I Can’t Be Strong Right Now

Trigger warning: this post contains mentions of sexual assault and suicidal thoughts. If you aren’t comfortable with these topics or if it’ll upset you to read it, please don’t read this post. I’d much rather you stayed safe and happy.

 

I was walking down the stairs of my house today, after all of my housemates had gone to bed. Out of seemingly nowhere, I got hit with this inescapable feeling of horror and dread; everything felt like it was collapsing. As I leaned against the wall to steady myself so that I wouldn’t fall, I couldn’t think of anywhere to run to, anywhere to turn to. Then, I remembered I had an outlet all along. So now it’s time to talk about the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to talk about on this blog. Bare with me: it might take a while.

 

I don’t really know how to do this. Do I start from the ‘Incident‘? Do I start from now? How do you explain your entire fucking world falling to pieces without it turning into a jumble of screaming? Perhaps I’ll start with this – I’m in my second year of uni right now. In my first year of university, in February of this year, I was sexually assaulted.

 

It hurts every time I say it. It doesn’t get any easier, no matter how many times I write it down. I was assaulted. I am a victim of sexual assault. How many times can I say it before it feels palpable and real? Even six months on, I still shudder and the sick feelings always take me by surprise. For a lot of you, reading those words will make you feel that same sense of horror. If that’s overwhelming you, stop reading now; I won’t go into detail but I don’t  want to trigger anyone who’s still recovering.

 

The person who assaulted me, I’ll call them the perpetrator, was someone I considered a friend. I let them stay over because I didn’t want them to drive 200 miles home, in the dark, after a meeting with a friend had gone badly for them. It happened when they thought I was asleep. I kicked them out the next day, early in the morning, then went to the police the day after that. God, how the fuck do I do this? I don’t know how to articulate how much it broke me to have my trust utterly shattered like that. I didn’t stop them; I didn’t say anything because I was terrified out of my mind. I didn’t talk to them at the time or ever about it just in case; I needed to escape but didn’t have anywhere to go. Writing all of this down in short sentences is just bringing it into stark relief for me.

 

The days after were a blur. I remember going to the police station and giving my statement, telling a friend about it and being totally fine, pacing round my room and throwing the clothes into a bag at the back of my wardrobe. I remember crying every night because I didn’t feel safe in my own bed or even in my own room. The one place which should have been my refuge turned into a nightmare within the space of a second. God knows how I got through all of it – I broke down a few days after with some of my friends and just started screaming out of sheer terror. I didn’t know how to carry on when my head was filled with such poisonous guilt and shame.

 

Shortly after that, I left uni for medical reasons. By that, I mean I was actively suicidal and knew that I couldn’t look after myself. Apart from the in-person interview and statements, the only contact I had with the police was them calling me to tell me that they were closing my case because there wasn’t enough evidence to go to trial or anything like that; this was a month or so after. When the police officer asked, ‘You’re doing alright in your head, aren’t you?’ I replied with a yes, ended the call and cried so hard that another piece of my heart gave way. It’s one thing to know that the police aren’t good with sexual assault cases; it’s another to experience it and to feel disgusting every day because of it. Maybe I couldn’t have given evidence in a witness-type situation but I wasn’t even given the choice.

 

When I told my parents (they knew something was wrong because of how I came home), I felt horrible. I was still convinced that it was my fault and to be honest, I have my days now where I can’t breathe for fear that it’ll happen again. They were supportive but I couldn’t work or even get out of bed; it was humiliating to not be able to do basic things because I could only do the bare minimum to keep myself alive. I didn’t care enough about myself to want to live and it was only because I was around my family that I didn’t do anything about it. That scares me now, when I think about it, but at the time it was the only logical thing I could focus on.

 

I returned to uni very briefly and then Covid happened which put a real spanner in the works. Luckily, being at home (again) made it easier to survive on a day-to-day basis. Slowly, I began to pick up the pieces of just how badly the perpetrator had hurt me. Saying it out loud got a tiny bit easier but when it’s directly on my mind, I feel an oppressive weight sinking into my chest. It’s as if my attention narrows onto this incident; certain words will set me off, or being touched in a certain place. A couple of days ago, one of my housemates touched my shoulder and I completely freaked out. When you’re dealing with trauma or wonky mental health resulting from it, the reactions can sometimes be random or unpredictable.

