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 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂

I Can’t be Alone

Over the last 3 weeks, I’ve been so busy. I went to Yorkshire to see my friend, who I call Rapunzel, at the end of July and had some of the best times in the last few months. I saw Heathers the Musical with one of my oldest internet friends. Another friend of mine, S, came to stay on the 5th and left yesterday. But now he’s gone, now that I’m alone, I remember just why I keep myself busy: to avoid this.

What is this? It’s the terrifying feeling of not wanting to be alone with your own thoughts. It’s doing anything possible to try and stop them from taking over. It’s not knowing whether today will be okay or not so just trying to hold off the flood but now that the flood has finally caught up, it’s fucking awful. How do I deal with these emotions when I don’t quite understand what they are?

Of course, that doesn’t mean I’ve been trying to frantically do things to stop feeling. Doing things, like seeing friends, just helps to not make the feelings overwhelming. For instance, seeing Rapunzel and then S gave me more freedom and it also meant that there was someone there who could help me or talk to me if things got really rough. I had an amazing time with them but as they’re two of my closest friends, now that they’re gone (although I’m seeing Rapunzel really soon), I just feel painfully lonely. Loneliness and being alone, whilst suffering from horrifying bouts of bad mental health, is not a good combination.

Part of me wants to write and write and write until it all just pours out. I cried about how bereft I felt last night, then cried further about how pathetic that made me feel. Apparently, I can’t cope if I don’t have someone around me. It’s not like I can be eternally around people – I do need time on my own sometimes – but people being here makes it easier to cope. People being here gives me an excuse to work through my feelings, if not for me then for them so that I don’t ruin anything for them. Being alone means that excuse shatters and I have no reason, meaning that I just… Don’t care.

Then there’s that part of me that is terrified and has no energy. I hate being alone, where I feel like I have nowhere to go and nothing to do and no-one to help me. Realistically, I know people are here but that doesn’t help when I can’t even convince myself that getting up is worth doing. The thought of doing anything much, from writing a blog post I need to do to eating lunch to texting people, makes me feel so sick that I don’t end up doing those things. I’ve constantly been wanting to cry all day and I’m exhausted. Everything feels hollow and I’m always thinking that everyone hates me, that I’m making the worst mistakes and that I shouldn’t speak in case I upset anyone. God, why is this so difficult?

The bottom line is, I’m scared of my thoughts. Sure, I’ve made progress towards recovering – I’m nowhere near as constantly unstable as I was during April or May. However, sometimes it still gets so bad that I can’t speak or move or do anything that doesn’t involve me wanting to run away or slip off into oblivion. I just wish I didn’t need external reassurance: I wish I could find it within myself to feel more whole.

I’ve had moments of clarity today. I got up this morning after a few hours of alternately doing nothing and then crying. I had a shower, got changed, brushed my hair (it calms me down for some reason) and then finally ate something. Then again, now, I don’t have much energy. Later, Kel is arriving and I’m so glad of that because I’ve been wanting to see him for ages and also, it’ll help me to pull myself back from whatever hell I’ve managed to stuff myself in this time.

Until this evening, where I’m required to move (and that’s a good thing), I think I’ll try and distract myself. Perhaps I’ll watch something on Netflix (I might watch Outnumbered or Brooklyn Nine-Nine because they remind me of people that I love), or listen to music. Reading, right now, takes up too much energy; I planned to write about how I was feeling but I’m way too drained for that or to even think. Usually, I wouldn’t suggest distractions for anyone because that’s avoiding feeling but I want this to get down to a manageable level. As of now, it’s so overwhelming that I want to scream.

I’m sorry for all this sporadic and negative posting. I want to write at my own pace but often I do feel guilty for putting people through all this undirected shrieking.

What do you do when you hate the idea of being alone with your own thoughts?

From Elm 🙂

This Feels like Freedom

Today was my last A-Level exam.

Ever.

What the fuck???

After 7 exams and the most exhausting and draining two weeks of my life, I’m done. Should I say two years? 7 years? My time in “traditional” secondary education is over. 7 exams, 3 subjects, and it’s over. I don’t know how to process that.

