^ My theme song for 2017.
“I rose from the almost dead”
^ My quote of 2017
CN: suicide, anxiety, OCD
2017 was one fucking rollercoaster of a year. From outside, it is easy to conclude that 2017 has gone perfectly for me and I should be happily proud of my (academic) achievements. But being me, I know that I’ve been through hell that I never want to go through again.
2017 was an extremely stressful year for me as I would be sitting my final and most important set of school exams that would determine which university I would go to. It began just with me being very stressed and anxious, becoming more susceptible to illness due to my stress (thanks psych course) and overworking (10 hours of studying everyday is overworking, don’t be fooled by anyone who does 12 hours a day, tell them to relax). This time last year, I was very uncertain about which university I would be going to. I knew which ones I had applied to, and had offers from 3/5 of them (at that point), but my dream university would only get back to me in the new year. I was thinking through different scenarios and trying to work out how to deal with rejection. I wondered where I would be this time next year, knowing only that I would have closure and nothing else. Right now, I don’t need to worry about where I will be this time next year, as long as I survive university.
There were one or two weeks of bliss in 2017, but I felt it was too good to true. And before I knew it, I crashed. Worry, OCD and stress eating me from inside, ferociously tearing me up. Losing control. Losing it. Then, such isolation and loneliness that I could not go on even studying. I don’t know how I thought I could be okay. Studying for three weeks without a real break and alone.
It only worsened. I thought of suicide clearly three times. One time, I still remember vividly, my plan. Luckily I never carried out my destructive plans and I’m still here; I survived: I am alive, living.
I won’t for a second forget how my school contributed to this. The constant stress, being overworked by teachers and being forced to perform extracurricular duties. The utter lack of support networks, senior teacher’s denial of mental health problems in the school. Being so stressed, panicking I wouldn’t get into my dream university because I had to self-teach myself a large bulk of a mysterious, elusive curriculum with scarcely any resources available. (On the bright side, I learn how to spell available this year). Or how years of built-up expectations and parental failings (implying that my worth was tied to my academic performance etc) contributed to my lack of self-esteem and inability to see past potential academic failure. A life of isolation and social marginalisation. Everything came to a head.
As the pain and suffering intensified, I reached rock bottom. And only then, could I have catharsis.
“The fate of destruction is the joy of rebirth.” – The End of Evangelion,
(滅びの宿命は新生への喜びでもある- 新世紀エヴァンゲリオン劇場版 Air/まごころを、君に)
What was then unhealthy, destructive, inwards-spiralling rumination in which I moved only from one sad thought to another (fitting Werther reference), would later lay the basis, the painful path, towards remodelling my life, my values and my self-conception. I would have to confront values, words, my past that had been eating up my life, slowly, myself dissolving into sadness. I sunk so deep, I almost drowned. For if I did not drown physically, I had drowned mentally. I was not really alive. I mean, I had not been living in some sense for half my life already, but at the time, there was scarcely any evidence to say I was living at that time. I walked around, stood there, dead-eyed and numb, world weary and ready to go, struggling to stay.
On the night before my penultimate exam, I could not take it anymore mentally- my loneliness, the continued overworking and studying which had gone into its 10th week, my physical issues. I could wanted to end it, but could not. And physically, I threw up. I had heard that going to my dream university would be repeating this again, this dark tunnel of an exam term and the two years of hell my Oxbridge-obsessed sixth form had given me. And in that moment, sensing imminent failure, I was ready to relinquish my life-long goal of studying at the university of my dreams.
I have a fortune cookie slip that reads:
“Conquer your fear of losing, look ahead for a brighter future.”
There and then I had given up on my fear of losing, but I did not yet see signs of my brighter future. But that bright future- oh those bright mornings walking down King’s Parade- they would come.
I survived, I held on until the last day of my exams.
That summer, it was not happy. I thought I could recover by forgetting everything. Because apparently that’s what I did last time I was depressed for months and it worked. (It didn’t, otherwise this wouldn’t have happened). That summer I both ran away from recovery and tried to recover. I began to view my family abroad slightly differently, viewing my parents’ country of origin with slightly less contempt than I did as a younger teenager. I got a job. I began to see things differently. How people saw me. For the first time, in what, a year, no, it felt more like, my life, somewhere nearing a decade, people who saw positives with me. They saw something good in me that was not my academics. Being nice. That was enough. After having lived in the shell of my academic live and achievements, I once again became a whole person. It was a long time.
My mental health was also terrible during the summer. I was alone for much time. The doctor was terrible, made me feel devalidated and doubted whether I deserved to get into my dream university and gave me the wrong instructions, instead of helping me. Made my anxiety worse by insinuating that I wasn’t deserving of help because my situation wasn’t bad enough (I had recovered somewhat).
I began two things this summer, that I should be proud of, even if I did not complete them. Firstly, I began learning Japanese. Secondly, I planned my first novel and wrote 33,000 words of it- completing the first part.
