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 🙂

When Writing Becomes Stressful

Recently, I read a post by Michelle that shocked me because of how much I related to it. That post essentially said that even when you want to write, you sometimes don’t and one of her reasons was that she was scared. Whilst there are other reasons why I’m finding writing difficult right now, the notion of being afraid and not understanding why struck a note with me because it was putting into words what I’d felt for months.

Most of my friends know that writing is what keeps me going a lot of the time. Blogging and broadcasting my thoughts is a point of stability for me, where sentences and emotions can flow out of my head and onto something tangible. It’s said to “come naturally” but of late, words don’t have the same impact. I often feel trapped in my own head, despite desperately wanting to write, but not finding the right way to express that. For someone who is sustained my words and dreams, it feels like a huge blow that it just doesn’t seem to be cathartic for now.

Here comes the fear that felt so relatable when I read Michelle’s thoughts. I constantly compare my present self to my past self, where I have this idea in my head that I need to act exactly the same as past Elm did. That is, I become afraid when my thoughts about writing and the way I write drastically change. The fear also comes from disappointing people: I’m scared that if I don’t write, my “one” talent will be gone; I’ll just be wasted and no-one will ever want to read my words again because they’re different; they’re not like how they were. I think this ties into the pressure that most bloggers face, where a change of style causes worry that your readers won’t read any more. Of course, your blog is yours but at some point, the wish for people to like your content can win out and engulf you, making you scared when that content transforms.

It’s also that I’m afraid that the posts I do write won’t come out right. I hold myself to an unbelievably and sometimes unreachable high standard, where I think that everything has to fit together nicely and that I’m not good anymore if that standard slips. That “standard”, though, is massively subjective and change doesn’t mean getting worse. However, I still have that nagging feeling that my content will be unoriginal. Because of that, I lock myself into a circular argument, where I’m paranoid that I won’t write anything decent so I don’t write but then I think that makes me a failure and that I’m incapable of writing, etc, etc. It continues until I don’t know if I’m telling myself the truth or not.

A relevant example is two posts which I’ve been meaning to write for a week and a half and three days, respectively. The first was a recap and update post on how my Austria trip, with two of my friends, went (it was absolutely breathtaking, by the way); the second was a post on my Prom experience on Monday (also fantastic and it taught me a lot about my own personal limits). I’ve not written either of them. As time went by and the days stretched out, I felt guilty and almost ashamed of the fact that I’d not got it done. Who was I if I couldn’t write these important posts? Would I slowly start to share less and less of my life, until I didn’t at all? That genuinely distressed me.

The reality is, I built up those posts into a huge block of “YOU MUST DO THEM NOW” inside my mind. They became benchmarks of my writing: if I could write those lengthy, update-like posts, I was dedicated. I was good. However, I started to get really panicked about writing the actual posts. Though I wrote outlines (they’re still on my computer), every time I thought about sitting down and putting my words onto a screen I just felt upset. Why? Why would I feel upset when what I was writing about made me happy?

Was it just that it was too much work? Does my inability to put that much effort into a post make me lazy? Am I then worse than everyone else because I don’t do enough? These kinds of questions kept going round and round in my mind, poisonously, until I couldn’t bare to sit down and write them.

There’s this unpleasant point that you can get to where you think that people will abandon you if you don’t do a certain thing. It’s happened to me a few times over the last 3 years but never has it invaded my life so harshly. It surprised me: I always tell people that “your blog is your own” and “only write when you feel like it” but I’ve not been following my own advice. I took the thing I adored and made it into something pressurising, the act of “failure” that isn’t even failure turning into this monster and couldn’t, and can’t, shake. It’s upsetting simply because I want to follow my own words. Right now, I’m not.

I think I need to step back a bit. Writing has become so stressful that I’ve warped it in my own head; it feels too draining. I need to reconnect with why I’m passionate about it and I think that actually comes from not writing, only for a small while. I’m putting myself under too much pressure, when it’s not necessary; I’m done with school and work-related pressure shouldn’t be a feature of my summer.

This only means that I need to evaluate how I approach blogging and how I approach writing. I want to be as honest as possible here; this whole thing has been increasing over the last few days, making me unsettled and more irritable, less responsive to people and generally a bit of a bitch. I don’t want to hide that side of me and I think that I need to think about why writing is important to me, without forcing myself to write. I may have wanted to write about happy, positive experiences but I built that up to a stressor in my head, which turned the writing of the posts into some kind of negative force.

I’ve always loved writing but I think the expectations I set myself are too high. I can’t write if I’m not confident in the effect my words will have on me. It’s neither fair on me or you: I don’t want my worry to shine through in my words all the time.

I just need to relax, really. Writing isn’t a chore or a necessity. It’s something I do when I want but most importantly, it isn’t my enemy.

From Elm 🙂

Too Lonely for Poetry

There are things I know I like to do. One is to write creatively, another is to act, another is to have constant personality crises and shout about them on the Internet. Actually, I don’t really like doing that last one but it’s part of my writing and existence and is, occasionally, what keeps me functioning.

Sometimes, I combine all three of these things. I act on the Internet, pretending everything’s fine – or that I can adequately write poetically about my crises and feelings. Most times I can manage but what’s harder to admit is that sometimes it feels like a facade. I want to get rid of that paper lantern and show you what I’m like when I just don’t know. Too often, I find myself harnessing an articulation I don’t feel, to spin sentences out of silk that just isn’t there. See? I’m doing it right now.

When it comes to love or a step away from it, I have too many feelings to process and unpick. I don’t know how to handle any of them. It’s got to the point where it’s impossible for me to talk about them on this blog because I’m desperately scared of sounding immature and also because I’m irrationally paranoid people will find out who it is I talk about and ridicule me forever. In counselling, I attempt to get this out but it doesn’t always work, as I’m still yet to understand how I should approach this.

On one hand, I know what I want to do about my feelings. I know I’m fine with having them – but what are these feelings? How deep do they actually run? What worries me is that I’ll do my usual thing: run away because I convince myself that no one cares and then deprive my own heart of anything that remotely resembles a positive experience. Finally, I thought I was getting somewhere with showing myself I was able to deal with any potential fallout that might happen but, well, no.

Not that there’s a hope in hell of any of my feelings ever being returned, of course. It’s a given now; I’ve lost all hope of ever, genuinely, being what someone would look for. I know I shouldn’t base my worth on what people think but it feels ridiculous to me that anyone could “love” me’ least of all want to tell me that. I keep trying and trying and trying to be strong and secure in my own mind but it’s difficult when I can feel blocked from talking out of fear.

How can I get across the panic I feel at me fucking up again? I don’t know. The best I can do is to tell you I’m scared I’ll be the one to make things too serious, too weird, and then that I’ll show my paranoia and emotions to someone and they’ll just go. I have such a low opinion of myself; I have such deep-rooted and unprocessed issues and the most recent people I’ve had feelings for wouldn’t cope with that. Would they? I don’t know. I don’t like taking chances because when I do, it seems I take the wrong ones.

This was too rambling. This wasn’t detailed enough: I wish I could do an analysis of my own mind. If I’d talked about everything from day 1, not hidden my thoughts from myself, it might be easier. In this post, I’m barely a writer but I’m an actor – I’m still holding it together, surprisingly. My structure and grammar hasn’t gone totally out of the window. I’m still pretending, just that little bit, when I shouldn’t. Blogging is where I can be as honest as I’ll ever be and I can’t forget that.

Maybe I should let things be but I’ve let things be for so long that I’m restless. In a weird way, I want to be proactive. It hurts that I can’t express any feelings openly and one of the only people who could help me with that would never read this.

I feel adrift in a jumble of useless words that mean nothing. I feel powerless and hopeless, unable to express, enclosed and trapped. Fear clenches in my stomach; I constantly have this tightness in my throat because I’ve been here before and it didn’t end well.

The worst thing? I can’t even be honest with myself.

I know exactly how I feel right now. I know how frightening that is. I also know that there’s nothing I can do to stop it and that I need to wait it out until I figure out a way to reconcile myself with it.

Do you ever feel this lonely, too? Do you ever want to ask for help in figuring out your mind but you don’t even know where to start?

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 🙂

Breaking the Silence on My Mental Health

Trigger warnings for mentions of mild self-harm, slightly suicidal thoughts and very negative content. I want to warn you in advance; if you’re affected by any of these, I’ve left links at the end of this post where you can find support.

