Seventy two hours.

I’m free now, I should be revising. I’m sat with my biology past paper questions in front of me with the intention to revise. But I can’t. She’s just told me that she hasn’t eaten since Sunday night and that she doesn’t intend to eat until tomorrow night. That’ll be seventy two hours. So instead of revising, I’m sat here shaking and fighting back tears. Everyone around me is working, but I just can’t concentrate. I don’t know how to comprehend this. I don’t know how I should react or try to cope with it.

Of course I want her to keep telling me things. In fact, I NEED that. I’ll be worse than this if she stops trusting me. But I have to find a way to deal with it. Because at the moment, it’s slowly slowly killing me.

And it hurts that I can’t help her. It hurts me every single time that I think about it. But I’m powerless, and once more I’m feeling lost and very much alone in the big wide world.

For now, I know that I need to put on a brave face and answer the respiration questions. But I need someone to light up the path and show me the way. There has to be a way out. Right now, it feels like I’m being stabbed. The pain is completely uncontrollable, and I’m not sure that I can hide it for much longer.

Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw

All I want to do is pass A Level biology.

‘I haven’t done any revision yet!’
‘All I’ve done this holiday is sleep.’
‘It’s four weeks until exam leave? You’re joking, right?’
‘How was that party?’

Those are just four of the conversations that I heard on the first day after the Easter holidays as I walked from the school entrance to the girls toilet. That’s maybe a thirty second walk. And the worst bit? They were all sixth formers. All people who have A LEVEL EXAMS coming up! Surely you’ve got to be mad to have that attitude at this point in the year?

Or maybe not.

Maybe I’m wrong.

Maybe I’m the mad one.

The last few days have been pretty eventful at my neck of the woods, and there have been a few exam related arguments here and there. For a while, they upset me, but I’m not sure that they do now. In fact, I think they’re just spurring me on, making me more determined to do better. Firstly, a neighbour and my own mother spent a good half an hour politely talking lecturing me about the importance of getting a job. It ended with the neighbour getting particularly heated about how people can do ‘perfectly well without A levels’ and ranting of about how her two nieces have jobs and they’re both younger than me and the older of the two only has GCSE’s and she’s doing just fine at college. You don’t get it, do you? That’s not what I want. Besides, since when was it your right to comment on my decisions!? The ‘conversation’ ended a good half an hour later when I decided I couldn’t take it anymore. I ran off with tears in my eyes and the parting phrase of ‘All I want to do is pass A Level biology, please stop knocking me down.’

Next of course is when we get back to school, and I’m lectured by my friends about my revision antics. I’m not even sure how it started, but of course when you’re in a friendship group that ranges from ‘I did nothing’ to ‘I’ve got an offer at med school’, there is always going to be a difference of opinion.

Okay, I’ll admit that seven hours a day nearly every day for the two week break was maybe a little excessive. But honestly, I don’t think it’s that much of a big deal. I’ve been finding school really hard, and I know I’ve got to work my little socks off to make up for it. I didn’t go to Rangers tonight. Again, I received stick from another close friend, because apparently I need to ‘live a little’. You’re joking right, there is twenty six days until my first exam and you’re asking me to LIVE A LITTLE by going to play board games. No thanks, revision and an early night seems much more sensible!

Of course, there is always that thought that perhaps I bring it on myself. Today in my free, I’d planned to revise for chemistry. My best friend sat with me in the ‘quiet working area’ upstairs in sixth form, of course, there was no teacher on duty, so it wasn’t quiet at all. Next thing you know, we’re engaged in deep conversation about the holiday and plans for after exams, and I haven’t really done any revision.
‘Its okay, we haven’t seen each other for two weeks. We’re allowed to catch up.’
No. No, it’s not okay. And yes, I know that I’m just as at fault for sitting with her. And I enjoyed catching up, and I’ve missed her, I promise. But it just made me feel so guilty. I’ve been dwelling on it all day. That fifty minutes of revision that I’ve missed out on. What if there is something that I could have picked up on but I didn’t because I didn’t revise? That one or two marks could make the difference between an A and a B, or a B and a C grade. I feel like a bad person, and I feel like it will make me fail. Taking time out will risk my future, and I can’t afford that.

