today is a day for trepidation and celebration.

Well. Despite having to cut nigh-on 1000 words from it (including the entire idea of society’s fear of women’s sexual agency being linked to the sublime, alas I am still not over this), my Gothic essay has served me well and I have passed the module with flying colours. I’m a mite worried about my other module – Modernism – but the grade for that is in the pigeonholes at uni so I will have to fret about that until I can go get it tonight. How well I’ve done overall this year mostly hangs in the balance of a piece of work I only submitted recently and whether a) it’s as shit as my anxiety thinks it is, and b) whether anxiety with a doctor’s note is good enough for the mitigating circumstances board. I don’t think I have a hope with it, but other people do, so we will see. I would hate to have fucked up my academic career because I was too afraid to hand in a piece of work I considered sub-standard (but was of a higher calibre than others in the class…)

I am now prepping solidly for next year – I have a stack of books, have ordered an even bigger stack of books (you honestly don’t want to know my expenditure on German poetry and Enlightenment philosophy this month – nobody should be spending that percentage of their income on Kant and chums), and made myself a bullet journal tailored specifically to the needs of my dissertation. I have begun my reading with Terry Eagleton and a new history of Germany and am making notes of everything I find interesting in the hope that a question or theme will present itself to me.

To-do

  • Pray / sacrifice / chant to any and all gods for some level of leftish success in today’s GE (if Cthulu wants blood to take away Theresa May, he shall have it)
  • Pray / sacrifice / chant to any and all gods for DREAM JOB to interview me (they said they would announce shortlisted candidates this week)
  • Stay away from the television, news and all but the most superficial social media until tomorrow. It’s not worf it, mate.
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Thunder only happens when it’s raining (Freudian Shit)

I have been having very strange dreams recently. Bad dreams, but I don’t know if you can call them nightmares. Usually my nightmares are completely debilitating, strange, and focused on images or aesthetic, and I wake up sweating and in need of reassurance. These dreams are taking aspects of my life that can never meet and mashing them together to create an unnerving experience, and confusing me between the real and the unreal. I am waking up disoriented. Last night, I dreamt that my headteacher wanted to see me after school, but my boyfriend came to pick me up for date night and insisted I could see him after – we ended up wandering through my school to a colleague’s office. In addition, something happened to another member of staff which confused me greatly when I saw her and she was jolly this morning, and I had to search my mind to remember that it happened in a dream.

I hardly ever remember my dreams properly, except for nightmares (because of the way they wake me up), so this is all very new to me and very unnerving. My disorientation has been lasting too far into the morning – thank god I work with children and have a mask I wear in front of them anyway! It’s the children who tend to shake me out of it – by having to pretend to be my hunky dory perky self I slowly become her, and the dreams become last night’s problem. Although one of my students did say I look tired today… and it has been making me sluggish, and distracted.

When I was a teenager we became obsessed with online dream dictionaries, and each morning my friends and I would search for some symbol which had been there in last night’s dream. Mine were always deeply specific – not just a snake, but a snake in a glass case with an apple in its mouth, or some other thing which wasn’t there – and darker than my friends’. No joining ginger pirates on adventures for me! As such, I’m a little sceptical of Freudian dream analysis. I can well believe that dreams are the guardians of our subconscious, and that they are the key to understanding our worries. But I don’t believe these symbols can be the same for everyone – how can my experiences lead me to have a cake symbolise the same things as it would to a German scientist 100 years ago? How can teeth be the same thing to me as to my friend? And what does it mean when my dreams are no longer symbolic, but linear? The pseudo-Freud that all of this simplistic dream analysis falls apart, surely. But since I can’t afford to see a proper analyst on the regular, one who knows I’m obsessed with having white, straight teeth and have a crippling spider phobia, shit Freud will have to do.

To-Do

  • Finish introduction to Eagleton’s ‘Ideology of Aesthetics’.
  • Pick crap up off bedroom floor.
  • Write a poem.

For those people who were worried about the throbbing vein in my eye.

I do not have diabetes! I am not dying! I have not developed psychosomatic eye problems! I have early signs of optic nerve inflammation, a 90% chance of that not developing, and a stronger glasses prescription in the bad eye. She also recommended I get computer lenses –  admittedly whilst telling me all about the medical community debate about whether they actually work or not – because of the strain I’m putting my eyes under and because I don’t need them for distances.

I’m actually quite glad about this – it proves that I a) did the right thing by choosing the optician rather than my GP. They did several tests on their fancy machines and she instantly knew the symptoms and the recommendations for if my symptoms worsen (actually saying go straight to the eye hospital if so, which is concerning). They’re having me back in a week for one more test. It also proves that b) I am not imagining things, my mind is not creating bigger problems than the ones that already exist (this is a BIG load off my mind – I do not need to be seeing spiders where there are none again) and I can trust myself to take my actual symptoms of my actual problems to professionals, who can actually help me work them out. In actuality.

I’m not thrilled that I have to get new glasses – not only is it expensive (even for cheap ones), it’s a shame to get new frames as I currently have two pairs of cute, vintage-y tortoiseshell ones that everybody seems to like. I was quoted £110 to have these ones re-lensed by Optical Express, which seems frankly excessive, but may have it done by an online-only company (as if they can’t do it cheaper from a warehouse not in London and mail them back).

I’d also like to say a big thank-you to my Englishness, as the eye test was free (thanks Martin Lewis Money Saving Expert Dot Com) and I doubt I would have gone had it been necessary to shell out for it. God knows how anybody in America is diagnosed with anything, and my sympathies as it only gets worse for young people and ordinary working people and anyone who isn’t a very rich white man or Ben Carson.

Basically, hooray for no diabetes! Although, I am currently drinking my first Starbucks in about a century, and if they get their way I will definitely be diabetic soon. #sugarcoma

(My new look? Vote for your fave.)