Yesterday, my friends from school – Wren and Red – sat me down in what they called an “intervention” and told me, in no uncertain terms, that my mental health was utter shit and that they were really worried about me. After having shut myself off from everyone for a while, I totally understand why: their “intervention” threw me a bit even though I was expecting it, so that I didn’t quite know how to express myself. Thinking about it all of last night and this morning, I realised that part of the reason is because I stopped writing on this blog. So, I’m breaking the silence (which I’ve been intending to do for ages) to bring you a mammoth post on how bad I’ve been feeling, with some things that you might find more hopeful at the end. Bare with me here because I need to get this all out in the healthiest way possible. I want to show you something real and to tell any of you going through the same things that you’re not alone.

Where to start? I feel like I haven’t talked about this for so long that I don’t know how to speak. I’d start at the beginning or the root causes but the problem is that things are so muddled in my head that I don’t know what those causes are. All I know is that I’m desperately sad, so let’s start with that.

Whereas a year and a half ago, I felt sad a fair bit but I had a lot of moments of happiness, now, I feel either sad or blank constantly. When I’m not sad, I’m worried for some reason, fired up with some kind of emotion that is only rarely positive. I feel empty as well; it’s like I’m trudging through mud and even wanting to move is a struggle sometimes. When I spoke to my head of year about it, she told me it was just normal teenage behaviour and made me dismiss what was happening but my friends made me realise that it’s not “normal” to feel this unhappy all the time. It’s not “normal” to feel overwhelmed to the point of screaming and tears and it’s in no way “usual” to feel as if you hate yourself, that everyone hates you and that you should just shut up. I can say it’s got worse: it wasn’t this bad before; either that or I just didn’t notice. I have a habit of dismissing my own feelings, lying to myself and then eventually figuring out that I’ve felt something I thought I hadn’t or that things were worse in my mind but I locked it all up. However, I’ve started to truly notice how I’ve been feeling and it’s quite worrying.

Along with this negativity, I’ve been having a lot of horrible thoughts as well; this is where the trigger warnings apply. In short, over the last few weeks I’ve wanted to disappear. I don’t want to actively die but I do wish I didn’t exist a lot of the time. I tried to figure out the reasons why and a lot of it links back to me feeling worthless, horrible and to a situation which has just exacerbated that entire hurricane of feeling (I’ll get onto that at some point). Anyhow, the thoughts of wishing I could disappear got so bad a week ago, shortly before I started school again, that I scratched at myself and only realised it was self-harm afterwards. As it’s a sensitive topic, I don’t want to go into too much detail as that’s unnecessary for this post; I just want to say that if you do this, don’t blame yourself or call yourself disgusting: it’s not a healthy thing to do but it’s not your fault if you do it. I got so upset by this that I was unable to cope and shut myself down. I hardly ever talk about it; it’s just something that I don’t often acknowledge and I’m sorry if that negatively affected anyone. The urge to do that again, along with the urge to just not move and to wish myself gone so that nobody would notice me, is fading but it is still there.

When the average student says, “I’m so behind in my work!” often it isn’t that bad. I wish I was joking when I said that I’m so incredibly behind that when I try to tackle the mountain of work I have, I don’t do it. That’s a contributing factor to the reasons I feel unhappy about myself; I’ve taken some steps to solving it, like talking to teachers, and I blame myself for being lazy. I’ve realised that’s not it, or only a tiny bit: I have a severe lack of motivation and a lot of unprocessed emotions, situations and worrying thoughts so that doing work became a struggle. It’s got so overwhelming now that I don’t understand how to cope. I’ve left it very very late and that’s part of the problem. If I could flip a switch and just do the work, I would; I theoretically know how to do all of it but when I sit down and try, nothing happens. Then, I get frustrated, panicked and angry; I feel like a failure; I feel like a horrific person and sometimes, as if I’m lazy and no good to anyone. I can’t just think positively about it all because I feel miserable all the fucking time and it makes me even worse. Attempting to explain this to family is difficult as they don’t believe quite how bad it is, expecting to pick myself up immediately.

