Thankful

On Wednesday I went to a high ropes course. I’m a bit of a strange one. I’m terrified of heights, but I always want to give everything a go. When it was suggested, I said I was afraid so shouldn’t go. ‘We’ll look after you,’ came the response. I could hardly turn down then, could I!?

I did okay though. At least, I did a lot better than I ever remember doing as a kid. I went third, out of five. I stepped onto the first wire tentatively, but no problems. I was distracted on the first bit by shouting ‘This is mildly terrifying!’ and the man misunderstanding my accent and commenting on the fact it was a good job that I wasn’t doing an English degree because ‘madly terrifying’ didn’t make sense. So, that puts me 1/7 of the way there. Second obstacle was a wire to walk along and hanging ropes to grab. That one made my heart lurch, but no problem. 2/7 of the way there. I sat on the weird swing like device and pulled myself along. Okay, it was weird and my upper body strength was only just up to the job, but I did it! By this point, this first person had finished the course and was shouting encouraging words at me. I commented that it felt like life coaching. I laughed. 25 meters off the floor and I actually laughed. Convincing myself that the next obstacle wasn’t much different from the first, I made it to the furthest corner from the start point. That’s when things started to go downhill. I stood for an undefined period of time at the wobbliest corner, staring at the rope loops and the hanging wooden logs, only large enough for one foot. I told that girl who was shouting encouragement at me that I hated her. She was the one who had persuaded me to do this. It took a while, but once I started, I asked about the bridge that I could see in the distance, walked slowly across and hugged the next pole like my life depended on it. Suddenly, I was 5/7 of the way there. The next obstacle is a bit tricky to explain without rambling on for hours, but after being convinced that I could hug the poles all I wanted and they were pretty sturdy (and they didn’t lie, they were sturdy!) I made it across, took one last leap, and reached the final post! I was so close! I was still telling the girl, we’ll call her Y, that I hated her. The last obstacle was always going to be a problem. It was just a beam, all I had to hold was my own rope, and I had to get myself across. That took a lot of coaxing. I was definitely definitely scared, and whilst I’d been making a conscious effort to control a panic attack since the weird rope loopy thing, I was now REALLY making an effort. Eventually, I went. My stupidly large feet didn’t betray me, I didn’t trip (as I do probably 15 times a day on flat ground!) and I was back! Yeyyyy! Although she’d been taking it all the way around, Y did just have to clarify that I didn’t hate her. Of course not! She gave me a hug, and for a second, I got that sense of security that I love about a hug. Boom, relaxed.

Somehow, they psyched me up to go again. This time, Y said that she’d follow me. After all, you can have two to a platform, and she said she’d be able to help me. Okay, no problem, I can do this, I’ve done it before. Next thing you know I was clipped in and standing once more on a precarious looking wire. Zip, zip, zip, I made it past the swing. I held onto the pole super tight while Y decided she was going to push off the pole before me to make her swing ride easier. Of course, that made the whole course shake. I climbed along the next wire, and suddenly, full of adrenaline, and laughing, I found myself back at that far corner pole with the weird rope loops and logs. Once again, I froze. Y decided to do the obstacle I just had done on one foot. That of course meant her jumping around on the rope, and really really REALLY making the pole wobble. By the time she reached me, I was full on panic attack, 25 meters in the air and no way back, with someone that whilst I know is a lovely person, I haven’t really known her very long at all, and I definitely never intended for her to see me like that. I was holding that corner so tight that I couldn’t let go, no matter how hard I tried. She was absolutely amazing. I’m sure it comes from being a cub leader. Or maybe that’s just why she is a cub leader. Somehow, she made me change my mind. I took the first step, my heart lurched, and slowly but surely, I made it across. The next bit was easy, the one where I could hug the poles!

And finally, I was back at that last platform, and the last corner. I was back at the bar with nothing to hold but my own rope. By the time X reached me, I was in tears. I wasn’t sure why. A mixture of fear, adrenaline, and disappointment, I guess. And a realisation that student scouts and guides is where I fit in. I feel safe, I feel like I can be me, and it’s beautiful. I’ve finally found my home at university, but I didn’t realise until I was up on that high ropes course with them, completely terrified with no way out. Even so, I didn’t want her to see me cry. I thought if I could stare hard enough into the distance and look deep enough into the mountains I could stop it from happening, or that somehow she wouldn’t notice. Of course, I was wrong. Again, she knew within seconds and climbed around the platform to face me. I turned the other way. ‘It’s okay, I don’t mind. You can’t hide from me anyway, the platform is tiny and there’s two of us on it! I really don’t mind, it’s okay. I know it’s hard if you’re afraid of heights, but I’m proud of you for giving it a go.’ I’m not sure if that made me feel better or cry more. Pride. You may know by now that pride is a tricky subject. It’s tricky for me to be proud of myself and it’s tricky for me to accept that others are proud of me. It makes my heart swell. It made me cry more. I don’t even feel like my parents have ever been proud of me.

