More University Shit

The next chapter in my adventure “I though I was getting better but now I think I’m getting worse.”

So, I got into UEA, and I have accepted the offer even though I’m not sure whether I want to go, cue my family cheering “yay! Jess is actually doing what we want her to do!”

The problem is now money. I am working a part time, “living” wage job, and I don’t think I can do more than that in my current mental state. If I don’t go to university, I don’t see how I will ever be able to move out.

If I do go to university, I get a loan. However, this loan is only enough to cover my accommodation, if I get the accommodation I want. The basic single room is just within my budget, any fancier than that I cannot afford. I could afford the cheaper accommodation, but those are shared rooms, and given my history with living in halls and general poor mental state, I really don’t think I can share. I’m not just saying that because I don’t want to, I’m saying it because I believe it would negatively impact my mental health.

So, providing I get the accommodation I want, I’m left with a couple of hundred pounds for living costs. I really don’t think I can work while at university (again, not that I don’t want to, mentally I know this won’t be possible).

I have been considering applying for DSA because of my mental health problems. I think I would qualify, given the problems I have been having recently with employment and the fact that I have put university on hold for 3 years because of my mental health. The problem is that I am too anxious to ask for help with my anxiety, which is the worst sort of irony.

I went to the doctors this morning for a pill check, and as usual, my blood pressure was sky high because I was so anxious, especially because I was working up the courage to ask for evidence for my DSA application. I ended up not asking, and I’m really annoyed with myself, because now I will have to phone up again, something else that I hate doing.

I wish they could just take my word for it. I am scared of having to justify my condition to get help. I don’t talk to my doctor as much as I probably should about my mental health, so I don’t even know if she knows how much I am struggling. I am worried that maybe because I went to China, that they will think I’m exaggerating, or making it up, because if I was that bad, how could I have travelled and done all that?

I am also STILL waiting for therapy. I think I would feel more comfortable asking a therapist who I had a closer relationship with for help than my GP.

I wish I didn’t have to do this. But I don’t see how my life is going to progress if I don’t go to university, and it is going to be very difficult if I don’t have any extra support.


What have I been getting up to?

Before we dive into the serious life stuff, I’ve been keeping up lots of different creative projects, like my photography blog, my YouTube channel, and general crafting. I’ve also been volunteering with retired greyhounds once a week (I have a new dog best friend as a result), I completed a diploma in Zoology, and I’m keeping up my German practise.

The reason I have so much free time to do all these things? I don’t have a job. Still. I went to an induction day for a part time retail job the other week, but they wouldn’t tell me what my hours were going to be, and since then I haven’t heard anything from them. And because I thought I had the job, I quit my zero hour contract job, so now I really have nothing. Part of me feels like I should have just gone back to my old job when I got back from China, as I would have been far better off financially, even if it would have negatively affected my mental health. Anyway, I hope that made sense, it’s a bit of a complicated situation.

I think I may have mentioned previously that my anxiety has been a lot worse recently, feels like I’m goings back to the good old days of not wanting to go outside, or interact with anyone in general. I am on the waiting list for therapy, but that’s not of much use until I get a place.

I feel as though therapy would be particularly helpful at this time, as I have been applying for university. I’ve actually got a place at UEA studying languages. I’ve been teaching myself German for a few months, and I like it, but I would be majoring in Japanese. I’ve also found an OU course that looks quite interesting, with lots of flexibility t study different subjects, but of course that would mean staying at home.

The problem is I can’t decide. I really don’t know what I’m interested in, of if there’s one subject that I want to pursue over all the others. I have been battling my lack of sense of self for a while, and most of the time it doesn’t affect me that much, apart from feeling a bit disjointed, but when it comes to stuff like this, I really just don’t know. And that’s such a dissatisfying answer, but I don’t.

So, maybe the OU course would be better, as I could pick my modules year to year, based on what I fancied. It would also remove the risk of reliving the infamous 2014 breakdown. The really disheartening thing is that applying to a proper university is the first thing my family have really supported me in for years. When I mentioned the OU, they were happy, but with UEA, it seemed like I was finally making the choices they wanted. They hardly blinked when I completed my Zoology diploma last month, and when I got the job (the one that has since dissolved into nothing) no one seemed to care, even though I was excited.

I know that a crappy retail job is not going to be the path to my future, but it’s better than being unemployed. And I know that I shouldn’t care what other people think so much, and not let their expectations dictate my decisions. But it is hard to shake, especially when you live with them, and they are allowing you to live with them.


Dieting and Weight Loss Bullshit

I wanted to break the silence by recommending a podcast I have really been enjoying. It’s called “Don’t Salt My Game,” and it’s all about nutrition, body positivity, and countering toxic diet culture.