Two weeks ago, I went to Barcelona with a charity for VI people and whilst it was an amazing trip, I had the worst breakdown I’ve ever had on my friend who I call Rapunzel. It’s about something I don’t feel comfortable going into at the moment because I haven’t sorted it out, either in my own head or with the people involved, but the breakdown was so bad that I opened up about wanting to die, how awful I felt and on every single day of that trip, I was in emotional pain of some sort. Rapunzel’s the type of person who didn’t mind it when I cried on her and shook so hard I couldn’t stand up. I can’t pin the blame on people; it was just a culmination of circumstances, miscommunication and confusion that led to my emotional state: all of this I haven’t spoken about to many people save for Rapunzel and those who were with me when I was directly faced with it all. Luckily though, Barcelona was wonderful and I had a great time overall. Saying that, I think it partly contributed to how outwardly unhappy I seem (people noticed unfortunately when we were in the country as I had a few moments where my mask slipped and I was unable to function much). Things resulting from it have made me feel severely insecure: I keep on thinking I’m pathetic and I think people have all given up on me. Although things are confusing and I have no idea where I stand with people, they aren’t hopeless because I can fix things but I don’t quite know how to start it.

To try and deal with some of my wild emotions which were slowly being pushed onto myself, I booked a counselling appointment on Saturday. There, I skimmed over how I was feeling: I let the counsellor know everything but there wasn’t enough time to go into detail. I was terrified; I tried to let as much out as I could, referring to the box I talked about in this post to explain how I was feeling. Although it didn’t help because I need regular sessions to get some concrete progress, it didn’t feel like, when I came out, I wanted to cease to be alive. I know that’s brutal honesty but I want to be as truthful as I can be. I needed to let out years’ worth of terror and confused emotion to the counsellor which is only, now, just coming through on my blog because I’ve told you guys quite a lot but recently, I felt like I’ve been unable to post about some things because of how personal they are.

I don’t want to overload myself too much right now. I also don’t want to fill this blog with negative thinking but currently, I see no other way of sorting out at least some of the thoughts in my head. It’s hard to explain but I don’t often know how I feel because there are too many thoughts rushing around for me to process; I also get the feeling sometimes that I’m a non-person and that I’m a bit disconnected from everything. It’s horrible. When I write on this blog, it reminds me a bit of who I am because I forget and even now, I ask myself if these words are really how I feel or if I’m just, well, lying to myself. I’m sorry. I wish I could be more concise but rambling sentences are the only things I can write with any coherency.

Most days, I have to concentrate on getting through without having a mental breakdown, without utterly giving up on speaking or engaging with anything. Whenever I think about it, I get panicked and believe that I’m making things up, that everything is fine and then I start to feel like what I called a “non-person” earlier. It’s so hard to dissect what I’m feeling and I’m trying my best to solve that with things like counselling but I’m so afraid that I’m just going to become the shell of a person. When I consider that, I feel freezing.

There are too many things in my head, from dealing with feelings to coping with family to feeling lonely for no reason. Explaining it in one post is way too much; I tried to do it in counselling and got so upset that I couldn’t actually force any words out. I’m calling myself dramatic when I say this but it now goes far beyond simple “I’m sad” because when I thought the simple sadness, I hadn’t realised that there were a shitload of other issues. People expect me to be fine so I’ve shoved up a wall in my own mind to it; it’s only now, where I’m visibly not coping at school and getting upset because of that, that I kind of have to face the facts and quit calling myself attention-seeking for every little thing.

At some point, over the next few days or weeks, I’ll be talking about all of this in greater detail. Barcelona deserves an entire post of its own but I’m not willing to do that right now; too many things have happened and posting about it all would be so disrespectful to the people involved, not to mention disrespectful to myself because my thoughts are still hectic about it. For now, I’m going to leave this post as it is, in it’s wild and painful waves of thought. I don’t know how to do it otherwise; I don’t know how to structure my ideas to make sense any more but I’ve given it my best go.

If you’re feeling a little like me, here are some websites and support networks that can help. These are just for the UK but I might be creating a page on my blog for other countries too, if that’s something you’d find useful.

The Samaritans who you can talk to at any time; you can call them on 116123

Mind which is a mental health charity

The Mental Health Foundation

BetterHelp – an online counselling service

Don’t suffer in silence. I’ve done that enough and in a phrase, it’s fucking me up. I’m sick of going from day to day in a haze: I want to live my life but I have to get through this first.

