I Cried at my A-Level Results

On the morning of Results’ Day, I woke up feeling so ill that I couldn’t do much. I say “woke up”, it was more like “got up” because I’d hardly got any sleep the night before. It was a mixture of sheer panic and the inability to quiet my mind; I procrastinated sleeping by wailing about how scared I was to the friends that would put up with it.

My dad, Mum, a friend I call Rapunzel who’s been staying for a few days and I travelled to school by car because I live around 40 minutes away. On the way there, I had to listen to music to shut my brain off. I got into school, after being unable to function in the car, and I could barely breathe. The fear was unbelievable, especially because I was one of the first ones there.

We got into the hall and I just remember hearing this awful ringing in my ears. It was like nothing else mattered and I felt so weak that I had to hold my mum’s arm really tightly. Because we were pretty much first in line, my results were given to us quickly in an envelope (which of course I couldn’t read).

When my parents opened the results, my immediate response was “how bad is it?” For weeks now, I’d been setting myself up for failure, telling myself I’d do terribly. I was so afraid of disappointing people that I told my parents and everyone that I’d done awfully and I believed it myself. I can’t stress how much I thought I’d fucked up.

Turns out, I got amazing results – far better than I ever could have dreamed. When I found out my English result, I screamed so loudly that I felt like the whole hall went silent; Rapunzel picked me up and I was so happy – like I couldn’t believe. My friend Swan also got her results and we ran at each other, shrieking. I’m just so proud of all of my friends because they did fantastically, after having worked so hard. I hugged so many teachers, finally able to congratulate myself, with concrete evidence that my brain couldn’t disprove.

Afterwards, Rapunzel and I went to Swan’s house. There, we watched hilarious videos, relaxed and screamed a lot. The day had such an unreal quality to it, yet everything felt a little more vibrant. We met up with some friends and had lunch; it was so much more chilled than anything I’d done in school because I properly felt – and feel – free.

It’s been almost surreal, these last few days. At the weekend, I went to one of my best friend’s houses to stay and there, I felt lighter than I have in months. I’ve come to terms with a lot these past few weeks and that’s really shown in how I even react to myself. Sure, my mental health has really dipped recently but it feels as if there’s a massive weight off my shoulders. Now I’m not quite sure what to do with myself, though I’m still keeping busy as a distraction.

Whether you got the results you wanted or not, you should be proud of yourself. A-Levels were some of the hardest things we’ll ever do and we got through them: that counts for something. No matter what happens, there are always options and you will always have choices – that might not help right now but just hold onto what you can do rather than what you’ve done. You aren’t a failure.

It’s over now – you’ve done it; all that adrenaline isn’t needed for being afraid. Results Day was the final obstacle and now you can go on to live your life. God, I feel like I need a year-long sleep. Start again, if you want to, because you deserve that.

I’m proud of myself and I can really say that now. When I was going through shit in the middle of the year, my Head of Year told me that I would be and she was right. I bloody well did it, got through, survived, and no-one can take that away from me.

Love from Elm 🙂

It’s Results Day Tomorrow WHAT

In less than 24 hours, I will have got my results for A-Levels. The very thought of that makes me feel ill. Fuck, oh God, I’m getting my results tomorrow.

If you don’t live in the UK, A-Levels are exams you do at the end of year 13 – the last year of high school, 12th grade, your last finals if you will. They’re the culmination of 2 years of work, in 3-4 subjects. They determine what university you go to, if your placement is dependent on grades (a conditional offer). Because of the new system of education, most of our grade is down to 2-3 exams – only a few subjects had exams that counted for the final grade a year before.

I did 3 subjects – English Lit, History and Psychology. In a way, I’m lucky because I didn’t apply for university this year (I’m applying in my year out) but that just means that whatever grades I get, I’m stuck with. It was certainly less pressurised when I was doing the exams but now it’s approaching results, I’m feeling more than terrified.

Around three weeks before now, I started getting the obligatory Results Day nightmares. At first, it was fine: I dreamt that I got all B’s in my subjects, which would have been good. Then, it jumped to E’s: I remember in that dream, it felt so incredibly realistic; everyone was disappointed in me and I woke up crying. Next, it was that I’d got all G’s. You can’t actually get G’s in A-Level as far as I know, which just shows how much my fear of failure was manifesting itself. My final dream was a couple of days ago: I’d got A*’s in everything but English, in which I’d got a D. That was kind of a problem because I want to study English at uni. Honestly, at this point I don’t know what to expect. I have no idea if I did alright or terribly.

