There are various Things to deal with this term: the Graduate Symposium and the Retreat, both of which terrify me. I still don't know how exactly I'm going to get to Mill Hill for something that starts before 10 am, or how I'm going to manage for a whole day in a strange place without anywhere to go and collapse if necessary, but I'll work that out later. The Retreat is in Cambridge and involves an overnight stay, and is no doubt fully catered, which fills me with utter horror. I have a long-term phobia of Other People Controlling My Dietary Intake. It started when I was a teenage vegetarian and people thought I would eat chicken, or chilli with the pieces of meat fished out (eww). It's only got worse as I've developed quite genuine food intolerances. Traces of dairy make me really very unwell in the digestive department for an alarmingly long time.
Perhaps in preparation for this, I am doing something on Wednesday which terrifies me. They picked six random students and invited us to lunch with the visiting speaker at College. I'm not sure if it was random or if they looked for people whose work was vaguely relevant to hers. I wrote back and said that it isn't that I *can't* go, but that I have lots of food intolerances; but apparently there is no prebooked menu, and you can choose anything they sell. So I agreed to go because I've become way too good at avoiding things which make me anxious. At a time of mental health crisis, it's reasonable to avoid extra stress, but in the long term it isn't healthy - you can't get through life by avoidance.
I will no doubt regret this decision multiple times between now and Wednesday afternoon, but what is the actual worst that can happen? That there's nothing I can eat apart from a bit of salad and fruit? No one ever died from missing one meal! I have to keep my fears in perspective.