But that’s silly, isn’t it? Fifty minutes will make hardly any difference in the grand scheme of things, I must tell myself. And with my main exams still six weeks away, I can make that time up. As long as it doesn’t become regular, it’s not a problem, right? Revision doesn’t need to rule my life, does it? No. Yes. Maybe revision does rule my life. But if that means that I get onto the University course of my dreams, then does loosing a few months of my life really matter? I don’t think so.

Is this the attitude of most students? Of course not. So why is it mine? Because I care. I care a lot about my future, and I worry about it too. So maybe that chat today was good for me. Some time out, a break. I won’t get another one now until Wednesday night, so maybe I shouldn’t be dwelling on fifty minutes. Because did I enjoy it? Yes, she’s my best friend! It wasn’t scheduled carefully into my revision plan, but maybe it’s time to learn that occasionally taking an extra bit of time out wont hurt anyone.

Maybe I am the mad one, but I think it’s time that we started learning from each other. I’m not going to kid myself though, I won’t be taking a leaf out of the book of others TOO often. I value my grades too much for that madness.

Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw

Striking Teachers: Love Them Or Hate Them?

What do you think? The last couple of sentences really hit a nerve with me, because yes, I know at least two teachers at my school who really would be panicing about their students progress. I have two teachers who are the most amazing people I ever met, and they teach because they really do care. I think it’s time to give teachers what they deserve.

A WORRIED STUDENT

Whenever a teachers’ strike is announced, the government always cries out that it will damage teachers’ reputations. What a joke. I say this not because as a student it means a day off-though that would have played a part when I was a child-but because it is a pathetic attempt by the government to persuade teachers not to strike. They don’t offer them a payrise, they don’t accept any of their requests but what they always do is say that there is no need to strike as it will only bring teaching into disrepute.

How foolish. Haven’t they realised that teachers may not be valued by them or the economy but the normal person on the street is in support of them. Why? Simply because people can empathise with the struggle teachers face in terms of their working hours and pay. They can see the daily struggle teachers go through…

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Why the Dentist Loves the Exam Season!

Revision does make me go a little crazy, I guess. Why is it that being confined to the house for a couple of weeks, suddenly EVERYTHING is hilarious? A lot of people are back to school today, but while I’m going in for a three hour revision session, I’ve still got another week off, and the lack of human contact is making me go a little crazy. I just wanted to share a few moments of madness, in the hope that it might brighten the day of those out there also revising. Be warned, if you’re just the average person, you probably won’t see the funny side of this. At all. You just have to be in the mind frame.

Firstly, I get a message from my friend telling me that she’s sent me a letter. It’s not a friend who I get to see very often, so I’m excited. The letter arrived and completely motivated me until my lunch break when I decided that I could open it.

Filing

ASAP science

Really of course, I’m sure you only came here because of the title of this blog. So, why does the dentist love the exam season? This, of course!

It takes me twice as long to brush my teeth, because I have to read half the cards before I can stop!

Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw

Six Weeks Until the BIG DAY

So I did as I said, and I’ve run every day so far. Since my brother was away, it has meant I’ve not been able to go to the gym, and so I’ve just made the most of the track and trying to build my general fitness instead. Here’s what I’ve been up to…

Friday 11th April – 2K, 11.54
Sunday 13th April – 2.08K, 12.05
Monday 14th April – 2.08K, 11.58
Tuesday 15th April – 2.08K, 12.26
Wednesday 16th April – 2.08K, 12.02
Thursday 17th April – 2.08K, 12.12 – first time running the whole lot on the track! Yey!
Friday 18th April – 2.08K, 11.45
Saturday 19th April – 2.08K, 11.42

I don’t know if I’m going to get to run today. I’m going out for dinner with my nan, and I just can’t see how I’m going to have time between revision ending and needing to leave. But hey, don’t tell me that I haven’t tried!

