Claiming the name Agnostic amdist my uncertainty

I had the strangest dream last night. I dreamt I was visiting my old church from back when I was 17, and observing a church service. I’d say taking part, except I wasn’t. I was me as I currently am but the folks there were the ones I remembered, unchanged. They were friendly and rather pleased to see me but I cannot say the same of myself. It was nice and all but something was missing. I went through the motions of the service, thinking about what I liked and what I didn’t, what I missed and what I was very glad to see the back of. In the end the paper list in my hand had just one item ticked off that I missed. Continue reading

Did I mention how thesis writing is really tedious?

Status update: see above.

duckling on lawn

Baby duckling!

Also my partner has moved house to a city five hours away by train to start a new job. This is both exciting and nerve-wracking. Exciting because it is a big step up for him, nerve-wracking for me because five hours is a long way away. It’s a temporary situation in that once I finish my PhD I can move down south to be nearer but when I say temporary it is going to be at least three months, which is quite a while especially when you consider the potential stress writing my Thesis may cause. So yes, happy for him, nervous for me.

All things considered though I am actually doing very well at the moment. Lab work is so nearly done, I can taste the freedom. I have significantly revised, restructured and added to my first Results Chapter and likewise with my Methods Chapter. The story is clear in my head, and hopefully now on paper too. The arguments flow and the step-by-step logic behind my decisions aobut the early phase of the work make sense. That is progress, and is something that four months ago I couldn’t even envisage. Continue reading

People Identify…

Quote

People identify as queer, or gay, or lesbian, or asexual, or poly, or any number of other complex sexual orientations and sexualities and relationship orientations, because the norm is monogamy and heterosexuality. Unless someone explicitly labels otherwise, that person is going to be assumed to be part of that norm, which means that a crucial part of her identity is quietly erased. She must explicitly out herself, with a label, in order to assert her humanity and her place in the world.

For example, a bisexual woman in a relationship with a man must either allow people to erase her by assuming (and calling) her heterosexual…or she must repeatedly be outspoken about her bisexuality. She needs a label to describe her sexuality because she’s not conforming to the social norm, because her sexuality is different. If she doesn’t have that label, if that label is taken away from her, if people insist that labels aren’t needed to talk about sexuality because ‘we’re all human beings (man),’ then she becomes smaller. Lesser. She is invisiblised, simply because people don’t want to be confronted with the reality of her sexuality, and they don’t have to be if she has no label to identify with.

We Need Labels, Because the Alternative is Disappearing | this ain’t livin’

Via Brute Reason.

When Life Gets in the Way and Your Brain Throws Unnecessary Shit at You.

So I haven’t written a blog post in over two weeks. It’s not that I’ve had nothing to say you understand but rather that I have been quite busy and have been attempting to sort out a stressful house situation. When I had the time, I didn’t have the energy. When it was a choice between writing a post and slobbing on the couch watching House, I chose the latter. Oh well. I’m here and writing now.

Cherry Blossom TreeHere’s some backstory for the four shitty weeks.

There was a god-awful supervisory issue that I still haven’t decided how to act on. A stressful housing situation – my housemate fucked off to LA from Northern England leaving no way to pay five months’ rent and four months’ bills. An argument with my sweetie about something I did but didn’t really see the issue with, which coupled with worries about being bisexual and probably poly. Finally there was the general lab stress of experiments and writing up. Let it be simply said that I HATE Tissue Culture with all the passion of a thousand fiery suns. It would be understandable then that with all these legitimate stressors going on, I wasn’t feeling my best self. Thing is, I got it in my head to be worried that I might be getting depressed again which was another worry in and of itself!

Why the worry about that? Well, my mood was low, I was tired and not sleeping properly, and I was finding it hard to find the motivation to do things, even those things I wanted to do. Those problems are all symptoms of depression. What worried me more is that last time I was depressed I didn’t realise that was what it was until after I’d started to get better. I spent months crying at the drop of a hat, not sleeping properly at night then falling asleep at my desk and found doing anything work-related to be a real struggle.

Narcissi

I cannot afford to get that ill again, not now, not this close to the end. And I mean afford in the literal sense as well as the metaphorical sense. Come the end of June I will be flat broke and homeless but for the love and support of my Mum and my Sweetie. Knowing that I cannot afford to become depressed again and yet also feeling like I can’t trust my brain, my emotions or my assessment of situations is not conductive to peace and calm.

Why do I feel like I can’t I trust my brain? Because of the thought that if I didn’t know then, how would I know now?

Cue watching myself extra carefully and asking of every sad, down and miserable feeling and day, is this the day I cross over into Depression?

Couple my fear of not knowing in myself if I’m depressed or not, with the thinking that no-one else who might have spotted the issue last time, did. Not my parents, not my boyfriend at the time, not my mates, not my Supervisors, not my work-mates. Hell, even my counsellor didn’t say anything along the lines of “Go see your doctor, get some meds, they might help”. Layer on top of that my skill I didn’t know I had of putting on my calm, competent face and hiding how I’m really feeling because being outwardly emotional and upset is “weakness”?

Yeah, oh shit.

My brain was all “If the people that love me best don’t know what to look for or don’t see me often enough to spot it, what hope have I got?”

