New Note 2
“I thought this was going to be some sorta thing where you had a checklist, and I had to be certain amounts of quantifiable unhealthy before you could sign my paper.”
“Do you feel quantifiably unhealthy?”
“Well, not to level that you were talking about…”
“Then that’s that.”
The counsellor at CAPS (Counselling and Psychological Services) at UNSW was really quite frank, up front and… well, normal about things, which was a relief.
I botched a few final papers last week because I was so out of it, and at least for one of them, I applied for “Special Consideration.” It’s basically a form that you fill out that says that “illness or misadventure” has happened to you. At first, I was pretty angry about the process. The standard is that I usually have to get a certified death certificate before I can use a death in the family as a reason to hand in a late assignment.
I mean, I guess on some level, I understand that people abuse the system, but telling me how high and how many times to jump at a time like this? I don’t really appreciate taking on more headaches than necessary, thank you very much.
Regardless, I need those marks, so I talked to family back home. A death certificate hasn’t been issued yet, and the school needs one within 3 days of the event (which is more bullshit) so they sent a funeral receipt instead as a temporary document.
By the time I got the document, it was Sunday.
I was feeling better about things after that.
The day or two after Gramma passed away, I was mostly a mess. I skipped the afternoon of classes at the suggestion of my Litigation group mates. Somehow I thought I should still do a group presentation with them, which was ridiculous– because when I got home, I just broke down.
It doesn’t really help that I knew, months ago, that she was sick. They tell you that if you have time to prepare, then you can do everything you can to make sure all those loose ends in your head are tied up. In my case, none of that applied.
The day Gramma died, I still thought I’d have some more time to chat with her. Actually, I was talking to her over the internet that exact day that she died– she didn’t seem like she was in a good mood so I just, rather casually, thought that I’d call back in a couple of days. And she died a few hours after that.
So do I feel robbed?
In a sense, I guess I do. Should I though?
I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about all this, and my reaction to it. I feel angry about the situation because I’m so far from back home. But the truth is, I don’t want to be there. I don’t want to be there for the funeral and all that. I don’t want to see my grandmother truly tired and weak, or resting. Maybe it’s for the best that it happened this way, where there’s just this sudden disconnect.
Out of necessity, I’ve been moving on. My Mom sent me an email saying that nobody from back home expected me to come home and that they all thought I should just concentrate on exams, try not to get too stressed out about anything. It felt like lipservice, but she had a point– that’s all I can do right now.
The thing about death is that it robs you of all control. There is nothing you can do to reverse it. And you always wonder if you could have done things differently, if you could have had a different outcome if you’d lived your life differently with that person.
In reality, the answer is, no. You can’t do anything about these sorts of things. Granma was old, really old, and she’d live a really full life– this wasn’t sudden, and there isn’t much that could have been done to really help her live longer without making it a miserable existence.
This is for the best.
It has been one week since Gramma passed away.
I’ve been making efforts to get back in my own body, instead of mentally drifting around as if my brain was in space.
The control aspect is a big thing. I don’t like feeling out of control, and I don’t like being uncertain. Even when it comes to things in life that I don’t know about, there’s always this sense that I have tools to take on these challenges.
A death in the family? That’s different. I don’t have tools to reverse time.
But I guess part of the issue isn’t just trying to bring Granma back. The other part is me moving on, and trying to get back on track with my life, and learning from this experience somehow.
I’ve figured out that the loss of control is what hits me worse. I know I miss her– but I don’t know how much of this emotion is the missing, and how much of it is my own pride at not being able to do anything about it. I’m always the sort of person who fights for what he wants… and here I am, faced with a situation where no amount of fighting anyone or anything will change what has happened.
On thursday night, I went to judo. I was reluctant to at first, but I figured that, knowing myself, it might be what I needed. It’s funny how when I’m really depressed, it’s like I have a split personality– there’s a me that knows me, and a me that is trying everything to be someone different. The first me was saying, “You’ve got too much negative energy. You need to work it out of your body.” THe second me was saying “It wouldn’t do anything. It’s pointless.”
