Slowly Moving Along

Ever since I dropped French – which was finalised on Tuesday – I’ve noticed a marked change in my behaviour.

To put it simply, the last time I cried with any measure of seriousness was Tuesday, but that was out of relief when my head of year told me I never had to do French again. Before that, I’d been so scared about going to the lesson that I was shaking, my face was pale and I was doing my infamous “stick-insecting” – rubbing my hands together. Naturally, when I found out I was French-free, I sobbed on my head of year and spent the rest of the day trembling out of a strange sense of happiness.

My body’s still getting used to not stressing constantly, every day; I’m still tense as hell but that’s because I’m working on relaxing myself. There was a brief moment of terror when I was told that my French teachers wanted to speak to me; I was in the middle of doing Peer Mentoring and so had to pause in order to get myself under control.

I spoke to the girls in my French class – my old French class – and they were all so amazing about it. Laurel – the girl who sat next to me – also wants to drop it and yesterday, I sat with her. We talked, we hugged and at one point, I could barely breathe with sadness because I’ll miss her. Yes, I can see her out of class any time, but it’s not the same; we don’t share the understanding of hating French any more, which is kind of a good thing. I hope she can drop it, though it’s likely they won’t let her: it’s not fair though, because she’s as miserable as I was. God, it’s weird to say that in the past tense.

In terms of speaking to the French teachers, I’m dreading it. I was too scared to tell them what was happening with me, how low I was feeling, because I thought they may convince me to carry on and then I’d get worse. However, I understand why they’d want to talk to me: I can’t just leave it like this, where I bugger off and don’t say goodbye. I’ve got no idea how terrified I’ll be when I actually have to go to them because apparently they’re really sad I left, but we’ll just see what happens. The other three girls in the class were just as nice as Laurel, and understand my fears about the subject. The lesson on Tuesday, according to my other friend in french, was attrocious because the teacher went on a rant about how you shouldn’t drop it as it would be an awful idea, and Laurel was sat there with the saddest look on her face.

It surprises me how well everything else is going. I got an A in my English mock, and supposedly did well in my History (or so my teacher says). When I found out about the english result, I almost cried, and then almost cried again out of annoyance because a girl next to me refused to understand why I was so shocked “Because you always do well anyway,” she said in a patronising voice. I won’t think about that though.

I got a real emergence of motivation for my History coursework and for psychology revision. At the removal of a stressful thing, everything else has taken on a life of its own and just seems more vibrant, and more worthwhile. Even the effort I put into talking to people has increased.

This post was just a way to let you know how I’m doing. Everything is looking up; I’m going to go and do revision now. Proper revision, and reading, and maybe even talk to friends later on.

I may not be entirely happy, but I’m getting there. French isn’t the only reason why I felt – and feel – bad when it comes to mental health, but removing one of the key components means that I can, for the first time since I started hating myself again, concentrate on myself and to let my mind understand that I am slowly wending my way to loving life again.

From Elm 🙂

Should you Do Something Even if You Hate It?

Yesterday was a great day: I felt positive, happy, did work (understood my psychology and history) and I was held up by the thought that for the whole day, I’d felt alive and like I was in control. Recently – and by that I mean for the past few months – I’ve steadily been feeling less connected with my emotions; numb, if you will; growing slowly more unfeeling and scared because of it. Yesterday was a change from that.

Today started off the same – a bit dulled – but it was still alright. I had great conversations with Swan, felt passionate about Othello and English and laughed in Psychology with the new, casual friends I’ve made.

That shattered, at lunch, for one reason: French.

“I fucking hate it.” “God, I wish I’d done Philosophy, or Politics instead.” “If I could go back and change my options, I honestly would – I know loads of people say that but I mean this.” “I’m not passionate about it any more.” “I can’t do it – I just can’t – I want to cry whenever I think about it.” “I love the concept of it – languages are amazing – but studying it sucks the energy out of me and I hate myself for it.” These are all things I’ve been saying about the subject, with more and more insistance, increasing in frequency after the soul-destroying disaster that was my mock.

Today I broke down over it – it was like the final straw. I do Peer Mentoring for this lovely girl a few years younger than me, but I couldn’t do it this lunch. It was partly because I felt shit, but also because I’m tired, confused, and I feel ill, but that’s a whole other story. I hope that she’s okay; I feel rubbish for not talking to her because she might have needed my help nd.

I went to the VI unit – building for visually impaired people where they prepare our work – told the teacher who helps me find my Mentee’s form room that I just couldn’t do it because of stress, and then opened up to her about the french problem. They all knew I was stressed, that I disliked french, but today was the day I truly told them how I felt. After that teacher left, I explained how awful I felt to the teacher who prepares my French work, and one of the other teachers there. Then, I cried through my words, just feeling guilty and hollow.

Essentially, I don’t think I can carry on with French, even to the AS exam. Every time I think about that subject, I panic, cry and don’t do the work. Not doing the work makes me panic so much that I then can’t do it, but there are other reasons.

In French, we study a film. I’m blind, and can’t see enough at all to, well, read the subtitles. The film’s in French, English but also Spanish (which I have no idea how to speak apart from some simple phrases). It would be bad enough if I just didn’t understand what was going on scenery-wise, but not only did my dad have to try and explain what was going on with that as well, he had to translate a few key passages using the subtitles. Plenty of VI people have done french and other languages for A-Level, but I’m just bad, and my mental health was low anyway. That sounds like some fucking stupid excuse.

How do I explain this? Right, so imagine you’re blindfolded and you have to listen to something. It’s in a foreign language, a few English words scattered here and there but mostly in a different language. You watch it with your dad and you think “Okay, I think I get the plot?” You watch it with your class and a funny scene comes up; they laugh, and it takes you 10 minutes to get the context of the joke, understand it, and then understand why it’s relevant. The teacher tells you, “Here are some filming techniques!” Oh great, you think, but what does that mean? Why? You find out the plot, have to learn it and then someone in your class says, “Remember when the main character did that?” Did what, and when was that, and when was the significance of that, and oh god oh god oh god!