So what did I do about it? I wrote down what I considered to be my symptoms of depression from what I could remember of how I felt and acted back then. That list contained the things I mentioned above but also more worrying things like preoccupation with death and suicidal thoughts*. Everything else was a matter of degree, frequency and duration. However that still didn’t help much because it then makes the question “how bad is bad enough to seek help?” How long should I put up with my brain giving me grief and feeling miserable? Is two weeks enough time to say enough? No? A month? Yeah probably that.

As it so happens, deciding on what I was going to count as cause for serious concern and deciding what I’d do about it if that eventuality arose was enough Yellow crocusto life that worry from me, and many of the other situations have improved somewhat. The end is in sight for the lab experiments, for good this time. Hallelujah! I rearranged the writing targets my supervisors and I had agreed to in light of the lab situation which also lifted some of the pressure. My sweetie and I made up after our argument and I resolved some of my struggles with my bisexuality, although the polyamoury thing will need to be revisited at a later date. (If anyone has any good reading recs, they’d be appreciated, but not so much of the “talk about *everything* and google calendars are boss” advice as “this is me reconciling society’s indoctrination about monogamy with how my feelings actually work”.) The housing situation still sucks but I have put things in motion and know where to go for more advice, and even what I’d need to do if I have to go down the Small Claims route to get back the money I’m owed. In other words, I have a plan, and that always makes me feel better.

In other news Spring has well and truly sprung here. Enjoy the photos. :-)

Orange Daffodil

*I should note that apparently “suicidal thoughts” includes planning how you would kill yourself if that’s what you decided to do, and thinking about how you would just walk away from your life if you could. I convinced myself at the time that thinking about how I’d do it by jumping off a bridge or stepping in front of a train didn’t actually count as suicidal thoughts. It’s not like I was actually going to do it, so why bother mentioning it? It wasn’t until much later that I realised I didn’t have those thoughts at all when I was actually feeling well. Whoops. Boxes I should have ticked on the Counselling Service Screening Questionnaire.

“Let It Go” – Frozen

I finally got around to watching Frozen and yep, I think it’s as good as everyone said! “Let It Go” moved me to tears. There’s so much in the lyrics that resonate with me and ugh, all the feelings.

Don’t let them in, don’t let them see.
Be the good girl you always have to be.
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know.

I’ve spent all my years feeling this. Inside, I feel like a mess but the external façade has always been of the perfect good girl. My terror is that the mask will slip and those ever-present them will see.

Can’t hold it back any more.
Let it go, let it go!
Turn away and slam the door.
I don’t care what they’re going to say.
Let the storm rage on…

And the fears that once controlled me, can’t get to me at all
It’s time to see what I can do,
to test the limits and break through.
No right, no wrong, no rules for me.
I’m free!

But this? This freedom from fear and shame? Is where I want to be.

The shadow weight I carry whispers “you’re not good enough“. Without ever specifying what “good enough” even is. Except that it’s never how I am right now. There’s always more I could be, more I should be doing.

Elsa sings “I don’t care what they’re going to say”. If only it were true. I do care, so very much. I fear judgement and rejection and although no-one has ever said anything as harsh to me as the things I say to myself, they might and then what would I do?

Where do I want to be?

In a place where I am enough. Where I am okay, just as I am. Where, fundamentally, who I am inside is all right, is aceptable.

I want to be able to sing this love song to myself and to believe it.

 

Where even the darkest parts of me hold no shame for me any more so that I can rise, courageous, like the break of dawn and say:

That perfect girl is gone
Here I stand, in the light of day.

Bisexual “Privilege”

Aside

My bisexuality has been on my brain a lot recently. In looking for stuff  that maybe some what captures how I feel, I stumbled across this post at the Vegan Abolitionist.

To quote:

I have often questioned my sexuality, because I have been in relationships with men, but not really women.

and

My sexuality is fetishized by most of the people with whom I engage in a relationship. Its true validity is negated by nearly everyone who expects me to just end up with a hetero man (and if I do, then I was never bisexual at all!). It is erased by straight and queer people alike. I’m “too straight”, never queer enough.

 

Yeah.

good academic writing – it’s about revision not editing

NessieMonster:

Things it is very good to read about at the start of the writing-revising process. There’s a difference between revising and editing and multiple revisions are necessary in nearly all instances of long form writing. Those who can produce a successful text in one go with very little editing are a rarity!

Originally posted on patter:

Creative writers are accustomed to the idea that their writing must go through several drafts. However, much of the advice on offer to academic writers proceeds as if all they have to do is produce a draft which is then edited, tidied up, everything made neat and clean. I have seen many a thesis completion timetable come unstuck because doctoral researchers have not grasped the fact that by and large this is not what happens. Most of us have to do more than one draft of a piece of academic writing. In reality, very few of us write the scintillating introduction, the elegant conclusion, the persuasive argument right from the start. It takes several iterations.

A few people do of course produce brilliant prose early, and consistently. Prolific writers and those who just happen to be good with words seem to be able to gallop off a chapter or paper…

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Authorship and Voice

In writing the first chapter of my Thesis I decided it would be a good idea to read a few books about how to write a good thesis. A lot of the books cover only the basics – IMRAD structure, how to produce informative clear graphs, how to do a literature review etc. Now I could improve in all these things but none of them were new concepts. Apart from one new idea in one book, “Surviving Your Dissertation” (2nd Ed. Rudeston and Newton) which concerned authorship, Voice and their importance to the writing process.

So what are they and why are they important?

Authorship is the confident ownership of your written words. Voice meanwhile is Continue reading