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.

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Feeling Weird

I’m feeling weird today. I think I’m probably just overtired, but today, I don’t want people, I don’t want work, and I don’t want stress. Today, I want to sit on my own, in the dark. I’ve cried today. I cried at university, right in the middle of one of the eating places. I was on my own, in the sense there was nobody I knew, but there were plenty of strangers around to watch me.

I wanted to go to bed early tonight, but I have to wash up. Perhaps I’ll leave some for the morning. I don’t know yet.

I hope I’m just exhausted, I hope that this isn’t a crack in the beautiful positive life I’ve been building recently. Today, even my Rainbow unit didn’t make me happy. I had a constant ringing in my ears, a dizzy feeling, and as soon as I got on the bus home, I felt an overwhelming feeling of sleepiness.

I cannot do today, and I cannot do people. I can’t concentrate on work, and I’m afraid that this may be slipping back in as a habit. I know that this is anxiety taking it’s toll. I’ve been learning all about anxiety, depression, OCD, everything to do with the brain. The lectures make me uneasy, but I hope it will help me to accept some of my feelings, and some things about myself that are simply fact. I don’t know, I had been doing so well. I’ve been so positive and happy that this feeling terrifies my even more, and I can feel myself entering a cycle again.

I had been doing so well, but not today. You can tell, this blog doesn’t make sense. I’m jumbled. I don’t think straight when I feel this way, and that’s why I can’t work. It’s 7.45pm. I’m going to bed soon. I need to talk, to write, something.

Writing isn’t helping today. I don’t feel any relief when I’m writing this. I have a fear that I may just burst at any second.

Please, someone help me, before it’s too late.

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.

Good Luck

Luck. It’s a funny thing, isn’t it? Personally, I’m not really convinced that it’s a thing at all. Of course, there are times when something that seemed very unlikely happens, but I prefer to call it chance. Luck somehow implies that you had an onus on it, and that there was something about you that made it happen. There wasn’t. We all know that, it was pure coincidence.

I guess it’s even more bizarre then that we wish each other luck, as though it is a thing that a person can possess. You can’t get lucky in an exam, you either know the content or you don’t. There’s no luck about it, so surely wishing each other luck is silly?

Today, I was stressing. I looked in the mirror and whispered ‘You’re going to be fine, I promise’. I burst into tears. You see, those are the words that my best friend used to say to me before an exam. She’s not going to be here to do that tomorrow when I take my first university exam of first year summer, and I won’t be there to smile and whisper back ‘thanks, you too’. You see, while I may have only said those words in the mirror today, they were always said after the words ‘good luck’ when we were at school. They meant a lot to me, and they gave me one last chance to smile before I walked into the exam hall and desperately tried to get hold of my breathing.

Now, I’ve just told you that I don’t believe in luck as a concept, so why would those words mean so much? To me, they’re not that. They’re not ‘luck’ and they’re never going to be some special power that makes the exam go perfectly. But they’re still something, and they’re still words that rattle my heart a little and make a difference to me. To me, ‘good luck’ means ‘I’m here with you. You’ll be okay, even if the exam doesn’t go okay, it’s not the end of the world and I’ll be your friend no matter what.’ When said by my best friend, ‘good luck’ means ‘I’m your friend and I love you.’ Most of all, those words mean ‘I believe in you, even if you don’t believe in yourself’. Belief is something that I’ve always struggled with, and the problems of stress have always haunted me, but just for a second, she could make the pain and worry go away with those simple words. ‘Good luck, you’ll be fine. I promise.’ – they echo in my head, they’ll echo in my head tomorrow, but it’s not right when she’s not here to say them.

Sure, other people might say them. I hate it when my parents say them. That makes me panic. That means ‘you’d better do well or we’ll be disappointed’ and it doesn’t feel loving in the slightest so I get nervous. When other people wish me luck, people who care about me for me, not my grades, it makes my heart flip. It makes me feel a little safer. It’s strange, it’s probably not normal, but it helps. Anything that helps me through exams is important.

