“‘Not that kind of tired,’ she said. ‘I’m tired in my soul.'”

→ I had to finalize my fourth year modules today. I’ve been so stressed out about it. I thought by fourth year we would have some freedom – that there would be some fun modules, like being able to do a language, or to do something on renewables. Such a thing was not to be. I had 20 credits of free modules which I wanted to take Japanese in, but turns out I had to take 10 credits of business modules, and as a Japanese course is 20 credits…well. I also did not like the look of any of my other engineering module choices. I’ve had ages to think of it, but I felt so overwhelmed so kept putting it off. Finally, I emailed my head of year to ask if I could take Japanese anyway. No dice. I reluctantly chose two business modules, went to the business school, and got told I couldn’t take one of the modules. Sat at the business school reception for like an hour, going over and over the module list they had given me – trying to find anything that sounded vaguely appealing. Failing that, I tried to find something useful-sounding and not too intense. In the end I chose introduction to finance and introduction to business operations. I went back to get it checked and the guy was super apologetic that I couldn’t do what I wanted and I felt like a jerk – even if I’m disappointed, is there a need to be so obvious about it? It’s not his fault. I did that thing I do sometimes – where I channel my frustration with a wider situation into a tiny situation i.e. take it out on someone who doesn’t deserve it. I’m not good at containing my unhappiness at times.

→ That done, I still had to pick my engineering modules. After much going back and forth I accepted that I wasn’t going to be able to do exactly what I want, but had to do what was necessary in some cases and settled on advanced control systems design with project, advanced electrical machines, advanced power conversion, RF microelectronics with project. Those advanced in the titles are worrying. I thought that what I was doing this year was pretty advanced but it gets worse?! I’m also very worried about the projects as my practical and design skills aren’t my strong points, to put it politely. I know I need to suck it up and do it – because these projects will teach me valuable skills, but I’m still dreading it. I’m not looking forward to fourth year at all. These modules, and I’ve got to choose a dissertation and then I’ve got to do it, and I’ve got Japanese level 3 and I’m feeling very unsure about that, and job applications will most likely be starting right in September. There’s just nothing to look forward to.

→ My group gathered last Thursday to hand in our final thesis.The week leading up to the deadline was stressful as one of my group members decided he wasn’t happy with it at all, and he verbally tore it apart, and I got angry, and I felt bad. I’d put so much time and effort into it, that I did not take well to him telling me he was going to make so many changes, and at the last minute. I was also worried he was taking on too much at the last minute, and it would not get done on time. But I forced myself to soften up and trust him, and he pulled through. I can be terribly controlling when I get anxious about things and that is not good at all. He had some valid points and I should have been less defensive- he wasn’t criticizing me and I should not have taken it so personally. I feel really bad about it and I did try to apologize but I worry I was not sincere enough. Nonetheless, we did it. We developed it and got it all done. 1am the night before and I finished the last edits and sent it off to my group members. The next day I met up with my group members, and there it was – all printed out nicely in color. My group mate had bound it in a black folder. I felt a little proud seeing it; it looked so professional. I kept flicking through it, looking at the pages and pages of text in wonderment, did we really write all this? It was strange to finally submit it, after all the time that went into it. But it was such a relief to have it done with. Someone asked me if I enjoyed it and you know, despite the stress of it. I did. I liked that it wasn’t a practical project but a research oriented project, that it wasn’t highly technical but looked more at the political and socio-economic impact of engineering. I’m not good with programming and practical work and would have hated doing that kind of project. Of course, still got a presentation and individual interview on it to go. I am admittedly worried about the marks for this. We handed in a draft on the 1st and I thought we would get feedback for it but we didn’t, so we emailed our supervisor directly and he only got back to us the day before the final project was due – which meant that we could not really follow through.

