Return to Wonderland

It has taken a lot of overthinking and conquering of fear in order for me to return to studies as a mature(ish) aged student. True, I had returned in 2012 to begin my process, and if I hadn’t done that I would never have learned the important things that I did about myself. The fact I didn’t complete everything required does not speak of my character, I attended every class, I made friends and had great feedback and response from teachers. It rather speaks of the fact it was not the right time in my life and I needed to face some things and learn a lot about how I work as a human being in order to continue on that path.

Therein lays the first step in me getting here. My self-confidence was one thing, the physical and, as it turned out, neurological another. My first attempt led to a diagnosis, and an understanding of myself I had never had in my entire life to that point. I knew I had ‘clinical’ depression, and no matter what I tried to do I couldn’t shake it. What counsellors and GP’s don’t necessarily see, particularly if they assume things about you, a Psychologist most likely will. So on hearing of and having a diagnosis of complex PTSD (complex as it involves multiple traumas) my entire life and reactions, inactions and aggravations at things suddenly made sense. I’d carried this stuff for 30odd years.

It was, in fact, this Psych who, after years of counselling, got me to reconnect with myself. She encouraged my idea of returning to study once again, and greatly encouraged the idea of getting out of Canberra and to Melbourne, knowing I have family and friends here of course. But it wasn’t that easy. As with all major, or sometimes even minor, life changes, there was an intense amount of fear and uncertainty. Not to mention my feelings of failure as a student. Somehow, though, she kept me going. Made me write pro and con lists, talked me through each item, gave me backup support and links to websites that would help in whatever issues they were.

I hadn’t, yet, run my idea past Bro, and I only did on the announcement I was to become an aunt, “Damn it, I was gonna move to Melbourne next year.”

So we gradually talked it over, my Voice of Reason and I, and he backed me completely. I had held so much anxiety about what he might say about the idea, but I guess he eventually saw that the difference between ‘living’ and ‘existing’ is large. I enlisted my amazing cousin to be my coach and keep me on track, and I proceeded to pack up my flat (my first real home since mum had passed). The day after the grand final, my cuz and I set off in Serenity (my 97 VW Golf which made all sorts of noises and rattles when it felt like it) on the road trip to change my life. And here I am.

My interview at Melbourne Polytechnic went so well I was smiling from ear to ear. That was before I got the voice message telling me my written assessment was ‘lovely. Beautiful in fact’ which made me beam even more brightly. So far I have been the best, most myself, self since beginning ‘school’. There is still the odd moment of self-doubt, but, with the support of mentors I have gratefully gained here, ultimately I feel the power and confidence to reach my goals. I still don’t know what I want to finish up in, but the more I think about it the more I go back to the ideas of my 16-year-old mind and look toward anthropology and sociology….. But that’s what this year is for. To find my feet, try new things and ask the many questions I need to. No fear, well not much anymore, just faith in my abilities.

It’s taken such a long time, but here I am. Back in one of my favourite places, renewing and redefining my relationships with my family, reaching for new horizons, and standing tall.

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