Tonight I will text my best friend just before I sleep and wish her luck for her exam in the morning, even though she’s five hundred miles away. I’ll tell her that I love her. Tomorrow, I’ll text my final year friend and wish her the same. In the morning, I’ll put on my swallow necklace and subconsciously touch my ‘believe’ friendship bracelet. I’ll do my deep breathing and in the afternoon, I’ll take my exam, too. Perhaps someone will wish me luck; they probably won’t. Perhaps somebody out there will think to text me, or call me, to make sure that I’m okay. Perhaps somebody will remind me to breathe and tell me to take my time. They probably won’t. I don’t have my favourite teachers anymore. Maybe my best friend will be thinking about me tomorrow, just like I’ll be thinking about her. She probably won’t, she’ll probably be way too stressed.

But I just hope that it’s okay. I hope that someone out there believes in me, because as I climbed into bed tonight, the tears started to fall. I’m absolutely terrified, and I wish someone could be standing by my side, ideally physically, but on compromise, virtually will do. Just a few sentences, a few seconds, a text message changes everything.

Good luck. Two little words that completely change my outlook and therefore the outcome of an exam.

I hope someone out there believes in me, and I promise to use every last part of me to try and believe in myself.

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!

I’m really not alright.

‘I’m alright and I’ll be alright.’

That’s such a lie. If there’s one thing that I’m not right now, it’s alright. After days of waking up several times a night with nightmares, I had only two hours sleep last night. I’ve had a headache all day, and now I really want nothing more than to be sick. I haven’t been hungry for ages but I’ve been forcing myself to eat. I’ve just spent the last hour in tears and haven’t really done any productive revision since lunchtime.

My first university exam is tomorrow and there is absolutely no way that I’m coping. The lie that has been my positive mental attitude has come down in one huge swoop and knocked me flat onto my face. Of course you can’t just change completely in a week, and in trying to do so, and not allowing myself that five minute stress each day, I’ve potentially ruined my chances for tomorrow.

I’m angry. I’m angry at myself. Why did I let this happen? Normally now, I’d want to talk it out, but I don’t know if there’s anybody that I want to talk to. I can feel myself reverting back to the old me, the me that used to play the game of happy smiley masks and locked in my room with tears.

I can’t stop the crying, and I don’t know what to do. I’m not even sure that I want to cry, or even really why I’m crying, but I just can’t control it. I tried distraction and deep breathing, but the second I moved on and did something else, it started again. My eyes are getting sore and the salty tears are irritating my face.

It’s times like this that I can’t cope on my own. There may not be one name that I can give right now who I want to talk to or spend time with, but in my heart of hearts I know that what I need is someone to march in here, or someone to call me, and sort me out. I need someone to give me a list of what to do and when to do it by. I need someone to give me a hug and then shake me up and tell me to man up. While all of that sounds horrifying, I know it’s all that can fix me when I get myself into a rut like this.

I don’t want to talk to anyone. I don’t want anyone in the real world to know. I’m weak, and I’m a failure, again. I’ve not even sat the exam, and I’ve failed.

The scariest bit? Even if I do pass, I won’t get the first that is required to make my parents happy. I’m simply not that clever.

Or is that the scariest bit? Or is it worse to watch myself be consumed by the demons and tied by the chains which I thought that I’d broken free of?

I just want it to be over. But then there’s only another exam to come.

Failure

I’m a failure. I’ve always been a failure. I’ve never been, and I never will be good enough. Even after writing this post the first time, it failed to upload and I lost it all. I’m going to try and write it again, but it’ll never be the same the second time around. It’ll never tell the same story, and now that I’ve taken time to think about it, I probably wont tell the whole truth this time. I guess that it’s another story to add to the archives for a ‘3am, curled up in the duvet, teary eyed in the pitch black darkness’ night. The irony of a post entitled failure failing to upload is huge. Maybe I shouldn’t be writing it at all.