Looking back on it, I worked myself to the ground and I only hope that it was worth it. The exams themselves ranged from reasonably alright to soul crushingly terrible in a pit of fire. I revised constantly – though I must say, it took me a while – and the only thing that existed for the last month, for me, was work and exams and not letting the crying that wanted to get out escape. It all feels strange now – so much of what I did was orientated around trying to keep afloat through it all. Until it was over. Now, it is.

I’m going to write an exam recap – in my typical, “WHAT WAS THIS HELP NO” fashion – and post it tomorrow. Until then, I don’t know what I’ll do. I feel cut loose, with strings of unfinished thoughts trailing behind me. I’m exhausted from a breakdown I had yesterday; I’m just tired in general. I’ve barely been getting sufficient sleep and at the worst points, I felt like I was going to scream unstoppably.

When my last exam ended – Psychology – I cried. I cried when I left the VI unit (place where I do my exams) and I cried whilst I waited to go home, when I was saying goodbye to the teachers who’d adapted my work for 7 years. I cried when I said goodbye to the taxi driver who’d driven me to school, every day, for the last 6 years, when he said I was like a second daughter to him. It was a day of tears that stung my eyes and near-tears that shimmered just behind them. All of this seems bland and blank: I want to have the presence of mind to describe my emotions but that’ll come with time.

Now, I feel listless. The purposeful drive will come tomorrow, when I decide I need to write and read, to sing and to reconcile with people who I’ve needed to gain closure from for years. I’ll get sudden bursts of inspiration; I’ll have a myriad of blogging ideas that clammer to be written. I’ll want to piece together my identity piece by piece. But for now? I don’t want to do any of that. I want to sleep, or feel these overwhelming feelings of complete sadness that have been overdue. Suppressing your mental health through exams is genuinely painful and I don’t know why I did it to such a horrible extent but it’s done now. All I can do is pick myself up after and not lose contact with the world around me whilst I’m doing that.

I’m so tired. I’ve said that already but it bears repeating. Who am I now that I’m not just trying to survive until the end of exams? Who am I now that I have feelings and confusion I can’t understand?

The only thing I regret right now is only being a shadow of myself when I spoke to, and met, some of the important people in my life. I’m afraid that they won’t recognise me now. Saying that, it’s not like I’ll have a personality turn-around, or that ending A-Levels suddenly makes me change. It’s just that I’ve repressed so much of myself to be able to cope that I don’t really know what to expect now. Does that make any sense?

A-Levels were awful; I can’t deny that. However, they did teach me things. I can work if I try and I can get through things, when at times I genuinely didn’t think I would. My mental health gets so bad at times that I feel as if everything’s hopeless and terrible; it only got worse with A-Levels. But I did it. I’m alive. I’m here. Is that enough to be proud of myself?

I’ve missed this blog, writing and feeling like I can truly call my work my own. Primarily, I want to get that back in the next few months. I’m out of the worst now, right?

This doesn’t feel quite like a victory. It feels more bittersweet but I’m celebrating, in my own way. An era of my life is over and I don’t know who I’ll become in the next one. Perhaps I’ll have a major crisis in my mind this summer; perhaps I won’t. I think that now everything is done, I need to start processing.

Maybe I’m on my way to okay, and then on the way to happy. I’ve got the entire summer to figure that out.

Have you had exams? If so, how have they gone?

Love from Elm 🙂

Everything’s a Bit Strange

It strikes me as weird how there are 20 days of proper school left. Instead of making the most of them, I’m sitting here writing a blog post for the first time in two weeks and it feels… Disorientating.

I’m not sure how I feel about leaving my writing for so long. It’s a mix of guilt and just a bit of confusion. In fact, those “bits of confusion” are dominating my life at the minute. From slightly horrifying conversations with people to freaking out about dresses, to violent stabs of guilt, to fucking up friendships, to then freaking out about the potential “date” I’m going on on Sunday? There are too many emotions which contrast with one another. I don’t know.