She stayed there with me (admittedly, what choice did she have, but we can at least hope it was through caring!). Somehow, she made me laugh again (definitely she made me laugh an awful lot, I seriously don’t know how she managed it and I’m not sure if anyone else I know could have done!) and soon, with gentle coaxing, she helped me turn away from the pole. She held my harness tight, she reached for my hand and promised that she wouldn’t let me fall. Of course I know that if I slipped she wouldn’t be what would stop me from falling, but it made me feel safe. It still took a while but soon I was stood at the edge once more. I put the first foot on the beam, let go of her hand in favour of my rope, she told me that it was just baby steps (again, resisting tears here – that’s something my best friend says to me on my hardest days, and I miss that girl so much!), I shut my eyes and started walking. She didn’t let go until I was so far away that she had no choice.

I’d made it to the end. I was relived. I wasn’t sure why it was so much worse the second time, perhaps the adrenaline had worn off. I sat, away from the instructors and pulled my knees to my chest. Seconds later she sat beside me, checked that I was okay, told me once more that she was proud of me, and within minutes, had me laughing so hard that I couldn’t breathe. She said later that as long as I was laughing at least 51% of the time (which I sure as hell was!) then she had achieved what she was aiming for.

We did Jacobs ladder that afternoon. Me, her and another girl went up. Three rungs from the top I wanted to go back down. ‘Just one more?’ Suddenly, we were at the top. I’ve done high ropes and Jacobs ladder before, but I’ve never ever made it to the top of the ladder. Until this week.

She was lovely, all afternoon. Sadly my panic means that I can’t remember everything that she said and did or the timings, but I remember the important bits – the bits that made my heart flip. Sadly, I never got a chance to say a proper thank you. Of course I said it as I got out of her car, but somehow it didn’t quite feel right. But I am thankful. And I’ll always be thankful, to everyone out there who cares and loves, because they’re the most beautiful people in the world.

I can do this!

Today, one of my uni friends said to me ‘Yeah, but you’re social, and she’s not’. What she didn’t realise, and you probably don’t realise is that one sentence was enough to make me feel on top of the world for a few minutes. For a girl like me, to be told that I’m social is almost life changing.

I’ve always struggled to fit in. I’ve never quite been able to socialise with my peers properly. Until I get to know you extremely well, I have to concentrate on what to say and when is appropriate to speak. Even little things like making phone calls terrify me. I struggle to fit in, and I’ve never really had many friends. I was pushed around and bullied by all sorts of people as a kid, both adults and other kids, so forming relationships has just never been easy.

Since Christmas, when it was decided for certain who I’d share a house with next year, I’ve known that I have to make the effort. I’ve spent a lot of time with my new friends, sometimes to the determent of my own health and happiness. I’m one of those people who needs alone time to refocus, and I’m also someone who needs a lot of sleep. Both of those things have been left to slide, and compared to last semester, my work has a little, too.

But I think I can get there. Because finally, I feel like I fit in. Of course, Guiding will probably be the only place I ever truly feel accepted, but my friends actually like me. Or at least I think they do. They wouldn’t tell me I was social if they didn’t, would they? And you know, that makes me over the moon. Because of course, I won’t completely reject my new found friends, but it does mean that I can take a little of my own time back to be me and to work even harder. I don’t have to concentrate so much on friendship, and that’s a huge relief.

And you know what? Of all of them, there’s one girl I really like. While we’re not there yet, and it will never ever be to the same extent, it would be amazing if, and I hope that one day I will be able to trust that girl even a quarter as much as I trust my best friend. It would be nice to know that it’s safe, that there’s someone else out there who won’t let me down.

Will I ever be ready?

I’m sorry that I’ve let you down, and I’m sorry that I wasn’t good enough. I just couldn’t do it. I promise I tried, but to tell someone that stress and exams are tricky for me and I get super worked up and stressed is just too much.

I didn’t want to let you down again. You said that I never listen, and I wanted to prove to you that I do listen and that you don’t need to be mad. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. I failed again. Soon, you’ll probably be angry again.

I’m not ready to talk, it’s awkward and horrible and I don’t really know why. But the thought of filling in that form terrifies me, and while I know that I should do it for me, and I want to do it to make you happy, my heart just won’t let me. I’m not ready.

And the scary thing is that I’m not sure if I’ll ever be ready.

I hope so, because exams when all you can do is cry every day are grim. Panic attacks are demoralising, and trying to concentrate when you’re in freeze mode is impossible.

But I’ll get there. We’ll get there. I’m here for you just as you are for me. We’ll drag each other up the mountain, step by step, day by day. When we get to the top, we’ll enjoy the view together. It may take us the rest of our lives, but one day, I hope that we can both be truly happy.

You’re awesome, and I really wish that I will be ready in the future. For you… And for me, if I’m completely honest.

