How I Survived Christmas

You know what the most stressful thing is? Juggling family politics without telling various members of the family, having breakdowns on my sister and pretending to be extremely drunk so that mum didn’t find out, becoming ‘tipsy’ and telling everyone in my contacts list that it was a placebo effect, and figuring out which presents I should take to which house based on which ones I like best.

For some reason, Christmas has always been an… Eventful time of year for all the family. On Christmas Eve, I went to my Grandma’s house and yesterday, I was at mum’s, and so I got two Christmas dinners – Swedish and English – and two sets of presents.

At Grandma’s, I was my usual anti-social moth: I was reading, shouting about memes with my cousin or bitching about some of my family members with my aunt and Grandma. I’d feel bad, but when I was speaking to my aunt, I told her about loads of my thought processes and came out to her as bi without freaking out. My aunt’s never been the most accepting sort – not like my dad – but she’s not bad at all, and I only got unbelievably pissed off with her once.

We stayed over on the 23rd and 24th, and I stayed inside on the latter day whilst my sister and dad went into town. There was my customary reading time, plus speaking with my Grandma and hugging her dog, Daphne, on several occasions. Once all of the family – and by that I mean sister, dad, aunt, cousin, grandma and dog – were in a vague state of togetherness, we had dinner.

When I was younger, I never really had much enthusiasm when eating Swedish food; it was like a chore and I complained so much that it irritated everyone. In the last three years, I’ve been much happier to try everything than I was previously. We had sill – which is sweet pickled herring; janssons – anchovies and potatoes which is the most glorious thing ever; meatballs, regular potatoes, ham and vegetables. It’s basically a part of my childhood, even if I didn’t eat it much when I was small because I was a little shit.

We’ve always opened our presents on Christmas Eve – at least at Grandma’s – because it’s what you do in Sweden. If it suddenly changed I wouldn’t be able to deal with it, but luckily, we sat down to open our presents and I would have fought with my cousin over who handed out the presents, but he was being an arse and couldn’t be bothered, and so it was me and my dad who did it.

In short, I was happy with what I got. That included two bottles of perfume +a few samples, two jumpers, a nice top, a skirt, a new hairbrush and toothbrush (my family appear to have caught onto the fact that I’m becoming more health-paranoid/conscious) and various other little items. I said on my Twitter that my dad got 6 bars of chocolate and my aunt got a Fitbit, which made me sob with laughter and my family didn’t understand why; my Grandma was obsessing over a cookery book she got and my cousin took my dad’s mini skateboard that my sister had bought for him. Nothing much happened after that, except me staying up too late and crying slightly because of my dismal excuse for emotions but that’s beside the point.

Unfortunately or maybe fortunately, yesterday was more eventful. We were dropped at mum’s – going halfway and being picked up by her – and I knew the instant we were out of dad’s car that my behaviour was going to be shit. I hate how I act around my mum sometimes because I can be horrible, which doesn’t help my mood.

We had English Christmas dinner, which was delicious. Before that, I had gone up to my room and read, answered texts and replied to emails, so I didn’t feel as stressed. I walked downstairs, surrounded by the scents of cooking, and tried to tell myself that I’d be fine and that I could act happy, because I was happy, right?

With the addition of one of mum’s friends, dinner wasn’t awkward. I didn’t complain or get annoyed, but I did have a bit of alcohol because it was Christmas. After dinner, like with Grandma’s, we opened our presents.

This is when things get a bit blurry, though it wasn’t because I’d drunk that much alcohol. Mum was drunk, and I hate it when she is because she tries too hard, and gets too erratic, and just never responds to what I say how I’d want her to. As we opened presents, I was happy, the smile not quite translating onto my face no matter how I tried. My presents were great: I got chocolate, a rug for my room and a fluffy pillow, all of which were cute. However, I steadily became more and more inwardly sad, and now that it’s over, I’ve figured out why.

Whenever I have the barest hint of alcohol, my mum thinks that it’s the end of the world, and treats me like a child. She always has treated me like I’m younger, and I know it’s because she gets nervous because I’m blind, but it’s majorly messed up my thoughts about independence because I panic whenever I think about it. It’s not her fault, but that’s a thought for another day. Last night, I asked mum’s friend if she thought that alcohol tolerance was affected by size of the person – she said yes – and I told her straight out that I didn’t want to feel stupid for having such a quick reaction to it. I don’t remember it all, mainly because afterwards I chose to block it out, but I do remember my mum saying loudly that my face was becoming red – something that’s common in our family which my sister has too – and telling me I should have water, and making tutting noises which made me feel so upset that I engaged her friend in conversation. She treated me like I was my age, not laughing or acting like I was pretending to be all grown up.

Then, I cried on my sister. She’d gone to the kitchen and I followed, my head starting to ring as I drank water. I was trembling so hard then that I had to sit down, and she was there – helping me, talking to me.

I can safely say that last night was the first time in about 2 years that I completely – and I mean completely broke down about having very little sight. It doesn’t bother me usually, but everything had been building up: my mental state, my mother, my negative thoughts about myself. My sister let me cry as I gripped onto her hands, telling her how not being able to have something was so difficult sometimes especially when you’ve never had the ability to know what it’s like. She held me and listened as I told her how I felt, barely able to speak at one point as I had an existential crisis. Usually, we don’t talk about that kind of thing but when we do, she listens to me.

After that whole thing happened, I was in no mood to socialise or to pretend. I spent a little more time with my family and then went upstairs, spoke to a few friends and managed to pour water all over myself. Deciding to tell that fact to L was probably a mistake because he laughed at me, and I think I sent a few nonsensical texts to people: firstly because I had a little bit of alcohol, but secondly because I wanted to cheer myself up by laughing. It worked, thank god.

All in all, I may not have felt altogether happy this Christmas, but it gave me a break which I needed. Now, I can start pulling myself together, though I had moments over the last two days where everything got too much and I remembered I was single, etc etc, which shouldn’t bother me since it’s been 2 months. Things like that aren’t always logical, though, and I’m becoming more okay.

How has your Christmas been, if you celebrate it?

From Elm πŸ™‚

For Some Reason, I Feel Afraid

I spent the last 4 days with Robin: a girl who is pretty much my best friend. Every New Year’s, she comes round to mine and has done for the last 6 years; I met her on blind camp and we see each other at least three times a year. Despite that, we’re just as close as ever, and every time we see each other we have a ‘catch-up session’ that lasts for literally hours, in which she tells me of all the adventures at her college and I update heron my life.

This year was no exception. We spent my birthday and the days after that talking, constantly, in between bouts of me reading Jane Eyre and doing various other bits of homework. She’s incredibly clever, scarily so, and gave me the motivation to work. We went for a speedboat ride yesterday which was amazing; we spent New Year’s with Poppy’s family; we stayed up until 2 o’clock each night chatting.

She’s just left, and now, I’ve been gripped with this awful fear that I can’t shake. I just read another chapter of Jane Eyre, feeling sick and ill throughout, unable to think so I shut my thoughts down until the end of the chapter, so that I’d be able to take in Bronte’s words properly.

If you’ve read my posts over the last two months, you’ll know that my mental health has been less than what it used to be. By that, I mean I’ve been a visible wreck which annoys me slightly: I’ve cried, felt rather too morbid for my own good, but held onto the belief that I blame nobody. All of this I told Robin; she knows everything that happened in the S and Pansy situation and after calling me a bit of an idiot beacause of my tendency to shove my own happiness to the back, she gave me her thoughts on everything. That helped, but then I started to question myself: have I been using my shitty mental health as an excuse to not do work?

This might seem absolutely ridiculous of me to say, but I’ve noticed – how could I not? – that my work ethic has been, for lack of a better word, bullshit. The thing is, I didn’t exactly do anything to improve it; I didn’t try hard enough and was just in this fog of “oooh no, I’m sad, let’s not do work!” It went round in a circle, which meant that I got panicky and couldn’t work, etc. That’s resulted in the situation I’m in now.

To put it frankly, I haven’t done enough work over the holidays. I know that I always say this, but this time, I really mean it; I still haven’t read Othelo and the fact is, I should have. I haven’t completed my French mindmaps, or done what I wanted to do and read more of my French book, or even improved that essay for History. I’m half-disgusted now, and just asking myself – why didn’t you?

Now, I have no good reason, because I could have done it but chose not to. I’ve been so miserable recently, to the point where I wished I could stop existing for a second, and felt – and feel – more worthless than I can explain in this post. That doesn’t mean that I should neglect my work; it doesn’t mean I should just not do it because I can’t be bothered because I’m ‘tired’.

In fact, I’m very tired of myself. I’m so exhausted when I think of the work I haven’t done, and so so scared because I’m behind in everything. I feel irresponsible, childish even, because I let this get the better of me. Is it irrational of me to say that? Perhaps, but it’s how I feel.

I need to get my act together, and it’s quite funny how I’ve come to that conclusion two days before school starts. Come on, Elm, REALLY?

I have to finish reading Jane Eyre; I only have a few chapters left. Then, I need to read Othelo – I skim-read it before, but didn’t take it in as much as I could. After that, or during all of that, I need to learn french vocab WHICH I DON’t EVEN THINK I HAVE BEEN GIVEN, and if I say it now I’ll get screamed at, and I also have to do extra work for French. Oh, god.

Hey, I have a lesson for you. Never, ever, ever leave things to the last minute. More importantly, don’t get caught in the trap of thinking your mental health is bad enough for you to not do work. I’m eternally convinced that I’m exaggerating everything, that I’m 100 percent fine and that if I just tried hard enough then I’d be able to stop feeling this awful, but don’t take that advice. I’m a very, very bad example.

Excuse me while I go and cry in a corner. I’m pretty sure there’ll be no blog-reading for pleasure any more this holiday, or any reading or writing for fun. Bloody hell.

Luckily, Robin now knows everything, and I’m on the road to recovery (that makes it sound worse than it is). I’m more or less always scared, but I can cope.

Crap, we have a French test on Thursday! I think I need to calm down.

From Elm πŸ™‚

Why Erin is Brilliant – Bloggers’ Secret Santa

Dear Erin,
I find it absolutely amazing how a simple project – a Secret Santa from Teenella – let me discover your blog. Otherwise, I’m scaredt I wouldn’t have found you, that I wouldn’t have spent a lovely afternoon looking through so many of your posts and reading your words. How scary is that – just to think that if I hadn’t got involved, or you hadn’t, then I wouldn’t be writing this to you.

I don’t want to make this your average letter, because I think you deserve so much more than average. It might sound weird for me to say this but through your words, I feel like I know you a little – just a bit of what makes you work, and how you think, and I’ve found something strange.

I realised that I relate to so much of what you say, and that you also inspire me. Before you raise your eyebrows and say, “Hah, she’s talking rubbish!” I’ll explain, because I mean this from the bottom of my heart.

I know what it’s like to be seen as “intelligent” and have tons of expectations heaped on you, both from yourself and from other people. You’re in year 11 now, and I’m guessing you’re preparing for mocks or you’ve already done them. Keep at it – keep going – because your writing shows me you are going to do amazingly. You can tell a lot of things about a person by the way that they show themselves to strangers on the internet, and I see in you something I should have seen in myself. That is that even when you get knocked down, even when you don’t believe in yourself, you prove to yourself that you can do this. You have the motivation, the kindness and the general attitude to succeed at your subjects. At GCSE, sociology was one of my favourite subjects too; I love looking at society and picking it apart, like I can tell you do as well.

Now, why you inspire me. I read your amazing post on equal pay and never have I been so captivated by someone’s words. You are so incredibly right, and you express yourself in such a way that you make me believe you can change the world. That’s powerful, and I’ve seen that not only in that post, but in so many others. You remind me of myself, or who I could be, even in your first post: right from the beginning, you jumped into the blogging world with more enthusiasm than I’ve seen in a while.

As I write, I’ve found it easier to talk to you about you, because I know people will read it. I want them to see how inspirational I think you are, and how I could spend another day just going through your posts and reading. Like you, I love books and want to be a journalist, and so when I was reading I was thinking, “That’s me! And this, and this – I could read her words forever.” I can’t see the design of your blog, but I think the way you post gives me an idea; your tagline is amazing, same as your blog title. It’s short, to the point, and grabbed my attention the first time I read it.

If I hadn’t looked, I wouldn’t have noticed it, but your blogging birthday is exactly a year after mine. Next March, I’ll remember to wish you a happy blogiversary, because already in 9 months you’ve come so far. It’s okay not to have the motivation to post all the time, to take breaks, because there’s life outside of blogging. But you’ll always have your blog, the beautiful things you write, and I honestly feel honoured that I could spend time reading it.

Keep dancing, reading, playing music, writing, and watching all the movies you can because I know that you love it, and you should always do things you love. I wanted to show you that your blog isn’t just a bunch of words; you make people happy through it, and you’ve given yourself a voice that can say incredible things. Be proud to call yourself a feminist, someone who wants equality and someone who’s not afraid to shout it out loud, because I’m proud of you.

Merry Christmas, and I hope you have an amazing day.

Love from Elm πŸ™‚

I’m NOT a Scrooge!

“So Elm, have you wrapped all your presents yet?”
“Erm, no…”
“Have you actually bought all of your Christmas presents yet?”
“Umm… Maybe?”
“What – we’re going up to Grandma’s today! Bloody hell.”
“…Eh, sorry?”

Now ordinarily, I’m a festive snowflake around Christmas time. I scream Christmas songs, wrap presents, and generally piss everyone off with my excitement. Guess what? This year I haven’t been festive at all.

I know, I know; it’s horrifying. I didn’t even help decorate the tree much (though my sister was worse); my Christmas-music-listening has been appalling and I’ve not read any Christmassy books, but I’ve been too busy reading a historical fiction series I’m obsessed with WHICH HASN’t BEEN COMPLETED ARGH!

Something needs to change. I need to get my reindeer tinsel shit together. So, I’ve compiled a short list of all the things I’m going to do.

Elm’s Strategies to Prevent Her Turning into a Scrooge
1. Have my annual fight with my cousin over who’s going to give out the presents. I will destroy that little bastard!
2. Listen to Christmas music at top volume. It has the added bonus of irritating people, so it’s a win-win situation!
3. Truly getting into the wrapping of presents spirit by enthusiastically forcing my parents to help me do the wrapping. Who cares if it’s out of character for me? They’ll just have to get used to it.
4. Read a horrifically cheesy romance Christmas novel that will make me forget I’m forever alone. I mean, it’ll put me right into the Christmas mindset! Any recommendations?
5. Get far too excited over Swedish Christmas dinner at Grandma’s, and then English Christmas dinner at my mum’s. How could you deny food? Food is brilliant. In fact, I think that I’m going to try and help with making it, and if the house burns down then it wasn’t a very sturdy house, obviously. What do you mean, I’m a shit cook?!

There you go: how I’m going to become less of a Scrooge this Christmas. Perhaps it’ll work, perhaps it won’t; we’ll just have to see.

See you on the other side! I won’t be able to post much over the next few days because Christmas, but if you have a great post you’d like me to read, then less me know!

Joyeux noelle,
From Elm πŸ™‚

What I Plan to Do in Italy

Because I am obviously incapable of coming up with imaginative post titles, this is what it says on the tin: not that my post, or blog, is a tin because that would be weird and impossible. Okay, I’m getting off track…

It’s a day before Italy and for some reason, all my fear and nervousness has disappeared. My mum went shopping this morning and got me a bunch of stuff, like a cleanser, shampoo, conditioner blah blah blah, which actually made me feel a lot more confident. That, coupled with the lovely and supportive comments I got from you all yesterday, has made me feel a lot better about my body, and my personality in general. Thanks for that, by the way.

Robin’s coming over later – one of my best friends, who I’ve known for 5 years. As is customary, we’re going to have a massive catch up session which will include hours of talking about what’s been happening since we last saw each other – 6 months ago or so. I think that we both have a lot to say, which should be interesting because I tell her everything. AAAAAHH and the Jasmine situation… Great.

I’m pretty sure that that’s what we’ll be doing for a lot of the holiday. Sitting in the sun, just talking and laughing; that’s one of the things I’m looking forward to the most. Robin is such a good friend, and she actually understands me so much, and so we don’t have to talk all the time to be such good friends. Whenever we spend time with each other, it doesn’t feel like time has passed since the last one.

Unlike last year and the year before, where we went to France, there won’t be A teens club. That makes me kind of sad, because the friends I made at BASE – Like Cassia from last year commade me feel so much more confident about myself. Often, I don’t feel like a typical teenager, but in France I felt like I belonged somehow.

In Italy, I’m going to make an effort to approach other people our age. I’m sure Robin can help with that: she’s got more sight than me, so we won’t be walking up to 30-year-old people which would be so awkward. I always get scared that they won’t take me seriously because of my height and physical appearance, but people appeared to like me well enough in France. I should channel that to make me feel better, and not feel so self-conscious. Whenever I get insecure, I’ll just remember that Robin’s with me and that even if people don’t like me, it’s their loss and not mine.

Ohh, the memories from France are coming back. Last summer, I compared it to the year before on several occasions, which I shouldn’t have done because the experience was very different. I think I actually enjoyed myself more, because I was older and had gone through many things like the Ash situation, so I appreciated the new memories to a higher level, because I thought deeply about them. This year, I’ll plan to not compare the memories I have, and to just let go and enjoy myself.

I’m not entirely sure where we’ll be going in Italy. We’re staying in a caravan – and by “we”, I mean me, Robin and Robin’s family (pus her brother’s friend). At some point, we should be going out to see the local area and go to restaurants, which will truly make me feel free. I’ve always wanted to go to Italy, which is part of the reason I’m so excited.

As I’m me, I’m rather scared that I’ll “get with” someone in Italy. The possibility of that is shrinking, but it’s STILL a possibility. Because of what’s happened recently, I’m not sure if I’m in the right state of mind to just get with someone random, but who knows? If it happens, it happens. I won’t stop it, because I need to discover more about myself to get experibbes before I go to Sixth Form. Manipulative? Probably, but I’m trying not to fel shitty about it and to not regret any future… Happenings. That just sounds disturbing as shit.

Now I’m thinking about it, I’ve decided not to schedule posts. In doing it, it would make me a hell of a lot more stressed, and I don’t need that. That most likely means I won’t be blogging much, because this is my last holiday with Robin and her family for a while, and so I’ll want to spend as much time with her as possible and not be antisocial. However, I’ll make an effort to post if I can, like I did last year. If something interesting happens, you’ll be the first to know.

Yesterday, I got involved in a bloggers’ group chat for the first time in a while. It made me feel so happy, like I was including myself and not shutting myself off. Now, the inside jokes are legendary. I won’t be able to talk to them much in Italy, which makes me sad, but oh well!

I’ll miss you so much. I hope you have an amazing summer, whether you’re going on holiday or not. You can find plenty of things to do if you’re not going away; be imaginative and maybe go on walks, if you’re bored.

From Elm πŸ™‚

It Feels like I have So Much to Do

Hi guys! Short post, because I’m half-stressed.

Today, I’ve kind of roped myself into doing a lot of stuff – most of which could be done at another time, but because I’m me, I’ve decided I need to do them all NOW. What a sensible decision, Elm!

First, I need to re-do my about page. As much as I love the page, it’s just not ‘me’ any more – it partly is, but I just want to write it again to put a fresh spin on things. I want to put more of an emphasis on how I’m always here to talk to anyone who needs it, and to REALLY explain who I am. Is that a good idea?

I also REALLY need to update my page about who’s who. It’s horrendously out of date; there are people I mention on my blog that aren’t on that page, and also, situations – especially with Ash – have changed. I mean, Rapunzel isn’t even on there! That just shows you how much I need to do to get it up to scratch. As well as this, would it be better to have the names in headings rather than in bold? I can’t do visuals – sorry!

Because my school is evil and the jump from GCSE to A Level is huge, I have a ton of holiday homework to do. I’m going to hold off on the English until I see Wren, because I honestly don’t understand it. However, I have a 60 page (though the pages are small) French grammar booklet that I need to start today. Yes, I have the whole holiday, but if I don’t start now, I’ll NEVER start. Stress is mounting, so I need to de-stress myself.

In addition to that, I’ve scheduled a call with an internet friend (I mean I said we should call in about 10 minutes after he asked) so I’m mildly freaking out about that. I don’t know him that well, but hopefully, through this, we’ll understand each other better. Later on, I need to call a few other people because I did promise. GOD it feels like I’m popular, but I’m really not; trust me!

Okay, Elm, breathe! All I have to do is think logically and calmly, and it’ll all be fine. Wooo I think I’ve put too much pressure on myself.

Alright, I’m going to call this friend now and after that, do my french grammar booklet. If things get too awkward, I’ll plead that I have to do my homework because of stress (not a lie). It’ll be okay.

Today, I’ve already spoken to Tara about books and life, which was so so amazing. This afternoon, I also opened up to L about what’s been going on recently. It was such a relief to finally talk to him about it – I may have nearly cried, but it made me feel better.

What are you guys up to today? I think I need to just relax.

From Elm πŸ™‚