That summer, I got into the university of my dreams. I did not just ‘get in’. I achieved marks way over the requirement, and potentially had some of the highest grades in my school. I received a happy congratulatory letter from my university.
But of course, fear lingered. I didn’t know if I could go, and survive without my mental health spiralling again. I delayed filling in the form, in case, for some reason, I couldn’t go this year because of my mental health.
That summer, I met a boy online. Our friendship help me shoulder the loneliness of the long summer and the awful way that the doctor had interacted with me. He made me realise that people at my university would be nice, interesting. When I first met him, I felt an immediate connection. He was the most interesting person I had met up until that point. Then, we continued talking. He made me believe I could go to university, survive (the mental health spiral and the shit treatment I received from the doctor made me think I wouldn’t survive even my first term of university and I would need to intermit or drop out). He promised to do things together. I began to imagine a future with him. I fell in love with him. He took the train to meet me.
But then, he also told me things that made me not want to love him. I tried to pull away, but I couldn’t. I held out for him. His signals were painfully ambiguous, ambivalent.
Then, university began. Oh, such a beautiful university and what a pretty little quaint town. I tried not to overdo our interaction up to and after that point because I did not want us to wear out our conversations and for our conversations to lose their interesting nature. I was happy with him. I went to events with him and a girl from my college. We had great days and evenings together. Until one evening, after I left early after a film-viewing, he shut the doors. I couldn’t reach them by phone. I needed my glasses back.
That week, I made friends. By happy accident, I was not paying attention to the lecturer and I saw someone I’d met before at some events on my computer screen and waved. Then we went out to lunch together- her and some other friends sitting nearby. Their conditionless warmth and friendliness, opening their arms to me, made me so happy.
Days later, I would find out he had proposed to date her. And they had been fucking. Behind my back. And it hurt. And I crumpled, fell, with the crippling weight of their love and my heavy workload dragging me down. Then we went together to a formal dinner- as we had planned before their dating- and… it was too much for me. The next day, I went shopping, but I could barely stand up in the supermarket and read the labels. I was spiralling again, I needed someone to hold onto. I knew I had to do something. I couldn’t let it spiral.
There and then, someone from yesterday and from the lunch a few days messaged me for a photo I had taken of her. And there, I had someone. She sensed something was wrong. She asked me if I wanted him to be beaten up for breaking my heart knowingly. Of course not. Her kindness allowed me to stand up again. I knew I had to meet friends and study together. And that day, I finished an essay.
He continued to play with my feelings and hurt me throughout term and into the holidays. I continued to have breakdowns over him. His silence, lack of communication and contact, ambiguous behaviour. Even today. It still hurts, but I’m letting go. He is not worth it. And I hope, that next year, soon, and especially this time next year, it no longer hurts.
I have some beautiful memories. He sent me a song, called Kataomoi and it would describe his consequent actions and my feelings for him. Here are the lyrics that resonate with me:
“Darlin’, my dreams came true
But I can’t find fitting words to describe it
Darlin’, my dreams came true
“I love you.””
“I’m enjoying happiness born of just one moment, and just one person
With today as the main dish, I’ll have a sweet and sour dessert to end it,
and the mountains and valleys as a full course ”
“Even if you forget me, even though it’s a little painful… that’s all right “
(translation by animelyrics.com)
Even now, listening to the song and reading the lyrics again, my heart beats a little faster and hurts.
You weren’t worth it. The you I met online and once in London, I loved that version of you. He was talkative, interesting but most of all caring and devoted. But the you I met in university, he was uncommunicative, forgetful and insensitive. But I’m also responsible- for my reaction to your girlfriend’s words, for my misinterpretation of so many things, for holding myself back from being friends again. But you could have done better. For starters, you could have told me you were dating our other friend. But fuck you. I still want to be friends with you in the New Year, but I hope my heart stops hurting and my mind stops thinking about you.
I fucking loved university. New people. New friends. Places to go. Things to do. People to do it with.
I’m looking forward to meeting and loving someone new.
I’m looking forward to loving myself more, and recovering mentally and physically.
I’m going to take that step and see a therapist for real next year.
I’m going to survive university, I’m going to get at least a 2:1 and hopefully some firsts in my exams.
I’m going to continue learning Japanese, and possibly visit Japan.
I want to continue with my German.
I’m going to finish my first novel, query agents and hopefully I’ll be seeing myself with a publishing deal this time next year.
I’m going to start and plan writing my second novel.
I’m going to buy Writers & Artists 2019.
I’m going to improve my art skills.
I’m going to start working in the summer and save up for housing and a touch tablet, amongst many things.
I’m going to get to know my friends better and meet new friends.
I’m going to apply for a senior post for some of my university societies.
I’m going to have a happier, more relaxed year in 2018.
Thank you for reading, and goodnight.