 

Half a year later, it’s still very much affecting me. I struggle to sleep and the therapy I’ve received for these issues hasn’t been amazing. Now I’m back at uni, I might try to get more help because I can’t carry on like this. Coming home for a second time would be so difficult, especially with a global pandemic happening? Most days I feel alone or hopeless; I wish I could stop the trauma reactions from showing on my face because I don’t want to bother my housemates with it constantly. The reality is, though, that I am traumatised and that’s not going away any time soon.

 

I want to get to a place where I can talk about this and be constructive. I want to help others who have been through something similar but I can only do that when I’ve got to the stage of recovery where I don’t shut down every time it’s mentioned. Next time I write about this, I want it to be with strength and not this boundless sorrow that I can’t control. I know that won’t be easy and that everyone deals with their recovery differently; it’s just always upsetting me and has affected more friendships than I can count.

 

One of my ways of ‘coping’ with it was to push friends away, either acting like everything was fine and just drifting or giving a non-specific explanation of my mental health being low. Over the next couple of months, I want to start to repair those friendships – I won’t tell everyone what’s happened but I want to be able to talk to the people I love without a huge wall blocking my emotions out. Sometimes, I don’t have the capacity for conversations even about simple things and I’m hoping that’ll change soon.

 

I don’t know if anyone who knows me in real life still reads this. If you know me and you’re reading, I’m sorry that I couldn’t tell you in person. It’s so much harder to talk about this to individual people, over and over; my heart breaks every time. But if you’re reading this then I care about you so so much, no matter how long it’s been since we’ve talked. I find this specific thing – the assault, the trauma associated – almost impossible to talk about without sobbing my lungs out.

 

Thank you for reading this; I know that it was disjointed. I needed to throw my feelings out onto a screen and this seemed like the best way, for my own, and others’, sake.

 

So much love,

From Elm 🙂

The Grass is Just as Green

A few months ago, I got a tattoo of some elm leaves on my right ankle.

 

The tattoo artist asked me about the significance. I laughed awkwardly, mumbled something about liking nature and then channeled this name until the last line was done. As it started to heal, I traced the outline with my fingers and felt a weird sense of peace.

 

People who have known me for years will say that I like to run away from things. Those of you who remember me from back in the good old days of 2016 will know that I frequently ran away from good relationships in my life and had crises when I realised I’d fucked up. To be honest, that still happens. For example, when I felt my life falling to pieces, I shut myself off from everything in the hopes that it’d make me feel better.

 

Spoiler alert: it didn’t. Shockingly, it never really does.

 

Some of my friends picked up on the tattoo when it came up in conversation. They knew what it meant, even before I specified which leaves were marked on my skin. There was that intrinsic understanding from people like H, elly, Ocean, Lu, Ilsa – friends who have become such an important part of my life that the name I call myself doesn’t matter. I always get emotional when people say ‘Elm’ without a hitch in their voice because it feels like coming home.

 

That was the first part of stitching my wayward sense of self back together. When I moved away from home to go to college for a year, I utterly lost my grip on my own identity. Although I had a few anchors to hold me down, it felt as if I was tearing myself apart from the inside out. In that year and in the first year of uni, I went through things that I wouldn’t wish on anyone; I’m only just threading all the events together so that I can heal.

 

Life’s changed a lot, hasn’t it? The world’s on fire (literally, in some cases), a virus has altered so many things I can’t even count and deconstructing racist institutions seems more possible than it has before. People look for escapes in the strangest of places but me? I’m coming back here. Not because it’s my last resort but because it should have been my first choice all along.

 

You’ll notice that a lot of my old posts are gone. They aren’t deleted; I just put them back into drafts because it’s likely people I know could stumble across this and I want to keep my previous feelings to the side. Also, I was a little shit a couple of years ago and no one wants to read that. I’ll keep some of the… classics, shall we say.

 

I can’t promise anything right now. My dad’s in hospital and everything’s flipping upside down constantly. All I can say is that I want to be here and I want to reconnect with the people I love, in the place that I love.

 

You are all wonderful and I haven’t forgotten your names. One of my closest blogger friends, Sumedha, made me realise just how much I miss being called Elm.

 

Stay safe and stay happy, always. That’s the most important thing. Even when life hurls you down a flight of stairs, you can crawl back up.

