October 21

Caravans and Creativity

The last ten days have seen research into buying a caravan, coming second in a poetry competition and winning a voucher (which I used to order the Verso Radical Diary) and a visit to the Anarchist Festival. I’ve also contributed poetry that will be published in Readable zine. And my cough has improved. I let my old colleagues in the alumni team know how I am getting on. I’ve begun a new work project involving ways to enhance my university’s applicant support. And I have created a writing portfolio on my university’s intranet to collect all my works together. I bought a handful of zines from one of my favourite distros; Vampire Sushi. I’ve been trying to get over a flu that’s hung on for why too long. It’s a raspy lingerer which gets worse at night and/or in cold conditions (winter will be fun!). I’ve slept a lot. I’ve applied for a part-time art lecturer job.

Feral Youth by Nina Dunne

Often cited as the best days of our lives
I despised
The feelings of no control
Lack of respect
“What do they know?”

I know you left a hole
I cannot fill in
While I’m searching for home
Or ways to own my voice/body/soul

If again I hear
How I’m wet behind the ears
My calmness will disappear
Tense fist
Head reared

I remember the first September
When I entered a classroom
My pleas to be heard
Over behaviours absurd
Went unacknowledged

So I became silent
And watched
I fell behind
But I didn’t mind

I learnt at home
Much later
And alone

I decorated my own world
The walls greasy with words
I built armour
And tamed wolves
By myself

I am the master of my health

First published at blogs.canterbury.ac.uk/studentnews/world-mental-health-day-competition-winners

October 10

I am struggling

It’s world mental health day and I’m just going to come out and say it; I’m struggling. I’ve been struggling for a couple of months and I have been pushing these thoughts to the back of my mind. I figured they’d pass and I am sure they will. But they’ve taken a lot out of me. And circumstances have impacted that.

Yesterday I returned home after a day at work to find my housemate standing in the hallway. She had found my landlady’s dead body an hour before. And, you know, it’s hard to talk about these things because you believe you should be mourning a loss of life but I feel even more insecure in my home. The world is moving forward and I feel left behind. I believe I should be feeling a certain way, but I am not.

Today I had planned to go to a UCA open day, a poetry event where a piece I had written was shortlisted in a competition and a journal workshop. Today I had planned to work on my wellbeing because my immune system had been taking a beating this month. Today I had made an active promise to deal with things I had been putting to one side…

… But I stayed at home, coughing in bed and trying not to think about anything.

I have intermitted on my counselling course. My tutor left and the course had to be rescheduled to a day I cannot attend. I put in a request to transfer to a January/February start and I am just waiting to hear back. I miss the course; I miss feeling useful and inspired.

I’ve dealt with blows like this before. I am used to upheaval. But lately it’s chipping away at me and I don’t think there’ll be much left to bounce back.

September 22

Merit

Yesterday I received a notification to check StudentCentral to see my assessment results. I got an overall merit for my PGCert in Inclusive Arts Practice. I am happy and proud, but I haven’t been able to shake off my gloom. I wish I could time travel back to Brighton.

A good time

A good time

September 20

Tomato Girl

Yesterday I got ill. It had been building up for weeks. I don’t feel too disappointed about it because I know colleagues at work who have been feeling run down and one who got signed off. Yesterday I was taking time off in lieu and today is my scheduled day off.

I’ve got a mixture of the fungal stress rash I get, and I have an outbreak of acne which is pretty much due to the same thing. I also have a handful of nasty insect bites on the right side of my body that look irritated (they’ve turned into puffy clusters which sometimes happens when I have an allergic reaction).

After my afternoon nap I woke up with ulcers in my mouth. I feel itchy and swollen and just really low. I wanted to take today off college but I was aware with how behind I got over freshers, so I figured I’d just fight through it. But yesterday evening I decided to email in and say I was having the day off sick. I also asked my classmates to send me the homework and they told me that the course had been postponed for a fortnight.

The timing couldn’t have been better (for me). A proper rest without the feeling of guilt I always get when I let people down on a sick day.

Universe – you have my back ♥

September 18

Chill

It’s currently Chooseday Chill time at my workplace. So I thought I’d use this time to do some blogging as my CCSU colleagues buzz around me.

My blog has been a bit quiet, well I’ve been busy. This morning I was helping out a colleague with an event so I put my work Happy to Help t-shirt on. I clocked out approximately twenty minutes ago (though I am still naughtily checking emails) and switched my brain off. Jamie asked me if I was working now and I couldn’t think of the words so I blurted out I’m not here while waving my arms like I was dancing the twist. So that should give you an idea of my mind state.

I thought I’d do a catch-up post. I am enjoying being a counselling student (though I should use the term helper because I’m at level 2). I haven’t got involved with my student union yet but my manifesto is online in case I ever find out where/when monthly student meetings take place and how to get involved.

I have had two pieces of writing published within the same fortnight. The latest piece was written a month and a half ago so it has made me hopeful that other things I have written are just in a queue somewhere waiting for the right moment to go live. It’s a pretty exciting point in my writing life now because I have now lost track of things I have written so whenever I see/hear my articles it’s almost like a surprise! And, my latest article was edited so little I cannot see any changes. I always remember Sam Davies who was my department director when I worked in the Alumni team (and one of my biggest sources of support and inspiration) telling me about the first time her work was handed back to her without corrections, suggestions or edit. Now I can see what she means. It is such a significant moment – the moment when you think yes, I get it.

Part of my counselling course involves a reflective journal. And, I’m struggling with it! As someone who is a reflective writing advocate and practitioner, this seems absurd. But I guess it is just a symptom of work pressures. I am enjoying my course but the only time I feel engaged with it is during my classroom activities and the few hours I spend on my homework the day before (I don’t normally like doing homework the day before but that is just where my day off falls). I’m confident that by this time next week my weeks will be back to normal and I’ll be fully alert.