“I could feel the tears brimming and sloshing in me like water in a glass that is unsteady and too full.”
Sylvia Plath The Bell Jar
I hold back the tears. Again, and again and again. I feel their surge and swallow hard, because, if I gave way to them, I would not stop. I am frightened of tears, their power, their determination to surface. I am frightened of myself, the strength of my emotion.
Fear is my constant companion now. These days I do not sleep well; coach journeys once restful and short, are now long and tedious. When I do sleep, I have nightmares. I am scared. I am scared because I have done the hard thing, jumped the first hurdle. To be able to access the Therapeutic Community, I have to be relieved of my teaching on those days. And last time, that meant leaving the workplace.Last time my mental state was disclosed, there was panic and vault-face, and suddenly no one wanted me to be working there anymore.
But I have only six weeks remaining in the prep. group. I visit the therapeutic community for a week. As I observe activities, the tears threaten, until I disassociate with the stress of holding back. I do not sleep. I hear the echoes of my own experience in the voices of others around me. The spiders that seem to be marching across my living room in the evenings are not really there. I am drowning in suicidal ideation. The stress is too much. I break down as I confess to myself that I need help.
A meeting with line managers is necessary. With the stress of waiting outside the office, I fight to ground myself, not to disassociate. I manage. I shake uncontrollably, my right side in spasm. But through that I explain the situation to them. And they are lovely. And they not only give me their blessing to rearrange my teaching, but want to think about what teaching I could do for them, very part-time, beyond June, so that I can continue in some small way with my research, fill the time I am not in the community meaningfully, and successfully return to academia again.
And I feel like crying again. They do not want to turn me away. They want to support me. That is precious. I still feel like crying, most of the time these past days. Alongside that, fear. Fear because my mind is swimming with things that I would need to face in the community. Fear because rearranging teaching was just the first hurdle. I am not actually accepted into the community. And being accepted is not a given, not if staff vote otherwise, feel I am not ready. Fear because if that happens, there is no other help available. If, if if.
I am exhausted with fear of the unknown, and an overwhelming need to cry that I dare not give in to. It is too heavy. I can’t carry it on my own. Just as things worked out so that prep group is held on my day off, I need to trust that this will work out, too. That I will get the strength for the days ahead as I need it.I must trust more. Trust is hard. Trust is God.