 

Love from Elm 🙂

I Remember How This Feels

Trigger warnings: this post has references to passive suicidal thoughts and negative mental health. If you’re triggered by this content, please don’t feel like you have to read this; your health comes first.

I’ve been trying to deny all my feelings over the last week, to just shut it all down and function. During the weekend, I felt myself go so downhill that it was impossible to even pretend. I’m struggling and this is the worst I’ve seen myself for at least a year and a half. I only know that because I could never forget how I’d felt back then. Now I’m feeling it all again, it’s a huge shock. I’ve been angry, taking the anger out on people and just not very healthy whatsoever.

When I was halfway through Year 12, I pretty much hated everything and wanted to die the majority of the time. I was so unhappy that it was a struggle to even move. In terms of work, I barely met any deadlines and didn’t care enough to complete most of my homework. It was around this time that I quit French. A couple of months later, during my exams, I managed to pick myself back up. Ever since then, I’ve had a cycle of feeling so awful that I just couldn’t do anything but it was never as bad as it was last January. Until now.

I have these memories of sitting in my classes, barely able to work or to string a sentence together. I would desperately try and get through the fog of my head and to not cry, just not cry until it was over. I’d feel this cold terror, where I’d be hanging on to the thread of getting out of there and screaming. But by the time I could breathe, I’d gone blank; I didn’t feel a single thing but this aching emptiness. The only change now is that I’m better able to articulate it. Talking doesn’t feel impossible, just very tiring. Everything else – the sadness, the exhaustion, the not-quite-feeling-there, is back.

As I’ve mentioned in this post, I’ve gone to blind college for a year. That move is stressful enough but on top of my breakdowns, it’s turned into a shitstorm. I’ve had to mask how I’ve been feeling to everybody here and to friends outside of it; the motivation to do any work has just disappeared; I’m attempting to actively withdraw myself from social situations because I’m just too tired. It’s exactly how it felt in Year 12 but somehow magnified because I’m in such a small, residential environment. I can’t hide it whatsoever.

People have been supporting me a lot; Kel is a godsend and I couldn’t have done this without him. My friend Robin has been a lifesaver and my other friend, Pearl, came over to stay at the weekend. Rapunzel has been one of the only people who has managed to keep me grounded and recently, I’ve really started to try and have more conversations with people outside college like Red, Wren and Swan. Somehow, though, I’m still really bad: I’m still not coping, still don’t have any energy, still tired.

On paper, everything seems to be good: I’m in a great place, have met some amazing people, am actually enjoying my course and the personality, or side of myself, that I show to people seems to have it all together. So why am I feeling like this? I act so energetic, enthusiastic and organised that by the end of the day, I’ve got nothing left. I’ve stopped talking to so many people because I’m often too unwell or exhausted to keep up a conversation but because of the ‘happy’ way I’ve been acting, it’d feel like I was a fraud if I suddenly started acting how I truly feel.

I suppose that this must come from the agony of feeling isolated. Recently, because of my lack of talking to people outside of the college, I’ve felt alone and quite adrift from everything. A good way for me to get by when I have nothing else – no coping mechanisms that work, at least – is to talk to others and share in their happiness. It honestly feels like people don’t care any more and don’t want to talk to me, meaning I don’t find out things until weeks after they happen and so I can’t be happy for anyone. That means that the one thing I usually have left is just gone and it’s fucking overwhelming and horrible to feel this forgotten all the time. I may be just whining or being pathetic but it all just hurts at the minute, so I don’t have the energy to gain perspective. I haven’t started blaming myself for not talking yet but I’m pretty sure that will happen when I get a second to myself.

Having what I can only describe as a mental health relapse is one of the worst feelings. It doesn’t feel like I’ll get better, or as if people care, or as if anyone would care unless I spoke to them. I have a whole river of bitterness and fear inside my head and I just want it all to stop for a bit. I can barely function, running on very little sleep; I haven’t been eating well and I don’t have the mental capacity to look after myself properly. The most worrying thing, as my friend Rapunzel (who has managed to get me to vaguely talk about things and is a beautiful soul) said, is that I just don’t care any more. That not caring means that I stop talking to people and avoid even thinking about what’s happening, leading me to do anything to distract myself which then ends with me feeling sick and unpleasant.

