I’ve got studying on my mind 80 percent of the time: If I’m not doing it, I am preoccupied with it. English is a closed-book exam, so I have to memorise relevant quotes from poets like William Blake and Dylan Thomas and Philip Larkin. I’m feeling increasingly distant from my other exam subjects, like history and politics, and beginning to think English is my niche, especially after seeing all the parallels between the texts we’ve studied this year and MY LIFE.

While reading Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles, I learned of a literary technique called pathetic fallacy, in which nature and the seasons are personified to reflect the main character’s emotions during certain periods of her life. For example, Tess’s hardship is conveyed by the descriptions of the lonely and desolate landscape of the grey farm where she is poorly treated.

My need to find order in chaos leads me to look for my own pathetic fallacies. In the middle of last winter I was at a miserable low after a miserable experience with a miserable boy, and I felt as dark and exhausting as the season. I was caught off guard by something I had no experience with, and it wasn’t pretty. Same with Tess—she went out into the world completely innocent of predators and their intentions, and got caught in a specific dude’s web. (Only she—spoiler—gets pregnant out of wedlock and gives birth to a baby who then dies, so in comparison I was very fortunate.)

Right now, when the trees are heaviest with pollen and the days are long and languid, everything is infinitely better. It reminds me of Hardy’s sensuous descriptions of the dairy where Tess works and where she falls in love with Angel Clare at the peak of the summer heat. There is a new guy who treats me like a goddess, as Angel did Tess, but I don’t have to walk on eggshells like her, worrying about how to tell him the story of my supposedly blemished past. I already did that on Friday, on a bench, as the sky got lighter and the full moon lower, and he didn’t say, “You were one person, now you are another,” like Angel did when Tess revealed her past on their wedding night.

I told him the basics of my whole mental-health history and the world didn’t end, and what I’ve learned is that way more people have mental-health issues than you first assume. I am not such an anomaly. I thought that as soon as someone found out, they would treat me differently, but it doesn’t work like that. There was no doom like the kind that Tess has to unfairly face when (another spoiler) Angel turns out to be a dickhead and leaves her because she had sex with another man.

All this has been a veiled attempt to study for my exams while simultaneously making my life as poetic as possible. ♦