On GCSE Results Day, I was nervous. I felt really ill and couldn’t sleep as much the night before. However, I knew that it wouldn’t be too bad if I didn’t get the grades I wanted. I also knew that I’d done reasonably well because I was able to put my all into those exams. With A-Levels, I’m not so sure: it means more if I don’t do as well but I also don’t have the certainty that I will have done well, at all. In my exams, my mental health had deteriorated to such a point that I could barely function in the months leading up to it. I did my best, given the circumstances, but is my best good enough?

I don’t know. So many people have said that there’s ‘nothing I can do about it now’ but they’re mostly relatives or much older adults who haven’t gone through this new system. I’m just so afraid that I’ll be a failure – not really to others but mostly to myself. Oh well – I know I’m going to have to deal with the consequences regardless; it’s just the lead-up that makes me want to sob.

To everyone getting results tomorrow, good luck. We’re going to get through this and no matter what results we get, those letters won’t define us. I know it’s scary but in a day, it’ll be over and we can breathe.

If I can’t believe in myself, I can at least try to help others believe in themselves. We got through these 2 years in one piece and we’re nearly there. That counts for something and you should be proud.

Good luck, everyone. We can do this.

Love from Elm 🙂

The Thing About my Identity

In September, I’ll be attending a college for the visually impaired. I’ve made no secret of that on my blog but to be honest, there are very few in this country and just under 150 people attend each at any given time. That means everyone will know each other but also that it possibly wouldn’t be difficult to figure out my ‘real’ identity.

Before, when the question of my identity came up, I reacted a little differently. I was much more defensive and worried about people finding it because I went to a school where, I felt, people would judge you or just didn’t care. Now I’m out – and even as I drew to the end of my secondary school years – I started to relax a bit more. Saying that, now, I’m starting to become quite paranoid about things. It seems silly but I’m eternally afraid that people are going to have this preconception of me that they transfer from blogging to ‘real life’, or vice versa. Does that make any sense?

I’m not so worried about blogging people finding out my real identity. It fills me with fear, of course, but there’s less chance of damaging consequences happening. Unless someone decides to unearth things about me from years ago that exist on the Internet, the blogging world won’t be my problem. I doubt I’ll reveal my identity soon but if it happens, that wouldn’t be as bad.

It’s the other way around that could be a problem. People at the college could, and probably will, find my blog. I don’t exactly do the best job at hiding it and trying to now would take far too long and would go against the openness and honesty that I want on my blog. However, the thought of people potentially discovering it and taking the piss out of me for it really worries me. It’s unlikely that they’d be so cruel but you never know: some people can be immature and laugh first before understanding.

If they do find me and only read a small amount of my posts, they could get varying opinions of me. They could look at my emotional posts and jump to conclusions about my personal life, seeming as some of the people I mention on this blog are VI (visually impaired) and might be known by them. They could find my old posts and think that’s still a representation of me. In short, they could do all sorts of things and sometimes, I’m scared about how I could react. People could really hurt me by using this blog against me and they wouldn’t even know it.

The truth is that I could react very badly. If I’m confronted with people knowing who Elm is, offline, I’d most likely freak out and if someone didn’t understand how important this blog is to me, they could trivialise it. Would that cause me to shut down? Would I then stop posting? I don’t know: I’d hope that I was mature enough to react as calmly as possible but who knows? I’m scared that if someone really drags up old memories, I won’t be able to handle trying to defend myself.

I’m afraid of becoming someone else that I don’t recognise. I’m scared that I’ll be leaving myself behind, almost, and that all my identities will be taken from me by people discovering previously unseen parts of myself. Isn’t this just life, though? I suppose it happens all the time; this is just a big change and I don’t know how to feel about it.

Don’t lose yourself in the mayhem of new beginnings but at the same time, don’t be afraid to change what you define as ‘yourself’. Your identity is fluid and doesn’t always have to be tied down by people and experiences. It’s okay if it changes.

From Elm 🙂

How My Exams Went, According to Me – Part 2

After that cathartic and weirdly contemplative post I wrote yesterday, I had time to calm down and think. How did my exams really go? I wrote that they went from ” alright to soul crushingly terrible in a pit of fire” and whilst that may be true, I wanted to write about them in a more constructive way. So, for your viewing… Horror, here is how my exams went: Elm style.