Talking about it has got easier – it’s not like it was a year and a half ago, where I’d only talk in very toxic, short bursts. I now know how to get my emotions out; it’s just that I don’t have the energy. Writing it down has made it less overwhelming, I think, though nothing seems to help apart from resting and trying not to mentally collapse.

Perhaps, now, I feel a little clearer. It doesn’t feel like things are wailing in my head any more. Is that because I can write it all down? I don’t know. All I know is that I hate feeling like this and if this post was a reprieve for me, where I could let it out, then I’ll take it.

I hope that you’re all okay. I’ve been so silent because I just didn’t know how to talk. After speaking horrendously honestly to a friend yesterday, part of that blockade has broken. I just hope it can continue.

Now, I miss blogging intensely. At some point in the next few weeks, I want to be able to go back to a semi-regular posting schedule. For now, I’m going to have to concentrate on pulling myself back up a little.

I miss you all. How have things been?

Love from Elm 🙂

String | A Poem

That last piece of string lies broken,

Frayed from days spent in a freezing sea,

Ice too tired

To stay solid around it;

It’s an unravelled tragedy

Of caring too deeply.

Pull it apart and you can feel

Its spongy texture wasting away

To little more than flakes

Of something much stronger, too afraid

To even pretend to be any longer,

Soaking up the water instead of

Holding it

Together.

There are knots in my soul,

Like those on a tree or from twisted rope

I’m not sure;

They tie my tongue in a loop

And imprison the piece of hope

I had left.

I am cold.

I am too tired

To make sense.


I don’t know what this is. All I know is that in some way, it represents how I feel. It was written at a time where all I could feel was this cold desperation and nothing could shake it.

I hope, if this does anything, it can show people that you’re not alone. Things don’t have to make sense all the time.

From Elm 🙂

Before They Forget

Last Saturday, I spent the day with one of my best friends, Red. We walked round the town where he lives, had lunch and chatted; it was amazing. In the evening, I went to Rose and Poppy’s house – my two oldest friends, who I probably spent the most time with in childhood besides family. Two days after that, I saw Pearl and her two sisters (we made Oreo cheesecake and it was delicious); yesterday, I saw Ivy, who I’ve known since primary school. This is all before I go to college and there’s a specific reason for that.

What struck me most, and has made an impression on me up to now, was the time I spent with Rose and Poppy. Not because I didn’t have a good time with the others – I made such fantastic memories with each one of them – but because it made me realise that my friendship with them is incredibly strong. Nonetheless, I’m very afraid – most of all for those two – that they’ll forget me. Saturday only highlighted that fear. Sounds confusing? I’ll explain.

Let me explain some background things before, so it’s easier to understand. When I was growing up, I didn’t have many deep conversations with Rose and Poppy. We almost grew up as sisters – having so much love for each other that we didn’t have to have those conversations in order for our friendship to be cemented. In recent years, I’ve worried that because of that, they don’t even like me. Whilst it’s true that they found me annoying as a child, everybody did (for good reason), I do think that we have a really stable friendship. It’s different to a lot of my other ones: I could probably rock up to their house with no warning and they wouldn’t care; I consider their family an extension of mine; we can hang out for hours and sing awfully together without it becoming boring. We don’t need to talk about the world’s problems (though we do). However, recently, experiences have shown me that they are there when I need their help, and vice versa.

I had a party recently where a few of my friends, from all different places, were there. At that party, I had one of the worst breakdowns I’ve ever had. It was absolutely terrifying because though I’d had alcohol, it was absolutely not fuelled by that: it had been boiling beneath the surface for such a long time that it all came bursting out. Most of my friends were able to deal with me crying my eyes out but the one that took me by surprise was Poppy. She and Rose had never, ever seen me like that: they’d never had much of a hint that my mental health was so bad. Even so, she sat with me, held my hands and reassured me. Despite never having experienced me even remotely like that, she didn’t run away from it. I apologised over and over and yet she carried on helping, not making fun of me and not making me feel shit for being unhappy.

That’s stayed with me. On Saturday, I was nervous to see them because I wasn’t sure how they’d act around me. I don’t know why I was scared because they acted completely the same. We sang; Rose yelled at Poppy for being slow because we were supposed to go on a walk; I felt utterly at ease. There wasn’t this pressure of “I have to act fine” but equally, I wasn’t unbelievably anxious either.