→ I had my last counselling session about two weeks ago. I received a letter in the post the other day which was a copy of the letter my therapist sent to my doctor. I read it through twice and had to sit down a moment as it hit me that this is on my records. Its ugly. Today I got a letter from my doctor calling me in to see him for a little chat. I don’t want to go. Its not like I regret going to the doctor about this. I was scared and I was anxious and I needed someone to talk to and it was good to do so. But now I find myself wanting to withdraw from it. I made myself vulnerable in front of strangers, and I don’t feel entirely comfortable with that. Also now that everything is done with and has been put into perspective I do massively, more than ever feel that I’ve made a big deal out of nothing and am wasting peoples time. So I want to withdraw. Not from treating myself. No. I realise that is where I went wrong last time. I was so relieved to be out of counselling the first time, I felt so much better, that I completely ignored the aftercare. I decided to just act as if it hadn’t happened because I was better wasn’t I- but I wasn’t dealing with certain things, not really. so it built up, and left me in my current situation. I’m going to be more vigilant now. I’m going to accept that things aren’t OK, and probably they won’t ever be 100% but I am capable of managing it. I’ve just got to continue to take small steps forwards, and not let myself take too many steps back.

→ Today, for instance, was a good day. I woke up early, went to see a lecturer and was disappointed to find they weren’t there. I went to sit down at one of the university seating areas – getting myself a good spot on one of the soft couches they have there. I set myself up and did some work, meanwhile emailing the lecturer I wanted to go see- who kindly responded promptly to all my questions. I had a lecture, and I managed to ask a question. (Although I did stammer…sigh.) Then I went into town, settled down at Starbucks with a half price frappucino – made dairy free by the very lovely barristers who were perfectly fine about answering my queries about the dairy in their products even when busy. I did a bit more revision, killing time before going to get my brows waxed at Benefit. The girl who did my brows did a great job – and she did it quickly, without any unnecessary awkward small talk. Very efficient. Afterwards she put on sweet almond oil and some spot treatments – during the wax my skin ripped and started to bleed, which was embarrassing. My skin is in a bad way right now – it did not react well to experiencing winter again. Its super combination right now – painful and itchy its so dry in places, and terribly oily and spotty in others. I tried some boots botanics extra nourishing moisturiser that did nothing, my trusty laneige hydra cream, nothing, some super fancy expensive extra moisturising sooryehan products, a bit better but still not enough. I then bought some avene hydrating moisturiser on Saturday, which was too light, so today I went back and bought the richer version. What’s another £14 for a tiny tube. I’m aware I don’t have the money. I’m aware I’m falling into the no.1 skincare trap – skin freaks out, you freak out, start experimenting like crazy with products, make it worse. Well, we’ll see. At least my brows look awesome. I also painted my nails, and I recently bought a few items of new clothing. So much money, but it made me feel good, it makes me feel better to take care of myself and to put effort in to my appearance like this. Now I just need to suck it up and do the dreaded jeans shopping – once I stop trying to squeeze myself into my old pants, I think I’ll have an easier time accepting my new weight. (It is sadly just my hips and stomach that have expanded.)

→ First exam Saturday. Revision progresses slowly. I’m bored.

Goodbye Days

So I had my Japanese exam this evening. I really was as unprepared as I thought I was and yet I found myself, very weirdly, enjoying myself. I’m sure that’s going to come back to bite me. But well, its doing wonders for my mood that I came away feeling good about it despite the whole completely unprepared for this aspect.

Perhaps this is one of those situations if you don’t laugh, you’ll end up crying.

I had been told the exam would start at 6pm. Naturally, I spent most of today distracted and fretting over it. I arrived at the exam 20 minutes early, sitting down outside the room to wait. There were only a handful of people, to my surprise. Time ticked by, well passed 6, with more people turning up and then finally the moderator appeared. More time passed and I was confused, so I asked the girls next to me and they said their exams were starting at 6:30pm. Could my Japanese teacher have at least given me the right time for my exam?! Like seriously, there I was with no idea of what I was being examined on and no idea of even the right exam time. At least I got the right room, hey. At about 6:25 there was a large group of people gathered and the moderator finally started calling everyone in by their languages. There was good mix of languages at various levels- Greek, Serbian, Portuguese, Spanish, German, French. Finally it was just me and a handful of other students. A bunch more were called in, leaving just me and two girls sitting next to me who were doing French Level 1. So…I was the only Japanese level 2. The fear that perhaps I had been forgotten about gripped me, and strengthened when the girls were called in and I was left sitting outside. Thankfully the moderator came out again to fetch me and she had a paper for me.

The exam started before I’d even finished taking out my belongings – it was very informal, no rules about bags at the front or anything. It was a nice atmosphere for an exam – a small-ish group, no heavy rules.

Firstly, before I could forget, I hastily scribbled out my essay – which to my surprise I had managed to memorize. I was painfully aware of how fragile my kana and kanji are though. They usually aren’t the neatest, but nerves were making my hands shake which was making it worse. Nonetheless, that task done I went back to the beginning started the exam properly. I could have laughed when I went through the exam paper. I have never tackled Japanese in this manner ever. There were three sections – the first section I was given a huge chunk of text to interpret in various ways – the first question involved fairly open ended questions that I had to give true or false answers to. The other questions asked to answer questions about the text, and yet another wanted me to suggest an ending sentence to the text. hahaha. I did my best though – highlighting the text and translating it to the best of my abilities. It was so overwhelming and yet fascinating – I could feel my mind working through it, sinking into the task, becoming utterly focused on it and even enjoying trying to interpret it.

There was a little bit at the end of section A then asking me to give the readings for kanji and their meanings which was unexpected – my teacher had said it didn’t matter about kanji. That was nice. :|

The next section involved verbs and oh I struggled here – there was one whole question on conjugating verbs and I couldn’t for the life of me remember how. I then had to fill in the blanks for a bunch of other sentences which was a bit better but then I had to translate from english to Japanese for several sentences. I have never translated from English to Japanese. ever. that was…interesting. again: hahaha. I’d definitely given up on doing well and was just having fun with it. I guess because it is not part of my degree I could afford to have fun with it – I didn’t have my degree class hanging over my head. I could just sit there and do my best and to my surprise I could make a guess for everything. I am certain that a lot of it is wrong but I felt pretty pleased that I could at least have a go. At the end of the day I had never done anything like this before, and I had no idea about the exam even – was I supposed to write on the question sheet? in the answer booklet? How? I had no idea what I doing in any aspect. and yet, I tackled it without panicking and I even enjoyed it. I was reminded of – despite all my complaining – just how much I love Japanese and I love how it allows me to use different thought processes compared to my degree. This is what I thrive on: problem solving. Taking a task, breaking it down, finding the solution. This is one of the reasons why I chose engineering – but this is also why I love doing Japanese. It allows me to problem solve in different ways, to test myself and think in different directions. Its more open ended, not quite as methodical, or rather there are different patterns to it.

I found myself completely absorbed so at 8:30 when I finally surfaced I was surprised to look around and find the classroom empty apart from another guy. I wasn’t sure if the exam was even over – the moderator hadn’t announced anything. But I felt pretty embarrassed to be left there – the other guy was even packing up and about to leave. So I decided to accept that I had probably done all I could and I handed it in. Who knows what will become of it – I am hoping that my essay will be enough to get me through. Although that’s a point – the section C was all that essay, however the essay question was worded slightly differently from what my teacher gave me. But I’d like to think that when my teacher helped me to write it she did so geared towards the exam- she wouldn’t help me write a totally unrelated essay? She’s help me get maximum marks? I really hope so.

I left the exam and walked home – even though it was dark and I know technically I shouldn’t walk home so late. I was feeling pretty hyper – pumped up with nerves and adrenaline, my mind still working away. Despite my anxiety I felt pretty good – I hadn’t sat there panicking, confused, I’d approached the exam and tackled it and did my best. I was also so glad I’d chosen to get it over with today – I could have left the exam until later in the week and on Sunday I was wondering why I hadn’t – but it had been a good choice to get it over with as quickly as possible.

Now that the exams for this are over its back to my daily kanji practice – an hour curled up in front of the heater mindlessly writing out kanji is strangely meditative and is something I enjoy. I am also going to sign up for a Japanese level 2 refresher course over April I think, as that’s more focused on speaking. It would be good to have the opportunity to have some more speaking practice as that isn’t something I will have access to otherwise, and its my weakness after all.

I guess sometimes I doubt why I am learning this language – its not like I have enough else to do. But I love this language so much and even though I’m progressing so, so slowly at learning it I need to keep reminding myself that I am making some progress. If I just keep on trying eventually I’ll get there right? I just must avoid going down the path of how is this going to be useful for my future kind of thoughts. At the end of the day its hardly a good business language to have and although I still cling to my hopes of moving to Japan… at my age I’m well aware I’m delusional. and yet, and yet. I just love this language so much. I love that country so much. I was talking to my family the other weekend and we were discussing our favourite places and I didn’t even have to hesitate – Cape Town, followed by Japan. I’m still that 13 year old dreaming of this fantastic, unique place, testing out the sound of this new, foreign language on my tongue, getting lost in it, becoming totally enamoured with it. You’d think 8 years later somehow I would have gotten over it but I never have. It stresses me out, it makes me feel inadequate, but I’m still besotted. More determined than ever to make progress.