From Elm 🙂

Locking My Thoughts Up

There’s a little key, silver, that my mind holds in shaking fingers. It’s so real and so there that you would think I hadn’t imagined it up. That key is the words said to me; that key is the words I say to myself; that key is the “Don’t think about it!” key. Sometimes, that key feels like the only thing separating my mind from screaming but most often, it feels like the key that, if lost, would unlock things I’d love to be able to say.

The key locks a box – a basic one on the outside, plain wood and inconspicuous if it wasn’t sitting right in the middle of my mind. Among other boxes, you could not pick it out: it has hinges on the lid that creak; they aren’t used to being opened. The lock itself is surprisingly ornate, as if a lot of thought had gone into it and the key usually fits in perfectly. When it doesn’t, it makes a horrible screeching noise and no matter how forcefully you try and turn it, it won’t budge. That box stays locked.

When it does open, though, it’s a mess. Little dividers separate compartments of thought: here’s terror, here’s being left behind but they’re only small. They get released a lot more now. Next to them are the beautiful memories that I’m too scared to think about; they collide with the last time I said “I love you” to create a whirl of sick, sick happiness. Crossing over them is the knowledge of love, the lake of confusion and hurt that flows into it so that I can no longer distinguish one from the other. The neat little boxes within the box have had their walls broken down so that if one emotion is released, another will surely come along with it.

Sometimes, little thoughts trickle out of the keyhole. A bit of sadness when I hear a song, a sharp twang of remembered beauty when I’m sitting alone with nothing to distract me; an echoing emptiness that’s a follow-up to being forgotten. The key lies on top, taunting – “I’m only going to let a little out, just so you feel like crying but not enough to make you cry.” Is the key being kind? Does it want to shield me from a breakdown or is it letting me go to the brink of tears and not giving me the satisfaction of crying them?

There are knocks on the box, from fists that are gentle and fists that are not. “Let me in, will you?” they ask the key and the key laughs and cries in their face, somehow unable to move. It would love to and when it does, the box opens with a squeak of joints and lets out a torrent of “Why, why, why!” before slamming shut so hard that it’s a wonder the key doesn’t get cut in half.

Outside the box, it is a little silent. Blank. Imagine it lying on paper, blue lines snaking out from it to create a picture of an ocean. A week and a half ago, when the happiness snuck out of the box to find its freedom and was so sharply pulled back, it left a silver spark on the paper. It’s still burning there but it isn’t as bright; the key came over and called it back. “Look, it’s over,” it said. “I know you want to stay but you had your fun.”

I ask myself now: is this box my whole mind or only part? Does an emptiness subsist around it or is it speckled with complex stars of love, thought and poetry? I can’t tell. The only thing I can think of now is that box and how I would love to open it. The only thing I can think of is that box and how I’d love to rip it open, tear the wood to pieces and expel the key. The only thing I can think of is that box and how opening it might break me, worse than I feel already.

That box and that key are what has kept me silent. That key is the key that makes me feel guilty when I explain how I feel to people who should not hear it, to people who should be speaking themselves about how they feel. The thoughts in the box are the desperate ones that ask why things went so wrong; those thoughts are the ones that I don’t let myself feel any more for fear of making people think I’m pathetic. Wood, hinges and rivers of thought swirl around inside that box, faster and faster, until they will all explode outwards. I want to avoid that.

I want to open the box before it opens itself. Slowly, so as not to scare anything, until all the thoughts are mixed together and the box has disappeared. I would like to write about them, to tell people how I really feel without being afraid. One day, I will. I just hope that day can be soon.

I’m sorry for my silence. At some point, a proper explanation will be posted; I don’t feel like myself at the minute and I feel very very out of control and so attempting to sort through it all will make no sense and you’d just get capital letters everywhere in my posts and phrases like “AARGHH WHAT THE HELL!” all the time. I can’t quite express how I feel currently but I’ve tried with this and I’ll succeed. Hopefully, it can let you understand a bit about how my mind works.

From Elm 🙂

An Update about Feelings, My Mind and Blogging

Heyy, for the first time in what feels like way too long. I really want to say some things and whether you get to the end of this or not, I really appreciate you reading even one sentence. This is long and not very positive; if you’re feeling especially negative at the moment, please don’t feel like you have to read this because feeling as positive as possible is the most important thing.