When I write about this film, I write what people tell me to write. Either because I’m incapable or because of partly the blindness, coming up with good points based on scenery, characters or anything like that is a struggle. I just don’t understand it, and writing, reading, listening or anything has turned into a chore, something I dread, and it ultimately makes me hate myself because I convince myself I’m some sort of failure.

It’s not only that: the workload is awful. I do three other essay subjects, and they’ve all been affected because French takes up my time, and I always stress I’m just not doing enough. This year has been the worst, academically and personally, for me; my enthusiasm has gone, my mental health is unpleasant, I feel like crap all the time and I can’t seem to shake a feeling of worthlessness. I only wish I’d caught this at the start of the year but at the start of the year, I was much happier.

My friend Laurel, who sits next to me in French, found me after class today as it was the end of the day. She’s also thinking of dropping it, and we walked down the corridor, as I was trying to explain an abbreviated version of how I felt. The wind, as we walked outside, threw my hair around and we stood facing each other, she patting my arm as we said goodbye because she could hear the deadness in my voice.

The thought of going to french lessons makes me feel sick. When I come out the classroom, usually I’m upset, or dead inside – as I am right now, numbed to it. I got so stressed about the speaking exam and how I hadn’t prepared for the practice one that I bent my fingers back, twisting my wrists and gasping for air, trying to tell myself I was fine, that I was just being pathetic.

I can’t do it any more, and I’m gripped with this awful desperation. If I continue with this, I’ll break down, cry even more than I have, and I’m just scared of slipping even further down the crap health ladder. Then again, am I making this out to be worse than it is? If I drop it, will everyone hate me?

I’m speaking to a more senior staff member tomorrow, because I’m too nervous of talking to the french teachers. They’re amazing people and I adore them, but if I explain it to them, they’ll try and convince me to stay. They’ll give great arguments, or say, “Just stick it out to your exam!” I genuinely don’t know if I can do that, but if I told them, they’d convince me I could and then I’d get even worse, because I’d have to prove something.

Pros of dropping French:
I’ll be happier
There’ll be less stress
I can concentrate on the subjects I want to carry on with
I’ll have more time for myself
I may hate myself less

Cons of dropping French:
My french teachers and otherteachers will be disappointed in me
It looks like I’m giving up after having not tried it
I’ll lose credability for not carrying it through to the end
I may regret the decision
My friends and everyone else could think I’m a failure
I do enjoy the idea of French

As I sit in my bedroom, hands shaking and feeling cold all over, I ask myself this question: is it worth feeling this miserable, panicking constantly and worrying, for something that won’t affect your future much after you do it? Is it all really worth it if everything else is being brought down by it? Is it too late? I don’t know. I don’t think it is, and that’s terrifying.

From Elm 🙂

Heartbreak in The City of Love

(I wrote this late last night)

Over the last two weeks, I’ve cried more than I have over the last two months. That makes me sad, except the knowledge that for most of these crying episodes, I was around people that could help me. I’m proud of myself for that.

When you’ve been cheated on, no matter if you don’t blame the person, no matter how happy you are for them – it still feels like you’re getting repeatedly smashed in the heart by a broken do-not-disturb sign, which obviously failed at keeping uou the shitty emotions. Perhaps I should be grateful for it, because if I’d have blocked it out like I did my last heartbreak, I know it would have been ten times worse.

In case you didn’t know, I went to Paris in the half term – read this post for more details. Although there were many good times, there were also some horrendous times, and I’m going to explain them to you because it wasn’t all laughter and happiness, at all.

I made a promise to S, when we spoke before Paris, that if I felt miserable I’d find someone. Whether that be him, someone like L or Violet, or even a staff member – just that I’d find someone so that I wasn’t alone. He knows how I get, that sometimes I’ll shut away and not talk because I don’t want to be a drain on anyone. For the most part, I kept that promise, remembering it when my heart hurt so badly that I wanted to break all of my fingers.

I cannot describe to you just how much emotional pain I was in when I saw – heard – them together. Though I was expecting it, preparing myself for it, nothing can prepare you for the sting, the gut-wrenching fear when you realise it’s entirely over. I felt second, terrible, because they spoke with such ease and laughed and I asked myself, “Could you EVER be like that? Could you speak like that, no, because you’re not funny and you’re just trying too hard.” And I dealt with it, until I literally couldn’t.

Crying on people makes me feel bad for them, even though I find it easier to get the tears out. I’ve always had a problem with putting myself first, because I’m just not able to do anything without asking how the other person feels, if THEY are okay, and apologising. Constantly. I said sorry when I lost my cane and cried on S, and for all the other times. I said sorry – or thought it over and over – whenever I accidentally made a pointed/despairing remark.

He has been so lovely, like you wouldn’t imagine. Because he knows me so well, he can predict how I’ll be, how much of a wreck I am. He didn’t make me feel stupid for crying, and oh for fuck’s sake here come the tears again. When I remember we’ve broken up, that nothing can be the same like THAT again, tears come spilling out of my eyes like they’re waterfalls; I know he’ll always be there for me in a friend capacity but god I just can’t.

On the first night, I cried a little on Violet, when we stayed in the first hotel. She was my constant support through all of it, and when we were actually IN Paris, we were in the boys’ room. She went out, I followed a few minutes later, and she found me. After that, I cried so much that my eyes hurt, and I told her exactly how broken I feel, my voice echoing too loud in the corridor. It had got too much, with the constant reminders, me feeling trapped and lonely and SO damn awful because I’ve been replaced, utterly, and what can I do?

That Thursday was when we went to the Eiffel Tower. Over 100 metres up, on the second floor, we stopped. S and Pansy were on the section below, I stared down at the nothingness I could see and let one tear fall. I knew that they would be having a good time, that it would be special for them because it’s Paris and it’s romantic, and all I could think about was the world away from that which I felt: I whispered to Violet, “It’s funny that Paris is the city of love, and yet my heart’s completely broken.” Others went as they came up, going to the other side of the tower – not on purpose – and that was when I sobbed my eyes out on the bloody Eiffel Tower.