Thankfully, routine kicked in, and for this, I guess I’m thankful of being a creature of habit. I went to judo, and… well, it was fun. It was challenging.
I got the shit kicked out of me. I almost hurt my ankle, I did get hurt in the knee (but I’m fine as of today) and at one point, I almost landed on my head. But it was good.
See, the thing is, in Judo, I just feel that I can start something over. I feel that no matter what mistakes I make, I can see that there’s a direction to all this– I’m getting better, and I’m going forward.
That’s what I needed, and that’s what I still need. It’s probably what I’ll need all my life– reminders that I’m still growing.
The thing is, psychologically, I enjoy judo. But my body doesn’t (you try spending 2 hours getting literally thrown around), and judo doesn’t like me.
ANd that’s exactly why I’m doing it.
Being able to learn and grow is the kind of privilege that I have because of people like Granma. Instead of dwelling too much on what I’ve lost, what I can’t do, and what I can’t change, I just need to keep going forward. Looking back is fine– but you can’t live there, back there I mean.
It’s kinda like a building– you don’t stare at the foundations of it every time you walk up to it. You could and should appreciate all the work that went in there, underneath everything you can see– but what’s important is what goes on and comes out of it.
After the counselling session, it’s not that I feel like I have everything off my chest. I’m not going back there either– it was just a mandatory requirement that I needed to go through for the Special Consideration. I think… that counselling could be useful, but it’s not for me, at least, not about this. And I wonder if that’s a problem with the way I think, and maybe that’s why so few people actually take advantage of psychological support services.
I think that everyone should try seeing a shrink at some point. The problem is that when I went there this morning, I was feeling much “better” already, so there wasn’t really much to talk about. I couldn’t gush, I just couldn’t get into it, because I was already in that time in my head where this is too late, and my initial reactions are already over with.
But in general? I Think a lot of people could probably benefit from a shrink.
And I don’t look down on anyone who does go to see someone for professional help. THe truth is, we don’t all have people who are supportive enough to get us through things. And even if we do have supportive people, we don’t necessarily have people around us who know how to help us– indeed, some of the people we most closely regard might actually be part of the problem!
You should take these thoughts with a grain of salt of course– because this is me, and the way I think my brain works. I’m naturally cynical and untrusting of other people in the things that I think are important.
Maybe that’s partly what makes this so difficult. I’ve always been someone to really value a few, really strong relationships with select people. Granmma was one of them.
ANyway, I actually feel a surge of energy lately. I feel that I’ve been lazy and slacking off… and it’s time now to really go out there and kick those exams’ fucking asses. And to all those people in judo who are throwing me around like a sack of potatoes? I’ll show them. Give me a few more months, and they’ll be the ones belly up.
Just need to… channel.
I filled out several applications over the past few weeks, all trying to do new things. I had a choice between taking two classes with one of my favourite teachers, [Lord Harley], and accepting a special employment law internship at the Kingsford Legal Centre. The centre sounds like it’d be more work. Having had several classes with Lord Harley before, I know that I always get great marks in that class because his expectations and my writing style sync really well. But I decided, it was time to do something new, lets do a bit more growing… KLC will be more work, but it’ll also be work at the things that I don’t like. Dealing with new people, for example, and networking. So I took KLC over the familiar and easy path.
I also submitted a few applications to Law Soc for a couple of executive positions– going to see if I can get a job as the editor for the LawSoc’s publications, or as the secretary. ALso applied to be a faculty student representative again– elections were last friday, and I did minimal campaigning, but we’ll see how that turns out. I also filled out an application to be a Law School mentor, who will take care of first year students in adapting to the program.
I’m not going to do all these things, mind you– we’ll see if any of these applications return positives, and then take it from there.
I also took another term as president of the Go Club, so that’s an ongoing thing- I have more people on my exec team this year, so it should be interesting to see what I can do with that.
Bah– anyways… enough procrastinating… time to get back to real work. One thing at a time.