Midweek Musing. On dreams and debilitation.

The stress, the anxiety, the uncertainty and the waiting have finally become debilitating: almost entirely debilitating.

It's the finances again. Thanks to generous patrons and donors, my everyday costs are covered each month. Thanks to two smallish scholarships, my tuition is covered to the end of the degree. Rent is paid to the end of the current contract – the end of this month. New contract begins September; deductions for rent begin October. I have no idea if I will have the money to cover it.

There may be a change in living arrangements to drastically reduce costs, but not till the end of the year. This change would bring with it an increase in obligations each week. I do not know if I have the capacity to take that on. The stress and uncertainty of my financial situation these past two years (on top of 15 years of student / part time precarious finances) has become almost entirely debilitating, physically, emotionally, mentally.

Results from a third round of blood tests will take weeks to come back. Tests that are searching for a reason for symptoms that are difficult to describe or explain. * The sweats and overheating for no reason. The exhaustion to the point of muscles aching terribly. Clumsiness. Insomnia. Nausea. Inability to concentrate. Little trifling colds and viruses, snuffly nose and itchy throat. All. The. Time. Nothing from the tests in November. Something small and almost insignificant in June. Enough to follow up. What will August bring? The waiting, the raft of symptoms, are debilitating.

There is a scholarship I am waiting on. No amount stipulated, so even if I am successful, who knows if it will be enough, for 12 months, or five. Shortlisting was delayed from early July to late July, with an email to communicate the change in projected time line. It is mid August and I've heard nothing further. Have there been more delays? Did I not get an interview? Why have they not responded to my email last week asking for an update on progress? The uncertainty and the waiting have become debilitating.

A week overseas to play with fellow storytellers, performing, presenting, listening, learning. I felt well, if easily tired, but moved freely, participated joyfully.

A week back in Scotland of ordered (by my supervisor) rest and I slept well, went to shows, felt light and positive and able to fill the weekend with much activity.

Come Monday, when I was to return to PhD work, I awoke heavy, tired, aching in my muscles like I'd run a marathon; irritable, low, lethargic and unable to concentrate. I did press on to edit the paper for an upcoming conference, complete my annual review and do a little reading. Tuesday was even worse, though I managed to sit outside for an hour of sunshine and fresh air, writing up notes from marked pages from Monday's reading. I feel as though I am in chains, unable to move, hardly able to breathe.

They don't tell you – the mysterious 'they' – when following your dreams is so celebrated and encouraged, that the cost will be so great you might even regret having dreamed at all. That all the affirmation you receive from fellow storytellers and scholars, from church leaders and members, for a way of engaging with the Bible that affirms our full humanity will clatter and echo in the hollow emptiness of your despairing soul; no longer able to encourage and strengthen. Despair at no longer caring about this dream, this call, this project. Despair because it is too hard to keep convincing the bodies with the power and the money that this is worthwhile, that you are worth the investment; and now you can no longer convince yourself.

And you hardly dare admit to yourself (let alone anyone who might read your blog) that you are almost hoping the test results are just bad enough that you can't take the job; that the scholarship doesn't eventuate, so that you can pack your bags and go home. Because home is safe. And I have had enough of this risky place, demanding the courage and resilience you have admired. I have run out of both, and cannot fight for the means to stay any more.

When I acknowledged the risk in moving to Scotland on limited finances, I never imagined I would have so much trouble sourcing adequate funding. I did not foresee such constricting, debilitating, enduring stress. I am so disappointed that it has fallen this way. That all the joy has been so entirely sucked out of the dream.

* Please note that while comments are always welcome, this is not an invitation for suggested diagnoses or treatments.


Hyphenated said…
Holy God, help. Amen
Annette Buckley said…
Thank you for giving of yourself so generously, sacrificially, heartbreakingly honestly in this post. I have no brilliant words to share that will ease your pain. I can only shine a tiny candle of love and faith (in you, as well as the One who loves you beyond imagining). I will send once more love and prayers and poetry: https://multivocality.wordpress.com
sarah said…
Thank you, dear friends x
Heather said…
Dear Sarah. I thank you too for so honestly letting others in to your experience at the moment.I hope that your health and stress levels are much improved, soon.
sarah said…
Thank you Heather. It is my own personal commitment as a storyteller to be open and honest, especially with the stories I so particularly live with others. Many are involved in this season of mine in Scotland; we need for the story to be told in all its ups and downs.

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