As a kid, I always came last in sports day. I dropped out of dance and horse riding classes, and I was behind my peers in my flute lessons. I couldn’t see the normal line guides when doing neat work in class due to my horrendous eye sight and very high prescription glasses, and so I had to have special extra bold ones made so that I could write in straight lines and see them through the plain paper. I wasn’t perfect. I didn’t do everything that I was asked to do first time. I was weaker than my little brother and lost in fights. I didn’t change things that I could have changed, or stop events happening that I could have stopped. I couldn’t just fix things straight away, and I couldn’t improve the situations and things that happened around me. I was always ‘it’ in tig because I couldn’t run fast enough. I didn’t move up classes in swimming at the end of every single term, I couldn’t spell to save my life, and I used to have extra spelling classes. The only thing that I was ever really good at was academics: reading, writing, and numeracy. Despite my spelling issues, I got the highest grades you could possibly get at primary school, and an award for outstanding achievement when I left. A similar theme resonated through middle school. I’d set an expectation for my parents that I would academically always be the best.

This was an expectation that I found I couldn’t live up to. As I got older, things got harder, and people got more clever. Moving to upper school meant the start of my GCSE’s and a whole host of new, and much more talented people. Although I made it through those exams with a set of A’s and A*’s, passing the boundaries of my parents expectation, things began to change when I got to A Level.

I realised that I’d gotten to a point where unless it was academic, my parents didn’t care, and they weren’t proud of me. I got a B in one of my subjects at the end of AS, and my parents then began to take even less interest in my extra curricular activities. I began to achieve things outside of academia. Some of those I didn’t and still don’t think much of because my parents didn’t either, even though people around me commented on how good they were. But as with everything, there were some that I was proud of, and it destroyed me a little when my parents weren’t proud with me. The thing that has always stood out the most to me was my grade seven flute exam. I’ve always struggled with my flute, and been entered for exams with a previous teacher too early, with little practice and guidance. I feared them. I feared them because I always failed or nearly failed, and my parents knew that. I don’t think they ever understood why I used to still take them. That’s easy, and I know the answer to that one, but they never asked. In the early days, I was afraid of my teacher and did exactly as she said. When I got my new (and may I add, amazing) teacher, things changed. This time, when it came to my grade seven, I wanted to prove a point. She’d built my confidence block by block, and while the thought of failure still ruled me, I didn’t want to scrape through, a few marks above the pass boundary, I wanted a merit. For any decent musician, a merit isn’t much to be honest. If anything, they’ve probably grown to expect it. For me, getting that merit was absolutely everything, and I worked and I worked and I worked. I’m sure that my best friend can still remember my reaction the day that my flute teacher rang with my result, for she was sat opposite me in the corner of a little coffee shop in our home town. I was speechless, but when the information sunk in, and I got my merit, I danced and I jumped around, and nobody could stop me. I was beyond happy, and I was extremely proud of myself. I did it. I’d achieved what had seemed impossible to me. My hard work had paid off, and as soon as I got home, I ran through the door and screamed about my achievement. Neither of my parents even said well done.

I cried in my next flute lesson as I told my teacher that story. I was heartbroken. They both knew how much that exam had meant to me, yet they showed not even the tiniest bit of happiness or joy for me. It didn’t make them happy that I was happy, and that hurt. It tore a little part of me away that I know I’ll never get back, regardless of how much I try.

The long awaited A2 results day didn’t go much better, either. After months and months of expectations, pressure, stress, tears and genuine heart wrenching fear, I rang my dad to tell him that I’d gotten into university the second that I found out. I was extremely excited and couldn’t wait to tell him the good news. His response was ‘what grades did you get?’ When I replied that I didn’t know just yet, but I knew I was in to my first choice, he told me to hurry up and go and found out. My uni course needed me to get grades AAB. As it happens, I got A*AA. Of course, I was interested to see what results I’d gotten, but most of the excitement came from knowing that I’d made it to university. That’s the big hurdle of A Levels, isn’t it? They get you through to the next stage of your education, and then nobody ever really looks at them again. I cried with happiness when I opened this envelope. One, I was a little shocked that I’d managed to do so well, and I’d never have predicted such amazing results in my wildest dreams. Second though, I knew that those grades meant that not only had I achieved my dream of going to university, I’d satisfied my parents, too. There were no B grades, and so they had no reason to be disappointed in me. I knew that I’d get smiles when I got home, and that meant that I could at least pretend that they were happy about the university bit, too.