That was also when John, a volunteer, found me. My tears were falling over the edge, in an oddly poetic way, and I could feel my heart bruising and shattering all over again: when I think about it, it makes me feel cold. Just remembering me standing, whispering “Mon cœur est brisée” and emitting these broken-sounding gasps that I didn’t know I could produce. They, I was pretty sure, would remember that day as something so happy, for them, when I would remember it as the day where I felt the most separated from anything. John came up to me and I told him something of what I was feeling – the obvious, that you could see in how they close they were, and the expression on my face. Nothing he couldn’t work out on his own, if he tried, and I cried whilst leaning on his shoulder and non-staring out at the air because that was all I could do. He walked with me in the tower, talking, telling me that one day I’d be okay even if that day wasn’t today.

I think that the worst crying episode I had, not counting one of the ones with S, was with Violet, her boyfriend and L. It properly hit me then what had happened, gripping L’s hand so hard I thought I’d break it, as I whispered “I’ve been cheated on, I’ve been CHEATED ON, fuck it hurts.” Because it did, and does, and sometimes I want to scream from it. I couldn’t get many words out through my tears, as I told them how empty I felt.

When it boils down to it, I’m not okay. Today, it kept on sinking in: that they’d be at school together and I wouldn’t be, that I was there helpless. I can do NOTHING. You can’t help someone’s feelings, and if they’re happy then I’m going to be happy: they deserve it. I don’t know how long it’ll take, and I’m half-crying again because I just want the pain to fucking STOP. I hate feeling like this, like my heart’s folding in on itself, like my throat’s choking me, and it makes it worse because all I want is for people to smile with each other.

I spoke to Pansy a lot. Though we don’t see each other often, I view her as a close friend, because she’s never been awful to me and she’s such a good person. The second night, we stayed up until 1:30 and talked. The next night, we stayed up until 3: I told her about Ash and remembered just why I value her. Originally, I wasn’t going to speak to her because I was much too scared, but by the second day I knew I needed to – for both her and my sake. She may not understand my pain, but she tried and that’s all that matters.

Then again, I don’t think anybody can truly understand anyone else’s pain. At the moment, the following has built up into a howling crescendo, so that in my last lesson today I felt weak and so sad that I wanted to freeze.

• I feel like I’m not good enough
• That I was NEVER good enough
• I can’t think about anyone else without wanting to disappear
• I’m asking myself why, just WHY
• You never know you’re capable of doing something until you do it, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing
• This may not be a definitive END but it’s the end of one thing and the start of another, for him
• People keep saying things that are seriously toxic to me
• I can’t forget my feelings for him
• His feelings for me are fading, and those for her are growing and I’m so glad of that, because right now he doesn’t need confusion
• He DID like me but it’s all ended now and I have to deal with it
• I’m crying again, little tears

I have strong feelings for him and that kills me. I feel as if I’m breaking, one brick at a time, and that I’m going to be left in the dust, scrabbling like a needy fuck. I don’t want to be the clingy one, but I don’t want to lose him either. I don’t want to lose him like I did Ash, where I couldn’t do anything, but where I STILL blamed myself. I can’t keep going back, but it’s not going back. He’s one of my best friends and yes, he’ll always be in the back of my mind in that capacity, but I hope it can fade. At some point. I’m not kidding myself – it won’t be quick at all – but that’s alright.

There’s too much, too many unresolved tears and feelings. I’m scared people will get sick of me, of my constant not-okay-ness, when how the fuck am I supposed to get up from this now? I’m expected to jump up, smile, tell the world I’m good in a moment but I’m not in the slightest and I can’t pretend. My work ethic has gone down the drain and I can’t exactly tell my teachers, “Sorry Miss, I’m recently single, I felt too shit to do my homework!” because that is such a bad “excuse” and they don’t care anyway.

All my fears are swarming me here, late at night, in the dark where I’m hunched over as if I’m in physical pain. It feels like I am, sometimes, the coldness of rejection and heartbreak and loneliness leaving me breathless. Where am I supposed to go? Why does it hurt THIS badly and what am I doing?

Yeah, I’ll be okay. Bright now, I’m so incredibly scared of letting go, that my tears are falling faster and it’s good that I can’t see because I wouldn’t be able to read because of it. I’ll be alright, but they are and will be before me with each other and fuuuuuck why was it me that this had to happen too?

I wish it could have lasted longer. I wish I was happier for longer, that I didn’t feel guilty for crying. He respects me though, and I respect him because he has ALWAYS told me the truth, and been the amazing boyfriend and then friend that I knew he would be.

I think I’m going to get some sleep. Paris made me feel equal parts happy and sad, and today is reserved for sadness. That’s okay.

From Elm 🙂

The Beauty in Paris

When I wade through all of the other stuff that happened, I really enjoyed going to Paris. How could I not? It’s an amazing city, filled with so many things, and walking down the streets and listening to people talking gave me the enjoyment I needed.

I’ll dwell on the pain tomorrow. Today is reserved for the amazing things that happened, the light and smiles and almost magic. So, I’ll run through what happened, snapshot by snapshot, to show you a little of what it was like.

S, my ex-boyfriend, came to stay with us on Sunday, as you saw by my last post. That involved talking things out, dealing with emotions and other things I really don’t want to talk about, and surprisingly a lot of happiness. You don’t realise just how much you miss someone until they’re there again, even if not in the way you’d like them to be, but that’s a whole other bucket of shit.

On Tuesday, we took a train and a cab up to a travel lodge in King’s Cross. After we met up with people, I screamed for about ten minutes when I reunited with Violet and the girl who now has an unofficial “thing” with S, I’ll call her… Pansy, because she’s someone who means a lot to me. I hadn’t seen her in a year, and so when we met up again, we laughed until we howled, walked around the hotel trying to find a toilet, got lost when we attempted to find our room and so much more. It’s easy to be around her, and a lot of the sadness melted away because I KNOW she’s a great person.

We spent the night there, singing in the communal area, doing a lot of shouting and just making new friends or reuniting with old ones. I shared a room with Pansy and another girl that night, and we stayed up until 1 as we couldn’t sleep, speaking about deep shit but also laughing until our sides ached.

The morning was kind of hectic. We ate breakfast early, listening to the classic bustle of London, as I sat with L and Violet and ate a croissant (I was getting into the French swing of things). We were taking the Eurostar, and so we went into St. Pancras (NOT Pancreas) but not before S and Pansy got a photo at Platform 9 and 3/4 at King’s Cross. Border control was easy, but it did involve me holding the hands of three strangers. Then, we boarded the Eurostar – I’d never been on it before and IT WAS SO COOL – which was uneventful as fuck, except for L finding chargers beneath the seats and Violet crying with laughter over a song on her boyfriend’s phone.

When we got there, we got on the Metro which was about the best thing ever for the whole trip. I’ll whizz through all of the days, what we did and how fun it was, so as not to bore anyone. For anyone that doesn’t know, the Metro is a train system in the City: think of the London tubes, but they run on wheels and have tyres; you’re much more likely to stumble and fall over, but the people don’t mind if you grab onto them.

On the Metro, I almost strangled S because I fell over, screamed and laughed. We arrived at the hotel (involving getting lost and being tired), relaxed for a little, but then went on a little tour of the surrounding area. I shared a room with Pansy and two other girls (one lovely, one not so). I also had to share a bed with Pansy, but because I’ve known her for 6 years, I didn’t feel uncomfortable.

A french woman, I think called Marie, took us to Montmartre. On the way, we tried a baguette from the bakery (French baguettes are beautiful), splashed water at each other, nearly got run over, almost got high off the smell of paint, and did so much walking that my feet hurt (then again, I’m VERY unfit as it is). Going to the Church, Sacré Cœur, was a great experience – it was quiet, echoing and majestic, and though I’m not religious at all, I loved it. Walking through it filled me with a horrendous sadness, but I won’t dwell on that: we walked out of the church and it mostly faded.

After that, we said bye to Marie (I spoke French to her or tried to), walked down the street singing hymns with Violet, and then went to relax. That day was bloody emotional as I spoke to both Violet and Pamsy, and tried to help Violet as much as I could. For dinner, we went to this adorable little Crêperie because the restaurant we’d planned to go to hadn’t received our booking. I think that was better, because it was just us there – about 15 of us including kids +volunteers, all laughing. I sat next to Pansy, and between eating, we whispered that we’d talk later, and I overheard some pretty weird conversations with Violet, her boyfriend and L. After my conversation with Violet, we all went up to the boys’ room – all 9 of us – and didn’t leave until about 11. I nearly lost my cane, and just sat on the floor like a rebel.

On Thursday, we went to the Eiffel Tower, and that day was simultaneously the best and worst – the latter, I’ll explain tomorrow. Being classic terrists, everyone was excited, exclaiming over the Eiffel tower-shaped EVERYTHING (Pansy bought pasta, L bought about six models of them, and others bought keyrings). For both Violet and I, there were some horrendously low points, but also high ones too. Standing near the edge of the tower’s second floor, I looked out. I couldn’t see a thing – S and Pansy could, on the bit of floor slightly below us, but I couldn’t. All I could see was sky, a bit that wasn’s sky where there was a boundary, and some darker things below that was an unbroken line of… Nothingness. How do I explain it?

There was a volunteer there, and I’ll use his real name – John. John understood me, because he found me standing there, and took me to walk around. He described it all, from the river to the buildings, and said that there was always something he noticed when he came back to look, that he hadn’t seen before. I opened up to him and another volunteer, and we went into the gift shop to see everything. I’d say that the people who made my week were him and the other volunteers, for just being so relaxed: when we stayed up until 1 that night, they didn’t bat an eyelid, and told us that it was our decision and that they wouldn’t stop us. Their thoughts were that we were responsible enough to make our own decisions, and because they were so relaxed, we could freely swear and yell in front of them (I called Jamie, another amazing volunteer, an utter fucking bastard once and he choked on his laughter).

On the Tower, L screamed “QUI VEUT ME MARRIER?!” (a phrase Violet and I repeated under a bridge the next day, whilst 5 french boys walked towards us). It means “Who wants to marry me?” and he got no response, except for screaming laughter from me. In the afternoon, we went on a river cruise down the Seine, in which I saw the sunlight glancing and shimmering off the water. We screamed various phrases as we went under bridges, and there’s a video of us chanting under one of them. I sang to myself a little, and talked at length to the girl who I shared a room with that first night; we’ve grown much closer now, which is great. Some drama also happened which wasn’t too pleasant, but for a little while over dinner, it was mostly forgotten. I ate snails – which are actually really nice – Pansy and Jamie sobbed whilst laughing (still don’t know why) and whilst we were walking to the the place, Violet and her boyfriend got lost. We thought they’d gone to the numerous sex shops which frequented the streets, because they promised me they would if I let them cheer me up, but psh they didn’t.

As I mentioned, we went to “bed” at 1: again, we hung out in the boys’ room. That involved S “falling asleep” though he was actually awake, which made me cackle like a witch. In case you didn’t know, L had his blogiversary on Friday, and so at exactly midnight I ran over to him and bugged him, squealing “I’m SO PROUD, you’re so old now eyyy!” and that probably scared him. After going back downstairs, I spoke with Pansy until 3. The rest of them didn’t sleep much at all – S only got about an hour and so was delirious with tiredness, something that still makes me laugh. There’s a photo of both Pansy and I hugging him, and he could barely put a sentence together because he was so exhausted. To be fair, our adventures on the Metro and the rest of the day woke him up.

Speaking of that, Friday was definitely my best day, before we went home. In the morning we went to the Louvre, to an amazing art gallery with sculptures. Translating into French braille is surprisingly difficult, and took me a while, but then I felt the recreation of every single sculture. The attention to detail was exquisite, the lines of the flowing robes, fingers and sweeping features giving you such a good impression of what it looked like. Then, I could appreciate art, standing in the silence of my little section of beauty, marvelling at how beautiful everything was: Venus, Mercury, the Three Graces, each figure standing tall despite its size. I loved it all, even the maps of castles, even when we walked through rooms with cobbles and rough walls. Jogn explained it all to me, staying by my side with all the statues, helping me when I got stuck on what something was.

He did the same too, when we went to the Notre Dame: I couldn’t see the decorations, the purple on the stained-glass windows, the high ceilings and model of it with all its spires, or the floor worn down by thousands of feet, but I got a good picture of it from him. We spoke about the Pope, Saints, religion and everything in between: it was nice to be there in the hushed quiet, feet clicking on stones and just walking, not reflecting on any pain, and just existing.

Now, it wasn’t all like that. Throughout the day, before and after going to the hotel to pick up our bags, things happeng that made me almost vomit with laughter:
• We had a leaf fight, where I got leaves in my hair and Jamie chucked leaves at the leader of our group
• We went to a chocolate shop: I fangirled over the selection, eventually buying the most beautiful hot chocolate (it was literally like LIQUID chocolate)
• I drank it, and then immediately ate ice cream. Don’t try that at home, kids.
• Jamie made me sit on a freezing, metal lounge chair, screamed “OI WATCH OUT THERE’s A PIGEON!” and poked me with a leaf. I screamed very loudly, jumped up and then proceeded to yell at him. L fell for it, too, and everyone laughed at us.
• We danced the Cha Cha Slide in the middle of the Notre Dame square. I wasn’t embarrassed, and eventualhy we fell on the floor. So many people stared at us, but to be honest, I dinn’t care.
• On the way to the Metro, Jamie made joke sexist comments, and I’ve never yelled “Right FUCK OFF!” in public before that day.

Four of us had to go on a separate train, because the previous one was so full. It was me, Chef Boob (e’s actually called Bob and isn’t a chef but that’s a long story), Jamie andthe girl I shared with that first night. Jamie tried to say a stop in French, to which the French couple next to us burst out laughing. The girl said, “Jamie, they’re all laughing at you, shut up!”
“We most certainly are,” replied a random french man. I started talking to him, unable to speak because Jamie was so embarrassing. When we left the train, Jamie shouted “Mercy buckets!” and I couldn’t stop laughing for the next 20 minutes.

On the Eurostar on the way back, Jamie, S, Pansy and I walked down to get food. That resulted in Pansy’s dolphin laugh, me falling into people’s arms who were sitting down, me accidentally groping a man’s stomach and the slowest food line ever. When we got back, we were all talking, which caused two to LEAVE the train carriage because we were being so loud. By the end, I was so tired that I couldn’t walk properly.

Saying goodbye was the hardest part: S was coming home with us, but I knew I wouldn’t be seeing Pansy for a while, or Violet. I promised to come and visit Pansy some time in her school, and I hugged John and Jamie because they were fabulous. It feels weird to be back in England, almost unreal, and I miss the laughter, Jamie’s awful French and everything else.

There were little snippets of things that I’ll always remember. I’ll never be able to think about the word “pulsating” in the same way; whenever I cough violently I screech, and there are too many inside jokes to count. I feel like I’ve grown closer to a lot and people now, something that I needed to do. I got more than I wanted out of Paris, in some ways.

Oh my GOD, that was a long post. I hope I’ve done Paris justice, and that you could see what I felt and what I experienced there. It was funny, insane, and I made friends with French people for about 5 seconds.

From Elm 🙂

People Will Actually Think I can Speak French

BONJOUR!

That’s not the only word je peux parler en Fran¢ais, and because of that, I’ve been told I can LITERALLY speak French. Um, there’s a slight problem with that… Whenever I try to speak, I can’t string sentences together.

Tomorrow, I’m travelling to Paris with a bunch of other blind people, including the fabulous L, S (my ex-boyfriend), Violet (another great friend of mine) and girl who S now likes. We’ll be back on Friday, but I doubt I’ll be able to post much in that time, because I’ll be busy wandering the streets of Paris, trying to laugh, and most likely singing High School Musical songs at the top of my lungs with L. It’s happened every time we’ve seen each other before, and has turned into a kind of tradition.

Last time I went to Paris was about ten years ago, and so I don’t remember it much. However, I have beautiful memories of France in general – having the best time of my life with Robin, lying by the pool, feeling like a teenager. I’m hoping that in Paris this time, I’ll get that same experience, because I really really need it now.

If you read my post on Saturday you’ll know that I’m not exactly the happiest person at the moment. That still applies, and though having S here has helped, I’m still really not 100 percent. We’ve talked everything out, I’ve cried about 20 buckets of water and we’ve been entirely honest with each other, but again, the feelings of sadness still remain. They won’t be going away for a while, and especially because I’ll have to see those two together, in Paris it’ll be amplified.

However, that’s why I’m going to try and enjoy myself. With the help of L and Violet, S Club 7 songs and more honesty with S, I should be able to get through it. I’m hopefully not going to be crying too much, and if I do, I’ve agreed to find someone so I don’t have to do it alone. That’s the advantage of having someone you can truly talk things over with around you, and I appreciate it more than I can say. I’ve always found it difficult to put myself first, in any situation, but I suppose that now’s the time to try.

My mind’s a bit of a blur, to be honest. I’ll go from being slightly okay to being so not okay that I feel blank inside, eyes staring into nothing. When I get back from Paris, I’ll definitely write a post explaining how I’m feeling: the good, the bad and the confused; there will most likely be a lot of that.

Je te parlerai le Samedi – YES I know that’s most likely incorrect; I can’t bloody speak French! If people make me try and speak, my voice will sound about three octaves higher and four times faster as I try and garble out words that don’t even make sense. Uuugh, how am I supposed to do this?

I haven’t been able to read your posts recently either; things have been hectic, both literally and in my mind. How have you been? If you’re going anywhere this half term or this holiday, then let me know.

Seeing certain people will be tricky, but I’m looking forward to Paris. It’ll give me a chance to get away, and to start to heal a little from how bad I feel. This could either set me back or push me forward, and I’m hoping – I’m trying – for it to be the latter.

