Scars

I haven’t responded to a Daily Prompt for ages. Ages and ages. Today I stumbled across it when I came here to write a post. It fitted my thoughts and feelings perfectly. It summarised what I wanted to write, so I am using the Daily Prompt today. It means I have to think a little less, and that will help.

I am revising for exams at the moment. One of my units is, essentially, about the brain. That of course means studying mood disorders: depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, the list goes on.

I find the brain so engaging and interesting and mind blowingly cool (excuse the unintentional pun). But that doesn’t make some of the topics any easier, when I have to revise them over and over again. Studying the brain makes me revisit memories, scars, I guess that you could say. It makes me remember things that I try my hardest not to think about. It pulls at my heart and pushes me over, and it breaks me. I’m trying not to let it break me. This is science, and it doesn’t have to involve looking back at the things that hurt me, but it does. I just can’t help it.

Leavers dinner, afternoon’s in coffee shops, summer drives, tears, late nights, fear, worry, love, pain, friendship.

It hurts. I’m trying not to cry. I have to take an exam on this. I have another three weeks of revision to get through before that exam. But memories are impairing my revision, and I need someone so badly to come and hold me and tell me that I don’t need to worry about the past. I want to be safe, and I want everyone else to be safe. But nobody is ever really safe. Everyone is haunted by their past, scars never go away, mental illness doesn’t go away, and it makes me fear for so many people in my life.

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Fear of the Unknown

I am afraid of the future. I’m excited, but at the same time, it absolutely terrifies me. In some ways, that makes it even more exciting though, and I love that recently I have learnt to embrace feeling scared and turn it into a positive. When I am overtired though, it doesn’t make the achey feeling in my stomach any easier to handle, knowing that nerves can be the same as excitement. Especially not when those nerves stem from the thought of another year of teaching being over in less than three weeks, and another exam season beginning. Especially not when the fear is due to moving again in September to a new location, starting a new job, meeting new people, and learning to cope again. Especially not when I am terrified of my family this summer, and if we will remain a family with the tensions caused by my brother in the house.

I don’t know what is happening. I can’t control the future, and there are some situations that I cannot meticulously plan for like I do in every other aspect of my life, and it makes me feel a bit sick. In fact, today, it has been making me feel extremely sick, hot, and queasy, despite supposedly being in a lab where I needed to be focused.

My thoughts are no longer thought’s, they’re simply inexplainable feelings that I cannot give names to. I don’t think about what it is that’s scaring me, I just feel afraid. I can’t control my feelings when I can’t name them or reason for them. I don’t like that very much, either.

To be honest, I’m not really scared of the future – that’s the exciting bit. I’m simply scared of the unknown. That is as far from exciting as you can get. That’s petrifying.

5 days later

I have had a headache for five days. It’s probably a tension headache, or maybe I just need an eye test, but it’s agonising. It’s sitting in the back of my head, refusing to budge no matter how much water I drink or pain meds I take. I gave up with the pain meds 2 days ago, but I have a Skype meeting this evening that I cannot miss, so I’m going to try again.

It’s exhausting, I have too much to do, and I’ve just dissolved into tears. I’m going home tomorrow, but I’m off to volunteer for a week on Sunday. I’m only home for 24 hours before I need to be a responsible adult, and I can’t go feeling like this.

I can feel my shoulders raised, but I can’t relax them. My head is excruciating, and I really am not coping this evening. I need a hug, that’s the only time I’ve ever been able to physically feel tension swim out of my body.

I want to go home. I want to go to bed. I want this to go away. I have too many other things on my plate right now.

Results

Yet again, that time of year has come around where we sit and wait anxiously for numbers on a piece of paper (or email, as the case is now). Today, at my university at least, was January exam results day.

My January exams were I mess. I was a mess. I didn’t know what happened, but I didn’t feel like I possibly could have worked hard enough, and time and time again I felt like I wanted to give up, and that it didn’t matter any more. Despite that, though, I wasn’t stressed. I didn’t have panic attacks, I slept at night, and I ate good food. It was a surreal experience for me, because that’s just not how I’ve ever taken exams. I’ve just never been chilled out about it. It was bizarre, so bizarre that I am struggling to explain.

My first exam went fantastically. I went into that exam feeling extremely prepared. I was very happy, and I came out feeling confident. That was new, too. No stress, at all.

The second was great, too. Not quite the same confidence, but still good.

The third, I was angry and frustrated about afterwards. I felt medioka before, but I didn’t think I’d have gotten a good grade. I didn’t think it would be good enough for me to stay on my course, anyway.

My last exam was a mess. I struggled to work for it, I struggled to remember the content, the exam was horrific, nobody seemed to have any similar answers, and I guessed 80% of the answers. After that exam, I cried when I got home.

I cried again a few weeks later, on a night out in a toilet with my best friend, drunk. I’d forgotten about that, it was otherwise an amazing but really very hazy evening.

I’ve had the odd thought since then, but I’ve tried to block the thought of exams out of my mind. I really and truly have tried to ignore it, and I’ve done very very well at distracting myself. I knew, especially after that last exam, that results day would ruin me. I would come crashing down, and burn, and all my hard work would be wasted, and I would feel like a failure.

This morning, I had a panic attack. This afternoon, while sat in a room with my two closest course friends, they pressured me to read the email that I had sworn that I would only read on my own.

That first exam, I got 78%. The second, 64%, the third 60%, and most shockingly of all, the fourth I got 49%. I passed them all. I averaged out at a very high 2:1, and I was absolutely over the moon. Of course, everyone wants a first, but when you are convinced you’ve failed and are about to be kicked off your degree (and I have had an extremely realistic mindset recently and know for sure that’s not just general worry and exaggeration), nobody is complaining about a 2:1. I can stay on my course, and go on placement, providing I keep it up this semester. I did really well, I shocked myself, and I was so so very happy.

My dad was perhaps not so enthusiastic. I played it down and laughed it off at the time, but later, when I was at home in the silence of my own room, I cried. I cried not only because he was less enthusiastic about my 2:1, but also because I was so shocked at myself. I did so amazingly better than I expected, and he wasn’t very enthusiastic. I’ve always relied on my parents to be enthusiastic about my grades and education, even when they couldn’t be about my other achievements. Now though, I’m not getting the 100% very best grades. University is a lot harder than A Levels, and my family don’t seem to get that. It’s heartbreaking, because everyone wants those closest to them to be proud of you.

But maybe, just maybe, it doesn’t matter so much. It hasn’t affected me as much as it would in the past. I didn’t worry about texting them, because I think (although I am a little afraid to admit it), I am proud of myself. I am proud of how far I’ve come emotionally with coping with stress, and I am proud that my work has paid off, even though I thought it hadn’t. I’d set realistic goals, and to think you haven’t achieved them is gross, but I did, and I am so very happy with that.

I guess I’m learning, at last, that paper and grades don’t define me as a whole. I want to work harder next semester to get a first. I want even more time working and to do that. But I want to do it for me, not for anyone else. My best friend has spent over five years teaching me to be proud of myself, telling me that she believes in me, and having confidence in me.

Maybe I’m finally learning. Maybe it’s time to take the self-confidence I’ve never had. It’s not easy, and I’m not there yet, but this is a massive step. She’s proud of me, and in terms of emotion and coping, I’m absolutely in shock.

I’ll go to bed tonight feeling a little confused, I will admit. I am upset that I haven’t pleased my parents, but I’m extremely happy with how I’m changing emotionally, and my results on paper. I’m glad I have friends around me to laugh and have lunch with after our results, and I’m glad that my best friend is always here for me. I can’t wait to see her again. Tonight, I really miss her. She’s done a lot more for me than she’s ever going to realise, and I just wish she was here so I could give her a hug, tell her thank you, and have a minor cry so that I can work out what the hell I’m really feeling.

Right now, I’m crying and hurting, but with a smile on my face. I don’t know if this is really me, or if I’m hiding behind a happiness mask. I’ve genuinely no idea, and it’s terrifying but liberating all at the same time. It’s new. I didn’t stress. I got 68%. It’s results day.

I think it’s okay to be a little confused today.

Rock Bottom

I’ve hit rock bottom. It’s strange, and it’s scary, and it’s a place that I’ve not been for months and months. I don’t like it, I don’t like it one bit.

I’ve been confident and happy since I came back to university. I’ve tried and I’ve worked and started every day with a positive attitude, and it has gone superbly. I cannot believe the change within myself, and I love being so happy and carefree. It’s been beautiful.

Last week, I started exams. Exams have always been a rocky subject for me. They’ve always been the thing that has ground me down and broken me into tiny pieces, crushed me so that I am no longer able to think straight, reason straight, or even eat straight. Balls of stress build in my stomach and take over me, and every second of every day is ten times harder when fighting back tears and forcing myself to eat when I feel the constant queasy sensation of nerves for weeks and weeks upon end. Spending time with other people is simply not an option, and I find myself slipping into a dark abyss, screaming and struggling for someone to rescue me.