Saturday was fun. I got myself all ready, looked out of the door, and my neighbour was outside. Oh no, what the heck to do? And she’s with two people I don’t know. Even worse. And she doesn’t look like she’s going in any time soon, she’s pretty into that game. Yes, she’s only seven. No, it doesn’t matter, I’m still a wimp. It took at least ten minutes to working my way up to getting out of the door. And when I got home, I did of course have to stop and chat. She was greatly amused, but her little friend just looked at me like I was some kind of alien as I stood panting on my front lawn.

My recovery time is getting a lot better and although I’m finding the run difficult, my breathing is recovering a lot faster and I can now flick my trainers off and run straight upstairs for my berocca and some fruit or veg that i prepared earlier. Before, I’d have to sit on the steps and recover for at least five minutes before I could even contemplate taking my trainers off.

I now have encountered a new problem however – cramp. And damn does it HURT. I’m fine during the run itself, I get home, sit down to catch my breath and finish my water and BOOM, it hits. It’s not every single time, and sometimes it’s worse than others, but it feels a bit like menstrual cramp but about ten times worse. For about fifteen minutes, I end up doubled over, feeling very nauseous, and have sometimes had diarrhoea as well. It’s just foul. Looking at food makes me feel sick, I usually just about sip half a pint of water or berocca, but that’s all I can manage. I’ve done some google research, but everyone seems a bit undecided on what it is. I never got it until the past week or so, so I just don’t understand! I’ve tried running at different times of day, eating and not eating, drinking water or other fluids, but I can’t work out what it is! Sometimes it happens, sometimes it just doesn’t. If anyone has any bright ideas, please help me! I’m desperate, and if this continues, I’m not sure that I’ll be able to run my Race For Life. And that would just be gutting.

My plan for next week is to do 4K every other day starting on Monday. So that’s four lots of 4K, and three lots of 2K. Lets see how it goes, shall we?!

Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw

And all I can Hear is the Sound of my Breathing.

I’d just got into my car to drive home from school. My best friend wasn’t there today. I had text to enquire about her welfare. Nothing. I was worried about her, but I knew that she’d probably just got a bug and was sleeping it off. That’s when my phone buzzed and her name flashed up.

The next fifteen seconds, I don’t remember them. I don’t remember anything about that phone call except that it wasn’t my friends voice, and that I knew within seconds that something was wrong. I drove home, crying. Yes, I know it’s not safe to drive while you’re crying, but I couldn’t control myself.

I didn’t revise that night. I sat in a daze, I didn’t eat, and I didn’t speak to anyone. I went to bed early, but I couldn’t sleep. A million thoughts whizzed around my head. So this morning, I looked exhausted, I’m sure. Despite the fact that I wanted to curl up and hide from the world, I dutifully got up and went to school. I didn’t speak to anyone all day – until my flute lesson of course – I knew that I couldn’t get away with that one.

‘Hi, how are you?’
She was the first person who had enquired about my welfare in the past 20 hours since the call. I’m terrible. I’m hurt. The pain. The fear. THE GUILT. ‘Fine, thanks’ I replied. My flute lesson was not very productive either, but I was lucky that my teacher sensed my mood and was kind to me, and careful not to enquire. I was her last student of the day, and just I was packing up she said, ‘I’m worried, are you sure you’re okay?’ She didn’t get a response this time, instead I simply burst into tears. ‘Do you want me to call T?’ – that’s my best friend – ‘No, she’s not here,’ I replied.
‘She’s not?’ ‘She’s in hospital.’ ‘Hospital!?’ ‘I got a call from her mum last night. She got taken in… after… well… she didn’t… eat for 70 hours.’ My sobs were now uncontrollable.

I was afraid to go. Afraid to go and visit because I knew that seeing her would cement the reality that this is my fault. I didn’t say anything when I should have. I should have expected this. I’m such a stupid, heartless, idiotic friend. Why did I have to be controlled by the fear that she’d hate me? That what she wanted was best? But now I’m here, and with my flute teacher here for support, waiting in the cafe, I pause at the door. I’m afraid of what I might see. I’m so GUILTY. My breathing is quickening and I’m beginning to panic so I just open the door and BANG. My world is crushing down on me. I see her lying there in the hospital bed with a tube in her mouth, looking so fragile and pale, and my panic mechanisms kick in properly.

