25th – 31st January 2016
Let’s get something straight: this week has been really, really hard.
Sleeping straight through five alarms and my nine-am on Monday morning kind of set the tone, but I told myself that my body must have needed it and I could catch up on the lecture. This week’s Victorian text was Tennyson’s poem Maud which I’ll admit I gave up on halfway through on Sunday evening, but for Global we were looking at Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians which I was on writing my next essay on, so I managed to get myself together in time to go to the lecture on it on Monday afternoon, and again on Tuesday morning.
I felt faint on Tuesday and a little nauseous but didn’t think much of it; we were in a notoriously bad lecture theatre, so I put it down to the heat and lack of space. When I got home I thought I needed to lie down – and I pretty much didn’t get up again until Saturday morning except for occasional, shaky trips to the bathroom and even rarer, shakier expeditions downstairs for water or, if I was feeling particularly brave, food.
One morning I felt much better and walked the half-mile to the local Sainsbury’s to pick up some food I felt I might actually be able to eat, but when I got home I was so exhausted I had to lie down for a full two-hours before my head cleared and I felt vaguely human again. I averaged about one fifteen-minute conversation with another person face-to-face each day, and it was this which made the week so difficult.
At one point I went thirty-six hours without seeing or hearing another person. I can understand people’s hesitance; it can be hard to knock on a closed door, and harder to potentially expose yourself to being ill, too. But despite that understanding I still felt a little hurt, and very sad. Phone calls with home sent tears spilling down my face, though it wasn’t until Friday when Mum asked, “…Are you okay?”, that word holding a much more significant meaning than my physical wellbeing, that I finally admitted no.
I’m bad at asking for help. I’m scared that I’m interrupting somebody’s productiveness with my problems; that I’m wasting their time; that I’m ruining their day. It’s hard to ask for a knock on the door from someone just to talk about your struggles, and it only gets harder after days on end without so much as a text or Facebook message. And there’s a voice in me saying that if the roles were reversed, I would have checked on my friend at least a couple of times a day. Perhaps that’s selfish or entitled, but I also know it’s true and I don’t know how to feel about that.
This is a little exaggerated; my friend Jess made sure to message me every day to see how I was doing, and my housemate Tom always came to say hi before he went to bed. Becca brought me a hot drink and a hug before she went to Leeds for the rest of the week. I talked to my family and G on the phone. I wasn’t completely alone, even if it felt like it sometimes, and I did eventually send a message and ask for a visit. It helped; it always does, once you learn to swallow your pride.
Finally, on Sunday, I felt better. I’ve been able to eat three meals, to dress and take the bus to town. I sat in Waterstones with a mocha and talked on the phone to my parents for forty-five minutes, and read the first two chapters of the book I’d gone in to pick up. By the end of the first, I’d fallen in love with it – so now I’ve got a week to finish all 200 pages, do all my secondary reading, pick an essay topic, and plan and write the essay, along with my two other deadlines. But for the first time in over a week, I feel like that’s something I can actually manage.
This week I’ve been…
Reading: Villette by Charlotte Brontë. It’s the next set text on my Victorian reading list and I couldn’t have been more excited when I found out we’d be studying it; I started reading it eighteen months ago now, but revisiting and finally finishing it this week was exactly what I needed. I see so much of myself in its protagonist that she’s like a very old friend – and we even share the same name.
Watching: I genuinely can’t name anything specific here as I’ve watched so much appalling rubbish on Netflix all week that I either can’t remember it or am too ashamed to admit I’ve wasted my time watching it!
Listening to: Lucy Rose. I listened to her music a lot in Year 12 so her voice evokes a lot of strangely close and distant memories and feelings, but it helps me relax and sleep just like it did then.
Grateful for: My family. Though difficult, my phone calls with them have completely kept me going in the last few days. Just being given updates about the football from Dad, anecdotes about home and work from Mum and my sister’s take on everything from home life to global issues made all the difference when I needed it.
My illness has left me so behind on work that this week’s projection for the coming seven days is almost identical to the last, if more stressed out. I’ve an essay to be handed in a week on Monday, a feature to write for Nouse, a blogpost to write for a currently secret project (more on that soon), plus a frightening amount of reading to do. I’ve just about come to terms with the fact that I simply can’t do it all and need to prioritise, but I realise now that I might just need some help with that, so perhaps I’ll organise a meeting with my supervisor for some advice.
Sorry for such a text-heavy post! How has your week been? What are your plans for the next seven days? Let me know in the comments!
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