I’ve realised something. When I don’t write, my life invariably gets way too overwhelming. I don’t know if not writing means I can’t cope and so the shitshow starts, or if the shitshow starts which stops me from writing. Thinking about that makes me panic and I leave it even longer, so that I don’t know what to say when I come back. Really, I don’t know if I can say anything worthwhile.

Last week, I didn’t leave the house in three days because I was ill and could barely move. I went to the GP last Tuesday, absolutely terrified, and got a referral to the mental health service in my area. Again. Hopefully, this time, I can get my shit together enough to be able to get somewhere. Before I went back to school, the last person I’d “socialised” with was Pearl (a girl I’ve been talking to for just over a month) which is a whole other bunch of WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING? that I’ll get into, once I’ve seen her again on Sunday. Suffice it to say that I don’t know what’s happening but I’m not complaining about that lack of knowledge, at least when it comes to her.

Somehow, I submitted something for my history coursework. I cried at the weekend because I was so stressed about the entire thing; I experienced what I can only term as being so scared that I lost complete control over my thoughts. My dad was there to see it and just spoke to me; my mum has also been great for the past two weeks. So then why do I feel worse than ever? It must be because I feel guilty for wasting their time and I feel guilty for talking to nobody for ages.

I would love to be able to speak to people, to carry on conversations, but I struggle with doing so many things and even with just moving sometimes. It makes me so exhausted to talk about it that I inevitably don’t. For instance, I’m going to a party today – my friend Willow had her birthday recently – and I’m really looking forward to it but at the same time, I’m paranoid about getting there for no reason. I don’t speak about it because I’m worried people will ridicule me, or tell me I’m being too irrational for them. That’s what it’s been like: I know people wouldn’t tell me I was being ridiculous but something in me convinces itself and I can’t let go of it.

Yesterday, I tried on a dress for this party and didn’t feel awful. I felt blank, sure, but not disgusting. When I go prom dress shopping tomorrow, I hope that feeling will carry through. Today, I’m just trying to stay calm and to not have a constant mantra of “stop everything stop stop stop”.

I have to break my flow of whatever I’m saying to write that I’m frustrated. This is too disjointed and too confusing; I wish my words flowed better. I need to go back to a time where I felt fully with my words, where I could write them down as easily as speaking about something I love. It’s upsetting me and I wish it wasn’t.

Short of distracting myself with work – which I’ve done – I didn’t know what else to do. The fact that I didn’t go on social media for a long time probably didn’t help with that but I couldn’t cope with the stress of talking to people when I couldn’t talk to myself easily. All of it built into a sort of internal scream and I didn’t speak to my family for a bit, although I did spend time with them.

There are 20 days of proper school left and I just hope I can make the most of them, rather than wasting that time. There’s so much pressure that I don’t know how to hold. At some point, I’ll release that pressure in a more measured way. Just not now.

This was simply yelling onto a screen, which is the best kind of yelling. I didn’t plan this; I wrote with no coherency; I think I vaguely ranted. When I read back over this, I’ll cringe. However, writing it has exhausted me and if I’m being honest, the fear that people will think I’m blowing this out of proportion, or they’ll sigh out of irritation and think I’m bullshitting, is creeping up on me.

But at least I’m writing. At least I’m saying something, rather than shutting myself away. It feels too overwhelming now but soon, I’ll get re-used to being able to do things. Maybe it might make me want to cry at the moment but in the future, I’ll be able to write out how I feel again and to be able to savour the feeling of feeling more free. This is me at my worst, writing-wise, so surely it can only go up from here?

I’ve missed blogging. I’ve missed talking to people, even when I just felt like I couldn’t. I’ve missed interacting with the world and feeling like it’s interacting back, the support, the way it felt to unleash my thoughts in something more together than a jumble. To that end, I want to talk more. I might need time, but I still want to have that time and then invest it into reconnecting with something I love.

How are you all doing?

From Elm 🙂

A Strange Kind of Feeling

Yesterday was my last counselling session and I don’t quite know how to feel. On the one hand I’m terrified it’s over; on the other, I have this odd sense of happiness that I don’t know how to place. It’s not a feeling I’m used to.

