Fear of the Future

I’m paralysed by the memories of the past and fear of the future. I’m afraid to step forward and move on, to concentrate and to apply myself, because I’m absorbed by less than happy happenings. I’m ready though. I’m ready to talk, I’m ready to let go, and I’m ready to move on. I’m ready to ace this university course and make the most of the future.

I just need someone who will listen to me, and they don’t always exist. They’re busy, they’re in pain, and they’ll probably let me down. They might not have the time, and I’ll be left to wait again. But I don’t know how much waiting I have left in me. I don’t know if I can wait another day. My hopes are built, and I’m not sure how I’ll react if I’m let down this time. Now I’m afraid of trying to let go, and surely that’s backwards?

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Is it lack of care, or understanding?

A friend came to visit me last weekend, and she told me the unfortunate news that her grandma had died.

It got me thinking. It got me thinking about mental health. I was thinking about her mental health and how this death may have affected her. The day before, I’d also written to a friend who has just been released from an eating disorder clinic. All this thinking got me down, and a little worked up. I got home, my flat mate text me, and I told her that I was taking a little time out to be in my room.

She continued to text me. I told her about my four friends. I told her about the eating disorders, the depression, the self harm, the attempted suicide, and the rape. I mentioned no names, and I wasn’t specific about who and what. The talking didn’t help. I got emotional, and I got worked up. She just didn’t get it.

I’m slowly realising that sometimes, it’s not that people don’t care, they simply don’t understand. ‘Why would anyone self harm?’ she said. ‘It’s just so selfish.’ I wasn’t in the mood to explain, but I tried. Explaining by text isn’t easy, and still, she didn’t get it. Unless you’ve lived through it, I’m not sure you ever can get it. Even I, as someone supporting people going through it, cannot ‘get it’ completely.

It made me realise though, perhaps those people who don’t do anything do care, they just don’t understand. They don’t understand that this isn’t chosen, and that it’s not something that will cure itself.

I told her about leavers and I told her that I’d tried to tell adults and I told her how worried I was. Still, I said no names. I told my flat mate about the mother who denied her child’s eating disorder. The people that didn’t believe me when I nearly messed up my friendship by making a desperate cry for someone to help her.

My flat mate couldn’t understand why the adults wouldn’t listen. But I think that my flat mate has helped me to understand. These people are just not sure what they can do. It can be tricky to help someone when you know that in all honesty, they don’t really want to be helped. It can be tricky to try and help, because in helping, you take some responsibility. Taking responsibility for something that is so destructive and you know that you’re going to struggle to change can be hard. I know. Because I’ve been trying to help for months.

Five minutes later, after drying my eyes and breathing deeply, I walked out of my room. It just so happened that my flat mate walked out at the same time. She smiled. ‘Ready to make dinner?’ ‘Yeah,’ I said.

We have an unspoken rule, I thought. We only have deep conversations by text.

And this could be very dangerous.

Finding The Words

Sometimes, I find it really difficult to find the words that I need to express myself. It’s almost painful, because I know what I mean, but to put that into a format that another person can understand feels impossible.

Even when I eventually find the words, I can often struggle to say them out loud. It’s something that I’ve been getting better at, as I’m now more able to detach myself, and to pretend it’s not me, and it’s not here, and not now. I’m improving, but sometimes it’s just too hard to find those words. My heart is screaming but my head just can’t get all the muscles to coordinate.

What do I fear? I’m not so sure. Perhaps it’s the fear of being wrong, which nearly always leads to failure. Maybe I’m afraid of being judged, and loosing those who care the most. It could quite easily be something completely different.

I’m not good with words, but I am good with images. Maybe you can’t understand my scribbly drawing, but I can, and I can tell you what it means, because that takes the focus away from me. I don’t want people to be focused on me, it’s just too hard.

Even as I write this now, it’s disjointed, and it doesn’t really have a point. I guess what I’m trying to say is all the things I’m feeling right now about lots of different things don’t make sense to anyone else. People tell me time and time again that they can’t understand until I talk to them, but what they don’t understand is that I can’t talk. It’s the talking that’s the issue.

Colours, shapes, flashes, and darkness. I don’t hear bad news and think ‘I feel upset’, I see it as a pattern in my brain. That’s hard for other people to understand. My emotions and what I see change so much, and that is why I am so obsessed with order. If the world around me is regulated and predictable, I can cope with the mess that is my brain. I have more time to interpret myself, and understand what I see in the context in which I have been taught: the context of words of course.

Finding the words is hard, but I’m learning. I have a good person to teach me, and perhaps one day, I’ll be standing up in front of hundreds of people, just like my lecturers at university. We can hope. We can dream.

Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw

Is the silence really that safe?

You’re right, sometimes there is safety in the silence. Sometimes, to sit and ponder with your own thoughts can be a blessing, but many a time, it can be deadly, even if you don’t realise it until afterwards.

I read a post yesterday that got me thinking. After just a few mere words, I was questioning everything I’ve ever known, and everything I’ve done over the past years, months, and weeks.

I know, that for me at least, the silence isn’t safe. The silence is scary, the silence is dangerous, and the darkness is full of creatures waiting to jump out and grab you.

The silence isn’t about wading through the sea of emotions, because the water is too deep to wade. You think it’s okay, because you know that you can swim. The comfort that you can do it alone is always lurking, but all too soon, you realise that the current is too strong, and you cant swim in this sea. The silence is about spluttering, coughing, and even drowning in my own thoughts as I am dragged under the waves and plummet to the bottom of the ocean. Talking can often provide a lifeline. Breaking the silence is like seeing the life buoy being thrown out, and reaching up to grab it. It takes every bit of energy you have left to lift up your arms, and for a split second, as you’re stuck under the water, you think about just surrendering to the waves, but slowly you realise that it’s going to save your life. In the moment of struggle, giving up is easy, and the peace of drowning is tempting. Fighting the silence can be difficult, but taking that life buoy, and grabbing an opportunity to talk can be what saves you. Time to think is important, but it’s all too easy to be swallowed by the silence.

For me, someone who fights a constant battle to break a lifetime of silence, I know that entering it is something that I would never wish upon anyone else. It doesn’t matter if you have to because nobody cares; you want to, to be alone and left to make your own decisions; you don’t want to waste anyone’s time with your feelings; you don’t want anyone to know that you aren’t okay; or you just can’t hack talking anymore. It doesn’t matter, because each can destroy a person. Left with your own thoughts, your mind spins and the same endless pattern slowly drives you insane. Bottling it up, over thinking, they’re so dangerous. More dangerous than most people ever care to realise.

Maybe I’ve missed the point, and there are more types of silence than I realise, but although it horrifies me to admit it, the danger of silence is just too great. Once you’re under that wave, it’s so hard to break free into the open air once more. Oftentimes, a break to the silence is necessary, but never ever is prolonged silence important, it’s simply a death trap, always on the horizon and ready to pounce.

Just remember, it’s okay not to be okay. There’s always someone who cares, you’ve just got to find them.

Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw

No Longer Alone

Sometimes, it’s hard to believe just how much your opinion about someone can change. Two years ago, I really didn’t like one of my new teachers. I found her annoying, and just couldn’t get to grips with her teaching style. As the first year of A Levels progressed, and she found out about the illness of my grandad, my opinion changed to ‘nice person, bad teacher’, and in January, when I was really struggling with her subject, and she wanted to tell my parents that I was underachieving, that opinion rapidly deteriorated to ‘good enough person, going about it completely the wrong way’. Six weeks ago, at leavers dinner, that became ‘nosy, but I like you’, and today, it changed once more. Now, my opinion is ‘you’re completely amazing’.

This of course, is the teacher that I met for coffee yesterday. However awful it made me feel, I knew deep down that saying yes I’d meet her was a good idea. At the same time that meeting a teacher for coffee in town was rather awkward, I also felt an overwhelming sense of relief upon seeing her. Since leavers, I’ve tried not to talk too much to my best friend about how I feel about what happened and her health. I’ve tried to agree with the comments she makes whilst not making too much of a commitment. I knew that this coffee would be different, because I could say exactly what I wanted to. This time, however, it would be safe. In the past, I’ve wanted to talk, but I wouldn’t for fear of letting the secret slip. Now, there is no secret. And talking made me feel amazing.

The teacher told me that at my age, her best friend went through the same thing. She told me that she felt like the weight of the world was on her shoulders, and she didn’t want me to feel the same. She said that she was so proud of me for telling an adult, because it’s the one thing she could never do. She told me that moving away to university wouldn’t mean that I lost my support network, and that they’d always still be here for me. Finally, I no longer feel alone.

She told me not to worry, and for what feels like the first time ever, an adult told me that my grades don’t define me, and I’m much more of a person than those three little letters on Thursday. It’s a shame my parents can’t think that too.

I’ve still got everything crossed for Thursday though, I’m keeping busy and distracted, and I just pray that it’ll all work out okay.

Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw

Panic.