There are currently a few things which I know with all uncertainty and they are the only things which I can say I definitively know:
• Things in my life are steadily becoming more and more hectic, including something which has flipped my life upside down and could potentially change a lot of things
• Currently, I don’t know how to deal with these changes and I’m falling way, way behind in my subjects
• Situations from the past keep on cropping up and I’m discovering a lot of new things that don’t sit well with me, so much so that I don’t know how to “get over” these situations
• I have closed myself off to many, many people around me; I neither talk nor write any more like I used to
• I desperately miss writing and the inability to express myself, my disappointment in myself and my fear that I’m somehow broken because I don’t feel invested in my own feelings is having a direct and unhealthy impact on how I feel on a day-to-day basis
• I am deeply and worryingly unhappy which is not something I know how to write about or that I feel I can write about on here
• If I tried to write about it on here, every single one of my posts would be negative and I really don’t want to spread negative energy – I want to do the opposite

Right now, I’ll hold up my hands and say I don’t know what to do. I’m telling you all this to be honest, to be as transparent as I can be because I feel like I’m slowly getting more and more unhappy, more and more blank and that’s not a mindset I like. I won’t romanticise this or overly complicate it: I am unhappy; I have been unhappy for a long time and I do think you need to know that. Maybe I can explain some of the things that I’ve been doing or not doing, to give you an idea of what I feel.

For the last few weeks, I’ve read no posts. None. The key to getting inspiration for my posts was always the world around me which included what other people had written. As I slowly realised my mental health may not be as great as I claimed and then I decided it would be a fucking great idea to ignore the problem, I stopped reading everything. I pretended to some people in real life that I was satisfied with this, that it was the best thing for me but really I was furious with myself and that mentality isn’t constructive because reading posts isn’t a chore. It should be fun and thought-provoking before anything else.

On the subject of talking, I’ve barely replied to messages, even worse than usual. This is most, well, noticeable on Twitter where things piled up and I thought that if I did reply, no one would even care and that I was pretty much a waste of space who just pretended to be funny or insightful. With some people, I put a lot of effort in to prove to myself I can because I love them; with others, I’m so terrified of putting effort in that I shut myself off even though I respect them so incredibly highly. If I haven’t replied to your messages or emails, please know it’s not because I dislike you – that couldn’t be further from the truth. I have barely enough energy to think properly or even create a plausible reason but I’m so, so sorry. I’m not making an excuse for my stupid thoughts because there isn’t one and I can’t just blame it all on the mental health.

I’ve said I’ll do things but haven’t. This includes posting guest posts for people that I’ve written, organising collabs or even emailing people back. In essence, I feel like a shit blogger and I wish I could be less honest with you and come up with some bullshit excuse but the truth is that I have no motivation to do anything, including schoolwork. Thinking of that, I still haven’t done an essay set 3 weeks ago and I feel so sick now at the thought of going into school that I shake violently and want to scream for hours. Again, that’s a poisonous attitude for me to have, blaming myself all the time for things I haven’t done. Yes, I should have done it all but sometimes I just can’t. At all.

One of the most unhealthy things I ever do to myself is to close myself off. LIKE ELM STOP YOU SHOULD TALK MORE!!! I’ve stopped talking to friends properly, have little desire to go out when before I would have jumped at the chance to do something different. Often, I feel apathetic to a lot of things and my love for company has both increased wildly and decreased, depending on who it is, how I’m feeling on a certain day and the context of the situation. I spoke to my Head of Year this morning and she said it was surprising to see me so composed but the reason for my calm was not because I felt any better. It was because I felt numb inside and 100% didn’t want to talk. Today, I don’t really feel entirely there – “spaced out”, as I call it. I’ve downplayed all of this to my friends, partly because I think they’ll get sick of it but also because I think I’m lying to myself and if I tell them the truth and then realise I was lying, it’ll be much harder to undo. That’s incredibly nonsensical but sometimes I genuinely feel like I’m faking stuff inside my head to make excuses for things.

Sometimes, I say positive things I don’t feel and pretend to feel fine like I did with my Head of Year today when really, I feel the opposite. I don’t feel awful every day but I do feel sad or disconnected a lot of the time. I went to see a counsellor on Saturday and though I didn’t cry, it was the least fake I’ve been in months, potentially years. I didn’t have to know how I felt and in school, I put such a mask on that I don’t know what’s me any more. Essentially, I’ve forgotten what I really feel, how I work and what I’m doing; I’ve lost sight of it – excuse the pun – so that on a day-to-day basis, if someone asked me how I felt I’d either give them opposing answers on different days or just say “I don’t know”. Mostly, though, I pretend I feel better than I do because going into depth exhausts and confuses me because I never know if what I’m saying is what I’m feeling.