So I do hope that I did better than I thought.

This entry is weirdly upbeat compared to the last bunch isn’t it? It’s what I was talking about in a previous posts – these ups and downs in my mood. Today for some reason was a good day. I had a few shaky moments but ultimately I managed to cope and keep on top of my negative thoughts. I hope tomorrow can be a good day too. Its such a relief to feel positive and fairly relaxed for once.

” I don’t know what to expect, I don’t know what’s coming next”

→ I got my results on Thursday. I was such a mess beforehand – I was terrified, what if I failed? What then? I felt a horrible kind of certainty that I had failed. I’d panicked during my exams, I had struggled, I had left so much blank. I was definitely expecting the worst. We could have got our results from our tutors on Wednesday – but I felt too terrible about it all to face him. Everyone was talking about their results and how well they had done and it only made me more nervous, more afraid. So I wasn’t planning to check them online on Thursday either – I was going to put it off as long as possible. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t want to. But I got home from uni on Thursday and I felt so angry at myself and at how pathetic I was being, I just wanted it to be over. So I opened up the university portal, took a deep breath and clicked “my marks.” I was shocked at what I saw. I had passed. Not only had I passed but I had done well. One low grade pulled my average down but otherwise it was OK. It was OK. I was so happy. But mostly relieved.

→ I’m still job hunting and it still does not go well. I feel a bit better that at least my grades are still good but it feels sometimes like even with high academic achievement its still not enough. I am probably not going to be able to do an internship this summer, which I can deal with, but it brings up interesting questions about what will happen when I actually need to get employed after university. I was talking to a friend the other day and she suggested that maybe these kind of jobs weren’t for me – that I should in future go for smaller companies. I think she has a point but the thing is – I want those big companies, those amazing graduate schemes, to be for me. I wasn’t supposed to do engineering – but here I am. I wasn’t supposed to live abroad – but I did that too. I don’t care about what my personality dictates would be easier for me. Fuck my shyness and my anxiety and all those things. I want to become really, stupidly successful anyway. I want to go as far as I can go – the 2:1 masters degree in engineering, a competitive graduate job. No matter how exhausting it is, I just keep on pushing myself because I have this dream, these goals, and I want to prove to myself, and OK, to others, that I am capable of fulfilling them. But with that comes the doubt- am I capable?

→ It was really great meeting up with my friend. Its so good to talk to someone who you can be totally honest with – someone who you can say I’m not OK and they will listen and understand. Nonetheless, I wonder if I have become a burden to her for relying on her like this.

→ I wish I could say I felt better now that results have come through. Everything is OK, right? But I have no confidence. Every time I succeed I feel relieved, I feel blessed – like it’s just luck. I’m still afraid of that luck running out. Its not like life just stops once you achieve something – there’s always more that needs to be done. That, to me, needs to be conquered. That’s how my life seems to have become – always fighting (myself) to get anything done. I still have a thesis to write, and three more modules to succeed in, and Japanese to finally put some effort into. But I’m so tired. Its exhausting me – all this anxiety, all this fear, all this doubt. Don’t give up now, I tell myself. Don’t give up. Lately, it falls on deaf ears. I am not working hard enough right now – I need to get on with example sheets and assignments and I’ve fallen behind so badly on my thesis research, but its so hard to care. I am beginning to lose the will to fight. I used to think if I just worked hard enough it will be OK but job hunting has made me question. What if its not enough? What if after everything, I cannot end up where I want to be? This is why its probably dangerous to set yourself so many goals, and to become so fixated on achieving them. But I cannot get through without something to work towards either…

