So. Imagine you’re kind of blind. how many fingers am I holding up? (No, I’m joking, I’m just trying to be humorous and failing miserably)
Not totally blind, though if that’s easier, you can. You’ve got no sight in your right eye at all, and you can see light out of your left. A few shapes, and some contrasting colours. Enough to be considered some, but not enough to be considered useful. And usually, it doesn’t bother you; it’s just a thing that is, like having a leg or not having a leg.
Now, imagine you’ve started your French AS Level. All good so far. You love the language, because it’s beautiful. Except it’s not so beautiful when you don’t have a functioning dictionary because they don’t produce them in Braille, and you don’t know how good the dictionary apps are.
Imagine that, for your French AS Level, you’re studying a film for the first year. Oh, you’re studying family and other bits of culture too, but your second exam is about film and the cinema. Okay, you think, before all your lessons start. I’ll figure out a way to do this. Somehow.
I wish I could imagine it. Often, I don’t care about this. Sight or the lack of it doesn’t impede my other lessons – not seriously – and I’m not pretending that I cry about it. It’s just what I’ve had all my life, but now, I’m feeling ill.
I don’t know what to do. I finished my essay on “What makes an unforgettable film?” two hours ago, and I hated it. Writing it was a chore, something I’d delayed and delayed for four days. Sentences wouldn’t come to me, and I had to look up so many words; my brain fogged over and I couldn’t concentrate. I had no excuse: my other homework went on the backburner because I was so stressed about the French, which turned out rubbish anyway. I haven’t done the history for tomorrow, and I wish I could blame it all on the French.
The worst part about this is the film, by far. We’re starting it after the October half term, and until then, we’re getting vocab. Vocab that NEVER goes in, even when I try reading it and saying it aloud after the lesson. Today in class, we – THEY – watched a short film. I had a blank look on my face, not registering the girl saying sorry to me for not describing it. It was fine, I thought. It was explained after. My head hurt from trying to listen to the fast French, and from just trying and trying and TRYING.
But a whole entire FILM? They (ugh I’m acting like they’re separate from me but they aren’t) can watch it, with subtitles. Understand it: what they’re saying, what’s happening. I HAVE no subtitles. I’ll have to get the script, pretty much memorise the gist of it, then get someone to describe it – whilst trying to keep up with what they’re saying. Oh shit yeah, and I’ll have to translate the script. Unless, that is, I can find another solution.
I wish they’d let us study the book this year, rather than the film. However, I should have KNOWN what I was getting into; I’m honestly feeling like this it my fault because I didn’t look at the course enough, I’m neglecting all my homework, my work attitude is terrible at the moment and I’m lazy.
After only three weeks of school, I’m surprised at how badly I’m coping. I don’t want to do twice the work everyone else has to do. Can’t I just be bitter by myself and cry for twenty years? No, because I have to pick myself up. I have to fight through the fog and not howl about how fucking unfair life can be.
Thinking about French genuinely makes me want to sob. I thought it would be so much more than it is, so much… Easier to deal with. I knew it would be difficult, because the jump from GCSE to A-Level is massive, but not this. Not me scrabbling to try and keep up, though the addition of another girl into our class makes it a little better. 5 of us, now.
Other blind people have done language AS levels. If I fail at this, I feel like I’m a bad blind person – like if others could do it, why can’t I? Never mind that I over-stress myself a lot; I’d feel so ashamed if I abandoned it. But my thoughts are in a jumble and I can’t get them out properly.
I went to the unit today (place where the teaching assistants who help the visually impaired kids work). They could see on my face something was wrong, and the woman who prepares my french work came and talked to me. My eyes felt too dry, too wide, as I explained to her that I didn’t know if I could do this. The teachers sometimes don’t send me the right work, and sometimes they move so fast and it’s all stacking up. My heart feels heavy and panicky.
I know that I won’t realistically drop French. I’ll stick with it, even if it breaks me. The thought of dropping it makes me feel sick, because of some warped sense of pride? I have to prove to myself that I can do 4 As-Levels. I’ve been encouraged to do 3, but I just DON’t want to; if I only do 3, I won’t have the chance to drop one at the end of year 12. It’s partly the shame of telling the teacher I don’t want to do it any more, because though I know I haven’t, it makes it like I’ve failed before I even started.
I think I should talk to the teachers about this. I need to ask HOW I’ll do this film, dealing with their pitying tone. I hate asking for help, because it makes me cry and I don’t want to shed tears over this. Then again, if I haven’t broken down by the beginning of half term, I’ll be surprised.
If it gets too bad, I’ll drop it, but I really don’t want to. I just don’t know if I can cope. I know I should put my mental health first, but I want to succeed because I do love French. Detrimental? Yeah, but what else can I do?
I feel like I’m drowning, like there’s something blocking my mind from getting a good work ethic. I’m ashamed, stupidly, though there’s nothing to be ashamed of. If I just worked harder, made more of an effort to do work outside class, I might feel like I can get to the end of the year. When I say I feel upset, I don’t just mean sad; I mean that I feel as if my work is going to swallow me alive.
It’ll get better. I feel trapped, like I’m on this bleak road to nowhere, but it’ll get better. I have to hold onto that because I’m so stressed that I could scream.
Remembering that other people have it worse gets me through it. There are other blind people who don’t get the resources at all, or couldn’t do the A-Levels they want. Compared, I have it easy and i admire those people so much. That’s why it’ll have to be okay, so that I can stop whinging. Ugh, why am I going into self-loathing mode again?
How are you guys? I’m sorry for ranting again.
Love from Elm 🙂