And then it’s black, and all I can hear is the sound of my breathing getting faster and faster and faster. I feel a tear roll down my face, and I can just summon the energy to reach for the light switch. It’s just a dream. It’s just a dream. It’s over now, breathe. I count my breaths and work on slowing them. The shaking begins to subside and I reach for a drink. It’s not real. It’s not real. It’s not real. It was a dream. Relax.

But it’s on my mind. I can’t get back to sleep tonight, because a part of me knows how it could be real. Knows how soon it could be real. And it knows how damn scary that could and would be.

So, as I lie here in the darkness, I’m only loving again. Goodnight all.

alex122rw

Hugs Are The Universal Medicine

So, my best friend is away for two weeks.
And it’s the holidays.
And I’m revising.
My human contact is virtually non existent.
And it’s slowly driving me insane.

I’m not struggling, and actually, I know that she’s eating so I’m not as worried as I could have been, but those times when I just got UED in my three most recent past papers, I could really do with some stress relief. Someone to tell me that it’s all going to be okay, somehow.

Apparently, hugging someone who you trust can reduce stress and anxiety, lower your blood pressure, and can improve your memory. That’s because oxytocin is released, and oxytocin is known as the ‘trust hormone’. It can help to relieve social fears by making you feel safe, and it can even relieve pain through it’s anti-inflammatory properties. It helps to improve digestion and metabolism, which can prevent obesity. Really, I’d like to rename oxytocin as the ‘wonder hormone’.

And although I hope that my friend is having a fantastic holiday, and actually, I love it when my afternoon revision is punctuated by her early morning snapchats, and I wake up to a snapchat apocalypse and see her photos from the day on facebook, I do look forward to when she comes home and I catch a quick hug. I know why she finds hugs difficult, and she has perfectly good reasons to hate human contact, but it makes me feel so safe. When I’m finding school hard, a hug and a little laughter can really change my outlook on the day.

Hugs really are the universal medicine, and so I send you all a virtual hug in the hope that you’ll improve the day of someone you love, simply by passing along the happiness.

Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw

The Gallery: A Favourite Place

This week over at the gallery, the theme is ‘a favourite place’. I’ve opted out of the gallery for the past couple of weeks… Life just got in the way. But I’m back this time, and with a smile on my face, too!

This place was pretty special… I’d love to go back someday.

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And being in the hills, walking, and free. I love that too. The rainbow I caught in Wales was just beautiful. I hope we see something like this on our Duke of Edinburgh in June.

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But when I can’t leave my house, this is my favourite place. This is my place I escape to. The music.

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Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw

The irony of ‘a pot of joy’

Earlier, I spent an hour chatting to a NEDA Helpline Volunteer. I decided on Saturday that I needed to talk. I knew that I couldn’t hold this pain in any more, and I just needed to let it out. I did some research on google, and I found the National Eating Disorder Association of America. Okay, they’re not in England but it was the only website that I could find in my limited research time that allowed me to chat online. I don’t do phone calls. I hoped that they could help. The next hurdle was of course that it was a Saturday and their helpline is only open 9am-9am Monday to Thursday, and 9am-5pm on Friday. So, I left the tab open and at nine o clock this morning, I switched over to it again in the hope of finding someone to talk to. No luck, that’s odd. Then I remembered the five hour time difference. So, I put on a brave face, did some revision, and waited until 2pm UK time. I had to fill in a quick form with my name and ‘place of residence’ – to which I just put ‘UK’ – and then I was connected to a NEDA volunteer.