Psychology, Paper 1

It’s your AS content, they said. It’d be easy, they said. (not really, I’m just trying to make people pity me.) Being my first exam, I naturally started to feel nervous as soon as I left the house; it only increased before I got to school. Before an exam, I do this thing where I frantically revise until literally no more information could go in. Content-wise, I didn’t really need to do that because excluding one other exam, this was the one I was most prepared for.

The exam itself would have gone okay. I had to draw a graph at one point; some of the applying questions were disgusting but I vaguely knew what I was doing. Except, oh dear, I missed out an entire 9 marks worth of questions. How???!!! How the hell did I do that? I wrote about that content in one of the essays! Was I just half asleep or something? I have no idea. When I got out of that exam, I began my yearly wail on Twitter and that was when I found out. Honestly, I still don’t think I’m over it. Apart from that, there weren’t any terrible mishaps (although now I say that, I bet I’ve done something really foolish).

History, Paper 1

In shock, I came out of that exam feeling okay. I hadn’t done anything that warranted a shouting tournament with myself on twitter and unlike last year, no one from my school had liked one of my “I’m going to fail this exam” Tweets. The questions were… Okay – at least the essays; I actually had content for them. The interpretations questions weren’t as good but I had wildly revised the exam technique before. It was bearable. “Two down,” I thought. “I can do this.”

English, Paper 1

This one certainly wasn’t awful: the question on Jane Eyre was wonderful and the Othello question made me nearly shriek with happiness in the exam. The unseen poetry was the worst simply because I misinterpreted it. Maybe they’ll give me marks for technique?? Ah shit. I don’t want to be quick to say it went ‘well’, because I did that last year and this was the exam that pushed my grade down. I emailed my english teacher, who has been a genuine role model for me, to let her know it hadn’t gone too badly. For this one, I’d prepared and the practice essays – sorry, the one essay I did, went as well as I wanted it to. All in all? Not awful.

Psychology, Paper 2

It was on Friday of the first week of exams that I realised I hated Maths, Graphs, pie charts and all research methods. I fucked up this paper. I’m almost completely blind so I get extra time for exams and this time, I used all of it. Part of it was because I was drawing a graph but most of it was because I was trying to hold back tears. It’s really hard to estimate values in a pie chart and to understand the worst diagram I’ve ever seen and my mind went blank. Despite revising the day before, I screwed up a question on content analysis; I just lost my thought processes completely. This wasn’t even the worst exam because there were moments where I felt confident, if you can call it that.

English, Paper 2

You know how I just said that Psychology Paper 2 wasn’t the worst one? That’s because by far, this one was. Having had the weekend to revise and calm down, I thought it’d be okay and I’d prepared even more for this one than I had for the other english. On the morning of the exam, my family and I had had a massive argument and though it didn’t affect my performance, it put me in a terrible mood which, after the exam, came back full force.

The Handmaid’s Tale question was honestly beautiful because I had done almost exactly that question in a revision session and so I felt confident with it. What was awful was unseen prose as I could barely structure my answer and because it was on the same theme, the Streetcar and poetry question; I’d never prepared ‘conflict’ as a theme properly before. I was so upset coming out of it because I’d spent so long doing prep for it and I panicked in the middle of it. Luckily, it didn’t screw up my confidence but it made me feel so shit about myself. There may be nothing I can do about it now but it doesn’t stop the disappointment from affecting me.

History, Paper 2

MY NAME IS, MY NAME IS, MY NAME IS CHARLES THE SECOND – and before you ask, yes, I had that song going through my head on repeat during the exam. If you haven’t heard it, listen to it because it’s amazing.

After the crap that was English, I set to work again. I’d spent so, so long preparing for this exam and it paid off, finally. Even if the source question was really difficult, the essays were good because our teacher had gone through almost identical ones in class before. At one point I really did shriek “YES!” when I saw the question that I’d been revising the night before. It made my confidence climb slowly back up.

Just as I was about to go home, my history teacher found me. When I told her about the questions, I’ve never seen anyone so happpy and so relieved that they were questions which people had prepared for. It was so odd to finally be done with those topics; I’d spent a long while understanding them, so much so that I missed thinking about them when I had to move onto the next exam.