I sent an email to two of my teachers on Tuesday because my mental health has got to the point where I’m finding it hard to function. It started with the words, “I’m finding it incredibly difficult to write this email. However, expressing how I’m feeling in person is getting increasingly more difficult.” I still wrote it, a 700-word long email that took me an hour to put together. My mum encouraged me to talk about my feelings to the school after I’d spent a while crying to her. Without counselling, I know I couldn’t have done that.

That email was the culmination of many things. I’d gone to talk to my history teacher before the Easter holidays, terrified out of my mind because of how behind and overwhelmed I still was. In the holidays, I tried to give myself a mental break and it might not have worked to the extent that I’d wanted but it was a start. Yes, I didn’t get much work done but the alternative was to exhaust myself again.

Jane, my counsellor (or former counsellor, now) is amazing. In our last session, when I told her about the open conversations I’ve been having with my dad and the way I didn’t feel so “desperately alone” anymore, I said that – for the first time – I was properly proud of myself. That openness and honesty was because of me, not because of anyone forcing me. I’d done it when I’d felt ready, without intense amounts of pressure. It felt real, like the results were tangible. I suppose they are, really.

I can see them in the way I talk to people. As I said in my email, “I feel ill and worried pretty much all the time” but that doesn’t mean there aren’t people there. I may not be okay but actual evidence, rather than paranoid fears, has shown me that I’m capable of talking to people.

Of course, there are consequences. Because of the school confidentiality rules, it’s being shown to my other teachers and the head of Sixth Form. I knew all this before I wrote and sent the email – I think it’s part of the reason I did it. I needed people to understand, to hear it through my own words. Explaining it vaguely hasn’t been enough and trying to hint at how I feel in lessons is so exhausting that I just can’t do it.

Perhaps this will change things. There may only be around 6 weeks left of proper teaching; I may not catch up on all of my work but I at least want to make a difference for myself. I’m incredibly pessimistic so it might all go to shit but the pessimism isn’t all-consuming, all the time. Having no counselling on a Wednesday is going to be painful at first and I’ll need some kind of support but it doesn’t feel insurmountable anymore. God, 6 months ago, I wouldn’t even have been able to say that sincerely, or to wish for it!

There is hope for the future. Last Saturday, I spent the day with Pearl and two other friends and we watched Love, Simon, which was one of the most heartwarming things I’ve ever seen. Pearl and I got lost in the cinema and spent an hour, whilst waiting for my dad to come and pick me up, talking. I didn’t feel like she was going to hate me; I didn’t feel like I was faking part of my personality to stop her hating me. It just felt nice, and happy, and calm. Examining my emotions, not criticising myself for having a good day and letting myself feel is one of the things we focused on – without explicitly stating that – in the sessions I had with Jane.

All of this is a beginning. It won’t solve everything; it hasn’t even got close. However, these achievements – whatever they’re worth – show me I’m not the worst person alive, as I said to Jane yesterday. I’m going to go back to the GP at some point but at least I know that support is there. At least I’m holding onto that support.

I have to take things one step at a time, in my own time. The feeling of relief and the lack of violent upset that accompanies that is beautiful. At least to me.

From Elm 🙂

Is This All I’ll Ever Be?

I have a tendency to hide my upset behind a mask of being fine, to shut it all down in the hopes that no one will ever ask me if I’m truly okay with things. It forces me to make myself believe that if I’m not okay with things, I’m obviously a terrible person; I’ve been through the same old shit, over and over, because I don’t know how to deal with it otherwise. So here’s me, shouting my low self-worth and momentary hopelessness onto a screen. My last post has made me realise that if I want to love and be able to cry without feeling guilty, I need to start feeling unapologetic for having feelings like this.


Is this all I’ll ever be? Smiling, papering on a grin so that it can’t hurt any more. Setting myself up for disappointment so that I can’t get burned, when really , all I want to do is hope. In my head, hope makes me dangerous; hope makes me want things and `I have so little faith in myself that I don’t believe I should get what I want.