If you asked me if I’d ever had a panic attack, I’d say yes. I thought I knew what panic was. That feeling where your breathing goes all funny, and you feel like you’re loosing control. When I panic, I clutch my best friends hand and slowly wait for reality to return. My stomach churns and it doesn’t seem to matter how hard I try and concentrate, my breathing gets faster and faster and faster until I begin to feel dizzy.

Tonight however, I experienced a very different type of panic. An email arrived in my inbox. It was an email that I was half expecting, but at the same time I was dreading. The name flashed up at the top of my iPad and I panicked. Usually, I can feel the onset of panic and suppress it, but this was different. Lets say I was sure happy to be on my own. My face heated up, my stomach flipped, and I felt almost instantly as though I was having an asthma attack. My chest tightened, I couldn’t breathe, and by the time I finished reading the email, I was shaking uncontrollably. It took every last bit of energy to get up, have a drink, breathe, and not throw up. When the panic eventually subsided, I lay on my bed and waited for my energy to return. I was exhausted.

I wrote this post a long time ago, back on 12th April. It has taken me this long to work up the courage to actually post it. That’s mainly because I’ve been waiting to see what the outcome of that email might or might not be.

Fortunately, the next time I saw the person who sent me the email was over two weeks later. By then, I’d all but forgotten about it (give or take). She hadn’t. So I spent another flute lesson in tears, and this time I couldn’t even call my best friend to come and rescue me, because it has been her that we were talking about. We can’t talk anymore. She will have to tell someone who will change things. My friend doesn’t want that.

The worry continues to grind me. I’m lost once more. Please just let my exams be over, and please someone show me what to do.

Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw

Finding My Voice

As a child I was always very quiet and shy. I didn’t talk to strangers, and I wouldn’t answer questions in class. I didn’t have many friends because I simply didn’t have the communication skills to make them. I was quiet, kept my head down, and I loved school.

I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown up, I’ve got friends to support me, and I’ve been leading Rainbows, Guides, and a Primary Science Club for four years. My confidence has shot like a rocket. I answer questions in class, I’m more confident in asking for help with work, I take Rainbow promise ceremonies, and I am a maths mentor for a girl who is two years younger than me. This year, my flute teacher even managed to get me to introduce my solo in the flute concert, and get to the end without shaking too much. I’ve given numerous presentations about my Guiding adventure to Denmark, and in a few weeks, I’ll be giving one to the Rotary about my leadership roles. I seriously am a changed person, and I’m so proud of that.

There are however a few situations that still make me panic. I’ve always struggled to cope with the pressure of a one to one situation. I didn’t speak to my new flute teacher for the first year, and it’s only in the past eight months or so that I’ve been confident talking to my best friend about problems and advice in person. Even now, there is the odd time in my flute lesson that I will know the answer, but I just can’t move my mouth to form the words to say it. It’s not something that I choose. I simply freeze, and it doesn’t matter how hard I try, the words just won’t come out. Starting my leadership qualification with Rainbows has been mildly terrifying. Sitting down with an adult and discussing my opinion just isn’t something that I cope very well with. I can feel the pressure mounting and building, it all sits on my shoulders, and sometimes it physically hurts. I worry about silly things – anything that could mean failure or making a fool of myself in front of people that I’m not close to, and the panic begins to wrap around me and it can’t be controlled.

I have theories on why I get such bad ‘stage fright’. I think it probably goes back to being a kid. I had a few embarrassing stage related incidents, but more importantly, I hate being wrong. I’ve always been a perfectionist, with high standards. My parents put exceptional amounts of pressure on me, and all I want to do is ensure that I don’t let anyone down. Being one to one means that I have no choice but to give my opinion or ideas, and although it never really occurred to me, perhaps I have a fear of being wrong. I sure as hell had a fear of failure. My parents were always proud of me when I achieved something, but because my brother was always a bit of a pain, I never felt that I got the attention otherwise.

So when the idea was suggested to me of talking to a teacher about my worries to do with my best friend, I thought they were insane. Just thinking about it makes me flush. My breathing rate increases, and I feel the onset of panic. At the same time that I know talking to someone would do wonders for me, it’s a horrifying idea. Sharing my concerns would allow me to relieve some tension, to let go. I don’t even have to say her name. But I’m afraid. And since I met my best friend, I’ve never had to cope with my fears alone. This time however, I do, and I’m not entirely convinced how I should handle that.

I might cry. I’m going to appear weak and helpless, and look completely stupid in front of my favourite teacher. To admit that you can’t cope is a terrifying idea, and when it’s because you’re worried about someone else, it’s even worse. I know that I need to have that conversation, but I don’t think that I’m going to be able to find the courage to do it. I’m not strong enough.

Here’s to hoping that deep inside me they’ll be a little spark that lets me find my voice.

Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw