Yesterday had some really adorable moments. It started in lecture when Irene caught my attention and inquired, with humour and authenticity, "Kiwi, what is your trick to waking up so happy?" I felt a little like Abner the Contented Little Pussycat (bookywook). The day ended with my falling asleep on my dissertation some time before 11 (how seldom!) and my housemate Roberts turning my light out and closing my door, which is heart-warming.
I was doing fine, puttering around at home, when Claire-the-dissertation-partner wrote on my Facebook wall about meeting with Nick. She has a new Nickline (deadline from Nick-the-supervisor) for 10 days from now for a 'draft of the entirety,' which she swears she won't meet. She mentioned that he had possibly tried to get in contact with me so it might be good to drop him a line.
I checked my email and, lo and behold, there was an email from him on Tuesday...only it was using the same title, so on this dratted new email system it didn't come up as 'new' the way the other ones did, it just looks like an old message that jumped up in queue. And I'm not known for checking that email too carefully, so I didn't notice. There were also other emails about electronic hand-in of the dissertations, and how we should have a copy of each section in within two weeks before the deadline so our supervisors could read them. I responded back to Nick's email with an apology and told him that the 1st of February is one of my self-assigned deadlines for having some writing done, and would he like to meet after Wednesday?
I hit send. I sat and stared. And then, quite suddenly, I simply couldn't breathe. I cried and, for some reason I couldn't identify, paced around my room. I recalled the feeling and realised I was precariously close to a panic attack. I remembered sophomore year of high school, asking my chemistry teacher if I could go sit out in the hall; I remembered crying and not breathing and tearing my brain apart as my 'mean' maths teacher approached and got down on her bad old knees to hug me; I remembered the door to my classroom opening and hoping it was my arch-nemesis-the-jock on her 7th trip to the loo but found it was my chemistry teacher and then she was hugging me too. I remembered many of the panic attacks following that one, through high school into university. A little voice in my head was screaming from somewhere far away "REACH OUT REACH OUT REACH OUT."
I fumbled around my room, crying into various objects (robes are very comfortable crying objects) and at last had the sense to find my phone. It took me ages, but I managed to get the darned thing to call Claire. I'm not sure what I said, but I remember asking if she was 'available' and if she'd want to work together on our projects. She realised what a state I was in and said she would be right over, after she stuffed all her belongings in a bag and found some chocolate. (She's a keeper. Really truly.)
To distract myself and work on my breathing, I hoovered and cleaned up. Hugged my teddy bear. Claire showed up and I was finally okay. We giggled about Nick and his perpetually monotone, dry sense of speech and humour; his unrealistic but softly-stated expectations and how we strive to meet them; his (not too inaccurate) idea that we are both completely bonkers. She had Google-whatever-it-is speak German at her to note down the sounds and I worked out a more accurate outline, which I sent to Nick. We smiled and considered how people underestimate children and their capacity to think like little adults. We made plans to get together for Monday, too, for more work and play.
When she left I was more okay. She left me with plenty of books since she was off to pick up her boyfriend for the weekend and knew she wouldn't be working on her dissertation. I started taking more notes from one of mine and taking occasional breaks, watching shows throughout. That's when I fell asleep.
The fear is still here, though. It's frustrating because I was doing so okay, but I think a lot of it was that delicate state of denial. I'm beginning to remember this all and how it goes. Trying to encourage the understanding that even if I ended up in the worst-case scenario (which logically I won't), things would all still be fine, even with a few added bumps for character. I'll be fine I'll be fine I'll be fine. I can do this I can do this I can do this.
I'm still scared senseless of nearly everything right now. I'm spooked by anything. I have to remind myself to take a deep breath every minute. But I'm still here, I didn't go off the deep end and I was proactive in dealing with my situation. I have to acknowledge that it isn't my fault - there is no blame - for stumbling back into near-panic, but that I should be proud for dealing with it correctly and not diving straight in as I once would have. I'm learning.
I can't believe it's been only five years since all of this started. But then, at that time it all had stronger reasoning: a dying hip is more distressing than a dissertation, no matter how similar the words are. But the mind-cycles were formed, and here I am, trying to work my way out of them still.
I'm just a little delicate for the moment.
Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.