching my friends grow more and more distant, and LONGING to run again; also the insomnia and the PTSD about HOSPITALS from when I was younger, and the nightmares, and the wasted days and months that I lose to my health and hate myself for letting it steal… And it isn’t a lot, and unless you live with something that could kill you any time it likes, any day it feels like, or you’ve lived every moment of my life from my viewpoint, then you won’t entirely understand (but can potentially/at best relate to elements of it – because I never disclose enough information for full understanding of the… non-health stuff, which ironically is actually the hardest for me to deal with). But it all rumbles away in the background and it’s just… Broken me. How pathetic is that? How pathetic am I?
I guess I’m writing because part of me hopes this really is one of the last opportunities I will ever get to write again. I feel this great need for the people I know to be saved from me. And I don’t have the guts to do something about my existence myself. My body survived so many times when it shouldn’t have (I mean, I was in acidosis a couple of nights ago giving myself IVs and actually thinking that was it), but my mind… My mind is missing in action. Along with me.
If this surgery gives me back my life… If I go to sleep and 7 hours later (or more) Skippy has been persuaded to co-operate… I have no idea what to do. I won’t even let myself think there this time, because when that hope was taken away before I had been relying on it so heavily that I crumbled.
I’ll take either outcome, is what I’m saying.
A new beginning or an end.
I’m not fussy any more.
And whether Wednesday is the end or not… There’s no way but through how I feel right now, through states like this. There’s always another side. And if the other side sucks, ride with it, because there’s no way but through that too. We don’t have to find our own way. We never even see it coming. Just one day, we’re suddenly stood on the other side looking back. Reeling. Wounded. Facing whatever comes next. Good stuff, bad stuff, it all falls away because there is never any way but onwards, somehow. Unless you hold on. And right now… I can’t let go. I can’t let go of the hurt. I cannot find a way. But a silenced part of me knows… there will be one, even if I can’t even imagine it.
I don’t even have the energy to filter what I do or don’t spill out into this post. So I’ll probably at some point regret writing it as much as you regret reading this far. But thank you all. For the support I receive here. For the comments that re-connect me to humanity a little bit, and the awesomeness of the blogging community – the nicest collection of people I’ve never met.