Psychology, Paper 3

Oh, fucking hell. The night before this exam, I realised that I knew very little and that I was the least prepared for this exam out of all of them. In the middle of running over concepts, I started crying, the only thing stopping me from utterly losing control being the conversation I’d had with my friend Robin which reassured me on one topic. For the others, I was a mess and the crying quickly transformed from sobbing over this exam to sobbing over the fact that I’d been suppressing all my unhappiness, trying to be so stably-stable and it was all catching up with me.

Consequently, I got very little sleep and had to wake up at 6 the following morning. Once again, I was revising before the exam, my whole body shaking. However, the exam itself didn’t go as awfully as I thought. It was really upsetting but I got through it; I remember freaking out over more maths content but then feeling this triumphant happiness in my chest as I got to the last question.

When exams themselves were over, because I word process (type), I had to sign all the pages on one of the copies of the exam. I’d forgotten how exhausting writing could be; I honestly can’t stand it. Because I don’t write in ‘print’ normally (I write in braille), I have to individually think about the letters when I’m writing them. As soon as I wrote my last signature, I felt weird – relieved, but it was almost anticlimactic. I was done and well, that was that.

All in all, they didn’t go as badly as I expected. I’m just trying to forget them now, as much as I can. Maybe relaxing, writing and living is the key to doing that. I managed it, somehow.

If you’re still doing exams, whether that be GCSEs or A-Levels, there isn’t long to go. You can do this. You’ve got through the majority of your exams already and you should be proud of yourself for that. The exam mountain isn’t unscalable.

Good luck, everyone. How’re you feeling about exams?

From Elm 🙂

This Feels like Freedom

Today was my last A-Level exam.

Ever.

What the fuck???

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love from Elm 🙂

Halfway There?

A quick side-note before I start: I have had Livin’ on a Prayer stuck in my head for the past hour as I was thinking about this post, simply because of the chorus. Along with book titles and other miscellaneous songs, this one really gets me because WOOOOAAH WE’RE HALFWAY THERE!

Apart from the atrocious posts of 2015, I think that was the worst transition between subjects I’ve ever done. Because yes: I’ve had four exams; I have three left. Isn’t it a time to celebrate? Well… No. It’s a time to update you all.

For the past week, I’ve been in a self-made cave of isolation apart from when I gallivant off to exams. Even then, I’m in a room by myself (and an invigilator). It’s because I Word Process – a fancy way to say I use a computer to write my exams – and I get extra time. It’d get lonely except that I’m usually shouting with frustration. For instance, today, I said “Oh fucking god” when I had to figure out a diagram for Psychology. I wish i was joking.

Until they’re over, I’m not going to contemplate exams too much. I’ve spent enough time crying over my first Psychology exam and then genuinely yelling at myself for misinterpreting my English paper to last a lifetime. It’s so exhausting to keep thinking, over and over, that I fucked up only to be told I should stop it because “you’ll do well anyway.” If I believed that wholeheartedly, I wouldn’t be terrified out of my mind.

Right, that’s enough of that. I’m going to do an exam recap like I did last year at the end. For now, I’m going to do a quick runthrough of what’s been happening. Bullet points are my friend and I got about 5 hours of sleep last night so my mental capacity isn’t great right now.

•It’s Pride Month which fills me with happiness. When I’m done with exams I’ll write some Pride posts but in the meantime, check out Lu’s amazing post on LGBTQIA+ representation in YA, Lia’s Pride Month TBR and Bethany’s post on coming out.
•Speaking of Pride and sexuality, as I said in this post, I’ve been having a lot of thoughts about my own identity, particularly my romantic orientation. I really want to make a post about it but long story short, I don’t know what I’m feeling: I know what kind of people I’m attracted to but I don’t know how far my attraction goes or what my limitations are. It’s confusing and I don’t want to commit to a label yet, possibly not ever, but SOMETHING IS HAPPENING INSIDE MY MIND
•I’ve come down with some kind of cold/virus which means I’m coughing constantly and occasionally think that my throat is on fire. Taking exams has been a struggle because for once, I feel very physically ill and my mental health isn’t totally terrible
•I might be getting my Prom dress adjusted this weekend; I’m kind of nervous even though I know it’ll be fine because I’m still not the biggest fan – to put it lightly – of my appearance. I’m irrationally afraid that it won’t fit me after the adjustments have been done.
•The friends I’ve spoken to recently have been amazing. I say ‘spoken to’ because my communication with people has been even worse lately, what with exams and confusion and illness but when I do emerge into the land of technology, I always get surprised at how fantastic people can be. That might sound horribly sentimental but at this point, I don’t care
•I’ve been trying not to implode from work but it’s been a near thing; sleep is elusive but I’m going to try and rest this weekend as much as I can
•Things with Pearl, who I talk about on this page are going really well. I’m still going to wait until after exams to properly process all my feelings but I’m relatively secure, meaning that I’m not screaming or panicking out of fear yet. This is me though, so only time will tell.
•Pearl also knows about my blog but I haven’t shown it to her yet – she found my Twitter (because I don’t exactly do a great job at hiding it) but has respected me asking if she’ll wait until after my exams to look at the blog. There are things I want to explain to her before all of it because my blog, and showing it to people, has always been a private thing and I want to be as careful as possible instead of running headlong into all of the big decisions
•Exams are draining the life out of me because I haven’t read a book in a long while and i miss it. I also haven’t written anything substantial in ages as well but my mantra for getting through this is that I’ll be able to do everything after exams

