The other day I was in my reading & writing group, and they were discussing some practicalities for another personâ€™s edited book project. Someone said, it should be about 6 to 8 chapters long, and between 40 and 50 000 words. It hit me that Iâ€™ve just done that. I have written just over 40 000 words, compiled eight chapters, and eventually it will be hardbound and placed in a repository somewhere. So I have technically just written a book. Iâ€™ve always wanted to write a book, and yeah ok, this isnâ€™t the type of book I was talking about, and I doubt anyone is actually going to choose to read my book, but still, a book is a book. And Iâ€™m sure, eventually, Iâ€™m going to feel happy or excited about that, eventually, right? Because right now thereâ€™s nothing but fear and self-loathing, and shame and guilt and all sorts of craziness.
It started getting crazy when I handed in my first final draft for my supervisor to read and edit. Sheâ€™s going to have that back to me by the end of the week, and then after I fix up the things she will have pointed out itâ€™s off for final grading. And realistically, I am pretty certain in about 3 months I will be graduating with my Masterâ€™s degree. I will need to be graduating with a high grade if I am to go on to the PhD programme, thatâ€™s the one that Iâ€™m doubtful of, but Iâ€™m pretty certain Iâ€™ll get a passing grade. And Iâ€™m freaking out.
I started having flashbacks, and memories, and hallucinations. Ok, hallucinations sounds really crazy, but itâ€™s those things you see in the peripheral. In that moment its real, thereâ€™s someone there, thereâ€™s something coming, its real and true and dangerous, until that moment you turn and look and the room is empty. It could even be quite funny if it werenâ€™t for the terror, the long minutes of trying to keep from screaming, to get the panic under control. I wake up so many times with someone standing over my bed. Of course thereâ€™s no one there, I know that, but in those seconds when dreams are more real than reality there is and I need to scramble. Such is life.
Then there are the thoughts, the messages and memories from the past that are now a part of me. Some I can almost hear my mother saying, or my grandmother, others have been created and twisted by my own mind. Iâ€™m acting superior, I think Iâ€™m so special, fat, ugly, useless, tainted, liar, unlovable, a fraud and a disgrace. Thoughts and messages that blame me, that point at the work as proof of my badness, of a pathetic attempt to be something Iâ€™m not. They are constant and they are loud.
So I want to run, and I want to hide. I want to trash everything connected to this Masters, to my study. Dump it all and go into hiding. It was a stupid joke anyway. But if I do, well I know my supervisor has copies, and even if I managed to get to hers, Sassy, overseas, probably still has an electronic copy. So trashing everything is drama queen attention seeking without destroying anything, so therefore pointless. But I still want to run. I donâ€™t want to deal with this. I donâ€™t want to smile and nod when people say everyone gets nervous and doubts themselves. Yeah, no doubt about it Iâ€™m sure they do. But how many of those rip their toenails off so to have a momentâ€™s break, or find themselves shivering with the cold because they ran blinding into the night after a nightmare.
Iâ€™m not saying mine is worse, ok fuck it, yes I am. Iâ€™m saying most of the students who are going through this process, or have gone through it, donâ€™t even come close. What we are dealing with is horrendous trauma and deeply ingrained craziness. It may be all drama queeny of me, but yeah, people here, people around me donâ€™t get it. They think Iâ€™m stressed.