→ I had my last doctors appointment this week. I waited for 59 minutes for what was essentially a check up. It was so pointless and awkward, but he didn’t suggest I come see him again, and so I am gratefully relinquished from that. I saw the psychologist for the first time about my eating disorder too, and that was terrifying. The appointment was long and it was painful. At one point she asked me about my depression and that was the worst. I cannot remember, you know. I’m clinging onto all this stuff as a result of that, but I cannot even remember what it was like. Its just like this…incredibly dark period of time. I remember feeling exhausted, sad and angry but I cannot for the life of me remember why. Am I supposed to remember? Does it make my depression lesser that I cannot pinpoint some great tragedy that brought it about? Was I making a big deal out of nothing? Its been years, and everything is kind of hazy. Anyway, we talked about a whole range of stuff and she gave me some things to take away and work through. I’m trying to throw myself into it but again, there is this fear and this anxiety and this doubt. and well, embarrassment too. Its really fucking embarrassing. There is definitely a part of me that regrets going down this path – Am I doing the right thing? Am I making a big deal out of nothing? Have I made the right treatment choices? Do I go on medication? But I don’t want to go on medication – I’m so afraid of going on medication. Am I just making myself miserable? All these kind of thoughts spiral through my head. But telling myself to stop it just doesn’t work you know? I can recognise my bad thought patterns and my bad coping methods but I cannot help myself. I feel so out of control.

→ I’m still really struggling. At least its not reflected on my grades any more. Last year it was reflected on my grades. And it was terrifying – was I going to fail again? But…maybe it is OK now. Maybe. I just have to find the strength, somehow, to get through this semester. And try not to think too hard about the future, to not worry about the future, while I’m at it.

Tell me what the rain knows

Exams finally over! I had my very last yesterday. To be honest, they all went terribly. I have been a mess over the exam period – I started eating chocolate again, and alongside that I mostly survived off bread and fruit and little else. I couldn’t sleep properly, I stopped doing chores so the house became cluttered and messy. I was anxious and struggling to revise, and to concentrate during exams. The exam papers were difficult. It was awful. Breathe, I was always reminding myself, just slowly, breathe in, breathe out. I’d find myself in the middle of the living room, or in the girls bathrooms before exams, or in the middle of the exam, or at the end, desperately trying to do the breathing exercise, desperately trying to calm myself down. I could never quite manage to do it properly – my breathes were always shaky, and my chest was always too tight, it felt like I could never get enough air, but it sort of worked. I think that and fast paced walks to and from exams kept me from full on panic attacks, and yes OK, the chocolate too, but the anxiety was always there. My heart was always pounding an my chest was always tight and I was always filled with a sense of dread, that something terrible was going to happen and soon. I felt useless and like a failure – why, when you revised so hard, are you struggling, the cruel little voice in my head would taunt.

I still slightly am filled with these feelings. I’m desperately trying not to dwell on it though, not to sit and fret about results. I’m going to stop eating chocolate now. Its not done me any good – my skin has broken out, and my eczema feels dreadful. I’m just – still not in a very good place. and yes, I am worried about how that impacted my exams. I worked so hard, and I’m so scared that it won’t show. But – trying not to think of it. My thoughts go like that – worrying, then reeling back, worrying, then reeling back. I want to be positive, I want to put it all behind me – but its always there. That voice. Those thoughts.

I spent a lot of today cleaning and de-cluttering. Answered and sent some emails I’d been putting off during exams. Did some other little things I’d been putting off. It helped. Tomorrow, I will do more.

My job interview is next Tuesday, already. I do not feel in the mood for it -I’m still anxious, I don’t feel like I look my best which is impacting my confidence. I want to just go there and do my best – but I feel a lot of pressure. Its such an incredible opportunity, I feel so amazed and lucky that I made it even to this stage, and I cannot help but hope for even more luck, even as the hope scares me. Although I dread that, I am ridiculously excited to going to Edinburgh for a holiday afterwards. I finalized all my plans tonight. I’ve unfortunately had to plan around the weather quite a bit – it seems it going to be even colder in Scotland than I imagined. I badly wanted to go to Linlithgow Palace and Arthur’s Seat seems nice – but that’s off the table in this weather. Instead I’m sticking to Edinburgh city, and I’m going to stay indoors as much as possible. I’m visiting museums, the castle (of course the castle!!), The Palace of Holyroodhouse. I’m going to eat Japanese food on Wednesday night, Thai food on Thursday night, and Korean food on Friday night. I cannot make these foods myself – too expensive and difficult to get the ingredients , and I wouldn’t even know where to begin putting it together- and I cannot afford to eat out often , so when I do, I always go for Asian food. Japanese and Thai food are my favourite, and I loved the food I ate in Korea, so I’m crazy excited for that. I wanted to go to a South African shop too, as I heard there were a bunch there, but unfortunately I cannot find any information online. I’ll have to leave that one to chance.