So, there you have it. My brain is wired for revising right now; I can’t do much else. My energy levels are only now starting to rise as this virus thing clears up. I need sleep and I need it soon otherwise I may scream.

How are you all doing? I miss the blogging community so much. I’ll be back on my game ONCE EXAMS ARE OVER I CANNOT WAIT.

From Elm 🙂

A Huge Update Because I Didn’t Post

When I looked at my blog and discovered that the last post I wrote was on 4 May, I screamed silently for about 5 minutes before realising that a post was in order. For my peace of mind – and yours, if anyone is still around? *Squeaks hopefully* That sounded more needy than I wanted to GIVE ME ATTENTION PLEASE IS ANYONE LISTENING?

Right. I’m going to pretend that monstrosity of writing didn’t just happen and get onto the update. Loads of things have happened over the last 4 weeks; I’m not sure where to start. I may just go and structure a brief outline, come back and commence with my yelling.

One of the biggest things, possibly the biggest thing, is that school ended last Thursday. I now no longer have any official lessons; my Year 13 classes have stopped. The only thing left is exams and a couple of revision sessions. That’s so disorientating – to think, 14 years of education are now over. Time has gone so quickly whilst also crawling by at particular moments. I’m sure I’ll cope with this change but how whole will I be on the other side? Who will I be without going to that school every day? It brings me back to the end of primary school, where I knew I was going into a place where I didn’t know many people. Starting again, I suppose you’d call it.

Recollecting on that last day, I had a bunch of emotions that I didn’t know how to handle until it was over. Wednesday was my last day of lessons; the next day, I had no classes but went in anyway. Armed with brownies and a heavy dose of trepidation, I expected to feel so many things but just… Didn’t, until it was almost too late. I sang, in the end of year assembly; it was You Don’t Know by Katelyn Tarver – a song which meant so much to me and will always mean so much to me. I was beyond terrified – I shook; I freaked out beforehand on Wren. When I sang, I forgot all that when I got really into the song; I had to distance myself from it a bit in case I genuinely started crying – that song captures all the mixed up fear I’ve been feeling for years. Afterwards, I stood there for a few seconds absorbing it all, my other friend Red helping me off the stage. The aftershocks of those emotions made me shake even more and I think that’s what started all my feelings off. It drew to the end of assembly and we started to say our goodbyes. It was then that it hit me. I wouldn’t be seeing many of these people for ages; possibly I would never see some of them again – and beneath the blind jokes I disguised my pain with, something about the sorrow of not getting to know people when I should have nagged away at me. Taking pictures was surreal; seeing Laurel – a girl I used to have a crush on – and feeling nothing was relieving more than anything. As our group of friends stood outside, hugging and occasionally shouting, I realised just how much I’d miss them all. On the way back home, I cried and I don’t know whether it was from ittersweet happiness or an overwhelming sadness.

That just leaves revision for my A-Levels, which start in a week. I’m so scared I could scream but I just have to get through it. On Friday, I went to an English revision session and I genuinely felt confident; the points I was making weren’t shot down. It wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever done but it was productive. I’m just worried I won’t be able to do this, that I’ll totally crash.

However, there have been a few bright spots – one of them is Pearl, who I talk about in this post. The last update i gave was when we’d met for the first time. I then briefly mentioned we’d seen Love Simon together – which was beautiful and magical – and since then, she’s been round to mine once; I’ve been round to hers twice, met her sister and pets and had an amazing time. We kissed, when she’d been at mine and the anxiety I felt about how terrible I was was only lessened by a ton of reassurances from her – why am I always like this? I don’t know what our relationship status is – all I know is that I’m a bit confused but also not willing to let this go. I don’t know. I’ve been having a few troubles with my identity recently, which I’ll get onto later. Despite not wanting to, I’m scared I’m not communicating enough; I don’t know how to do relationships – or whatever is happening – anymore. I’m not good at trusting people properly – only trusting them enough to know that they won’t hurt me intentionally. Intimacy is still a problem but I care about her a lot and think she’s wonderful. Nothing in my mind has twisted enough yet to tell me I’m lying about that.

A huge positive was also Eurovision. I can’t overstate how much I love that show; because my parents weren’t okay with me going out that day, I watched the final quietly, only properly shouting once or twice at the results. During the semifinals, I got really involved in an awesome group chat where we yelled about the performances – it included Kel, Lia, Lisa, Bethany, Em, Elly and Michelle. I memorised a bunch of lyrics to the songs, sang along, got far too angry when Denmark didn’t get many points and just generally wailed about the thing for a week. To be honest, I’m still not done shrieking over it.

For some weird reason, I’ve been more socially active the past month – although it still exhausts me and communication outside it is still an issue. On Friday, after our revision session, I went to Swan’s house where she was having her birthday party. There, I laughed violently, had an honest conversation with Wren about how I was feeling and sang songs far too loudly. It was a wonderful time, including the hilarious Cards Against Humanity game that was comprised of far too many inside jokes and points of cackling to be considered, well, family friendly even for Cards Against Humanity standards.

I can’t exactly pretend like things have been 100% amazing; they just haven’t. I had an incredibly horrible panic attack last Monday which stopped me going to history; I’ve had a couple of days where I feel so sick that everything looks bleak and confusing. A couple of weeks back, I went to an introductory session to CBT with the hope of attending a proper group session this Thursday. It made me realise a couple of things: firstly, that the feelings of fear I felt before the session were what I felt most days and that I was only realising this because I was about to potentially express them. I also didn’t know how comfortable I was with the group aspect – I still don’t know. Coming to the conclusion that this shit can’t be solved with a single session reminds me of how I felt after my first proper counselling session. Not hopeless, not angry, but a mix of intimidated and contemplative. My mental health has been bad but once exams are over, maybe I can start to pick up the pieces and figure out what’s really going on.

Oh god, I need to talk about what’s happening with my thoughts about expressing my identity. Really, this needs a post of it’s own and I don’t know where to start. Acknowledging it as something that I’m confused about has literally happened in the last week or two. The short story is that my relationship with romantic feelings and sexual feelings is confusing at best and what the actual fuck do I feel? if stated plainly. I can be attracted to people quite quickly but I’ll only ever really enjoy doing anything, even kissing for instance, if there’s a romantic subtext. Sure, I’d enjoy it but I would always feel more blank and strangely upset. Romantic attraction is even more confusing because sometimes, I don’t know if I’m romantically attracted to someone unless someone straight up asks me and forces me to examine it; also, I’ve found I can only really be romantically attracted to someone I know quite well. Because of some unresolved situations, my brain is so confused right now; I don’t know what or how I feel, or even how to explain it. That’s why I’m hesitant about expressing all of this to Pearl – I wouldn’t know what to say – “I’m scared I’m going to accidentally upset you and push you away because I’m confused about who I am?”

Probably, the only concrete thin you can get from this post is that I’m confused and suspended in some kind of emotional limbo, mixed with a bunch of turmoil, that I can’t hope to figure out until my A-Levels are finished. Getting some of this out has helped but there’s still so much I haven’t said. This could only be a short outline anyway – I have so much to write and not enough time to write it in. Things will fall into place, just not right now.

I’m sorry if this has been too hectic or too negative. I’ve missed my blog but I’ve forgotten how to organise my mind; I want that freedom back. Explaining my thoughts to a little part of the internet has always helped me far more than anything else has. Thanks for putting up with it – I hope you’re all doing good.

If you need help or just a chat, I’m still here. That can’t change.

