This year I’ve learnt that… I’m not learning this year…

It’s been a while since I last did a blog post… I kind of lost inspiration with it. Instead of using writing to help me through difficulties.. I’ve essentially done the opposite. I lost the motivation I think & when I lose motivation I do the opposite of what would actually help & although I know that’s the least helpful thing… it’s still difficult to break the habit of a lifetime. A few things have been going on & I’ve felt rather stressed!

Education. One single, seemingly simple, word but less of a simple system to access it.

Was it the right time this year? I don’t know, but I’ve spent the year imagining myself to be going back to college to study A-levels again. We knew there’d been a physical decline with my eating disorder…part of which began prior to the pandemic, part of which has perhaps been exacerbated by the pandemic (me & 90% of ED sufferers according to the statistics unfortunately). I’ve been working with the ED team to try & get myself in a better position with recovery & at times it’s felt really tough to be quite honest, but I’ve also been well aware that studying will prove extra difficult if I continue falling backwards with Anorexia, so I’ve been trying to my best with it because I honestly didn’t want another year out, as I’ve felt in the most ‘ready’ position I’ve been in in a long while.

The short of it is… I’m not going to college this year, but it wasn’t a decision I had much control over. I applied to a college back at the beginning of the year, I had an interview scheduled for April, but…COVID-19 happened. It was a case of waiting for the college to get in contact, but I was worried because they’d not been..anyway..I sent them a message & I was reassured that I would be contacted, but another month or so passed, it got to July & still…nothing. My OT supported me to call them (I have social anxiety probs due to the autism) & from there it was a string of disappointments. I was told they couldn’t see my application & that was due to them combining it with a previous application from 2 years ago & the result of that was that the previous one had overridden the newer one, so this year’s application was deleted. Naturally, that made me rather anxious & it then took them another week to call & then I was made to fill out another form! It was then said that it would be ‘sped-through’ the system due to them messing it up. I then had a really promising conversation with a man who called & things were supposed to fall into place after that, i.e. student support services & student finance would call, but (there’s a theme here)..they didn’t. It got to the end of August & I was asked (via automatic email) to update my grades (which was unnecessary as I did my GCSE’s 10 years ago, so..there was no change..I already had grades that were actual grades as opposed to ‘predicted’ grades), so I updated them (for 0 reason) & then a woman called from the college to process my application, but she asked why my grades were in letter format rather than number…it was only then that she cared to note my D.oB. which indicated that it was clearly because I passed my exams a decade ago before the grading system changed. Anyway…despite the college not having too much of a problem with me wanting to study A-levels at 26 years old… this lady was really pushing me to consider an Access course instead. It was terribly frustrating at this point, because I want to study medicine & I found it patronising having someone insuate that I’d be better doing this access course, when I have spent the past few years researching & knowing exactly what I need to do for the best to study medicine, I even gave the Access course a chance by attending an info evening at the university a year ago (I explained this, but this woman still seemed to know best). We don’t have an access to medicine course anywhere near here & the other access courses don’t directly take you into medicine.. they’re a really long-winded route in & also not a guaranteed route! So yeah.. I got to the point of just wanting to bury my head in the sand & give-up with everything, so at this point the OT decided to make contact with them on my behalf instead. It was all just a big fuck up! The term had already began, this woman’s contract had apparently ‘ended’ & now… the college informed us that all of the chemistry places were filled. The whole process was shockingly shit! Third week into the term…they called again to tell me how I could enrol as others had dropped out, but despite them not having a problem with taking on an ‘at risk’ students in a previous conversation…when I mentioned I couldn’t catch the train/public transport to attend the college…all of a sudden they weren’t able to accommodate virtual learning even though they was aware of this weeks ago, like…why not tell me that back in July when they were telling me it would be fine because there would be other clinically vulnerable students to accommodate too?!

