What a Mess

I’ve been thinking about writing for a while now, but I haven’t figured out exactly what to say. Finally, I decided I better just write something, anything, or I’m never going to get started again. I don’t think I have the words to explain the last several months, but I’ll try my best.

I was overwhelmed with work life and home life, depressed, anxious and not sleeping. The lack of sleep was starting to get to me. I was constantly nauseous or dealing with a headache. I don’t know if you’d call it hallucinating or not, but I’d mix up reality with whatever my brain came up with when I dozed off for a few minutes. I’ve been this way before, but I’ve always pushed through. I always thought if I just push through to the other side things will start looking up and I’ll get to a place where I feel safe, can relax and maybe enjoy something. By safe, I mean a home, a secure career, a steady income, family, friends and no huge financial problems. Maybe it was the sleep deprivation or maybe it was starting Quentiapine but, I guess the difference this time was that I finally realized that is never going to happen. No matter how hard I work now, I’ll never reach a place where I can breathe. There will always be more responsibility, another commitment, another challenge. It is just going to keep going like that. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. So what is the point in killing myself, working so hard only to make myself miserable? Well, there is no point. So I stopped.

wordle depression

You’ll have to bear with me for a while, I haven’t been doing any doodling.

 

I know the ideal is to achieve a balanced life. Things should be done in moderation so you get your work done, but also enjoy life a bit too. Logically, this makes total sense but, it is still completely foreign to me. Like many people with depression, I am a very black and white thinker. You know, all or nothing. How can you enjoy playing when you know there is work to be done? I guess this is why I have always held on to the principle of work hard, play later.

Anyway, I guess this realization was the last straw. I just stopped everything and imploded into a sobbing, hyperventilating, irrational mess. I had to bail on a conference I was supposed to speak at, I stopped going to work, stopped answering the phone, going out, working out, blogging, drawing, etc. After going full steam ahead for so long it was a big crash and burn. The only good thing about this was that I was finally able to sleep. In fact, that’s pretty much all I did. I slept, I cried and I watched TV.

I wasn’t proud of myself, but sleep or TV (basically avoidance) were the only things that got my brain distracted enough to get relief. It was like this for a couple months. I am so thankful for my family. They were patient and didn’t make me feel worse. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be here.

Picture quote

Picture quote

After my months of avoidance, I started to feel like I could handle doing little things again. Things like driving my mom wherever she needed to go or reading a magazine. Eventually, I felt I could handle thinking about work again. I came up with a plan to take the rest of the semester off and go back in January. That may not be happening anymore, but that’s another story.

For now, I’m just going to try to enjoy and participate in as much of the holiday season as I can. I hope all of you have been well over these last few months and I look forward to catching up. 🙂

Oh, The Possibilities…..

here comes the sun

It looks like another sleepless night for me. I lay in bed wishing for sleep to come for about two hours when Ewok came in and decided my face would be a nice place for a catnap. Thanks kitty. That’s when I decided to give up and do something else….like blog!

I feel like I’m bursting with possibility at the moment. Maybe that’s why I can’t sleep. At least its a good reason this time. Possibility leads to hope and hope is what makes life worth living. I’m not seeing a light at the end of the tunnel yet, but I have hope that I can pull myself out of this black hole I’ve been in for most of the year.

The first set of possibilities involves a bunch of creative projects I have on the go. A couple of them I owe to Christy over at Normal in Training. If you haven’t been to her blog yet, you really should stop by. As a psychologist who has both depression and anxiety, she sees both sides of the proverbial mental health coin, offering a unique perspective.

Back to the creative projects…..I never dreamed of doing any of these projects because I’m not good enough, but being creative is something I enjoy. I think that’s what I need to focus on right now, enjoying. It is likely that these projects wont amount to anything and, I am ok with that. That is not my goal. I just want to have something to enjoy, something to look forward to doing. For once in my life I am going to focus on the process, not the outcome.

More possibilities…..a new Ph.D. student has started at the lab! I completely forgot he was starting until he arrived. This means someone to work with, someone to bounce ideas off of, someone to consult with and someone to share the responsibilities of the lab. This has already started to lift some of the dread I’ve been having surrounding work over the last few months.

I also mustered up the guts to talk to my supervisor about the state of my mental health and how overwhelmed I am. She was sympathetic to my being depressed and unable to sleep and she took the time off prescribed by the psychiatrist well. I’m still not sure if I want to take time off. I can’t take time until I get the new guy settled and do my conference presentation in mid September, so I have time to think about it.

Have you ever taken sick leave? How long did you take? What did you do with your time?

As for being overwhelmed, she understood that too. She emphasized that I am a Ph.D. student first (my dissertation comes first) and a lab coordinator second. Easier said than done. She said that as a lab coordinator it is my job to organize the lab and delegate tasks. If a project failed because the other lab members weren’t participating enough, it was not my responsibility. I was relieved to hear that. I don’t know if I could just let a project fail because of someone under me, but I’ll keep that in mind for when I get stressed.

My supervisor also renewed my confidence in my own dissertation. I was starting to think it was poorly thought out, a bad idea and not worth it. She reminded me of how excited she was about my research and about the other professors that wanted to be involved when I presented my proposal to the department. She also pointed out that people from the granting agencies who didn’t know me from the next guy had read my proposal and thought it was do-able. She said to not have faith in myself after all that was insulting to the professors and granting agencies. That hit a chord, lol. She was using my low self-esteem to get me to see reality. How could I be right in thinking my research was garbage when these experts thought otherwise? There’s no way I could be right over them. Are you following my twisted line of thought here? I am now feeling better about my dissertation. So much so that I was able to make the final corrections I had been putting off for the last month and resubmit to ethics. Phew.

And now that I’ve rambled on for a bit here, I’m going to try to sleep again. Thanks for listening 🙂

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