From Elm 🙂

A Strange Kind of Feeling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Elm 🙂

I Have No Time

I was going to begin this post with a “It’s only (insert number here) days until my A-Levels!” and then I realised that the very thought of doing that stressed me out to the point where everything felt cold and I wanted to slip under the school desk I’m sitting at and never emerge again. That’s nothing unfamiliar from the usual and that’s the issue: I’m constantly stressed, constantly terrified and unable to find time to do anything I want. Blogging, talking to friends, relaxing, reading – all of these I’ll be talking about in this post, as well as sobbing generally over my lack of organisation.

On Tuesday, the day I was supposed to be doing my history mock because I was ill the Wednesday prior, our school gave us an assembly that totally fucked up my day and, in short, made me cry. They told us that we should be more panicked, more stressed because our A-Levels are soon, that we should start taking responsibility for our own learning even more than we already do. I’m sure they meant it as a way for us to realise the “urgency”, as they put it, of the lack of time we actually have but it did the opposite for me. It increased my panic, to the point where I could barely breathe whilst listening; I walked downstairs and sat there for a good 15 minutes unable to do anything but breathe raggedly in utter fear.

I never ended up doing that mock in those 3 hours, lying that I’d finished it – I was doing it in my own time anyway – being wildly upset when I was doing other work that ended up helping me in the long run and eventually doing it in the evening where I worked far more productively. But that cut down on my time to do other things; it piled up and I cried twice that day: once in the toilets before lunch so nobody would see and another time at home. In counselling yestarday I told Jane all this, bursting out in a rush along with my general frustration and anger. All that screaming negativity made me realise something, properly for the first time: I don’t have time to do absolutely everything.

There are some people who can balance work with a social life, whilst having good and consistent mental health, can do a few of their hobbies and still have time to relax afterwards. I’m not one of those people. At the moment, I have extremely unstable mental health, no two ways about it; I’m barely able to keep afloat with work; I haven’t read a book for fun in months; my communication with friends has worsened if that’s even possible; I’m always tense. I try to do so many things that I never end up doing any of them, leading to so much stress and I suppose you’d call it anxiety. I withdraw myself, making myself feel so guilty that I try my best to be a good friend which makes me feel guilty for not doing work. It’s quite the cycle.

I love my friends; they’re the ones that have kept me going. Talking to some of my blogging friends at weekends has made me smile and gives a bit of routine to my mind. However, I haven’t been meeting people outside school and my energy for socialising has decreased dramatically. Instead of attacking myself for that, I need to remember that I don’t have an obligation to talk to people all the time: my brain has a lot going on within it and I’m always stressed. I don’t need another stressor on top of that because friends shouldn’t be a stressing factor at all. They’re friends and understand what’s happening, or they will when I explain it to all of them.

What makes me quite sad is that I haven’t given myself time to relax. Apart from extending my skincare routine on weekends, I just haven’t put any effort into making myself feel calm. My logic is that if I don’t have time to talk, I also shouldn’t give myself time to relax either. That’s crap logic. To try and get past that, I bought a few books recently and I’m re-reading Ink and Bone which I bloody love. I’m also trying to go to bed early; my sleep patterns have been so awful for the last few months and I want to fix that. Relaxing is so important, more important than working yourself to the ground. Now, if I could only take my own advice…

*3 decades later* well oops, looks like that might take a lot more work.

You may have noticed that I haven’t been posting recently. I mean you might not have, I’m kind of an insignificant dust speck in space and AAAAHH I’ll just stop talking… Anyway, the reason is simple: I’ve had even less time for blogging. Unlike with GCSEs, I’d rather be writing than studying but I don’t have much of an option. Every time I realise how much I miss blogging I feel quite upset and guilty but that gets me into a horrible mindset. I don’t know what my posts will be like, or when I’ll post them, over the next few months. I could pick myself up or I could slither away into a hole of despair but no matter what, I’m not leaving this blog. Posts just might be a bit short or infrequent but it’s coming up to my 3 year anniversary on here and I want to do something for it.

Schoolwork hasn’t been as monstrous as I thought. I’ve caught up on some notes, written essays, completed bits of homework and almost finished my english coursework, I’d like to say tentatively? things aren’t good but I don’t want to hide utterly right now which is a positive. I’ve kept up more of a dialogue with teachers and I just want to get that work done and not keep crying out of fear and desperation again. It’s an exhausting way to live and as I said to Jane yesterday, I hate it.