The host is Laura Thomas, who is a real nutritionist and has a PhD (not a food/fitness blogger who has no idea what they are talking about). She is also a vegan, but really doesn’t shove it down your throat. Vegan nutrition does come up, which I find useful, but she makes it clear that she is an ethical vegan, not a dietary vegan, and offers advice for meat eaters as well. I really appreciate this, as there are a lot of fake vegan “nutritionists” out there that rely on pseudo science, promote veganism as the only healthy dietary option, and make us vegans seem angry and irrational!

Personally, I have been struggling with eating and body image recently. I tend to bounce between what negative coping methods I am using, and cycling between over eating/restricting is one of them. This has definitely gotten worse since I stopped cutting myself, I guess I feel the need to transfer my self-destructive behaviour somewhere.

When I was in China, I was feeling really good about food. I was trying lots of different meals out, enjoying the different flavours I could find in the supermarket and indulging in all the exotic fruit I had missed from Singapore. It was very freeing. The first two months were fine, and then I was doing yoga one day, and as I was doing a side stretch, I noticed I was being cushioned by a roll of fat that wasn’t there before. All the negative feelings came crashing back, and I could feel myself obsessing over how I looked. The last month was a struggle of restriction and over eating, and I really wasn’t enjoying the food I was eating.

Since being home, the weight that I have gained has been weighing on me, and like I said, I’ve been using over eating as a coping mechanism. But, since listening to this podcast, my perspective is starting to shift. Of course, logically, I know that size does not matter, but this podcast explains in scientific terms how size does not have any bearing on health. It explains how dieting is unsustainable, how exercise doesn’t need to be an extreme workout at the gym, and picks apart the notion that we need to be thin to be attractive. It is really refreshing to hear someone who actually knows what they are talking about, and has researched this thoroughly, when there is so much white noise in the media about fad diets and restrictive diets and clean eating trends.

If you only listen to one episode, listen to episode 45 on intuitive eating (and then binge listen to the rest of them like I did!). It is so helpful, especially if you are like me and have been stuck in disordered eating patterns for years. I definitely need to do more research into intuitive eating, it seems like the way forward.

I am also trying to embrace how my body looks. It seems so illogical that I don’t have a problem with other people having lager bodies, but when it comes to my own I can’t accept that I’m a little soft round the edges. I even find curvy women more attractive, so why can’t I apply that same standard to my own body?

I am thinking about doing an update post soon. I have a couple o ideas for posts I want to write so maybe I will start writing more regularly again? Who knows.

That One Thing

I thought that all it would take would be one thing to really change everything. I think that’s what a lot of people think, at least I hope I’m not the only one. That would make me feel pretty stupid.

The older I get, the more I realise that it’s not that simple, nothing is. One person,  one therapist, one job, one trip, one revelation, it might not work out like that. Things don’t progress in a straight line, always getting better, always getting stronger, always figuring out more.

China was supposed to change it all. I was escaping a number of things, I was reclaiming my identity, I was casting off a poorer version of myself. I would travel, make friends, be true to myself. That’s my goal this year, after all, be true to myself. Except it didn’t happen like that.

When you do something amazing, like travel to the other side of the world, everyone who asks you about it expects you to say it was fantastic, the best thing I ever did. It’s kind of like when someone asks you how they are, and all they want to hear is fine.

Because it was an amazing experience, and I was so lucky that I had the money, the opportunity to quit my job, all the factors that made it possible. I don’t want to sound ungrateful. Some people dream of being able to travel that far and never get to.

But it didn’t fix anything. Yes, I was able to run away from a relationship, and basically didn’t think about it while I was there. Yes, I was able to “find myself” to some extent, in that I accepted what I had known for years. But, what else?

It was so stressful. My anxiety was so bad while I was out there. I banged on about exposure therapy, and how much it was helping me, going to all these different places, challenging my anxiety. But it didn’t. I spent a lot of time just in my room, or in my hotel room when I did go away. Sometimes I would think about how far away I was from everything I knew and it really scared me. I even think about it now, how far away China really is and it gives me a panicky feeling. I don’t know why, really, because there is nothing here for me. It may be familiar, but what do I have, really? Friends, who I think about all the time, when they have moved on ages ago? Year 10 was a long time ago, but I think about it all the time.

And now that I am back, everything is harder. I thought getting to Shanghai was challenging, just going to the post office seems impossible some days. I can’t even go back to my old job, I’m so scared. I want to meet people, but at the same time I don’t. I’m unemployed, technically but not really, I’m thinking about doing a degree that will mean staying at home for another three years, and I’m not even sure I want to do it. There is just nothing else. I can’t get a job I like, I don’t know if there is a place where I can be myself and fit in. What is there?