I’m not going to lie, it did feel a little like I was talking to a robot at some points, but I genuinely think that there was a human at another screen across the ocean who was talking to me. Although she couldn’t and wouldn’t tell me what to do, she asked me questions, gave me a chance to let go a bit, and tried to get me thinking about what I could or couldn’t do, and what was the best thing to do. It’s the first time I’ve been completely open with someone about how I feel. While the friend who I worry about knows a lot of things, I try and put on a brave face and hide from her my true feelings. She doesn’t know everything, she doesn’t know all my reasoning, and she doesn’t know the extent of my worry and how it affects my day to day life. But give or take, I told the NEDA volunteer everything. And although it was a really painful and heartbreaking hour, it was so good to just let go. What really hit me though, was when she asked what would happen if I didn’t tell anyone. I answered that, and she followed with ‘Do you think you’re willing to watch her get to that point before you talk to someone?’. Now that stung. Really hard. Someone actually asking me that question tore my heart into a million pieces.

No, I still don’t have a plan yet. And I’m still working on my courage. But seriously, if you’re fighting an eating disorder, or you know someone who is, or you even if you’re just worried, have a chat to NEDA. Sure, some of it is clearly copied and pasted from a script, but it made me feel just a tiny weeny little bit better.

I sat there in tears, but after we disconnected, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the irony of the fact I was eating a Cadbury Pot of Joy . Not only were my eyes sore from tears of distress (and certainly not even a hint of joy!), the pots also contain 160 calories. In a yoghurt. Ouch, I can’t quite imagine her face if I asked her to eat one. I hope that one day in the future I’ll have the confidence to show her the transcript of the conversation I had with NEDA. Maybe it’ll help her to see how much she means to me, and how much I really do care.

Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw

Setting A New Goal

I guess that setting a new goal only six weeks before my first A Level exam might seem crazy at first glance, but hey, don’t judge me! Allow me to explain…

I have a friend who I have known since we were 13. She’s a bit mad, and often, I find her quite annoying. We squabble a lot, and frequently struggle to share the same opinion. It’s only recently that I’ve realised where this problem lies. She’s clever. Again, allow me to explain myself. I’m not judging her based on the fact that she’s clever, and I’m not jealous either. Of course I’m not! My best friend has a place at med school, and so does another of my friends. In fact, I’m friends with the only two people in my school with offers at med school – I’m sure used to clever! Maybe it would be more appropriate to reword my initial statement to ‘she’s lazy’.

So, she wants to be a vet, but she hasn’t got any offers. She doesn’t work for anything. She’s just learnt to expect it, and that is where my problem lies. Because I work bloody hard for my grades! She got a merit in her flute exam without ever picking up her flute, and all year she has avoided working. Goodness knows what she does because it’s not like she’s an extra curricular goddess either! She’s just one of those people that for her whole life has been able to achieve without any effort. It frustrates me. She continued with all four of her AS subjects, whereas I decided to drop one and focus on three. She didn’t revise over Christmas and still did well in her mocks. I really struggled. The other day, we were having a conversation about exams, and she told me that on exam leave, she revises for four hours a day. Two hours in the morning, two in the afternoon. I genuinely nearly fell off my chair.

How does this connect to my new goal? My goal is to beat her. For months I’ve been obsessing over my AAB that I need for University, and slipping into panic mode because I’m worried I’m not going to get it. I’m going to try not to do that any more. I’m going to work as hard as I can, and focus all my energy on doing well so that I can prove that hard work really does pay off. Yes, I’m going to get a bit stressed. Yes, I’m going to struggle. And yes, sometimes I probably have and will continue to push myself over the edge. But if that means I can beat her, then so be it. Because I don’t deserve to be beaten by someone who is lazy. Focussing on University is causing me pain, and I hope that for now at least, this will ease that pain and give me a new goal. She told me that she cares more about her mental well-being than revision, but that’s not the attitude for someone who wants to be a vet. I’m not saying that I want to kill myself through revising, I’m simply stating that hard work will pay off. And if it means that on results day I open my envelope and see the letters that I so desperately want and need, then fantastic. I hope that this can be a lesson to all those who are clever and know it.

Never again do I want to hear her say the words ‘But I am clever!’

Because I’m hoping that being ‘clever’ isn’t all that important. Wish me luck, I’m sure going to need it.

Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw