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 ๐Ÿ™‚

Blind College is Weird

I started this post in the break between lessons and very quickly realised that my brain was too scrambled to finish it in 20 minutes. It’s the first time I’ve been given proper room to breathe (most of it was purposeful because I don’t want to be alone right now) and so I thought I should update you all – or try. God, where do I even start?

I moved into blind college last Saturday – you can read about how I was feeling here. Over the last week, I’ve managed to have two mental breakdowns, make a few really solid friends, actually keep on top of my work and also to go to a University of Oxford open day (what the fuck am I doing?). All in all? It’s part success and part shrieking confusion. As usual.

How it works here is a bit different to how it is in mainstream (Sixth Form). It’s residential, meaning that we stay in halls – I’m staying in the over 18s hall – and we have all our lessons on the college campus. The huge difference is how few students there are – I’d say that there are fewer than 100. Mostly, that’s what I’ve been struggling with – the small environment, the potential drama, trying not to get overwhelmed and everything else that comes along with that.

Here, I’m doing a Performing Arts course. That’s going really well – I’ve managed to understand the course, keep up with work and actually get on with the people I’m with. However, I’ve come to realise that I’m not confident at all but that I’m really good at faking it. It’s been so easy to pretend I’m fine, that nothing properly phases me but the truth is that right now, things don’t feel good and I don’t know what to do about it.

It’s not that I’m not coping. Well, I am coping but only just about. It’s so hard to juggle everything – classes, spending time with people but most of all, keeping up with my out of college friends. I’ve barely had time to think or message or anything; the main sources of my panic are coming from feeling immense guilt over not talking to people. I just don’t want to lose anyone because of not communicating well.

I’ve tried not to be alone. That involves spending time with people pretty much constantly, to the point where I now feel weak and drained. I put around 40 different faces on in order to feel somewhat put together. I’ve made a couple of really good friends and on top of the friends I already had who were coming here, they’ve kept me going. At times, I’ve been unable to function – finding it hard to eat, to speak to people or to even breathe properly – but I do have support.

I suppose, the good thing about this place is that you can’t really avoid people, meaning that somebody – at some point – is going to pick up on the fact that you’re feeling shit. Yesterday, I went to see the college counsellor who was really helpful; now I have more of a plan in place for any counselling sessions. However, I didn’t quite process any of my emotions, which resulted in a delayed reaction that I couldn’t stop. Later that day, I had to walk out of my last lesson of the day because I was wildly panicking; I went to the residential support team who are in my hall and absolutely wailed to one of them. It’s been a long time since I’ve cried that hard at somebody and it was therapeutic, to say the least. Despite that, I’ve been feeling alone and like nobody wants me here. That’s ridiculous, I know, but for some reason I can’t stop those intrusive thoughts.

Honestly, I am having a good time. I’m just overwhelmed and dealing with some pretty horrific emotions: often, around this time, I have a pretty rough time mental health wise. It’s difficult not to feel unhappy when I’m surrounded by so many things that make me hide it all until it comes out in a disjointed post like this. The fact is, I’ve been having some horrible days but there are positives.

I’ll be okay – I can’t even pretend to be functioning normally right now but the difference to the usual is that I know I have people to talk to. Coming here was the best decision; it’s just taking a while to adjust and on top of my existing shitty mental health, it’s a lot to take in.

At some point, I’ll write a better explanation post. Writing coherently takes too much energy at the moment. For now, I hope everyone’s okay – I’m sorry I’ve been so absent. Stay safe and stay happy.

Love from Elm ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love from Elm ๐Ÿ™‚