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.

Mental Health

They told me that 1 in 3 people will be diagnosed with a mental health problem. I nodded.

They told me that depression is a serious illness, and you can’t just ‘snap out of it’. I nodded.

They told me that the stigma of mental health needed to be broken. I nodded.

And then mental health started swallowing the people closest to me, and suddenly nodding wasn’t enough any more. This was real, and nobody ever taught us how to cope with that.

I think, I calculated when drunk last night, that there’s around 10 people who I’m not sure I could live with out. I think half of them have an issue with mental health. Eating disorders, self harm, depression, and other variations much more complicated than I’m ever able to understand. Some days, even for me, it can be a battle of fear to get up. Im terrified of a slip that will mean I lose them forever. I’m worried about them, and I think about them all, every single day.

And then, in ways much much less serious than my friends, demons started swallowing me, too. I’ve never admitted that to myself before. I’ve never accepted that in my own little way, I’m not normal. But it’s true, and I’m very lucky that right now, my life is going very well for me! This past 6 months or so has been awesome.

But mental health, especially when it concerns those who you really care about, is scary. I wish I’d written this post when I thought of it. Last night’s panic wouldn’t have happened if not for the alcohol, and 100 meters of darkness. Last night’s panic wouldn’t have happened if I’d had written this post last week when I first thought of it. Last week, when one of my very good friends took an overdose, and tried to commit suicide.

It’s scary. It’s absolutely crushingly scary, but I carried on with awkward laughter through my last week at university. And then I realised that I also had a million deadlines, and I wonder why I’ve had a headache for a week!

I’m lucky to be able to say that it wasn’t the end. My best friend told me, a long long time ago, that if it’s not okay, it’s not the end yet. Perhaps one day the end may come while it’s not okay, but for now, we have to live our lives with hope. I have to jump back onto the mountain that I fell off last week, stay as positive as I can, and bash out another set of exams, just like I did in January.

Sometimes you need to cry, and that’s okay. That’s human. Especially when it involves close friends and mental health. Life was never designed to be easy, but it’s a shame that school never made us better prepared for these situations, when they rolled off their facts to a classroom of nods.

Now, in my degree, when before lecturing on schizophrenia or depression, they give us those same basic facts that they told us in school, I don’t just nod. I breathe, I swallow, and I think, love and hope. It may just be facts for many of you, but it’s my reality, and I wouldn’t change my friends or family for the whole entire world.

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.

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.

What I Want to Tell You

I want to remind you that I’m here for you, and I want to remind you that I care. I need you to know that I love you, and you mean so much to me, that I simply cannot find the words. You make me laugh and smile, you know when to mess around and wind me up, and when to stay quiet, hug me, or give me advice. It means more than anything in the world. This friendship is crazy, and there’s times when I’m not even sure how it happened.

I want to remind you that I trust you. I trust you with my life, and there’s been days that I would not have made it through without you. I know that if I ever needed you, you’d be there. It’s just a phone call or a plane ride. You’re never more than a day away.

I want you to know that you taught me to be confident, to believe in myself, and to start to learn to be positive. You’ve done more for me than many adults have. You’re wise beyond your years. You’re a listener. You care. You give the best advice.

Most of all, I want you to know that you can trust me, too. I want to remind you that you can tell me anything, and that I love you to the moon and back. Nothing will ever change you, because I have already defined who you are. I already know that you’re beautiful, funny, kind, and silly. I know you’re awesome, and nothing is ever ever going to change that.

I want you to know that you can call me, anytime. You can laugh, you can tell me funny stories, you can be drunk, you can be sober, you can be sleepy, happy, upset, or angry. I may not always be able to find the words, but I’m always here to listen to you. I want you to know that if you need it, I’m here to hold your hand. I’m here to fight by your side. I’m here to wipe away the tears. And when you don’t need it, I’m here to just be present while you’re angry, or to laugh with you when you’re happy, or to be excited with you when you graduate.

No matter how bad or good anything gets, or how far away I am, nothing changes that. You can always trust me, just like I trust you. I’ll wait until you’re ready, I’ll wait forever if I have to, but I’m here to be by your side. Always and forever.

So maybe you didn’t want me to know about therapy. Maybe you did and your hints were your own way of telling me without having to talk. Maybe I got it all wrong and you did want to talk. I don’t know. I’d like to know what is going on, I’d like you to trust me, because it breaks me every single day to know that you’re hurting. But I want what’s best for you, and perhaps telling me is too much. Just don’t forget that I’m here when you’re ready. Nothing will change that. You can’t change that. I’m ready to listen, and I’m ready to do whatever you need me to, or even the things that you don’t need me to.

I’m here to wipe away tears. I’m here to listen. I’m here to chat for hours on the phone, or even to sit in silence if it helps to know that I’m here. I’m here to eat ice cream and watch movies and play card games at 3am. I want you to know that I’m your friend. I want you to trust me, so please please try. I may not show it, but I think and worry about you every single day. Even now, you may claim that you’re okay, but nothing is ever just okay, and when you care for someone as much as I do you, the things you keep quiet are not forgotten. You don’t have to be okay, I’m your friend. I’m safe, like I know that you’re safe. I couldn’t live without you. I want you to know that. So don’t forget it.

Talk to me. I’ll wait as long as you need.

Punishing Myself

There’s nothing that I hate more than upsetting those that I care about. It literally tears me apart and leaves me unable to move. Perhaps for some that may seem to be an overreaction, but when I really care for someone, I don’t want to upset them or make them angry. If I can, I want to always see them happy, and I definitely don’t ever want to be the cause of their unhappiness.

What frustrates me most of all though, is that usually, they’re upset through misunderstanding. I’ve angered them, but they’ve simply seen and taken a double meaning in something that I’ve said (usually by text) without actually stopping and considering what I may actually mean, or to ask questions and allow me time to explain. 99% of the time, I don’t mean it in the way that they’ve seen it. I’m not a hateful person, I’m really and truly not.

If anything, the slight anger or upset that I caused may not have that much of an effect on the person, but if they act as though it does and then disappear without actually confirming it, I suffer. My aim in life is not to break hearts, and it breaks my own to think that I may have done so.

I hate myself for causing upset in the world, when my soul aim is to try and create peace. I hate myself for not giving those who care about me what they deserve, and so even if it is only a minor slip, I will punish myself in the harshest way.

And so now, I find myself curled in my bed, suffering from the effects of the conversation I had with my best friend. While it would always punish myself if it has ended like this, today, I’m beyond angry. I don’t want to do this, and I can’t push her away. I’ve already had bad news today and I’m loosing far too much without her as well.

And I didn’t even say anything that was meant to be horrible in any way. It’s always a text message taken out of context. I flipping well hate texts, because they can have so many meanings whereas if you said it out loud there would be no doubt and you’d laugh together.

And now she’s gone. To eat, to a lecture, to ignore me, to work, I’ve no idea. But I am forcing myself to suffer. Because I may have hurt her. She’s stopped replying, and until I know for sure, I won’t allow myself to be happy. I’ve tipped the balance. I was wobbling this morning after hearing what I’ve heard, and so upsetting someone else was just too much for me today.

My aim is only to love, and I sure as hell don’t want to loose anyone, especially if it’s not my fault.

Please call me back, let it be okay. I’m afraid of everything, and I can’t do this without you.

Logic, Spirals and a Christmas Party

Sometimes, even I question my brain’s logic. I mean, that shouldn’t be even possible! How can my own brain question a thought that it came up with?! But it does. And that’s the point when you realise that your thought process is messed up.

Tonight, I’m going to a Christmas party. Of course, party means alcohol, and it also means people that I’ve never drunk with before. I haven’t been out in weeks, and so in excited to go, but at the same time, I’m worried because I don’t get drunk. But I want to get drunk. But I don’t really because I’m afraid. So there, that’s dilemma one.

We’ve not decided if we’re going to a club after the meal and disco, which means I can’t decide how much I’m going to drink, which scares me because I don’t feel in control. Dilemma two.

Of course, that therefore means that I’m confused and worried about how I’m going to handle it and what I’m going to do. Dilemma three.

Leavers is on my mind, because this event is going to run in a VERY similar fashion to the way that event should have run. Just thinking about leavers makes me upset. Dilemma four.

The crazy thing is, I know that deep down, because I’m worried, I’m more likely to get myself into a mess and call my best friend. If I went into tonight with a positive attitude and excitement, I’d probably enjoy myself and get through the night no problem. That’s dilemma five then. And I can solve that by being excited, but I can’t be excited because of the first four issues. See, it’s spirals again. A lot of things are spiralling by now, and I know that they’re very very dangerous.

It should be easy though, because I know that this time, I have no choice. Even if I end up crying on the floor in an alleyway at 4am, with all my friends having abandoned me, I can’t call her. She has her first exam tomorrow morning, and I’m not going to be the friend that does that to her.

Alcohol shouldn’t be this scary, but it really really is. I’m sure one day, it’ll be okay, but without my safety net, I’m really tempted to just call ill tonight, and waste the £25 I’ve already paid.

Coping with the Unknown

I’ve just had another blood test. I was told that in my first, my white blood cell count was abnormal. They’re testing for anaemia, but my haemoglobin was normal. It’s probably not anaemia, in that case.

The nurse could obviously see me becoming worked up by this news, as she spent the rest of the appointment desperately trying to convince me that if I just ate red meat it would all be okay, and that it was ‘probably nothing at all to worry about’. That’s her job though, and the sound of surprise in her voice when I told her why they were testing me and she saw my initial results was still ringing in my head.

I got home, and my best friend rang. By this point, I’d dissolved into a teary and hyperventilating mess. The doctor told me when I went for my first appointment that an abnormal white blood cell count was something to worry about.

She’s so sweet, my best friend, and she’s so caring. Sick herself, she woke up from her long sleep, dosed up on very strong painkillers, just to comfort me. I needed it. Whispered words were exchanged, I told her the story, and my tears got worse. From miles and miles away she successfully got me breathing again, and talking about having a hug with a teddy (sadly, I don’t have one with me).

I’m now curled up in my bed, my tears have stained my pillow but practicing my deep breathing has slowly ensured that they have subsided. I have a lecture now, and really, I must go instead of sitting and dwelling. I’ve got lots to do today.

I’ll get the results on Friday, and I’ll see the doctor next week. She’s told me that I must call as soon as I hear anything on Friday. Until then, I’ll try to concentrate on my work. It may have ruined a few hours of my life, but I must do everything in my power to ensure that the unknown doesn’t ruin me altogether.

I’m afraid, more afraid than I’ve been in a long time, but it’ll be okay, as long as the people who care are here for me.

Crying Until I Feel Sick

I can’t tell you why I feel angry, because if I’m completely honest, I’m not sure that I know. The hours and hours of endless tears that I’ve endured today are making me feel sick. The adrenaline, the fight or flight, just the emotion. I thought maybe I’d caught a stomach bug, but it’s not that at all. It’s the crying, it’s hard work.

What I do know, however, is that tomorrow, I want to drive somewhere, and be completely alone, just for a couple of hours. Time to breathe, to relax, to cry all the tears that I have left so that they cannot interrupt me at awkward times anymore. I won’t, but I’d like to.

I’ve had some pretty tough conversations with my friend today, and it’s the first time we’ve had such in-depth conversations for a while. She’s afraid of dragging me down, but what she doesn’t understand is that I’m prepared to be dragged down. For goodness sake, if this is what it takes, then I want to be dragged down. Today however, at the same time that the trust is something I appreciate, it’s a little exhausting.

Recently, at night, I lie in my bed and imagine, just for a second, that she’s here with me. That she’s telling me it’ll all be okay. I allow myself, just for a moment, to believe that it isn’t her that is sick. That it’s someone else who is battling this, and she’s just there by my side as my friend, helping me to breathe, and to hold it together for their sake. I can imagine she’s rubbing my back or holding my hand, and for a millisecond, I can just about feel safe. In reality, I know that I’ll probably never get another hug again. It’s too hard for her to battle the contact, I understand that. It hurts, but I can understand.

But then sleep drowns me and I pray that tonight will be good dreams. Sometimes, it is, but many times, sleep is when the stark reality hits me. Sleep should be a time of escape, but right now, it’s not. You can’t escape your dreams in the same way that you can escape reality, and when your dreams are telling the story of your woken reality, it’s even more difficult.

I just want to run up to someone, anyone, and shout that I’m scared. I’m genuinely afraid for both her and me. I’m afraid of where this is going to lead and although nobody else seems to see it now, those late night text message conversations are our reality. If they saw them, perhaps they’d start seeing the issue, too. Perhaps they wouldn’t write off my tears as those of an emotional teenager. I won’t show them though, I couldn’t.

I’ve got less than a week to make her listen. A week until she goes from having to at least pretend to acknowledge me to never having to listening to me again. It doesn’t matter how amazing a friendship is, distance will only make it easier for the ED side of her to rule her life. There will be nothing that I can do.

Now, as I brush my teeth, I gag. The waves of adrenaline-fuelled nausea are almost too much to handle.

It’s time to face the darkness yet again. It’s time to go to that place where she’s almost here with me. It’s time to try and sleep. It seems, however, that this time of day is the scariest of all. I know that my dreams are simply a continuation of the day, and there is nothing that I can do to change that.

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