April 2017: Changes

Walking Dead - Local man saved by tiger

The end is not near, it is here!

I am coming to the end of my current stay in the United States. I have only a few days left before I fly back home to the UK and I couldn’t be more relieved. After a year of hardcore studying just to be able to ensure I pass the year I feel burned the fuck out. I’ve experienced so many headaches, late nights, early mornings, sleep deprivations… I’m so ready to go home. School life here is just astoundingly hard, and I have no idea how Americans manage to cope, keeping up good grades, socialising, and not burning out. Hell, I’ve barely had time to myself these past 6 weeks or so. All I’ve wanted to do is sleep, and as I approach my departure I just want to decompress from it all.

With schoolwork all but complete, I’m trying to look back on my time here to figure out what I have learned, what experiences I’ve had that I’ll be able to take forward, and if this has all been worthwhile.

In response to the latter, I believe all the “pain and suffering” I’ve endured has been worthwhile. Coming to California to study film has taught me more than I have ever learned back home. The level of professionalism in the students here are miles above anything I’ve seen in British kids: myself included. Coming to California has pushed me to become better at what I do – or rather what I want to do for a profession. It has made me a better filmmaker. It has made me question everything about why I’m trying to break into the media industry whilst also reaffirming my commitment to the creative process. This has been the most sustained traumatic experience of my life in the most positive of ways.

United Airlines with Negan and Glenn from Walking Dead

Moving back home I’m hoping to bring the skills and expertise I’ve picked up to pass on to other students and to influence my own work in the future.

On the mental health side of things I think I have learned a lot about what I need going forward. I have probably been saying this for over a year now, but I really need therapy. I am a social wreck. Everyday I wake up needing social interaction, but not wanting to face it. I am scared to open up and get close to people because of learned behaviour. I’m living in this bubble of self-imposed containment and it is destroying my soul. It feels incredibly frustrating. The priority when returning home will be to get myself a therapist and look into evaluating the efficacy of my current medication; because as it stands I am not entirely convinced that sertraline is working for me anymore. I am still taking the medication, and I haven’t missed a dose for more than a year or perhaps longer,  but I am growing concerned that I may have become resistant to it.

Awkward Yeti - How the body helps the brain with anxiety

Thinking back over my time at university at home in the U.K. and here in the U.S. I think there has been a marked and increased level of anxiety presenting in my personality that I initially chalked up to being new stresses of moving away from home, living in unfamiliar territory, and studying hard. The reality is this is something, that while likely related to this external stressors, is also the anxiety side of anxiety & depression. Any time a social situation presents itself I start to clam up, my chest tightens, and I have the urge to remove myself from any and all speaking scenarios. I have been feeling this since before I began education again… (EDIT: I deleted a long diatribe here, but realised something else in the process) … thinking back on it, I think I have felt this way through most of my life. I remember a lot of experiences in my life where I felt this anxiety in the pit of my stomach when encountering a social scenario. It is something I have never directly resolved and is something I need help with; because whilst this may currently be causing me social problems now, if it is left unchecked, it will cause me professional problems in the future. I need to be able to communicate with other human beings face-to-face, despite how much I’d rather do all my communication in the form of written language.

Right now, I may be feeling burned out and exhausted, but in the weeks and months to come I hope to see a reinvigoration as I build on this year abroad and go on to my final year at university.

Until next time…

Seat belt on plane to tether mangled corpse to seat for identification purposes

Much love ❤