It’s going to all be a bit expensive this holiday – but not too devastating. I’m hoping that what I get out of it will more than make up for the financial loss. It should be fun.

“And I don’t want to be the kind that says the wrong way.”

→ I’m currently sat writing this in public. It’s more than a little nerve-wracking but then my laptop needs charging and the plugs aren’t working in halls. Yes, lights and air con are thankfully OK but not a single plug in my room works. I discovered this yesterday the hard way- when I stepped into the shower and found it was cold. Having already conditioned my hair I had no choice but to endure a long shower as I attempted to wash my hair in the icy water. As anyone who does not use shampoo knows – you need hot water to make it work. Washing your hair in cold water? Just leaves the hair looking lanky and gross. Last night I ended up sat in the same public place when my laptop died and it was not too bad- I ate grilled chicken and naan bread smothered in garlic sauce as I read, and then I bumped into a friend and we sat chatting for a bit. But I was still hoping that the plugs would be working today. They are not. Of course there are no emails about planned maintenance, and as it’s the weekend there is no one I can go report this to. I know its not just my room as the girl down the hall- who I do not know, making this quite awkward- knocked on my door in order to ask if my plugs were working, and so I assume hers weren’t too. Essentially, the whole situation is ridiculous but there is quite literally nothing can be done. Typical of life in student halls, to be honest.

→ Exams finished this week on Thursday. Neither my mathematics nor my electronic engineering exams went well. For mathematics I managed to stay very calm and level headed, but that did not change the fact that the paper was asking us to differentiate tan and integrate sec and I have not done this since high school. That was the first question. The second question was alright- actually,  more than that. There was a part of that question that I’d attempted in the past years and been unable to do, but something clicked during the exam and I totally got it. I completed the whole question and I understood it. It was amazing. Then the last question. At first glance, I thought it was OK. I went into it confidently and got the first part done, then I reached the second part and realized it was not as similar to the past year as I had expected and that I had no idea what to do. I did not get anxious or panic, but that did not stop my mind from going blank. I decided to attempt another question- the way the exam is set up is that there are 4 questions and you get marks for the best 3. Usually I just pick 3 to answer, but this time I attempted them all. In the end out of all four I only managed to do one completely, the first was just method and the last two were half done. It was not good. After that I had to cram for electronic engineering but I admit, I did feel reasonably confident about it. I was worried but not too worried about it. I should have been. This exam was weird. There were questions stuff we had not even been taught. I could manage to answer all the questions, bar a few at the back. But I did not leave that exam feeling as confident as I wanted to.

To say I am worried about this all is an understatement, but I’m trying not to let it hang over me. After my last exam on Thursday I bought a huge bar of chocolate and then just sat down to wallow in misery so that I could get over it. And I am OK now. I will be OK. I just want to enjoy my time now, here in Malaysia and in Japan. I’m trying to eat better, catch up on sleep and relax. What is done is done and I tried so hopefully… hopefully…

→ I’m really lucky that my exams are so soon , actually. Most people I talk to only finish on the 27th of May. But now I have a whole week to get myself organized for moving and Japan, to relax and oh yes, to go out into KL as much as possible! On Friday I went out to Midvalley for a little while and it was glorious to get out of my room and to not be stuck in the library. I had a delicious ice blended from boost and then mostly window shopped, before grabbing a handful of groceries. Then Saturday was Saturday. I spent most if it asleep or reading. Today I’m probably heading out to KLLC. I did think about going out for big touristy day today but in truth I’m tired and cannot be bothered, and will wait until next week before I attempt it. I admit I am probably also putting it off as I find KL difficult to navigate and very pedestrian unfriendly, and there is no way I am getting into a taxi by myself. So as much as I want to go to certain places, I’m unsure of how to get there. And yes, I do feel self conscious on my own in KL. Not all the time but…sometimes. People can stare. Well, today I’ll make baby steps towards my goal and I shall go for a walk around KLCC  park, take some pictures of the towers, get some shopping done and come back. Hopefully it shall be relaxing and manageable as a day. Exams really have left me feeling drained.