For the longest time I have been feeling I have needed to write. Like there is something I have had to get off my chest, or, more accurately off my mind. But there is so much going on in my mind that I haven’t been able to separate or compartmentalise anything. So I’ve just been trying to deal with it. Trying to get out of bed on a morning, function almost-normally without anybody noticing, and get through the day. A friend of mine said that the lowest point you can hit is when you physically can’t get yourself out of bed, and I argued that it wasn’t. But I think I was only arguing because I knew, on some level, that she was right. I’m not eating, I’m not sleeping, and I have to get out of bed the second I wake up, before my brain has switched on properly, because if I lie in bed long enough to think about things, I know it would be too easy to just turn over, pull the covers up and give up.
So this is me trying to process things, trying to separate things out in my mind. And yet I am already struggling so I will what seems to be the biggest problem first.
I have been doing my MA for two years now, and I have less than a month to go and everything has fallen apart. I am behind on my work, I can’t concentrate and the thought of being at university or doing anything slightly related to university brings sick into my throat and gives me really awful chest pains. In the book The God of Small Things, there is a motif of a moth in the chest. This is how I picture my anxiety, like a moth moving around in my chest. Except lately it seems that the moth is too big to even move, it’s just there. Suffocating.
I do my MA part time because I also work. At one point I was working three jobs to get myself by. Now I work two. I have a research job with the university, and I can’t even rationalise why but it makes me as anxious as thinking about my dissertation. I am completely indebted to the university for giving me this research job and the bursary that came with it. Because of this I have been able to leave one job. However, this job has done absolutely nothing for my self-confidence. Month by month, meeting after meeting, and in no way deliberately on the university’s part but I could feel myself feeling more and more inferior. Each week I would have to do my job, and each week I would dread it a little more. It’s not my research interest, and it’s not my research area. I have never had to do so much archive work before. I wasn’t trained in many aspects of what it was I needed to be doing. I wasn’t directed very much. And I should have spoken up sooner but I couldn’t. And now, those people who know small details of how it makes me feel, sort of lay blame on me for not speaking up. But there is something vital that they do not understand: I am not anxious because I didn’t speak up; I didn’t speak up because I am absolutely crippled with anxiety.
Which leads me nicely onto my next point, my anxiety. I don’t know how to even talk about this properly. I don’t know how to make people understand without just sounding like any other person who has ever been slightly anxious over something.
It will not go away. I struggle with so many different things daily, but I can never call them to mind because they always change. And this makes it hard to make people understand. I try to act normal but it is getting increasingly harder because the pains in my chest are getting worse, and right now it feels like someone is sitting on me. Some days I can’t even bear to wear a bra because I can’t stand any more pressure being on that area of my body. I am so caught up in my mind that I can go entire days without having a drink, or something to eat. People struggle with different things every day, and I know that things could be so much worse, but that doesn’t make me feel like I am able to cope with this any better.
Since Robin Williams’ passing, a lot of conversations have opened up regarding depression. And I think this is an excellent thing because mental health is something that should be spoken about, much more frequently than it is. But then, as a friend said, you get all kinds of people who then think they have had depression, and it makes it so much worse for the people who have it. And while I think this is partially true, it is mainly the people who have it who will not talk about it (like my parents) and so I can’t help but think that if people who don’t have it at all, or people who think they might have it don’t talk about it, then who the hell will? I have really noticed however a clear divide in these conversations. There are the people who suffer, and then there are the people who claim to suffer. And I have openly witnessed people who believe they have it bad claiming that they have got it worse. Come on, how can we possibly judge another person’s depression? Yes, there is a difference between being sad and being depressed, but telling someone who thinks they are depressed that they are not because you are and you are so much worse for them only has a negative impact on people’s inclination to share their feelings. Who would share their fears or their sadness or their anxieties if they were just going to be told that they don’t have it bad? This has turned into a rant, probably an incoherent one, but I just think it is hard to open up about how we really feel to begin with, let’s not make it harder for each other by then judging how sad or depressed someone is.
I have a job lined up for September, and while I don’t think too much about the future after that, I have been thinking about what to do next. Or, more specifically, where to go. I keep hearing a voice in my head which is telling me to look for a job somewhere away from where I am now. Where I have always been. And lately, I have been thinking why my thoughts keep leading to the possibility of moving. And I think I may know why. I’ve realised that although I have a fair amount of friends, I’m on the outside of all of their friendship groups. I don’t have a steady group of friends, I see the odd person on the odd occasion. And this means that I see a lot of things that I don’t get invited to. And when you have more than one friend in one of these friendship groups….it just feels fucking lonely. And because I have some sort of paranoia problem, I have obviously decided that it is because there is something wrong with me. So the voice that is telling me to take a job somewhere else is actually saying: ‘take a job somewhere else because you have nothing keeping you here. They wouldn’t care if you left.’ Like I said earlier, I am well aware that people have it worse, but my god does it feel lonely when you feel like you have no friends.
And of course, the main thing, the thing that has been wrong with me for over a year now. The loss of my little nana. It seems to happen in cycles where, although I miss her every day, I can get through weeks at a time without feeling guilty about it, or hating myself. And this all stems from the fact that the day before she died, I refused to hold her hand and I didn’t say goodbye. The thought of touching her was just too much, and I tell myself that I didn’t realise that that was the time to say goodbye. Except, deep down, I think I knew. I think I knew that she was going to slip away, but I just wouldn’t admit it. And it haunts me. More than anything in my life. People ask me if I really think this is something she would hold against me, and of course she wouldn’t, I don’t think. But she’s not here for me to ask, is she? And that’s on me. I have to live with the fact that I just left the bedroom of one of the people who meant the most to me in the world, and I walked out the front door, down the street, around the corner and I didn’t look back. Not once. She died about 8 hours later.
I guess, I just needed to write this to admit to myself that I’m struggling with life.