I’m on the waiting list for therapy, but that could be another month away. I need it, but even then, I’ll get 6 sessions and then be chucked out. It won’t be enough to fix everything, I don’t think, and I don’t really know what happens after. I’m already thinking about the last session and I haven’t even started.

I don’t know. I thought it would help, I thought pushing myself would free me, would lead to something, but here we are, January 2015 all over again. Let’s hope it doesn’t get to the 12th.

I Think I’m Scared?

We’re back to the blogging crisis again. I did actually write a book review the other week, but even that I don’t feel like posting.

I think the truth is I’m a little bit scared of writing. It seems strange that my blog, once a safe haven, my little corner of the internet where I could be myself, now feels alienated from me. I have changed the names of most of my social media accounts, deleted pictures and information about myself, all because of this thing that happened a couple of years ago.

It’s one person in particular that is still haunting me. They were one of the only IRL people that new about and read my blog. I’m quite sure that they won’t be able to find my blog under the new URL, as I’ve been googling and checking old links to make sure nothing traces back to that old persona, but there is still a doubt that they could find this, and that my secrets could be in the hands of someone I don’t trust.

I want to talk about how they have affected me, what they have done to me, but I am scared. I am scared of them finding this, of them contacting me online. God forbid in person. Whenever I drive into town I think about what I would do if I saw them. Probably scream or cry. I don’t know why I keep writing “they” and “them”. It should be “he” and “him”.

I don’t want to keep thinking about him, because he had a bad enough impact on my life when he was actually in it. It’s been over a year, almost two, since he was a part of my life. But I still think about him almost everyday, not out of missing him, but out of regret and guilt and shame, and fear. That’s the scary part. How much damage he caused and I didn’t even realise it till now, years later.

This was way oversharing. I am on the waiting list for therapy but quite frankly I need help now because I am not coping with all the thoughts in my head at the moment. I keep having to remind myself that I am having a self harm free year this year, but that means all my other negative coping methods have well and truly taken over. More on that another time.

New Start

I think I need a new start for this blog.

I was thinking about starting again completely, but I have invested a lot of time in it, and I do have some posts on here that I like, so I’m staying here, but going by a new name

I am trying to move away from my previous online name, and make my blog a bit more separate from other online projects, so I can open up on here once again. Reclaiming some anonymity (I know long time readers may know where else I am online) is a way for me to reclaim this blog.

There are things that happened to me a while ago I am just realising were actually traumatic, and to be honest, I should probably be in therapy. Some days, I am finding myself teetering on the edge of I don’t know what, and I’m using some not so healthy coping mechanisms. So, from saying that I wanted to stop sharing lots of personal issues on this blog, I am now going back to oversharing.

I have processed a lot of what has happened in personal diaries, but in the past sending my problems out into the ether has helped, and so I’m counting on it to do so this time.

This is going to be totally for me, I just need to vent all the crap that is going through my head.

Editing Your Life

I think everyone has times in their life they wish they could forget. Or that they’d never happened. I have a big portion of my life that I am trying to move on from.

I don’t think ignoring that these things happened is helpful. After all, nothing can change the past. But there comes a point, when you have processed what happened, accepted it, and moved on, and you don’t want to be thinking about the crappy things.

I have realised that I am the kind of person that heavily edits my own life. I get rid of possessions that remind me of a bad time, like a dress I wore to a funeral, or a present from someone no longer in my life, or deleting photos from my computer. I find that this helps me stay focused on the present. Objects have such strong memories attached to them, and by getting rid of the object, I have alleviated some of my emotional anguish.

I have even taken down some of the posts on this blog, once again, editing the bad parts of my life out.

The flip side to this is that I have a very good memory, and I want to remember my life in as much detail as possible. I keep a notebook with tickets and scraps from all the cool stuff I have done, and I love looking back on it. I have kept all my old diaries, and notes and drawings that my friends gave me at school. I love having tangible things that document my life.

One of the things I have done to move on from this bad thing doesn’t involve completely removing it from my life. I have made some blog posts private, so they are there, but not when I look back over my main blog website.

Another things I have done is physically making some things private. I’ll explain what I mean by that. There are some parts of my teenage diaries that I cannot read, I know I am lying even in my diary and the cognitive dissonance is simply too much. But I didn’t want to throw away. So, I taped them shut. I physically made it so I can’t read them (unless I have a complete meltdown and rip them open like a bear). They are still in my box of sentimental items; they are there, and I can acknowledge them, but I can’t relive them.

I think this relates well to that mental image I have seen a lot, of packing things into boxes in your mind, having them there if you want to look at them, but not letting the take over your thoughts. And this balance, I believe is best. I don’t think it’s healthy to ignore the bad things that have happened to us. Accept them, process them, and acknowledge them if you need to. The rest of the time should be sent on things that make us happy.