The change to this occasion was that we were all more aware of each other and our difficulties. As we started on our walk, Rose asked if I was feeling more okay and I said no, though I was more in control of it. Rose, being in the same year as me, applied to uni and didn’t get into her first or insurance choice. We talked about that, how it made her feel and I could tell she was visibly upset. I don’t think that a few years ago, any of us could have shown that level of emotion because it was more difficult. When we got back to theirs, Rose went off to talk to her parents. I walked upstairs and caught Poppy as she was preparing to go out to a party. I spoke to her: not like a sister but as someone who had gone through the same confusing emotions of feeling like a failure all the time but wanting so desperately to succeed that you have contrary emotions warring inside your head.

After having talked to Poppy, explaining to her how I thought Rose was feeling, I went downstairs again. I think I got through to her: I feel really comfortable talking to Poppy about that kind of thing now because she’d seen me so fragile at my party. I gave Rose a huge hug and sat by her until my dad came to pick me up. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about how right it felt to help them: I already know them inside out and so it didn’t ever feel like it was forcing it.

So, where does the fear of being forgotten come from, after all this? I suppose now that I have some security in my head about them, my mental health is turning it around. Because I’m moving to a college for a year, I’m terrified I’ll change and that they won’t recognise me any more. Of all people, I couldn’t bare it if I drifted apart from them. It would be like ripping my heart out because I honestly love them so much. The thought of losing them makes me feel ill.

This fear doesn’t just lie with them. With all my friends, there’s this perpetual worry that I’m not going to be enough for them to remember. For example, I think that I haven’t been a good enough friend to them to be of any significance. I’ve been trying to reassure myself by seeing people, by proving to myself that these fears are unfounded, but it’s not working as well as I’d like. What if I lose so many of my friends because of distance? What if they don’t care about me, or think that I don’t care about them, and so it all drifts away? I refuse to accept the concept that “some friends will always drift apart” because that’s not how it has to be.

I’ll be publishing this on the day I move to college. These thoughts will be running through my head: I just hope I don’t drown in them. I hate it when it’s so overwhelming, like it is now.

If any of you are going through a similar thought process, remember that people do care about you. You’re worth remembering. I wish I could give more advice but the reality is that I can’t think past my own worries. I promise you though, we can do this. Whether we have 50 friends or 5 by the end of it, we can do it.

I just don’t want to be forgotten.

Love from Elm 🙂

Weird Things We’ve Always Wanted to Do | Collab with Ana Regina!

HELLOOO!!!

I hope everyone’s doing well. I’m doing fantastically because this post is a collaboration with Ana Regina from Diversion3000! (I AM SO HAPPY ASDGHFJKL) If you know anything about her legendary self, you’ll understand why I haven’t been able to stop screaming since we made plans to collab.

We chose to write about some weird things we’ve always wanted to do. Whilst sharing our ideas, we found out we had a fair few in common. Half of them will be on this post and half will be appearing on her blog so make sure you check that out!

It’s been an absolute dream to work with Ana because she’s one of my favourite people. However, before I bore you with more rambling, here are our weird things!


Elm: Since I was a child, I’ve wanted to go into space. I’ve always been fascinated by it – the moon, the stars, other planets – and I get excited whenever something new is discovered. Unfortunately, I actually think I’m too short. I can dream, though.

Ana: I’ve always wanted to have twin kids, a boy and a girl. I’ve always had this thing where I wanted to know what it feels to have a girl, but also a boy, and I didn’t want any to be older than the other, so yeah, I wanted them to be the same age!

Elm: I’ve always wanted to time travel. Of course, you have the huge problem of screwing up the entire universe by making one mistake but wouldn’t it be amazing to truly see how people in Tudor times lived, or how the Anglo-Saxons spoke? Again, I wish this was feasible but sadly, I have dreams that don’t come true a lot.

Ana: I’ve always wanted to have magic powers. Like Elsa making snow, or Matilda making things move! Or read people’s minds. Since I started junior high I didn’t feel that way anymore, but now, coming back to thinking of it, I’d love to have powers! Playing games on people I hate would be SO COOL!!!

Elm: I’ve also always wanted to organise a blogger meet-up. This is one that might actually happen – who knows? Just having loads of us who make up this little section of the community together in one place would be fantastic. If I get my act together enough, I may be able to sort something, with about 10000 other people helping me.