But not this time. I’ve done very well so far. The positivity has reigned, and I’ve made it through with hunger pangs, heathly snacks, regular meals, lots of sleep, evenings with my flat mates and revision. I took my first two exams, the second of which I was extremely confident for. I’ve never gone into an exam feeling confident, or gone into an exam with no nerves at all. I was surprised, so surprised. I was struggling with tiredness before I got there, but I was confident and a day in bed didn’t seem to matter, like it would have ripped me into guilt before. It was weird.

The exam didn’t go so well, and I left in tears, my confidence crushed. That was Thursday, and I’ve still got the hardest two exams ahead of me. I feel defeated, and I’m not sure what to do. I’ve tried to carry on, but eating is getting harder, and whilst I enjoy time with my flat mates, the pit of nervous guilt I feel later has been haunting me. I’m not sleeping well, at all, and slowly but surely the familiar ache of the exam season has returned.

This evening, I hit rock bottom. I feel like I’ve fallen to the bottom of the pit. I can’t see a way out, and I know that if I took the two exams I have this week right now, I’d fail them. That’s not just the pessimist in me, that’s the whole and honest truth. And I’m terrified, because academically, I’ve never failed. My academics have been something I’ve been able to rely on, results, whilst terrifying, a strange familiarity in my often crazy life.

Now, I’m not so sure, and for the last few hours at least, I’ve not been coping. I’m not sure how to change that, and I know I won’t wake up tomorrow being the confident one again. The pit is back, the fear is back, the guilt is back, and I have no motivation. I can’t make myself work, because it’s then that I remind myself of just how little I know. I’m very very afraid, and I wish there was someone who could help me.

I’ve realised that I’m very alone. In my waves of confidence, I’ve forgotten how to speak out to those who mean the most to me. I need to talk to my best friend, and I thought I had tried but I’m not sure that I have. Maybe I wasn’t clear enough, maybe she too was fooled by my recent waves of confidence and thinks this is just a wobble. Maybe she’s just busy.

I don’t know. I don’t know how to feel about this. Life isn’t as easy when your confidence is gone, and I don’t like being rock bottom.

Five days and two exams to go.

Help me, I’m terrified.

Up, Up and Away

To me, flying is a bit like goodbyes. They both make me feel the same kind of way, and I guess that’s a little bit strange.

But today, I said goodbye, and I flew.

I may have been flying home, but I was flying away from safety. That’s rather scary, too. I was flying away from my one source of trust, hope, and love. I was flying away from friendship, and flying back to my home, soon to embark on my second year of university. I was afraid, and I was upset. I miss my best friend always, and I was terrified that  the return of education may cause anxiety may overtake my life like it has done so many times before.

But that was nearly four months ago now, the day that I flew and said goodbye. That was the day that I left my best friend, and a mere few days later I started university again. Compared to last year, this semester has been more than okay, and it appears that the worry in first year was for nothing. Hell, I’ve had ups and downs. Don’t we all? But I made it, I’m alive, and another semester has been survived.

I saw that friend again today, and once more, I said goodbye. It’s strange, how each goodbye pangs in your heart a little less than the one before. I guess that with each goodbye, a hello soon follows, and I’m learning that she’s not going to abandon me. I’m okay and we’re strong and we are well and truly in this together.

Yes, I’m worried about going back to university to take my exams, but I know it will not be impossible. I’ll manage. It’s strange, but this time, I’m feeling a tiny spark of confidence deep within me that no matter what happens, it’ll be okay. People love me, people care about me, and while I have high expectations of myself and even bigger dreams, I’ll work my hardest and the exams will pass and we’ll move on. A percentage isn’t all that I’m made of.

Perhaps I haven’t worked as hard as I should have this Christmas. Perhaps I will panic and fret and get worked up and stressed, but for now I must enjoy my last night at home.

I don’t feel well and I cannot concentrate on the cardiovascular system tonight. I feel sick. I’ll do some more tomorrow, before I take my train.

Goodbye home, goodbye safety, goodbye comfort, goodbye best friend. I’ll miss you, but I hope to see you super duper soon! Stand by me, please?

I’m wishing for hopes and dreams, I’m wishing for concentration, I’m wishing for early morning text messages and silly letters in the post. I’m wishing to smile during exam season, the season that is the hardest for me.

I’m wishing that somehow I’ll get through this with more drive than I usually do, to stay happy and to not let the exams drag me down.

Goodbyes are hard. I’ll miss you.

Resolutions

It has been three months since I last wrote on this blog, and I feel like perhaps, with 2016 upon us, it is in need of a little bit of love. I have forgotten to write, banished it from my life in the hope that I would be free from the memories that this blog carries with it. I wanted this year at university to be different. And it has been, and I love it, but we can’t just forget the past, and I mustn’t forget how important this blog has been to be in times of need. As exam season approaches again, I need to find the time to blog, and to be who I am on my own, not when I am surrounded by the madness of everyday life.