It’s exhausting to keep forcing myself to be okay with being pushed aside. It’s tiring to have to carry on as normal, when my grades are slipping, cracks starting to show and no one really knows the reason why. I pretend, because the real reason is linked to how much I hate myself and how much I hate letting myself never have anything. I let my happiness fall to the side because others’ feelings are more important and then, I end up miserable despite my best efforts to be fine. it seems pathetic. People should get on with their lives and I should be okay with that, when all I want to do is yell and tell them what’s happening in my head. “Deal with it,” they’d say, move on, and there I’d be – silent again because I didn’t push back hard enough.

Do people know how much it hurts? No, because I haven’t showed them; no, because I’ve brushed it all off and it’s only in my mind that the unfair screaming starts, curled in a little ball, shaking and wondering when the fuck this cycle will end. They can’t see past the lies I tell because with this, I’ve guarded it so much that no one can tell – apart from now – how the feelings from 7 and 2 and 1 year ago, from the times I was passive, still tear me apart. I can’t let myself break because of this, I say, breaking.

Is all I’ll ever be the person who’s the extra, never the person who stands centre-stage? Why do I never feel good enough, strong enough, happy enough? It feels as if I’m searching and searching, trying so hard and the only way I can help myself is to post ambiguous posts on this blog that no one can understand. I don’t know how to talk about anything anymore because it’ll all come pouring out; people may think I’m a petulant child. I have such faith in my readers, you guys, who have helped me and listened to years of this shit. But I’m still afraid.

I want to be honest with you. I’m scared of getting hurt so I don’t let myself get upset, outwardly, by people. Inwardly, it’s basically the representation of this post – jumbled, directionless, confused and with nowhere to go. To talk about things is so difficult when the people you can turn to may not have time for you and couldn’t do anything and the people you want to turn to don’t care. Unlike before, nothing is working and I feel locked, sometimes, in a pit of my own making. I don’t know how to get out.

In short, I have too many feelings. I feel afraid when I get a message that I know will upset me. Before I talk to people, before I do anything, I have to prepare myself to shield against outward displays of sadness. It’s got to the point where I have so little faith in my abilities that inside my head is an unhappiness that’s only lifted when I remember my worth. On my face, you don’t see the extent of it. In my words, you can’t see it because I’m good at showing half the truth – just enough for people to be satisfied with my ‘honesty’ – and then fear makes me hide the rest. If I told people how bad I feel about things that have happened, they might run away and not understand. I know I should give a chance to those that love me but my head’s so muddled that I don’t know where to start.

Without being fake, I want to finish this post off with a reminder to you and myself. You dont have to pretend all the time. You don’t have to shove a smile into your mind and hope it sticks because in your head, it doesn’t always stay. I don’t like being the one that takes the shit and never retaliates back but at the end of the day, I don’t know how to stop doing that because I’ve spent so long in that mindset. However, this comes gradually and I know that eventually, it won’t hurt as much. Maybe I’ll feel like I’m worth more than the one you go to when you’re desperate, when you have no options left or the one who you only think about when with me.


Do any of you feel like this too?

I’m sorry for all this negativity. Sometimes, you need to write and write and get things out, no matter how painful. This blog is an outlet and I can’t forget that.

You’re not alone in your mixed up thoughts and a wish to scream them to the world.

From Elm 🙂

When I was Made to Talk

I’m writing this just after 1 in the afternoon, half an hour after a counselling session ended. I should be working but I’m a rebel. If you know about counselling, you might be asking, “But your counselling sessions are after school on a Wednesday?” Yes, they are. However, this counselling session was in school and I had no idea about it until I was in the room with the counsellor.

I’m finding it very very difficult to get my words out right now, as I did in the session, and so this post may be a little unfiltered but I’m so upset and shaky that if I don’t write it out, I’ll internalise it all. Although talking does usually help, it has the absolute opposite effect when I’m forced to do it at such short notice. It only works when I can at least gather my thoughts. If this won’t help me, I hope it’ll help you to realise that disclosing things about your own mental health should be on yr terms with your permission, rather than someone else’s. This is all fresh in my mind as I write this; I’m going to go back to this later and post it when I get home.