From Elm 🙂

Films and My Pride – My French Woes, Part 2

So. Imagine you’re kind of blind. how many fingers am I holding up? (No, I’m joking, I’m just trying to be humorous and failing miserably)

Not totally blind, though if that’s easier, you can. You’ve got no sight in your right eye at all, and you can see light out of your left. A few shapes, and some contrasting colours. Enough to be considered some, but not enough to be considered useful. And usually, it doesn’t bother you; it’s just a thing that is, like having a leg or not having a leg.

Now, imagine you’ve started your French AS Level. All good so far. You love the language, because it’s beautiful. Except it’s not so beautiful when you don’t have a functioning dictionary because they don’t produce them in Braille, and you don’t know how good the dictionary apps are.

Imagine that, for your French AS Level, you’re studying a film for the first year. Oh, you’re studying family and other bits of culture too, but your second exam is about film and the cinema. Okay, you think, before all your lessons start. I’ll figure out a way to do this. Somehow.

I wish I could imagine it. Often, I don’t care about this. Sight or the lack of it doesn’t impede my other lessons – not seriously – and I’m not pretending that I cry about it. It’s just what I’ve had all my life, but now, I’m feeling ill.

I don’t know what to do. I finished my essay on “What makes an unforgettable film?” two hours ago, and I hated it. Writing it was a chore, something I’d delayed and delayed for four days. Sentences wouldn’t come to me, and I had to look up so many words; my brain fogged over and I couldn’t concentrate. I had no excuse: my other homework went on the backburner because I was so stressed about the French, which turned out rubbish anyway. I haven’t done the history for tomorrow, and I wish I could blame it all on the French.

The worst part about this is the film, by far. We’re starting it after the October half term, and until then, we’re getting vocab. Vocab that NEVER goes in, even when I try reading it and saying it aloud after the lesson. Today in class, we – THEY – watched a short film. I had a blank look on my face, not registering the girl saying sorry to me for not describing it. It was fine, I thought. It was explained after. My head hurt from trying to listen to the fast French, and from just trying and trying and TRYING.

But a whole entire FILM? They (ugh I’m acting like they’re separate from me but they aren’t) can watch it, with subtitles. Understand it: what they’re saying, what’s happening. I HAVE no subtitles. I’ll have to get the script, pretty much memorise the gist of it, then get someone to describe it – whilst trying to keep up with what they’re saying. Oh shit yeah, and I’ll have to translate the script. Unless, that is, I can find another solution.

I wish they’d let us study the book this year, rather than the film. However, I should have KNOWN what I was getting into; I’m honestly feeling like this it my fault because I didn’t look at the course enough, I’m neglecting all my homework, my work attitude is terrible at the moment and I’m lazy.

After only three weeks of school, I’m surprised at how badly I’m coping. I don’t want to do twice the work everyone else has to do. Can’t I just be bitter by myself and cry for twenty years? No, because I have to pick myself up. I have to fight through the fog and not howl about how fucking unfair life can be.

Thinking about French genuinely makes me want to sob. I thought it would be so much more than it is, so much… Easier to deal with. I knew it would be difficult, because the jump from GCSE to A-Level is massive, but not this. Not me scrabbling to try and keep up, though the addition of another girl into our class makes it a little better. 5 of us, now.

Other blind people have done language AS levels. If I fail at this, I feel like I’m a bad blind person – like if others could do it, why can’t I? Never mind that I over-stress myself a lot; I’d feel so ashamed if I abandoned it. But my thoughts are in a jumble and I can’t get them out properly.

I went to the unit today (place where the teaching assistants who help the visually impaired kids work). They could see on my face something was wrong, and the woman who prepares my french work came and talked to me. My eyes felt too dry, too wide, as I explained to her that I didn’t know if I could do this. The teachers sometimes don’t send me the right work, and sometimes they move so fast and it’s all stacking up. My heart feels heavy and panicky.

I know that I won’t realistically drop French. I’ll stick with it, even if it breaks me. The thought of dropping it makes me feel sick, because of some warped sense of pride? I have to prove to myself that I can do 4 As-Levels. I’ve been encouraged to do 3, but I just DON’t want to; if I only do 3, I won’t have the chance to drop one at the end of year 12. It’s partly the shame of telling the teacher I don’t want to do it any more, because though I know I haven’t, it makes it like I’ve failed before I even started.

I think I should talk to the teachers about this. I need to ask HOW I’ll do this film, dealing with their pitying tone. I hate asking for help, because it makes me cry and I don’t want to shed tears over this. Then again, if I haven’t broken down by the beginning of half term, I’ll be surprised.

If it gets too bad, I’ll drop it, but I really don’t want to. I just don’t know if I can cope. I know I should put my mental health first, but I want to succeed because I do love French. Detrimental? Yeah, but what else can I do?

I feel like I’m drowning, like there’s something blocking my mind from getting a good work ethic. I’m ashamed, stupidly, though there’s nothing to be ashamed of. If I just worked harder, made more of an effort to do work outside class, I might feel like I can get to the end of the year. When I say I feel upset, I don’t just mean sad; I mean that I feel as if my work is going to swallow me alive.

It’ll get better. I feel trapped, like I’m on this bleak road to nowhere, but it’ll get better. I have to hold onto that because I’m so stressed that I could scream.

Remembering that other people have it worse gets me through it. There are other blind people who don’t get the resources at all, or couldn’t do the A-Levels they want. Compared, I have it easy and i admire those people so much. That’s why it’ll have to be okay, so that I can stop whinging. Ugh, why am I going into self-loathing mode again?

How are you guys? I’m sorry for ranting again.

Love from Elm 🙂

It’s Not a Speaking Presentation: My French Woes

It appears as though, three weeks into my AS Level, I’ve realised that I can’t actually speak French much. Or write it. Or PRESENT it. Oops?

Today was one of the worst and most humiliating days: not because people laughed at me, but because I felt really embarrassed for myself. I’ll give you a bit of background, and try to not make it so heavy because otherwise, I’ll cry. Oh – in fact – it wasn’t that bad, only a little of it being awful.

We’re supposed to be doing three presentations before the half term, on certain cultural themes or moments from history. Mine was today, on the Algerian War. Me being me wrote a few notes on it, but did the bulk yesterday – I had a valid excuse, and that was that I was so stressed and busy from everything else that I NEGLECTED my French. Errrr, lesson learnt.

There are 4 people in our french class including me. So, I KNEW I had to be good. I had to produce something vaguely, ahh, presentable. Excuse the pun.

Here’s a little timeline to give you an idea of my obscurely high stress levels.

A week ago: I picked my theme. Yeah, it’s all good, I think. One girl’s done hers and it was great, so I HAVE to be that good. I HAVE to.

2 days ago: Oh SHIT, I procrastinated. The panic started to set in. Okay, I thought. I’ll just do this homework and this one and THEN I’ll do my French.

Yesterday, 4:30: I got home from school. I felt sick already, knowing I had to start my presentation NOW NOW NOW.

5:00: A quick bit of information: I’m blind, so powerpoints are tricky. I decided to just write it in a word document. I already had some vague notes, but then I had to research. And research.

6:00: I felt even worse. By this time, I’d got a lot of facts, a lot of dates. I had most of the information. And then, my mind hit a roadblock and a fog descended. NO, NOT NOW! I pleaded inside my head. When the so-called “fog” descends, I lose all will to work. Everything blurrs, and I feel unmotivated.

6:30: I messaged a girl in my French class, asking her how the hell she did her presentation. I was panicking, my mind whirling, but it hadn’t got too bad yet. What I did was translate the first paragraph into French, then get the rest and try and translate it. I was half-crying with stress, not too much though, and then I had to go for dinner.

8:00-9:30: I couldn’t find the right words for anything. My vocabulary ran away from me, where I was unable to string sentences together. I cried, called myself stupid, gripped my hands together, did my crazy mastermind hands and tried to breathe. All the while, work wasn’t being done and I was stressing even more. I couldn’t think of the right way to say it, something that didn’t sound english – attaquer? Prime ministre? No, the teacher won’t be happy with that. We had to be better better better, we’ve A LEVEL STUDENTS! All of that was running round inside my head, so I got frustrated and angry.

I finished it, but it wasn’t good. I spoke it through, about 4 minutes – what she wanted – and by this point, I felt so drained that I could barely breathe. Dad kept asking if there was anything he could do, and got a bit annoyed with my mutterings of “I’m fucking stupid NO!” but it was something I had to do on my own.

Last night, I felt so numb. I couldn’t even be proud I’d got it done. All the insecurities of me being bad at french swam to the surface. The teachers wouldn’t understand if you told them you felt so shit that you couldn’t work. It’s a pathetic excuse to them, though if you say you felt ill then they accept it more. Why?

This morning:
8:00: I got into school. I fe lt ill, panic setting off bells in my stomach, but I just dealt with it. I can do it, I thought. YEAH.

8:30: My first lesson – French – started. We’re asked to start writing an essay on conflict of the generations. I did it, mostly; my vocab wouldn’t come again and I felt miserable. Like I was too much of a moron to be able to let french words flow out of me. Still, I was happy that I got SOME of it done, at least.

9:30: Our next french lesson started . I went into it feeling alright, with my mood improving. I answered the questions, took the initiative, but I’m still not as good as the other pair in my class – the girl next to me has the same level of confidence that I do. I ASKED to do my presentation at the end.

Then I do it. It’s awful.

“En 1954, une guerrre a commencé…” I stumbled over my words, the numbers. I carried on regardless, but my voice faded into what felt like nothing. I sounded boring. Stupid. I was just reading from a script.

“Okay, Elm, I’m going to stop you there.” My throat closed up as if I was going to cry.

points I should think about next time:
1. Don’t just list off the events. Get a little information on what happened, why, and what YOU learnt from it.
2. Putting too much detail in isn’t good – what will people learn from your exposé? (But doesn’t she understand that I learnt NOTHING from the other presentations because I just couldn’t understand them, because I didn’t have the information on a powerpoint to look at like they did)
3. Don’t just read from the script. Otherwise, it’s not a speaking presentation, is it?

It’s not a speaking presentation. It’s NOT a SPEAKING presentation. Those words have been cycling round my head ever since. As she spoke, I felt my eyes grow wide, my entire perception of everything going freezing and rushing back in again, all of it tipping and going out of balance. All I could think was that my crying, my feeling of idiocy, was for NOTHING. That I’d wasted my time feeling terrible.

I felt as if I was the stupid one out of the class. None of the other girls had had that, had basically been told they were doing it all wrong, in that voice. That understanding voice that I hate, where they sound as if they’re saying, “I understand.” Even if they do, they don’t fully get it. It made me feel my blindness and added another thing – that everyone was staring at me and I wouldn’t know.

In a nutshell (LOVE that phrase) I felt unbelievably humiliated. I refused to let myself process it, shutting it all out. Being so quiet, and then making myself okay, because if someone had asked me how it went I would have bawled.

I’ll have to learn from this; I know I will. It doesn’t make it easy when your heart pounds a million miles an hour, telling you that it was obvious why you failed.

I feel as if I’m drowning in it, in work and I feel trapped. There’s not much I can do except let myself scream it out somewhere and I’ll be okay. I’ll learn to swim again, and this is just a minor blip. I love that word too.

Have you ever felt really embarrassed in front of your class?

From Elm 🙂

Getting Obsessed with France because I’m Cool

Technically speaking, I’ve been learning French for 10 years – since I was 6 – but I can’t speak it without stuttering, my sentence structure is horrendous and I can’t formulate words properly. So, I’m NOT ELOQUENT and I sound like a Martian when I try and speak it, and must look like a moron when I write. Trying to do “de la” when it’s du, or screwing up the gender agreements and verbs. WAHEYY!

Because of that, I’m insane for picking it at A-level. I did it for GCSE and had a love-hate relationship with it, but I decided to change my options about two weeks ago because I got it into my head that it would be better for me.

Well, it WILL be. French has always come naturally to me, and I just love the language because it’s beautiful and it flows REALLY well. I know you might be rolling your eyes at my nerd fest at a foreign language but selon moi, c’est vraiment fantastique bien que je ne le parle pas!

