Earlier this week, I was floating through therapy groups, quasi-conscious of what was being said. Exhausted from months of not being able to sleep before and after days spent there. And cut off. A hangover from the previous week’s work, which demands that level of detachment, for me to function.
A psychodrama exercise, with someone else as the protagonist, draws up multiple issues from my own past. I recap them calmly. I am cold and clinical and unengaged. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t engage emotionally. I try to be. I am of stone.
I am scared that my academic role will make people uncomfortable. But I cannot change that I am trained as an academic: it just is. I am scared of history repeating itself; that I won’t be tolerated, will be asked to leave because no one with that kind of academic knowledge could possibly have a mental illness. Because I make people lose hope. Thinking in this, I crumple and break.
But then it is affirmed that I will not be asked to leave for being academic. That staff recognise that severe childhood emotional abuse and neglect make my academic knowledge defunct as far as my own mental illnesses are concerned. And I sleep better.
Work becomes harder, as my experiences threaten to overwhelm my academic writing; as I can’t find the words. As I sit through student presentations on social exclusion, raw with memories of deliberate ostracism.
I am struggling. I left work two days ago, awash with the urge to cut; desperate not to. I put myself on a T.C. contract not to cut. The urge to self-harm is ever-present. Without distraction, it roars. My brain ups the chant, I want to die, I deserve to die.
I have not cut. I listened to the student presentations, offered feedback. I’ve done my marking for the week. Submitted forms to deadline. Held relevant research meetings. Tomorrow, it is back into the community. I don’t know what memories I will face. I am scared. But God who steers the ship can see where I am going. God will keep me on course.