Current Plan of Action and a Bit of Ewok

It is a really cold day! I’m in bed with a hot tea right now. Why am I in bed in the middle of the afternoon? Well, for one, it is THAT cold!! Second, it’s because I wanted to hang out with my cat, Ewok. Within the last few days, Ewok has discovered how comfortable it is to nap on soft cozy surfaces. Her spot of choice has been at the end of the bed burrowed into blankets. No matter how many times I bring her in the other room to spend some time with me…she ends up back in her burrow. So I have given up and decided to do things her way. So here we are in bed in the middle of the afternoon.

This may not sound strange to a lot of you, but it is definitely strange behaviour for Ewok. She normally doesn’t like soft spots, she likes to lie on hard surfaces. Even as a kitten, she would usually fall asleep on the floor or the coffee table, never the couch. We later found out this was because she was peeing on the couch. Poor confused kitten. Don’t worry, we were able to clean it! Eventually, we moved and got different furniture, but she still preferred hard surfaces. Her napping spots were usually the coffee table, a stiff carpet or on top of the printer. When she got older, she started sleeping by my head in bed, but only if I moved the pillow and blanket to make room for her. So finding her the last few days lying on the bed, sinking into the mattress surrounded by blankets has been a weird sight. I hope everything is ok with her. I think she’s fine, she’s eating and drinking and happily snorting away over there.

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The reason I want to be around Ewok is because she is a great comfort to me. I’m not sure how to describe how I am feeling right now and listening to her snorting or purring or seeing her cute little smooshy face makes me feel better. I am definitely feeling better than I was in the fall. I’m not overwhelmed and not having the suicidal ideation, but I’m not great either. My sleep is so-so and I feel sort of paralyzed. I have to force myself to do everything, otherwise, I just get lost in my head. Thinking about work. During the holidays I was preoccupied with the dread of going back to grad school full time. Now that I know I’m going to start back part time, I’m not feeling panicky and having nightmares about it. I’m still dreading it though.

The plan is to go back two days a week. I’m going to make a detailed schedule for the next two months and have it approved by psych. When the two months are up, we’ll evaluate and see if I should continue as is or take on more. I think that is fair. Hubby does too. He thinks I always jump into things and take on too much. Maybe he is right.

I hope I can finish my Ph.D. I’m not sure if it’s the depression talking or not, but I think I hate it. I like parts of it. My supervisor is great, I’m learning a lot. I like reading, brainstorming, gathering information, sorting it, teaching it and writing about what I learn. I don’t mind managing students and volunteers either. It’s the constant trouble-shooting, working around barriers, asking for money, trying to find people who qualify to participate and then begging them to participate. When working with human subjects, research depends a lot on the cooperation of other people. It’s not that others don’t want to cooperate, they just don’t want to take on extra work (no matter how minute) or disrupt their routines. I don’t just mean potential participants, I mean doctors, receptionists, technicians, volunteers and other hospital staff. I am always friendly and polite with these people. I even bring them treats, but they are never happy to see me. I am a symbol extra work, change or disruption to their routine. It’s not a pleasant work environment for me. Research is also a lot of rejection and a lot of work for very little success or progress.

Now that I have gotten all these studies through ethics, all I am doing are the things I hate. Thinking of going in fills me with dread. I really hope I can get through it. As a more senior researcher (someone with a Ph.D.), I wont have to do this part anymore. I can send students (like me now), research associates and volunteers off to do it for me. I just don’t think I’ll ever get there. If there were an end in sight, I could probably force myself through, but there is no end. I have lost faith in my project and it feels like I will be a student forever.

Down the Rabbit Hole

I’m feeling pretty low. That’s why my last few posts have been about things I have learned either through experience or reading. I think it’s important for you to either learn something new or feel uplifted after reading a post here. I’ve gotten to the point where my brain isn’t working well enough to come up with something. I’m falling down the rabbit hole, but unlike Alice, I’m not going to land in Wonderland. There is nothing wondrous about the place I’m going. It’s dark, lonely, hopeless and usually doesn’t make much sense. Well, maybe Alice and I have that latter part in common.

I can usually tell when I’m falling. I start getting really tired for no particular reason. Then I start to lose what little motivation I have. That’s how this spell started, but there were a few added perks. I changed the dosage on my medication and I’m having a hard time adjusting. The first few days I was really nauseous and shaky. The nausea went away, but the tremors stayed. It makes it extremely hard to draw which seems to be the only thing I can do without having to jump over the giant hurdle of dread. These symptoms, along with the lack of motivation have kept me from going to work. I think I feel guilty about not doing any work, or maybe I just think I should feel guilty, I don’t know. I don’t care enough to figure it out.

Yesterday was particularly wretched. I haven’t been sleeping very well and the night before last I pretty much didn’t. My lack of sleep has accumulated into that nauseating, photosensitive, headache-y feeling that leaves you stranded in bed or on the couch in the dark. So that’s where I’ve been for most of the day….and night.

While I was rotting on the couch, I got confirmation that my husband will definitely be out of a job for the next school year. There are no full-time science contracts in the school board he is tenured with. All these questions are swirling through my brain. What are we going to do?! Will he find something else? Will I have to leave my Ph.D.? Will we have to move? This would normally start a panic which I would talk myself down from, except I don’t have the energy to panic. So instead I curled up into a ball and prayed that I’d just disappear. Since it was not likely that my prayers would be answered, I needed a new strategy.

I’ve been told that when I start to fall apart I should try living life 10 minutes at a time so I don’t get overwhelmed and can stop thinking about the future. There was nothing I could do about my meds, my work or his job at the moment anyway. What could I do right now? Try to feel better. How? I have a list of things that usually cheer me up. I have it written down for times like this when I’m not rational. Starting at the top of my list is my husband, who is not currently home, next… Find Ewok (my cat). Check. Sweatpants. Check. Cup of coffee. Check. Put on the Phantom of the Opera. Check. Watch until I feel better.

The Phantom played through five times. I still feel the same. At least I haven’t completely lost hope yet.

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