A lot has changed in the last few months, and this year, I know I have achieved some of the goals on my bucket list. I’m proud of how far I’ve come this year, and I’m proud of my friends and family, too. Each and every one of them.

Today however, is the start of a new year. I guess the norm would be to set resolutions. But do I really have any? I have things I’d like to achieve this year: get my Rainbow sleepover licence, pass all my exams, have a fabulous start to my placement, just to name a few. Resolutions, though? Changes? I don’t think so. Is change really all that important? Of course, because change happens around us all the time, but equally I don’t feel like change is something that I can actively control, and I am beginning to accept that. I could make a resolution to be happier, but whilst there’s things I can do to encourage that, there’s far too many factors outside of my control.

Instead, I plan to wipe a few more things off my bucket list, try my hardest in everything that I do, and make the most of every second that I have, especially with those who mean the most to me. A new year shouldn’t be about forced changes. I don’t want to be one of those ‘new year fitness’ type people, and I won’t be.

Because as I told someone very late last night, I’m not cool. I don’t want to be cool, and I don’t care about being cool. I don’t need to be just another human clone, fitting into society as society has forced us to feel as we should.

I am me, and I’ll always be me. Nothing can change that.

Alcohol

I’ve never been completely comfortable with the idea of drinking. When I first came to university, it was something that I had made an effort to actively avoid, and so the first few weeks were a bit of a shock. I remember standing in the queue for the main event at freshers week. Someone threw a drink over me. I was terrified. I didn’t really get drunk all week, even though I did have a bit of alcohol. I watched those around me loose control and it scared me. As the semester went on, I got more and more comfortable with the idea of being tipsy, and whilst I was still ready to come home by 1.30am, I began to enjoy going out.

Over the summer, I didn’t drink. There was the odd glass of wine with a meal, but nothing more. I was happy with that, I can’t see a point in drinking really unless you’re going to get drunk and go out. I came back here last week feeling very much like I was out of practice. More confident with alcohol still, but lacking understanding again of what my levels are, and when I should stop and how much to drink.

I came back to a night out with pre drinks at ours. I was ready to go out that night, but we crashed on the sofa. Nobody else wanted to go, and I was gutted as I’d been very excited and was perfectly tipsy. The Friday, I skipped. I had a Skype meeting that night anyway. Saturday was my first experience of a house party. I feel like they’re half of the problem. There’s people everywhere, there’s no fun social drinking games to keep me distracted, and I have to make a super effort to talk to people, which is something I struggle with anyway, never mind when I’ve just started drinking alcohol and so am feeling uncomfortable. I let a friend pour my drinks, and I was brought home at 11pm unable to remember most of the evening. Last night was another house party. I poured my own drinks, it was going okay, and at about 10.30pm I was an excellent level of drunk. The problem: we didn’t go out until midnight and the last two drinks tipped me over the edge. I didn’t fancy a thirty minute walk to the club and I came home in tears, in the dark and on my own. I hate the dark. I tried to call my friend to leave her a message like I always do in the dark, but her answer machine had changed and I panicked that I’d gotten a wrong number. Maybe I just need to choose a drink that’s not vodka, something that has a little more of a gradient between ‘I’m enjoying this’ and ‘I hate this’. But what? I’ve no idea. Peach Schnapps? Sure, but with what? I’m a novice at this, and nobody out there seems to get that, so I just copy the crowd and get the vodka back out.

I’m not sure how to approach the issues. Alcohol is the social life here at university. Yes, there’s societies where alcohol is less of a focus, and chilled out coffee’s between lectures with course friends, but if I want to stay in touch with those who I lived with last year, I simply feel like I have to drink. I’m not enjoying it, I’m struggling with what’s the right level, and when we have been out so far, I’ve not felt safe.

And perhaps that’s what it all boils down to, safety. I need to be safe, and I need to know that those around me are safe. That nobody will do anything stupid and that we’ll all get home. I don’t enjoy the rash decisions that people make when they’re drunk, because I like to think thing through and consider the outcome. It’s difficult, I know. I’m someone who often doesn’t feel safe, but there’s not many people, and certainly none at university, who know that.

I’ve woken up this morning with an overwhelming desire that I just want to go home. Whilst I’m not going to, and I know that’s probably just as much about the amount of work I need to do today as it is the alcohol, I wish there was someone I could talk to. I need a friend to hold my hand and let me go through everything I feel about alcohol. Because I can’t go on like this forever, university is meant to be for fun, not for unhappiness.