Over the past two weeks, I’ve decided it’s a great idea for me to NOT ACTUALLY give myself a free summer (mainly because they do give us holiday homework at school). Me? Nahh, I’m doing the homework, but I’m doing stuff for my own enjoyment. What’s that, you might ask? VOLUNTARILY doing more French than is necessary.

Okay, so it IS useful. I want to be able to be reasonably confident when I go into A-Levels; I’ll be doing it for the other subjects too but French (and also English) is my priority because I enjoy it. I literally will GO OUT OF MY WAY to do extra french; I know other people will be doing the same because it’s what you SHOULD do, so at least I’m not alone.

I’ve downloaded the app for the newspaper, Le Monde, and started to read articles in French even though I don’t understand most of it. That’s how I found out David Cameron was resigning, actually, and it was WEIRD to find it out from a French newspaper (whilst trying to piece together what it was saying).

And the worst and best thing? I’ve got obsessed with French songs. MAINSTREAM french songs, that are popular, but shhh I’m not original. I just can’t stop listening to them they’re SO GOOD!

Some of my favourites which you should totally listen to:
Dernière Danse by Indila
On Écrit Sur Les Murs by Kids United
Formidable by Stromae

And there are loads more. Honestly I don’t know why, but I LOVE French songs. It’s partly because I can understand them, but it’s also because I like the language itself.

Speaking and listening are still a huge problem for me when it comes to French. I can understand it when I’m reading it, and I can kind of write, but I’m absolutely TERRIBLE with speaking because I can’t get the words out and I can barely construct sentences. The A-Level course recommends doing LOADS of things outside school, so I’ll do that.

Maybe I can listen to french news broadcasts, or find someone – like Willow or Hazel – to speak to in French (Hazel is fluent). Who knows? Even though I won’t do French at university, I still love learning a modern language. People in other countries seem to know two or more, and I want to be able to say coeur and heart, and for it to MEAN the same thing in my head.

I’m thinking reading a book in French as well – I got this thing for my Induction Day next Tuesday for Sixth Form (no one else has the material I’m such a rebel) and it suggests setting up a Twitter account in French. Y’know what? I might actually do that.

I’m so sorry for boring you with all that! Are there any languages you love learning (or that you hate)?

From Elm 🙂

THIS WAS WRITTEN IN 5 MINUTES

Okay okay I’m FEELING THE PRESSURE RIGHT NOW.

Phew. Aspen’s coming over today and I literally have to leave in 5 minutes to pick him up from the station, so I thought, “HEY! Let’s write a post!”

Hazel is trying to help me with my French. For those of you who don’t know, which is basically everyone because I wrote about her in the beginning of the summer or something, Hazel was a girl I met when I went to a revision course for blindies in March and I had a huge crush on her. Like oh my god. Of course those feelings are gone but it’s weird, because I told her, but it’s NOT awkward. I’m just getting frustrated that my fluency of French is rather shit. URGH. I don’t want to disappoint her, because she’s literally fluent in French, but I’m CRAP at it.

Oh god, must run. I’ll update you more on the Hazel thing later.

Well, that post was rushed and I DON’T KNOW what it was about. *Claps* Well done, Elm!

I hope you have an amazing day. 3 days till Christmas, by the way! (I sound way too cheery just no)

From Elm 🙂

A Weird but Pleasant Day

So, like the title says, I’ve had a bit of a strange day – nothing “Strange” happened, just a bunch of tiny things.

I got my history coursework (first question of it) back and I got 16 out of 16. So I screamed and slammed my hands down on the desk, which was REALLY embarrassing but so worth it. And Birch – the guy I sit next to and who I used to be OBSESSED with before the summer (oh my god that’s embarrassing because he’s kind of a twat) – got 14 out of 16.

Here’s where the weirdness starts.

I was congratulating him, because I’m so damn proud of what he got; he couldn’t stop yelling “YES FAM!” and things to that effect, because we both thought we’d get shit marks. I remember him saying “This is the first A star I’ve ever got in anything that counted”. But he was being strangely nice.

A bit of context – before the summer I told him how I felt, and then after the summer he wasn’t cold towards me, but it wasn’t the same. But today, it was – but goddamn, I’m so glad I got over my “crush” LONG before this. I could never have had serious feelings for Birch, and I understand that now. Kinda makes you laugh, you know? I’m just thinking of where I am now, where I’m going out with the most amazing boy I could ever meet and DAAAAAMN, Birch pales in comparison to that. By a long shot.

The niceness – it was weird. He was actually congratulating me properly, like punching me on the arm and saying “God, well done Elm!” (HOLY FUCK I nearly wrote my real name) By punching I mean tapping me, but shh I’m a whimp… It was just unexpected, but I got absolutely no “Omfg LOLOLOLOL BIRCH LIKE WAS SOOOOOO NICEEEE TO ME xD” that I got before the summer; it was just a “Aww, he’s being a nice friend, whatever,” feeling.

PSH, though, he was nice throughout the whole lesson. Not that he wasn’t nice before, he WAS, but it was like the old Birch had resurfaced.

In fact, so many people were really nice to me today. Maybe I just didn’t notice it before, but what usually happens is I seclude myself but today, I noticed people just being nice and saying “Well done!” to me. It kind of shocked me to realise people actually cared? This girl, who I used to hate, helped me out in sociology with a quiz we had to do, and didn’t talk to me like she used to, like I was stupid.

I did my french today, as well, and managed to remember all my coursework. My friend Fern didn’t feel like she did so well, but she consoled herself with the fact that she did better than Ash, who wrote nothing.

As in he literally wrote NOTHING. If we were friends, I’d happily give him my draft so he’d get an idea of what to do, but HAHA, that’s never happening again. It was so weird, though, to find out he wrote NOTHING AT ALL.

DAMN, that was a strange day; one of my friends met his girlfriend for the first time which was fucking adorable.

How was your day, anyway? Do you ever get days where you’re like “This was such a great day, but SO weird.”

From Elm 🙂