Honestly, I’m not sure what I’ll do from here. As I’m feeling rather erratic because of work, uncontrollable feelings and confusion, I can’t very well predict my own behaviour. Bare with me because I’m trying and my trying may not be enough but if it is, things may get a tiny bit more bearable. All I know is that time is running out and I don’t have much more time before exams but in that time, I plan to be as alright as I can be.

How do you manage your time? Also, do you have any ideas about what I should do for my 3 years?

From Elm 🙂

Hiding from The Beast from the East

This morning, I stepped out of the taxi (I live 40 minutes away from school so that’s why I get it), gasped in confusion at the fact that there was frosty ice-snow on the ground, took a step and nearly shrieked because snow crunched under my feet. Actual snow. In England. In March.

Now, before you start shrieking, “WHAT, it’s been on the news for days, everyone’s wailing about it, are you blind or something?” I’d reply with the fact that I was ill yesterday, very inattentive on Tuesday and ill again on Monday. Yes, I’m blind, and I also was fully aware of the hysteria surrounding this storm. I, erm, didn’t parttake in that hysteria. No way.

I’m not talking about the places where there are red alert weather warnings, such as Scotland, Wales and some of the south of England. They’re justified in panicking – look at my awesome friend‘s post. I’m talking about the fact that after one flake of snow, people start screaming in fear. Not me, of course not, HAHAHAHA where would you get that impression from??

Yesterday, I approached the storm’s existence in a normal fashion. I had some of the best Twitter conversations with my new friends Mason and ABG. Can I just say, you make friends in the strangest of places. Jokes such as #Snunderstorms, magic carpets and Mason screaming about Aladin made me laugh so hard I cackled. It gave me a sense of security – I could handle the snow that wasn’t even bad in the morning.

Picture this. Snow is on either side of me as I walk down the path, the grass covered in a blanket of white. I turn left – all is fine. I walk on, the cold biting into my un-scarved neck because I’m stupid and didn’t bring one and I think my neck is frozen. Everything is good as I turn right again, my face peeking out from behind the building. I start making my way towards the sixth form block and oh shit no, it’s slippy. “I am dignified,” I think, “I will not fall over, I will not scream and I certainly will not start panicking!”

“there are some steps there,” says an unidentifiable staff member. I squeak mumble an acknowledgement and wander on. I’m just veering down the little slope – which was difficult to do with a cane and freezing senses – when someone approaches me.

“Hi Elm! How are you?” says one of the leading staff members in the sixth form.

“Oh hi yeah I’m doing really great actually! I just have to go really reeaally slowly so I don’t slip, it’s quite difficult hahaha!” True to form, I laugh painfully awkwardly and walk into the sixth form building, making some inane remark about how fucking freezing it is to another teacher.

You see, it’s not that I hate snow, or that I particularly like it. I find it difficult to walk in it on account of using a cane and it throws off my balance. The snow wasn’t deep enough for me to stand in it and to hear that awesome snow-sound. I don’t want to get ill again and I kept on yelling about this throughout the day, most likely pissing everyone off because I was making a fuss over nothing.

In lessons and at break, people kept on staring out of the window and discussing the possibility of it being a snow day tomorrow. We were all hoping for it – 30 teachers didn’t make it into school today and I think everyone was getting frustrated. Personally, I was hoping for it but also, I’ve only attended 2 days of school this week: today and Tuesday.

For once, our wishes were granted – an “executive decision” was made for there to be a snow day tomorrow. I’m still inwardly cheering but also panicking. Tonight, I’lll do some work, chat with friends and just relax (I’ve been doing it for the last 18 years so…).

If we can, I’m seeing my sister in Norwich tomorrow where she goes to university. Because the roads are quite dangerous at the minute, we’re not sure whether we can go; I’d love to see her and she and I will be so sad if we can’t. Saying that, I really don’t want to be put in danger from the snow or put anything else in danger either.

All in all, I think I’m going to hybernate. I’m sitting here now with a hot chocolate, my hands still really dry from when I was in Wales, filming, at the weekend. (More on that in a future blog post, I promise!) For now, I’m pretending that it’s not cold outside and that I’m perfectly composed.

I hope you enjoyed my somewhat nonsensical ramblings. I thought I’d make an easier post, where I don’t stress and just write. Let me know what you think!

Have you got snow where you are? If you’re not in England, how often do you get snow?

From Elm 🙂