Of course, I probably shouldn’t care what my parents think, but I do. After all, they raised me. They taught me values and morals, and led me through the early stages of my life. I do care what they think, because they’re my parents. They’re important and they mean a lot to me, and as their child, I want to make them happy. I don’t want them to worry about me. I want them to be proud of me. I want to show them that their parenting has paid off, and that I’m the child that every parent wants.

Now though, failure and expectations rule my life, and I often feel like I define myself by letters on bits of paper. Teachers have always questioned why I put pressure on myself, but what they fail to understand is that actually, I don’t. It’s not a choice. Nobody in their right mind would choose to make themselves ill through stress in the way that I do. I just have expectations to live up to. There’s still a little child inside me that wants to please and make everyone around me happy, no matter how hard that is. One day though, I want to get past this. I won’t be able to do it on my own, and it’s going to take a very very long time. I know that I’ll have to change my thought process, my outlook, and both my physical and mental habits and behaviours. But I have to, because I don’t want to be ruled by a need to please, and a need to academically achieve. I don’t want to have to put heath-deteriorating pressure on myself to do well, in order to live up to the expectations that others set for me. I want to set my own expectations, and want other people to be proud of me for being who I am and doing what I do, not because of what’s written on a piece of paper. I feel like nobody is ever proud of the real me. Nobody appreciates my efforts, they just rely on the end result. Mostly though, I’d like to be proud of myself, and I’d like to be able to feel happy and proud without feeling guilty.

It’s going to take a long time to change the thoughts that I have with regards to failure, because they’re so engrained into me. It’s something that I fear, but it’s also something that I don’t like to admit that I fear. The fear of failing controls nearly every aspect of my life, from how well I do in my exams, to forming friendships, to being confident, spending too much money, getting ill and sick, not sleeping enough, not working enough, things not being organised and lined up at perfect angles to one another. I won’t stop working 12 hour days, because I will always over work, that’s just me. Just because I want to rid myself of this fear, it doesn’t mean that I don’t want to achieve my absolute best at all times. What I’d like to be able to do is stop thinking ‘I’m a failure’ and instead think, ‘I didn’t get it quite right this time, but I tried my very hardest, and that’s all I can do.’

I won’t change who I am, because I’ll always be me. What I want to try and do, however, is change my attitude to success and failure. I’d like to not feel guilty about taking time out from my studies, and permanently have images swirling around my head, and a little argument in my brain about the fact that I’m not working enough. I don’t want to be so exhausted by the pressure that my life consist of only 12 hours of work, and 12 hours sleep, with nothing to break it up. It’s going to take a long time to change. I won’t be able to do it on my own. There’s so many things related to failure which I have to combat, and I can’t do it without someone to believe in me. Nobody has ever believed in me before, and nobody has ever been proud of me. I don’t care about that. Okay, that’s a lie. I do care. At least, I care right now, but I want to get to a point where I don’t. I can’t do this on my own though, because I’m afraid to fail at combating failure. I’m afraid to write myself goals, and to start working on this, because it could all go heads up. On my own, I’m not strong enough to make things better. Please help me?

Rainbows

‘Lets paint a picture of rainbows and flowers and we can all be happy.’ There’s a joke quote, something along those lines, which circulates my floor at uni. I don’t really get ‘it’ because I’m not really in ‘the crowd’. It’s never really bothered me, because I’ve never been ‘popular’ and I never wanted to be popular. I like my close knit friendship group. Now I’m at uni, it does bother me, and it bothers me probably more than it should. But that’s another post for another day, because today I’m feeling positive, and I plan to keep it that way.

