I'm exhausted. This week I've spent more time meeting with university and disability services staff than I have in class. Granted, I'm not in for very long every week, but that's still a lot of meetings. For someone who has spent the last three months depressed, anxious, suicidal, and keeping herself out of hospital, it has been hard to try to get back into the routine of university. It's only Week 3 and I already feel like I could keel over and sleep for a year. It's the kind of exhaustion that I can feel in my legs, the kind that stops me from making meals and having showers, and the kind that doesn't care about making meals and having showers. I am just too tired. I don't know if it's exhaustion or depression, but I also don't have the energy to care which it is.
We keep talking about self care. We keep talking about taking time out for ourselves whenever we need it, making sure that we are healthy and reasonably happy, in order to best do our jobs and best represent the students we've been elected to work for. But when we do just that, I can't help but feel there is always someone rolling their eyes behind your back. There is always someone quick to point out what you're doing wrong, and whilst I know that is part and parcel of the job (and I fully accept and think it is right that people criticise us- I mean, we need to be held to account), at times when I am not 100% it is difficult to deal with. And unfortunately, I'm rarely at 100%. I haven't been 'at 100%' for the duration of my degree, so far. And I wasn't well during my A Levels. Or my GCSEs.. so the problem is, where is the line? Where does self care begin and end? Should I even be doing what I'm doing in the first place?
I didn't get accepted for a programme I applied for this summer (I'm on the reserve list, but people rarely drop out), and whilst I was initially disappointed, I couldn't help but notice the little thought inside my head that told me, realistically, it would be worse to have been accepted and then not to have been able to take up my place- the regulations note that you have to be 'healthy enough to travel', and considering the programme, it isn't unreasonable. And now I (though it would more likely be my parents) won't be forced into making the choice as to whether I'm 'well' enough to go away for ten weeks.
But I'm still left with what is my life here. I study full time and essentially work part time in three different jobs. Luckily only one has contracted hours (the paid one), but even at that, the one shift I do will wear me out for the rest of the day. The good thing about the student newspaper and, to a lesser extent NUS-USI, is that I work from home and when I can, so I don't notice a 'set' amount of hours, but even things like spending an afternoon trying to catch up on emails or write reports for committees or try in vain to contact the different unions I represent can knock me out entirely.
So what do I do? It is a question I am struggling with a lot. I have decided to spread my third year in university out into three terms- nothing is finalised but I'm hoping that will take off some of the pressure uni-wise, even though it means I won't graduate with my year and I probably will have another year of student loans to take out. I still have to be re-elected as Women's Officer for next year, and next year will be my last. Someone else will take over as News Editor for The Gown come June. But is it enough? Really, is it enough? Or will I have to accept the fact that this is a chronic condition and doesn't appear to be going away any time soon, and try to make the best out of a bad situation? I am doing what I can but I know it is not enough- it isn't up to my standards of what a News Editor or a Women's Officer or full-time student should be doing. Maybe I am spreading myself too thin, and maybe I need to remember occasionally that I came here a year and a half ago to try to do a degree, something I am reminded of every time I have to miss classes to go to conferences or London or when I can't get out of bed in the morning.
This blog is self-indulgent. It is a way in which, as strange as this seems, my best friends, who I don't get to see very often (a mix of oceans between us/everyone has jobs and university and a million other commitments) can sometimes check in with how things are. Because I don't have the energy to contact them and make plans every week, I don't have the energy to reply to Facebook messages and talk about how things have been. I don't know why I decided to start documenting these kinds of things again, but I did, and so I need to try to stick at it. Even if it is self-indulgent. I don't have a therapist anymore and so these things, for the most part, go unsaid. I need to put it somewhere. I need to get it out of my head.