Regrounding Myself

I’m one of those people who finds social situations difficult sometimes. Equally, I’m someone who loves to be busy, and never to miss out. And of course, that leads to a girl who is always sleepy. I’m trained into early nights, deep sleeping, and naps. I can sleep through almost anything. I self regulate really well. I get nine hours of sleep per night, and I’m generally really good at making sure I keep on top of it, because I know that if I don’t, I simply won’t cope, and then I won’t achieve anything.

There’s some times though that it doesn’t quite work that way, and the result usually goes one of two ways – either I find the free time early enough to sleep for a long time and catch up, or I just power through for weeks and months until I am mentally and physically about to break from exhaustion, and the first second that I’m left alone with nothing to focus on, I break down.

That’s what’s happening right now.

I’m lucky in that tonight, I’m simply overtired from a very non-stop summer and now four days of constantly being surrounded by people who I haven’t seen for months, and thus needing to be social 24 hours a day. I’m not a naturally social person, and so long in the company of others is exhausting. But I’m not shaking uncontrollably or sick with worry, because there’s nothing to be worried about right now. I just need to cry myself into an early and deep sleep, let myself go a bit, ground myself, remember who I am, and I’ll be okay tomorrow.

I need some time to just be me, not the social butterfly that I need to be in order to make the most of and enjoy my time as a student. I need to enjoy the silence and listen to my own breathing because the real work starts next week, and I can’t afford to have this much stress built up in my system.

I can’t afford to bottle, and I’m feeling more and more every day like that is what I’m doing now. I’m starting to bottle again, and that beginning to worry me a little.

It’s nights like tonight, when I’m having my moment, that I really miss home. Most of all, I miss my best friend and her words of advice, and warm hugs. I miss my old life, when I got tired and stressed but I wasn’t worried about my friends from home telling me they are okay when they’re not, because I saw them every day and knew when they weren’t okay. And I didn’t have to be social quite so much and exhaust myself quite so much because more people accepted my need to sometimes be alone. 

But then I remember how hard things were that year, and I don’t want to go back.

But it’s nights like tonight if I question if things are any better now, or if I’m still ignoring the truth and keeping it all closed inside me?

And then maybe I’m just overtired, and that’s why I feel like this. 

I appreciate time alone though, I know that much. I have to ground myself, and whilst a small pang tells me I’m missing out by not going out tonight, I know in my heart that this way, tomorrow night will be so much more fun when I’m well rested. Alcohol and stress are shit, because nobody wants to watch me cry all night, and I want to have a good time if I get drunk, alcohol causes enough anxiety as it is.

Sleeping tonight will make tomorrow better. I’ll be so excited!

conflicted

It’s late, and really I should be going to sleep. I have an important meeting tomorrow night, and the hairdressers and dentist early tomorrow morning. I can’t lounge in bed all day tomorrow.

But I’m here, because I’m upset. To be quite frank, I’m simply exhausted. I’m conflicted, and combined with hormones and stress, it’s proved to be a little too much.

I love university, I can’t wait to get back, and after what happened in my house tonight I just want to go back.

But only a couple of days ago I didn’t want to go back, and even tonight when someone mentioned university I was choking back the tears of wanting to stay at home.

My house may be hell sometimes and my family may struggle, but all my safe zones are near my home. My school, my old teachers, my flute teachers, my best friends, and Guiding leaders. Some of those safe zones are gone – teachers have moved on, ex students have to have an escort into school, and I only see my flute teacher a few times a year. But they’re still there. They still kept me safe while I was at home, and now, I have nothing. At university, I have friends, but nobody I can truly rely on. There’s nobody there who can help me or who I trust, and so I put on the best smile I can and have as much fun as I can. But it’s still hard, I still struggle with stress and social situations but I do it without support.

But university is an escape from the four walls of my house and the arguments that happen within it. It’s a chance at independence, a fresh start, and an oppportunity to be whoever I want to be. It’s a laugh, and it’s new. It’s different, which is hard, but it’s also amazing fun!

Still, with less than two weeks until I go back to university, I’m not sure how to feel. I wish I could just be normal. I wish I could be like the others and overexcited to get back to uni, itching to get a house and have fun with friends who I haven’t seen in so long. But I’m not that person. I’m not a normal teenager, and even that is something which I’m struggling to accept.

I need a hug. I need a friend. I’m feeling very lonely, and most of all I just want to feel normal.

Please stand by me, I need you by my side. I need to know it’s okay, and whilst I’m too afraid to ask you, and to seem so silly when you’re having so much fun, I need to be reassured. I need the same reassurance you gave me when I was breaking, because I’m afraid this year may leave me broken, and I’ve got far too many ambitions for that.