Now, it’s not like I had no warning. Approximately 4 months ago, when I actually spoke to my Head of Year about how bad I felt, she put me on the list to have counselling from an external counsellor in school but I never heard anything since. I thought she’d utterly forgotten because she always made me feel like my ‘problems’ were just normal hormonal things. Also, I could have refused the counselling straight off when I got in the room but I felt too awkward and guilty to do it, or even to ask not to go next week. I just felt blank and washed out and drained before it had even started because instead of talking to this counsellor – although really lovely – I wanted to talk to the one I go to on Wednesdays, Jane.

I got into the room and asked what I was here for and I was told it was for counselling. I relaxed a little as I thought I’d been in trouble; however, I still felt wildly closed off and unwilling to open up. Maybe if I’m approached it better, I would have had a better reaction but I had no time to do that. From the outset, I just knew that I wasn’t comfortable, above all because I hadn’t had time to get comfortable.

She read out some paperwork, about confidentiality (which didn’t help as I wasn’t feeling stable at all), then I signed a form about information from my sessions being used, of course anonymous, and we started. Right off, I felt disconnected and unprepared and so what I said was utterly raw, very jumbled, neither made sense to me nor her and I don’t know if it was the truth or not. I’m having a day where, with the exception of 2 hours’ solid work in History, I’m questioning my own thoughts a lot and so articulating them is so, so difficult.

Because my brain really hurts and I’m exhausted, I couldn’t have told you what I exactly said. When these kinds of things happen to me, where I panic, I often block it out to make it stop feeling overwhelming. I spoke about myself, my perception of how I feel, paranoia, how I have a distorted view of how I think, the conflict I’ve got between standards I set for myself and the expectation of failure and also not fitting the expectations of what people want me to be. I got so overwhelmed that I stuttered – something I hardly ever do – and felt absolutely cold. I mentioned the acting I did recently, how that made me feel; I talked about how behind I am in work; I talked about my general mental health and how afraid I felt that people hated me. All of this I know. What I don’t know is what she said to help; I don’t know the outcomes of the session. Instead of feeling like I could express myself, it all came out in a sick rush and I felt like I was a brick wall. I barely presented myself realistically – and yes, you could argue that the rambling, unhinged crap that came out of my mouth was me but today, I really didn’t feel well and also felt utterly out of it and unable to organise my thoughts.

After the session ended, I spoke to the counsellor casually but then just got out of there. Stepping outside, the first real thing I felt was the sun on my face and I was trembling because my thoughts were terribly confused, like they’d been shaken up. When talking to family about it, I could barely get my words out again; I texted one of my friends and couldn’t tell him much about what happened because I was in such an internal state. Part of the reason is that I wasn’t prepared; another was that because of confidentiality, I couldn’t talk about the thoughts that were really on my mind. The fact is, despite her being a really nice and patient person, I couldn’t trust her. I couldn’t trust the school and so, although she’s an external counsellor, I couldn’t trust her either.

As I’d previously expressed a need for the counselling, I don’t blame the school for how I felt. I know they thought I knew but I can’t help but be a bit upset – perhaps misplacing this upset – because it made me panic, after it was done, to an extreme. If I could have prepared myself to talk today, maybe I would have got more out of the session. If it had been in an environment where I felt secure, I could have spoken more freely. If I didn’t have the worry of confidentiality, I could have talked about more serious things without being afraid.

When I’m made to talk to someone and I’m not prepared for it, or when it falls on a day where my thoughts are really bad and talking about them is tricky, I shut off and just try and get through. Hopefully, this isn’t going to stop me from opening up in the next few days. I learned today that sometimes, I really can’t talk because I haven’t processed any of my thoughts but that’s okay. It’s not your fault if talking doesn’t help, whether always or only sometimes. People should respect your boundaries – and I know the counsellor had no time to be able to understand mine so of course I don’t blame her. I don’t even know my boundaries until they come up.

