After my humiliating night with D things went downhill pretty rapidly. I tried to put it behind me but I began to feel that I was no longer safe to be around other people in case I took fright again and caused someone some serious damage. I was horrified with myself for hurting D, more so because I had felt I had no control over what I did and couldn’t be sure that it wouldn’t happen again. I felt that it was better for others if I kept to myself and so once again I withdrew from the social circle. I had expected the old adage of “time heals all wounds” to be true but no matter how many years passed I was still being dogged by the same fears that had haunted me since I was a child. I felt unable to trust anyone – least of all myself I felt like I was living in a constant state of alertness, always looking out for danger in any situation. I was in effect living in a prison of my own making – a prison called fear.
My personal tutor noticed the marked change in my demeanour and recommended that I go and speak to the Campus Counsellor. It was the first time I had attended counselling and I wasn’t comfortable with it – I found it very difficult to try to describe how I felt when I couldn’t even figure out how I was feeling myself and I didn’t entirely trust the counsellor so I disclosed very little information about what was going on. The counsellor thought I was still grieving the loss of S and they recommended that I finished up early for Christmas and spent some time at home in the hope that I would come back refreshed in the New Year. It was actually quite a pleasant Christmas break; my Mum was in a pretty good frame of mind and seemed pleased to see me and an old school friend sought me out to reconnect with me, we had a lovely time catching up and I spent boxing day with her and her family having fun and relaxing, for the first time in ages I felt comfortable in the company of other people.
I returned to University in the New Year feeling energised and ready to pick things up again however it didn’t last. I found it very difficult to concentrate in lectures and as I had missed quite a few lectures I had fallen behind with a number of assignments which I was struggling to catch up on. I was also getting into very dire straits financially; I had used up my student grant within the first few months of the course and had now maxed out two credit cards. I decided it was time to try and find some employment in order to improve my fiscal health, I was lucky in that I managed to get an evening job fairly easily but it became difficult to keep a balance between the job and lectures. I started to feel persistently tired and worn out and this only served to fuel my anxiety as I felt unable to keep going and was acutely aware that I wasn’t giving either University or my emplpoyer the best of me, I felt like I was letting everyone down. I coasted for a while but it was like I was a zombie, I was not performing well in anything – sometimes the best I could manage was to make an appearance and eventually I decided that I needed to go home again and take some time out to re-evaluate things.
I didn’t expect to be welcomed with open arms when I called my Mother and told her I wanted to come home for a while as things weren’t working out for me but nor did I expect her cold response, she said, “It’s not really convenient right now, we thought you had left for good and were planning to redecorate the house.” Thankfully my Step Dad overruled her and told me I was welcome to come back for as long as I needed and so I filled up my bags and headed home again feeling like a complete and utter failure.