But I hope that you’ll be ready, too. I hope that one day, you’ll be ready to talk, because although you hide it well, I know that your black shadow is a lot bigger than mine is.

What shouldn’t I be doing right now?

The simple answer to that question is blogging. So what am I doing? Blogging, of course!

It’s just gone midnight, I’ve just climbed into bed and there’s tears rolling down my cheeks that I just can’t control. Why? I just spent a solid twelve hours working on a lab report, only stopping for salad, toast, chocolate, biscuits and some carrots. It’s still not finished, and I don’t really have any time left to get it finished, either.

Perhaps university is too much for me. Maybe I just can’t hack it. Every single teacher who I trusted and adored told me that uni would be so much easier than A Level’s, but it’s really not. I just look at everything I have due in the next four weeks and my initial reaction is to worry about when I’m going to revise or file lecture notes. Then I worry about when I’ll eat and sleep. I need my sleep, at least 9 hours a night, or I just can’t function.

And that’s why I’m crying. I’m tired, I’m extremely stressed, and I’m not coping. It’s been a long day, and I’d normally have been in bed two hours ago! I know tomorrow isn’t going to be any better, and I don’t know how to deal with it. I need to expel some frustration, but there’s simply no time to run.

So I’m going round in circles. If I’m not careful, circles will become spirals, and we all know that spirals are dangerous.

But for now, I should sleep. I have to find a way to cope, because if I can’t hack this, I’ll never cure cancer, but I don’t think that 00.30 when I’m already emotional from sleep deprivation is exactly the time to be thinking about coping mechanisms. How about working for the short term and bloody well SLEEPING!?

They’ll be tomorrow. They’ll be a way out. I’ll make it. It’s just another mountain to climb, and I know they’re always absolutely amazing when I get to the top.

Apologies, I’m so sleepy that I’m not even going to proof read. Please bare with me, at least I’m back to blogging!

It doesn’t just ‘go’

A mental health issue doesn’t just disappear. An eating disorder doesn’t just go away. You don’t just get better, and suddenly eat like a normal person. And I know that. I’ve said it a million times and I know it deep down, but every time she tells me she’s okay, I believe her. I want to trust her. She’s my best friend, after all, and she should have no reason to lie to me.

But of course she lies. She doesn’t want anyone to worry, because it could stop the eating disorder in it’s tracks. She trusts and loves her eating and her mind control more than me. But I’m her best friend, and thought that we spent the last five years building equal trust. No, I’m fooled again. I fell for the lies and promises, again. And now I’ve realised, again. And I’m crying, again. Because she told me she was okay and I didn’t think she’d lie to me.

But she did, and it’s broken me.

She’s not okay and she’s never going to be okay, because food will always rule her life. But nobody knows that except me, and boy can she hide it from the rest of the world. From 500 miles away, she knows there’s nothing I can do.
‘I don’t skip meals’
‘I don’t count calories’
‘I don’t weigh myself’
‘I value my degree too much’
BUT THAT’S NOT TRUE AND IT’S BULLSHIT.

Every time she lies, and I realise, she hurts me. She stabs me, and it is her fault. Surely she knows by now that FRIENDSHIP isn’t about LIES. I’m going to worry anyway, I’ve cried myself to sleep the last few nights anyway, just thinking. And soon enough, I found out, anyway. Talk to me. You don’t have to listen to me, listening is hard, but please to god be honest with me.

Yes, I am angry. Yes, I’m very angry. Because I tried to hard to make it easy for you, to help you, and most of all, to be here for you. Don’t you remember where this started? Don’t you remember how this makes me feel? Don’t you remember how much I hate it when you LIE TO ME!? Don’t you remember how bad it got, and how bad you were, and how you just didn’t eat at all? That could be happening now. I wouldn’t know though, you’re too far away. You could be taking laxatives, or weighing yourself ten times a day again. I wouldn’t know unless you trust and tell me. But you won’t, will you? I have 21 assignments to do, but I’m curled up on my bed, crying. Crying because I love you. Crying because you lied. Crying because I’m worried. Crying because it’s not healthy. Crying because I need you. Crying because you deserve better than this. Crying because I care.

I don’t have to read back through my posts from a year ago to know how it feels to see you suffer. But maybe you should try it. I don’t have to read them to see how helpless I was and how much I cared, and how much I needed you to trust me. But I think that perhaps you do.

Lying to me helps nobody, and if you’re going to continue, I’m going to start doubting if this friendship is worth it anymore.

I know it’s hard. Trust me, I know. But friends don’t work unless we’re honest. Friends don’t work unless we care. Friends don’t work unless we respect each other.

I’m not asking you to change. I’m not asking you to get help. I know it isn’t easy and I know it won’t go away. What I’m asking is that you treat me like the friend that you claim I am. Answer my questions honestly, and don’t try to make me feel better because you think I need it.

That only makes things about three billion times worse when I found out, as you’d realise if you could see me now.

I’m broken, I’m hurt, and I’m more afraid than ever before.