Ana: Since I was a child, I’ve always felt like one day I’d be on a Disney Channel show and be one of the main characters. When I was a kid, I felt like the actors were part of my family, cause I watched it everyday I guess. And it also seemed really cool. I don’t know, I wanted to be a part of kids’ lives as these people were to me.


There you have it! Have any of you guys wanted to do these things too? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you so much to Ana for collaborating with me! It was amazing!!! Don’t forget to check out her post (and her blog, if you haven’t already!). She’s one of the best bloggers out there and always writes hilarious and thought-provoking posts.

Love from Elm 🙂

How I’m Feeling about Moving Away to College | Screaming

Today marks a week before I move away from home for a year to go to what I affectionately call “blind college”. Essentially, I’m going there to increase my independence (learning how to cook, clean, get better IT skills) and also to do a few courses. Because it’s me, naturally, I’m just a little bit terrified at the prospect of moving away because although I’ll go back in half terms and the other holidays, I won’t see my family for a while.

Firstly, I’m not prepared. How do you prepare for going away for so long? How much do you pack? What do you pack??? Should I bring anything from my room? I DON’t KNOW! I probably should have sorted that out all before but I’m a massive procrastinator and always do things at the very last minute. Oops?

I’ve made a start on sorting out all my clothes, ready to get a lot of them packed. It’s only now that I realise just how many clothes I have and more specifically, how many of them I don’t actually like. Buried in my wardrobe are a whole Narnias-worth of t-shirts that I haven’t worn in months, possibly years. Not to mention that’s only at my mum’s house and at some point in the next 7 days, I have to transfer all of my clothes to one house to sort them out there.

The fear about change and that kind of thing is starting to set in. Of course, I don’t expect to be exactly the same at the end of the year but I’m so worried that I’ll accidentally get myself involved in drama, or that I’ll start being toxic to people, and not be able to get out. One of my friends who I call Robin, who went to that college for 3 years, has helped me to rationalise how I’m feeling. Another, S, who went to a similar school, has been a massive support as well. It’s still so nerve-wracking though.

I am really looking forward to it. It’ll be so different – a chance to express myself; a way of becoming more confident; a way of meeting new people. Right now, having done my exams and having received the results, it feels like I’m in a kind of limbo.

It feels like I’m on the cusp of something but not quite at the point where I know where it is. It’s almost, really, like I’m still waiting. Whether that be for the punchline or for the surprise that cements in my head that I can do this, that I’m capable. I just hope it’ll arrive before the week is out.

It’s not that I’m scared or soul-crushingly nervous. Rather, it’s that I’m anticipating a change, with no way of knowing how deep that change will run at the end of it. Maybe I’ll stay the same; maybe I won’t. All I want is to continue to be there for people – for the core of myself to stay the same.

I want to document it, as much as I can. My thoughts, feelings, hopes, dreams, without it becoming too confusing. Will I succeed? Again, I don’t know.

I just hope that this blog can remain my safe space.

Next Saturday, things are going to change but I’m as mentally prepared as I can be. This is a new beginning and I’m determined to make the most of it as I can.

If you’re starting University, Sixth Form or another year at school, how are you feeling about it?

Love from Elm 🙂

I Cried at my A-Level Results

On the morning of Results’ Day, I woke up feeling so ill that I couldn’t do much. I say “woke up”, it was more like “got up” because I’d hardly got any sleep the night before. It was a mixture of sheer panic and the inability to quiet my mind; I procrastinated sleeping by wailing about how scared I was to the friends that would put up with it.

My dad, Mum, a friend I call Rapunzel who’s been staying for a few days and I travelled to school by car because I live around 40 minutes away. On the way there, I had to listen to music to shut my brain off. I got into school, after being unable to function in the car, and I could barely breathe. The fear was unbelievable, especially because I was one of the first ones there.

We got into the hall and I just remember hearing this awful ringing in my ears. It was like nothing else mattered and I felt so weak that I had to hold my mum’s arm really tightly. Because we were pretty much first in line, my results were given to us quickly in an envelope (which of course I couldn’t read).

When my parents opened the results, my immediate response was “how bad is it?” For weeks now, I’d been setting myself up for failure, telling myself I’d do terribly. I was so afraid of disappointing people that I told my parents and everyone that I’d done awfully and I believed it myself. I can’t stress how much I thought I’d fucked up.