To-Do:

  • Proof-read and primp Modernism essay
  • Persuade everyone I know to listen to You Must Remember This
  • Buy the Lush face mask that will get rid of my gross zit face (according to the lady on the Nars counter)

Anxiety is beginning to make me feel sick.

I will not have this, not right now.

I’m not going to accept having to ‘eat over’ the pit in my stomach that tells me I’m not hungry, feel sick, don’t need water.

I’m not going to accept my body’s craving junk food.

I’m not going to accept the overwhelming urge to go straight home to sleep after work.

I’m not going to accept that I don’t care about my job, because I do. I’m not going to accept that I care about all of the irrelevant things, because I don’t.

I’m not going to accept the urge to shout at people, because I don’t actually want that.

I’m not going to accept the urge to not speak to anybody, because I will be energised by their encouragement.

I’m not going to accept that I can’t take the pressures of life, because I can. I’ve done this all before.

I’m not going to accept that this is me.

To Do:

  • Finish essay 1
  • Watch The Love Witch
  • Eat food

Contemporary poets, horoscopes and therapy.

This is just a brief thanks to Melissa Broder (@sosadtoday, writer of poems, psychologically unwell person) for making my horoscope echo what my therapist said to me. I don’t believe in horoscopes, and I don’t think we should encourage them, but ya know. Thanks for this.

SCORPIO
(October 23 to November 21)
What’s the oldest tape you play in your head? You will know it’s a tape if it’s something you hear constantly about what you are doing wrong, the ways in which you will not succeed, and how you are unfit for one thing or another. Other cute tapes include the way things should or shouldn’t be done in the world and “right” ways to live. I’m not telling you to eject the tape. But listen closely so you at least know what it is.

The stress, the successes and the hard, hard work: why this is My Week.

I jumped out of bed this morning. Literally jumped, because the alarm on my phone started playing Layla at full blast and I wanted to switch it off as soon as possible so that it didn’t wake my boyfriend’s housemates or mean that he couldn’t get back to sleep. And so it began – I got to work early, I tidied my Fantasy section (it was truly horrific), I was done by the time it came to read with children, I read my emails, I took the massive pile of book returns behind my desk and… and so on, until 4pm. And since it’s essay season, it won’t end there.

Essay season is the time of year when I do not have minutes to spare. Usually in this period I will sit during my work lunch break with my laptop on my knee, munching lame sandwiches whilst I transcribe quotes from hardback book to document. After work I will go straight to the library via some kind of fast food (thank you, Japanese Canteen Tottenham Court Road) and work until I can’t concentrate or can’t stay awake anymore. This week is even worse than usual for work-and-uni balance: not only is it a four-day week (although fuck me, I was glad of the extra day of weekend, and spent most of it in coffee shops working) with less time in which to accomplish things, I have two major dates in my calendar by which a certain amount of things need to be done. Both of which are Thursday. One of which I need somebody else to have done something for.

You know what’s amazing, though? I’m stressed as fuck but I’m not frazzled. I’m now engaged in a setting where I don’t have time for anything that’s not a priority and my job is getting through those priorities as efficiently as possible. I can do efficient, smiley robot really very well, I know I can do all of these tasks and I know I will enjoy hitting all of those deadlines – repeatedly – with a hockey stick, driving them into the ground by the pointy end.

Historically, it has not been because of the pressure, but the moment after the pressure eases that the problems have occurred. That is the moment that I take a breath and find myself having a panic attack at the brutal fact that my workload has not eased despite all the things I’ve accomplished, that the bar I set for myself is still so high that I’m doing metaphorical chest hangs to keep myself happy – essentially, when I find out that life goes on no matter how badly or how well you do. Maybe that’s a comforting thought to some people, but not to me.

This year, though, I have done something very sensible – I have taken holiday for the end of essay season. Not time off to work in. Nope. Not time to travel in, either. Time off to sleep and do something nice and not achieve anything. Then maybe I can come back into work and be satisfied with the lighter pressure of the never-ending, non-urgent tasks.

Say it with me – holiday. HOL-I-DAY. HOLIDAY IS COMING.

Have I actually developed neuralgia, though?

Underneath my left eye I have developed a twitching pain spasm. My eyes are not bloodshot or particularly watery, I haven’t got a bruise or done anything to it, it goes away for hours at a time and because of all these things it is deeply worrying to me.

I don’t usually google my symptoms, but I had to this time because I was genuinely unsure whether to go to the doctor or not. Can you legitimately turn up at a doctor’s office and say “I have a pain, sometimes, that seems to have no effect on my life and appears to be caused by nothing? By the way, I am a diagnosed sufferer of anxiety and depression, so it all might be in my head.” Apparently I probably have diabetes, multiple sclerosis or shingles – which is surprising, since the internet usually tells you that you have cancer. I was all ready to ignore cancer and read the other stuff, but it turns out you don’t have shooting face pains for no reason, and that they’re right about it usually being the left side.

I am sort of refusing to accept that it is anything. I believe it to be psychosomatic until it hits me, when I am convinced I have some kind of grotesque infection that will result in me losing an eye. Sometimes I think there is a tapeworm living in my eye and eating it from the back, but even when I think this I know it is ridiculous. I don’t want to go to the doctor about it – what will I do if it’s nothing and I have to just live with it? What will I do if it’s something and I have to deal with it? I have decided an appropriate compromise is to go to the optician’s. I don’t need new glasses so they’d better not tell me that my prescription has changed, but at least I can be sure they will take an x-ray of my eye before they tell me to go away.

Anyway, here is a beautiful play about health and love and possibility and the futility of human life. I saw it in London with Louise Brealey and Joe Armstrong, and it is truly wonderful.