At the end of every rainbow, there’s a pot of gold, so the legend goes. And, my own personal edition also notes that at the bottom of every lake there’s a pile of rock. When you’re faced with a challenge, you’ve got two options. You can leap up high into the sky and onto the rainbow, and follow it’s path, or you can jump into the lake and go for a swim.

The rainbow is far up, and it takes all your might to jump, grab the edge with your fingertips, and hoist yourself onto that bright, sunny, and colourful path. Once you’re there though, the going is easy. The path may be long, but it’s flat and it’s solid. There’s no hills to climb, there’s no monsters to get in your way, and if you can persevere for the days and days that it takes to walk the path, you’ll reach the pot of gold and reap the rewards at the end.

At first glance, a swim in the lake may seem a much more preferable option. It looks calm, flat, and much much easier than trying to hoist yourself onto that rainbow. You simply splash into the water, and you break the glassy surface. The water ripples and whooshes around you, and the creatures which you couldn’t see from the bank begin to surface. The crocodiles surround you, the water burns your eyes, the fish swim just that little too close, and then something wraps around your ankles, pulling you down. You’re drowning, you cannot breathe, but still you’re pulled further. You try to get to the surface, but the pulling only gets harder and stronger. You drop down into the deep, icy water. You pass out, and your head smashes against the rocks at the bottom of the lake. You’re helpless, your fate is decided for you, and you lost all choices after the moment you broke the surface.

Life’s a bit like that sometimes; choices of lakes or rainbows. In a new year, people make new resolutions, and while I won’t, for fear of failing, I can try to consider a change of attitude. Stress, panic, and to some extent, depression can be likened to choices of rainbows and lakes. When faced with a decision, the positive thinkers will choose the rainbow, while the pessimists will succumb to the icy but deceptive waters of the lake. What’s different in these scenarios however, is that while the lake will pull you down, and the fear and panic will take over, hope should not be lost. It’s a little crazy to say that to a negative thinker. To them, hope is lost, and I should know, because I am one. What I’m learning, however, is that there’s always a second chance. There’s always the possibility that someone might put their hand into the water and risk their own fate to pull you out. Even if they don’t, you might get strong, and find it within you to beat the creature away. All that you have to do then is pull yourself (or get a leg-up onto) a rainbow, and you’re walking the path to positivity.

I say this, because right now, for the first time in a long time, I’m walking along that rainbow. With a little help from a friend of mine, I’m trying to change my attitude. Of course, when a mindset is so deeply engraved into you as mine is into me, it’s not easy to change. It’s really really not easy to change. It’s hard to climb up onto that rainbow, there’s no denying it. What’s important though is to remember to take baby steps, and whilst I may not be able to yet say ‘Everything will be perfect and I’ll get top marks in my exams,’ what I can say is ‘I’m going to work really hard, and it’ll be okay. I’ll at least pass, and I won’t get kicked out, and I can have tonnes of fun when they’re all over.’ That’s a massive improvement for me. Usually, I’m very much ‘I can’t do this it’s too hard, I’ll fail and I’ll let everyone and myself down,’ with plenty of tears and frustration to go along with it. I’ve had the leg up onto a rainbow, and my friend tells me that she’s proud of me. That means a lot, because this isn’t easy.

Of course, I’m only taking baby steps, and even then, I’m not always perfect. Sometimes, I think my positive attitude is just as much about lying to myself as it is everyone else. As my trust for my friend has grown, I’ve relied on her to pull my out of the water. I still have secrets to tell about why I am who I am, and feel how I feel, but I’m ready to tell them. Hopefully when I see her in a few weeks, I will tell them. Perhaps that will make this walk along my rainbow a little easier. My rainbow is a bit wonky here and there, and there’s the odd hole that I need to avoid, but slowly, I’m beginning to really believe that I can be positive. I don’t think it’ll last forever; I’ll wobble every now and again. One day, I’ll probably fall. What I know however, is that actually it’s much easier on the rainbow (even my slightly mismatched one) than it is in the lake, and I’d like to stay here as long as I can. If for any reason I do fall, I’d like to think that someone will help me to climb back up. I’d like to think that even from the lake, I’d remember how amazing the rainbow was, and somehow, I’d jump back up again. For now though, I want to keep taking baby steps and walking on this path. It’s warm and it’s bright, and perhaps one day, my rainbow will be as solid as I need it to be to walk along it without thinking, or without the help and support that I need right now.