Turns out, I got amazing results – far better than I ever could have dreamed. When I found out my English result, I screamed so loudly that I felt like the whole hall went silent; Rapunzel picked me up and I was so happy – like I couldn’t believe. My friend Swan also got her results and we ran at each other, shrieking. I’m just so proud of all of my friends because they did fantastically, after having worked so hard. I hugged so many teachers, finally able to congratulate myself, with concrete evidence that my brain couldn’t disprove.

Afterwards, Rapunzel and I went to Swan’s house. There, we watched hilarious videos, relaxed and screamed a lot. The day had such an unreal quality to it, yet everything felt a little more vibrant. We met up with some friends and had lunch; it was so much more chilled than anything I’d done in school because I properly felt – and feel – free.

It’s been almost surreal, these last few days. At the weekend, I went to one of my best friend’s houses to stay and there, I felt lighter than I have in months. I’ve come to terms with a lot these past few weeks and that’s really shown in how I even react to myself. Sure, my mental health has really dipped recently but it feels as if there’s a massive weight off my shoulders. Now I’m not quite sure what to do with myself, though I’m still keeping busy as a distraction.

Whether you got the results you wanted or not, you should be proud of yourself. A-Levels were some of the hardest things we’ll ever do and we got through them: that counts for something. No matter what happens, there are always options and you will always have choices – that might not help right now but just hold onto what you can do rather than what you’ve done. You aren’t a failure.

It’s over now – you’ve done it; all that adrenaline isn’t needed for being afraid. Results Day was the final obstacle and now you can go on to live your life. God, I feel like I need a year-long sleep. Start again, if you want to, because you deserve that.

I’m proud of myself and I can really say that now. When I was going through shit in the middle of the year, my Head of Year told me that I would be and she was right. I bloody well did it, got through, survived, and no-one can take that away from me.

Love from Elm 🙂

It’s Results Day Tomorrow WHAT

In less than 24 hours, I will have got my results for A-Levels. The very thought of that makes me feel ill. Fuck, oh God, I’m getting my results tomorrow.

If you don’t live in the UK, A-Levels are exams you do at the end of year 13 – the last year of high school, 12th grade, your last finals if you will. They’re the culmination of 2 years of work, in 3-4 subjects. They determine what university you go to, if your placement is dependent on grades (a conditional offer). Because of the new system of education, most of our grade is down to 2-3 exams – only a few subjects had exams that counted for the final grade a year before.

I did 3 subjects – English Lit, History and Psychology. In a way, I’m lucky because I didn’t apply for university this year (I’m applying in my year out) but that just means that whatever grades I get, I’m stuck with. It was certainly less pressurised when I was doing the exams but now it’s approaching results, I’m feeling more than terrified.

Around three weeks before now, I started getting the obligatory Results Day nightmares. At first, it was fine: I dreamt that I got all B’s in my subjects, which would have been good. Then, it jumped to E’s: I remember in that dream, it felt so incredibly realistic; everyone was disappointed in me and I woke up crying. Next, it was that I’d got all G’s. You can’t actually get G’s in A-Level as far as I know, which just shows how much my fear of failure was manifesting itself. My final dream was a couple of days ago: I’d got A*’s in everything but English, in which I’d got a D. That was kind of a problem because I want to study English at uni. Honestly, at this point I don’t know what to expect. I have no idea if I did alright or terribly.

On GCSE Results Day, I was nervous. I felt really ill and couldn’t sleep as much the night before. However, I knew that it wouldn’t be too bad if I didn’t get the grades I wanted. I also knew that I’d done reasonably well because I was able to put my all into those exams. With A-Levels, I’m not so sure: it means more if I don’t do as well but I also don’t have the certainty that I will have done well, at all. In my exams, my mental health had deteriorated to such a point that I could barely function in the months leading up to it. I did my best, given the circumstances, but is my best good enough?

I don’t know. So many people have said that there’s ‘nothing I can do about it now’ but they’re mostly relatives or much older adults who haven’t gone through this new system. I’m just so afraid that I’ll be a failure – not really to others but mostly to myself. Oh well – I know I’m going to have to deal with the consequences regardless; it’s just the lead-up that makes me want to sob.