Don’t ever feel like you should be forced to talk if words just won’t come out and you can’t form them yet. It can be tricky to know when you truly feel like talking and when you don’t but if it feels utterly wrong to you to talk at this present moment, when you can’t understand what you’re feeling and it all shuts down, you don’t have to.

I don’t think I’ll go the week after next. On top of the fact that I already have counselling, the emotions brought up were too overwhelming and I felt too unhappy to constructively listen to anything. It didn’t feel freeing, or like I could trust it, or like I had another person to talk to. It just felt unpleasant to make myself talk about things that just weren’t prepared in my head.

What are your experiences with school counsellors? This counsellor was very good at what she did but just not for me and not now.

From Elm 🙂

Reasons Why I Shouldn’t Hate Myself

Yesterday, I had one of the worst bouts of self-hatred I’ve had in months. It continued all day, from when I woke up until the evening, when it eventually poured out of me, nonsensical and terrifying for me because I lost complete control of myself and my words. However, looking back on it, there are reasons why I shouldn’t hate myself like I aggressively did.

I screamed all of this out to one of my favourite people and I’ll call him Reggie because it’ll annoy him. How he put up with me I don’t know: I made no sense, repeated myself and lied to myself a hell of a lot but I eventually calmed down. He helped me to see that though the fear of myself and my hatred is overpowering sometimes to the point where I can’t talk about it, I’m not such a terrible person. I’ll thank him later for basically drilling that into my skull. He’s one of the main people who has forced me to realise how bad I can get.

Here are some reasons why I shouldn’t despise myself. It’ll be difficult to write because I’m still recovering from the irrational screaming of yesterday but I need to write this for myself and to show you that the perception you have of yourself can sometimes be wildly, unhealthily wrong.

My Appearance

I do actually have quite a nice figure – being small isn’t something negative
I’ve been doing a bit more exercise recently
People have found me attractive and although this shouldn’t be a way to boost my self-esteem, it destroys my notion that I’m absolutely disgusting
I have a good skincare routine and so I can take a bit of control over my appearance
When I feel it, I’m able to carry myself with a lot of confidence

My Personality

I can make myself cringe at how much I repress things, rather than shouting at myself as I did before
I make people laugh with my weird comments – not at me but with me
I can be kind to others and I try to support them as much as I can
Although it takes me a long time, I learn from my mistakes and have become a little more patient with myself after I realised that
I’m a good actor and am not being self-centred when I say that
If I have feelings, I’m not afraid to make them obvious – that’s a strength because it shows I’m capable of feeling them
I have a painfully immature and strange sense of humour sometimes
I take pride in my singing and how I can write lyrics
I have a very weird way of talking sometimes (which involves the verbal equivalent of all capitals) and my own laugh makes me laugh

How I Treat Others and React to Them

I’ve got a lot of issues to work through which make me wary of talking to some people but I know that these issues stem from very real feelings of insecurity which I will, in time, get to grips with
I’ve got better at talking to family and friends about why I do the things I do
I’m able to laugh and have a good time with people without feeling guilt over it
I’ve started to realise that the way I treat people can sometimes be shitty but in rectifying that, my friendships have got stronger
Talking about how paranoid I get has helped me to remember that people are here for me and actually care, that they’re not just pretending and that I’m worth more than a minute of people’s time (thanks again, Reggie and Red also, you fabulous people)
If people need me, I’ll always be there to talk to them and I’d happily drop anything to help

Things I’ve Done

Not everything is my fault
Really, I only deserve about 5% of the shit I put on myself, as Reggie pointed out to me yesterday (and I only listened to that this morning)
I’ve apologised for pretty much everything I’ve done, that I’m aware of, numerous times
I’ve openly communicated with people about how I feel and though some things are unresolved, starting that communication is something I’m getting better at

It turns out that I can think of quite a lot of things that I shouldn’t hate. Thanks to my friends, I’m acknowledging them rather than ignoring them and sinking into a well of screaming self-hatred.

What’s your favourite thing about yourself?

From Elm 🙂