Thankfully my OT has been amazing & contacted my local college. The college in my hometown didn’t have science A-levels listed on their website, so I jumped to the conclusion a long time ago that it was due to them no longer offering science A-levels…it isn’t actually the case, so I went through this stressful process with another college for no reason. (Little lesson in not assuming & that it doesn’t hurt to ask). Basically…the marketing team at my local college hadn’t done a very good job at advertising things & so the college are now aware as to why they only received 2 applications for physics this academic year & are now in the process of rectifying the problems on their website. They have been really good tbh & have tried to quickly make things happen to get me started, but if I’m honest…I was panicking. The term began 4 weeks ago & I haven’t been in education for 7 years, so I’m naturally worried about the catch-up whilst also out of practice. Another dilemma I felt faced with was that I struggle to meet new people & it was off putting to know that other students would have settled into their little groups already & so I’d be arriving as a newbie which would add to the autistic social anxiety that I already find extremely challenging. The other obvious aspect was the eating disorder & I have to be honest about it…I had a conversation with the OT as well as the college & I admitted that it would be difficult with the eating disorder at the minute as I think I’m in a bit of a vulnerable position with it to risk starting late with all the other problems on top of managing an ED that has slowly spiralled out of control in recent times. If I were to start now…I honestly don’t think I’d be in a place to be okay with eating in a new environment, with new people on top of starting late & not knowing any people….realistically…that won’t be a recipe for me managing the ED/eating very well at all.

So, yeah…the college have been really good & although they were happy enough to rush through the application & help me fit in…they also had a preference to me staring next year because it would be more beneficial to my health & grades to begin on time & feeling comfortable with everything.

It’s one more year out & yeah…I am really pissed off with how the other college were, but at the same time…I want to believe that things happen for some kind of reason. Rushing this now won’t do anything for my ED, it won’t do anything for my overall mental health & it certainly wouldn’t do anything for my grades. The unpredictability of the continually unravelling guidance with the pandemic is also a concern with numbers increasing & the unknown of what impact that’s going to have over the winter & I’ve been told to stay cautious due to having Anorexia, as my weight isn’t the best it’s been & my diet isn’t enormously varied enough just yet either, so my immune system is slightly compromised as a result of those things combined.

It’s not all negative…there’s a plan at least. I’m grateful as ever for the support I receive from the eating disorder service & First Steps & my GP & I’m grateful for the help of my local college. This next year…the college will remain in contact sporadically, I’ll also (hopefully) be able to attend taster sessions later down the line & I’m now known to them for next year, so we can work together to settle me in properly with my conditions. I also now know the exam board for each subject, so I can do some self-studying to help ease me back into study after all these years & the college will guide me with some things that might help that too. I still have my volunteering going on & I’m incredibly grateful that that’s something else that’s remained throughout the uncertainty of the pandemic, so although it’s a bit different…there’s still this feeling of normality & being able to have human contact, so I’m thankful I can continue to volunteer virtually.

It’s difficult to plan anything positive to look forward to, because of this global situation we’re all faced with, but I have at least discovered a new hobby this year…fairy gardening! And now I’ve read a little bit more…I can maintain the gardening a little bit in the winter with winter plants, etc. I’ve also spent that much time gardening this year, that I’ve heavily neglected scrapbooking, so I have an awful lot to do with that throughout the autumn & winter months, so I know that I have some things to keep me occupied. I also have my friends to remain connected to whether it be virtually or in person (depending on the progression of covid), as well as time with my mum when she’s off & the ED support I receive. No doubt, I also have fairy things to repair or find new things I want to make, so I’m not going to see this year as a negative.

This year isn’t just ‘another year out’ even though my brain can easily find that sentence to repeat to me…it’s a year to use wisely to put myself in a stronger position for September 2021 so I can focus on getting the grades that I need to apply for medical school. I have to admit…it’s much easier to type. The eating disorder does want to use what’s happened as another way of beating me up & filling my head with negativity, so it can take over more, but when I really think about it & let my own thoughts work it out…what happened wasn’t actually my fault. The pandemic isn’t my fault. Studying this year might have actually negatively impacted my grades. Looking into it logically…waiting 11 more months is the ‘sensible’ idea…even if it wasn’t part of the plan.

I’ve already typed enough, so I’m not going to go into details about much else, but it’s been a series of ups & downs & yeah…mood wise…I’ve perhaps had more downs due to what was going on, but I also accept that it’s pretty understandable. At least it builds my resilience with the amount of things that seem to go wrong in my life. 😂🤦‍♀️ (I have to laugh or I’ll cry).

Still…it could be worse…I could be Boris Johnson or Donald Trump & be responsible for providing the entire country with shit, contradictory information that’s not really useful information at all, so that makes me feel significantly better about my life.

Anywho… here’s some of my life in photos from the past couple of months to catch a glimpse of some other stuff that’s been more positive;

August

September

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