I don’t like myself for all these things. It panics me; I feel like a failure – but that’s the problem. I shouldn’t feel like a failure because my mental health will always come first but I can’t help it; I can’t help screaming at myself and sinking further and further down into this well of negativity when in theory, I know how to change my mindset. I know that beginning to think more positively will start a chain reaction which will make things feel better but I can’t seem to stop hating myself and feeling miserable which is incredibly damaging to myself. People around me have tried to convince me I’m not affecting me and yet I won’t listen; I will directly say to people I have no idea what I’m doing or how I’m feeling and that I mistrust people I should love. I neither want pity nor sympathy and I’m deeply scared people will think I will and that I’m attention-seeking, which is another reason I no longer talk.

That’s why I’m writing this. To tell you I’m not coping and to explain to you the decision I may have to make, or the changes that might happen – especially here. The truth is that things are getting so overwhelming that if I tried to post about it all, this blog would be filled with rants and anger and fear. I don’t want that. That may be a thing that a lot of people say but I’ve become really aware, recently, of how my words can affect people.

I’ll continue writing but I’m not sure in what capacity. Writing was and is still my safe haven, where I go when I need help. However, it’s become something of an effort that is an unhealthy effort. My entire mindset, focused on negativity that I don’t need, might just be made worse by constantly writing about that negativity. I DON’t WANT TO BE NEGATIVE.

I always tell people, “If you start to feel like writing is too much, that you feel like you have to continue it for other people and to make sure people read it, stop doing it for a while or cut it down a little.” I think I have to take my own advice. I may not want to but it might be what is best for me and I want to show you that things won’t be great all the time and sometimes you have to make shitty decisions that make you unhappy but that might make things more bearable in the future.

I have too much to say and so that’s why this is so long. I know that you’ll understand because if you’ve got this far then I know you care in the slightest bit and I appreciate that so, so much. This isn’t a goodbye or even a temporary farewell. It’s an explanation of how I’ve been feeling, why all of it is unhealthy and the steps I may have to take to make myself feel more like myself. Does that make any sense?

There isn’t a conclusion to this post. I’ve come to no realisation except that I’ve missed writing and that telling you things have lifted a bit of the weight off, for a while. At some point, I’ll update you on what’s been happening event-wise as opposed to feelings-wise and so things might make a little more sense then. I needed to say all this, even though I’m really afraid of what people may say and the advice they may give because of how right they will probably be. I trust you though: people here have helped me through so much shit and I forgot just how much writing does help, despite my worry.

No matter how much I write or how little, I’ll still be here. I’m here to support anybody that needs it, regardless of how I feel, because at the core of it all I want to help people. That’s not just a bullshit phrase; I really mean that. Never be afraid to talk or do what will make things easier for you because your life is about you. It’s not about the wishes of others.

Love from Elm 🙂

I Think I

I think

I am falling apart, pieces

Of a jigsaw, spinning

Out of control, never quite winning

The fight to keep my hopes alive.

I believe

I hate myself, twisted, ugly

Thoughts sickening, screaming; funny

How I run to save my heart

When it’s too late.

I wonder

If my heart is thumping, eyes wide-

Awakening, slowly, sobs that I cried

Silent. Suppress. Gone.

I might be

Ruining myself. Day by day,

Sick, sicker, sickest-

In my head, my mind

A fucking self-made mess and

Is this all I can be?

I am questioning

Lies caught in a freezeframe, my mind

A lie, my heart

A lie, myself?

Who am I?

I think

I am falling back together; I believe

I am fake, too broken; I wonder

What the point is; I might be

Hopeful and hoping and hopeless.

And I do not like that.


I don’t know how else to explain my thoughts other than a poem. My head’s an utter mess right now but writing helps, a little. I’m really sorry if this comes across as attention-seeking or if this upsets anyone.

I hope you’re all doing well. If you can relate to any of the words I’ve said, I’m always here to talk.

Love from Elm 🙂