Hugs

Warm, tight, secure, loved, fearless, and most importantly, safe. Grief, pain, hope, and love can all be shared through a simple embrace. It’s special because it’s a closeness that is reserved only for those who mean the most. A hug can save a life, and I’d go as far as to say that it has saved mine.

After years of never having a proper hug or a safety blanket, someone popped into my life several years ago who changed everything. She taught me the importance of a hug, and it changed me. She taught me that it’s okay to trust, to be loved, and to be safe. Talking is healthy and sharing pain is essential. A hug and a listening ear is often all it takes to improve your mood. It’s a simple reminder that you’re not alone, and it can change a person’s outlook in a second.

Sadly, I became very reliant upon that feeling of safety, and I pushed all my thoughts and feelings into her arms so that she and her hugs could help me cope. It was a spiral, and whilst it helped, it hurt to say goodbye. Not only that, but it ruined both of our chances at exams and revision, and I can never forgive myself that the mess I allowed myself to make for her at both AS and A2. I destroyed her chances, because I relied on her help, and her hugs. It nearly killed our friendship, and for that I’ll never forgive myself.

It was hard tonight to look at the face of my best friend on a screen. I’ve not been wrapped up in her arms for twelve weeks, and I miss her. When I feel a wave of sadness, I can fight it, but I can’t when I look at her face. I know that she would not appreciate my current silence. I know that if she knew exactly how awful I was really feeling right now, she wouldn’t allow me to go it alone. She’d talk to me, she’d hug me, and she’d be disappointed in me for not talking before now. I know she’s aware, but I’m hiding the real pain. She’s probably angry already, she’ll know I’m hiding something. I told her I need to honest. But she must concentrate and pass her exams, and so she must think that I’m settled and well. It’s guilt that I feel, but sadly, it’s how it has to be.

I’m teaching myself to be the girl that I was before. I’ve remembered how to suffer in silence, and I’ve remembered how to lie and smile. Sometimes, I can even lie to myself, and believe that I am happy. I’m getting good at it, I can manage for several days now. It’s something I have to do in order to not cause the same pain that hugs and a need to be loved caused before. I shouldn’t need to feel like there’s someone looking after me, and to help me, 24/7, and so I’m determined that I will simply ignore those feelings and cope with the demons alone.

But it’s a dangerous path that I am taking. It’s a path that will slowly lead to destruction, because I know that I cannot hold the silence forever. It’s not about a coping mechanism, it’s all about lies. Those lies may keep me safe, but they’re also hurting me. Each time I move I remember that my bubble of lies is slowly suffocating me. My breathing increase but my breaths are more shallow. There’s no oxygen, and if someone doesn’t come and burst the bubble soon, I fear I will collapse.

This video was shared in a post by side by side a few days ago. If you haven’t seen it already, you should go and watch it. It’s helped me not only to understand my response to stress and pain, but to also think about how I can better deal with my emotions, and how caring for others can actually help me to cope. It’s important to remember that I’m not alone, and that care and trust has to be mutual.

I’m always safe, because my best friend is always here for me. And in three weeks, I’ll get the hug that I’m so badly craving. It’s only three weeks, you have to do this. You can’t collapse before then.

It’s still a dilemma though. I want our reunion to be happy, but right now, I might just enter that hug and dissolve into tears. I need to talk, I wish there were no exams. I wish I didn’t have to hide. I’m afraid, and I wish that I could tell her why.