End of Semester - YEAH!

Monday 15 October 2012

Well, that's the end of uni for another year.  I must say, I had no inkling of just how bloody hard studying was going to be this semester.  I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to academic study.  I'm good at it.  I'm used to receiving Distinctions and High Distinctions for my work.  But it's beyond those sorts of recognitions (nice though they be), that my motivation comes ~ it's internal.  I just really enjoy putting in the time and reading it takes to feel like I really get a grasp on an issue.  I love that feeling of understanding something, of its breadth and complexity, that expanded feeling of gaining a new bit of insight into the world, into us and how we run, into myself.

I must say, though, I didn't quite realise that doing two Anthropology subjects would entail such a high level of reading.  I also didn't really anticipate that in that time my health issues would continue to take up so much of my time.  I received my pyroluria diagnosis a couple of weeks into the semester, on a day when I'd been crying because I was trying to read some stuff and no matter how many times I read a sentence, I just felt like I couldn't absorb it.  And then all the way through the semester I've continued to struggle with the physical and mental issues that occur as a result of having the biochemistry that I do.  I have felt so many times during this semester that I just simply could not cope. 

On the weekend I had another meltdown.  It's the strangest feeling.  I feel like I start slowly shutting down.  Talking in this space is almost impossible.  The desire to remove myself to a place of safety is palpable.  It is like a PTSD shutdown, and all the phobias come out to play.  I suspect these issues are so much stronger in me because my body is now recalibrating itself and therefore continuing to discard the heavy metals and other things it has been unable to discard in the past. 

This makes it just a tad difficult to study for your exam.  So my inner perfectionist has to let go of the fact that it's probably not going to be a Distinction time for Susie this semester.  At the same time, I know how difficult it has been being me, and I know that getting a Pass will seem like a Distinction anyway.  And anyway, I hope to get at least a Credit for one of them.  So all in all, considering what I've been up against, I'm pretty proud of myself for not throwing in the towel.

So my exam has been and gone and with it, the semester.  I am so glad.  To celebrate I drove to the library on the way home and borrowed a stack of non-academic, non-anthropological books of delicious fiction.  And then I went to the local cafe, the Petal 'n Pot, which looks and smells delicious, and ate a baked potato with coleslaw and sour cream and cheese, and didn't even bother to waste time feel guilty about eating dairy.

I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  Shoulders which on occasions cannot seem to bear any weight being foisted upon them at all.  I can't tell you how much this sucks and how it makes me struggle.  Other people are able to work part-time and study part-time.  Other people seem able to cope with stuff that blows my adrenals into smithereens and careens me into the side of a wall.  Other people are not stress retards, phobic morons, and other related horrible things I say to myself when I have fallen into the vat of self-hatred.  Why not, when you're torturing yourself in this uncaring fashion, add to the confusion by comparing yourself to other people?  And of course, in this space, other people are the sort that you imagine via their Facebook profiles.  Airbrushed, even with no photos involved.  Selective.  Not readily sharing their issues because society is not a very safe place for vulnerable people to share their stuff.  (And probably because Facebook isn't the space to do it, but I just ignore that bit sometimes and share my vulnerable stuff anyway).

I can't seem to help it.  Although so often I feel so brittle and fragile that I could burst open if someone looks at me wrong, when it comes to sharing my troubles the vulnerability feels different to me.  It is a meaningful vulnerability.  I understand people's reticence and boundaries and desire to keep themselves to themselves.  There are times when I need to do that too and perhaps I don't.  But what I do know is that sharing my stuff, putting it down on a page, redeems it somehow.  Taking those experiences that are the loneliest I have ever felt in my entire life, and sharing them, takes the sting out of them.  Truly, the only thing to do with those shitty experiences is to take what you can of them and make something from them.  They are fertile compost, being composed entirely of shit, and they really do feed other people.


  1. AAAAagh. I know what you mean about vulnerability and I have caused someone a lot of grief because of it. I miss being on facebook and seeing my friends, but it is a constant reminder that I asked someone to block me. I feel like I did when I was a teenager - stupid. I am feeling like I should close my blog (again) because it is so raw right now and feels too revealing, but...maybe I shouldn't, because like you said, it redeems the trouble to write it out, in some strange way. Like, part of me wants it to be seen and the other part wants to tuck it in again. I love all of you. All of your vulnerability is a bright, shining realness that I can sit next to. Fanks. :)

  2. Oh, I so understand that feeling of wanting to shut everything down, of feeling vulnerable and stupid. It feels difficult being in that situation in this world because you quickly learn that people are awful quick to judge you. Even supposedly "spiritual" people can drop you when you're not "performing". This goes so deep, and is so completely contrary to other ways of doing things that other cultures enjoy. Our way of life is utterly toxic.

    I don't want to suggest what you should do about your blog, because that is up to you. But what I do know is there needs to be more vulnerable bloggers out there who aren't presenting their bright and shiny face all the time. Because it does make that space holy sometimes, and I think other people who come upon your words in a really low condition can recognise it somehow. I think that is an amazing gift to be able to give other people.

    Thank you for your words, my darling. A lot of the time it certainly doesn't feel like my vulnerability is anything other than a horrid thing that people point at and laugh. I know that sounds melodramatic but it's true :) I think it's why I blog, actually ... :)

  3. "They are fertile compost, being composed entirely of shit, and they really do feed other people."

    That's a gutsy truth, Sue, and partly what makes you such a good writer. What about catharsis? How does that tie in to what you've suggested here? Is that how sharing your stuff can "feed" other people.

  4. It is a rather earthy truth, isn't it, Sarah :) I think we are often as ashamed of our metaphorical shit as we are of our physical shit :)

    I think catharis fits in in terms of being able to process your stuff, and so then being more present and available to other people. And I think it helps to strengthen you also, because every time you process your stuff, and you see something good come out of it, it helps you to keep going through. I think what I meant by "feeding" other people is that sharing your own loneliness and suffering on the page where other people can come when they're suffering themselves ... I think that space where you're reading someone else's words in the privacy of your own internet surfing really can be a "feeding" and a strengthening. We have so much shame around feeling weak, and the world seems to be getting harder and harder to be able to be weak and vulnerable in. So those small private spaces I think are very profound and intimate :)

  5. Hi Sue - You should be proud of yourself for not throwing in the towel. I'm impressed you can study with the symptoms that you experience. I remember when I was younger, before I knew I had Pyroluria and I was studying...I knew my concentration wasn't the best and I had to be careful to ration it...weird thinking about it now and knowing the cause. I did alright though, more from sheer willpower than anything else.

  6. Thanks heaps, Harry. That comment means a LOT to me because I think only another pyroluric can really understand what it's like. I think in hindsight I've bitten off way more than I can chew. I guess I will wait and see in the New Year how things are going, and if I still feel like it's going to be hard then it's back to one subject a semester. And taking 30 years to get this bloody degree, hehe :)

    Yeah, it's amazing what sheer willpower can do ... and what you can see with hindsight, isn't it?!

  7. Here's hoping you are a whole heap better next year. When I have my really good days now, life seems so easy...I start making all sorts of plans...the trick is maintaining it. Good times ahead for both of us I think!


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