To everyone getting results tomorrow, good luck. We’re going to get through this and no matter what results we get, those letters won’t define us. I know it’s scary but in a day, it’ll be over and we can breathe.

If I can’t believe in myself, I can at least try to help others believe in themselves. We got through these 2 years in one piece and we’re nearly there. That counts for something and you should be proud.

Good luck, everyone. We can do this.

Love from Elm 🙂

That Incomplete Look at My Life

Today was tiring but amazing. I travelled for a lot of it, going to Cambridge with Kel to visit a good friend of ours before going home: I’ve had a wonderful few days with him, filled with laughs and far too much alcohol for comfort. When I got home, I was exhausted and decided to spend a ‘short time’ going through my old emails for nostalgic purposes. That ‘short time’ turned into nearly an hour of trawling through the little bits of my life I’d shared with people so long ago, when I actually used my email for personal purposes. As you’ll see, it was surprisingly… Eventful.

It’s often the case that when I’m feeling slightly emotional or just need a way to distract myself, my old emails are a good way to centre myself. It’s partly because a lot of them are just confusing or hilarious but it’s more to do with the fact that it always reminds me of bits of my life that I’d forgotten. Not only did I find my old emails but I remembered that I’d forwarded some of them to my friends a few years later, commiserating over how awful they were. My younger self was almost painfully cringe at times but it gives my older self a way to look back and reflect. Now, I’m not sure how much of those emails represented how I truly felt.

Some of them were unspeakably unbearable to read, simply because they made me physically recoil from wincing so hard at my younger self’s actions. There were emails to my ex-boyfriend when I was 11: ‘love u sooooooo much!!!!!!! xxxxxx” and emails to my friends about how ‘upset’ I was: “Don’t tell him I said that” and “I just feel so heartbroken because he wouldn’t talk to me!!!! *screams*”. Alright, some of them were exaggerated but you get the picture. I was prone to massive bouts of drama back then and thought that documenting it was somehow helpful.

The thing is, it is helpful. Only because I know a little of how I thought when I was ‘going through’ what was apparently the ‘worst point of my life’. Now I know, of course, that it was nothing compared to what I actually have gone through but some of the things I wrote were hugely reflective of the issues I’d face in later life. Oh shit, that makes me sound so old.

On the other hand, though a lot of it I can make fun of, some of it was genuinely emotional. It was around the age of 14 – 4 years ago – that I experienced my first heartbreak which wrecked me for a long time afterwards. Reading my words on that, where I had an inability to understand, jolted me right back to how it felt. Reading funny emails between me and my ex-girlfriend was simultaneously painful and smile-inducing because we’ve gone through a lot together. Finding situations where I’d been the toxic person, some of which I didn’t even remember, was a little jarring as well. If I’ve forgotten that, what else have I forgotten?

There was a recurring theme in those emails, especially the ones when I was older, where I began to go through some really unpleasant things. I would constantly be paranoid that my friends were talking about me; I’d sometimes shut down conversations – presumably because I thought no one cared. As I still do, I used to take any kind of rejection to heart and blamed myself for pretty much anything, which was broken up by these awful spells of anger that I rarely get any more but they still happen. Seeing all of that so far back reminded me that there are bits of my life that still feel like a puzzle with a few missing pieces.

It’s like looking at my life through a bit of a haze. For the things I don’t remember so clearly, I only have those emails to go on because back then, before the age of 13, I barely used social media to communicate because I had the shittiest phone that I could barely use. It’s half funny and half horrifying to realise that I’ll never get a complete picture of some parts of my life – all I’ll have is some badly worded explanations to friends, or rants that end with too many exclamation marks to be legible. Saying that, it makes it a little mysterious. How much was I really heartbroken that Rowan was looking at another girl who wasn’t me? Will I ever find out?

I don’t think I can ever know just how many different things I don’t remember fully in my life. Isn’t that just memory, though? It’s fragile and confusing but can pop up in the most unexpected of places to show you a section of your life that teaches you something, or provides you with a bit of laughter when you need it most. Some things in those emails were upsetting; some were just weird but most of all, they were small parts of myself that make me remember that those layers of experience make me up as a person.

That’s what I want to remember. Not how many pieces I don’t quite understand but what the pieces I remember can show me. In the end, this was a good way to end a hectic day: by some sort of mixed-up reflection on who I am.

Do you sometimes feel like this too?

From Elm 🙂