Unexpected Feels: Safety, Failure, and Loss

Let’s start with the good news.

First, I have completely unpacked all my belongings and found homes for everything. The dining room is no longer a mountain of boxes and it has a dining table which is doubling up as my desk at the moment. I also found curtains for the living room. Second, with the help of Mum, I’ve finished digging up the weeds in the garden and sown my flower seeds. She also identified all the mystery shrubs. There’s a Weigela, a Ceanothus and a Hydrangea. There’s also a Himalayan Honeysuckle which is in bud. Very exciting!

In the interesting news category, this coming week is my last at the RCN. I am sad to be leaving but also grateful as I had reached the limits of the interesting bits of the job and have spent the last two weeks bored out of my skull with not quite enough to do. I am however going to miss my paycheck, especially as I don’t have anything lined up for when I get back from sailing.

Speaking of which, I’m going sailing on the Stavros in a week’s time! Much Excite! Southampton to Cardiff with a sea shanty group! Hopefully the weather will have the correct amount of wind, in the right direction. The bad news is that we are currently lacking enough Watch Leaders and Deckhands. I hope to Neptune they fill the volunteer crew positions in time else I am going to be VERY busy.

Pink weigela flowers

Flowering Weigela – very pretty!

In between all the things I’ve been doing lately, I’ve been having some interesting emotional outbursts. I’ll just start feeling sad for what seems like no reason and then tears follow. Continue reading

Settling In to my New Home

This weekend was our first proper weekend in mine and Squishy’s new house! i.e. we were actually at home and not galivanting off to other parts of the country. We’re cohabiting for the first time so this is a major life milestone for us both. We got things done! For example, replacing the overflow pipe for the bath, replacing the shower head and doing all the laundry. Well, all my laundry at any rate.

We arranged the living room furniture so we have a sofa to sit on, a TV to watch and a HiFi to listen to. All our DVDs, computer games and CDs are on the shelves. We haven’t merged CD or book collections because I have OPINIONS on how they should be ordered, as does he. He thinks they MUST be alphabetical whereas I like mine to be ordered thematically and then by artist/author. In the case of books it’s doubly complicated because they must also be pleasing to the eye, and that means accounting for spine height. Srsly, nothing gets me more than having books in the same series by the same author from different print editions. Who thought changing the book dimensions was a good idea?!! The Terry Pratchett (may he find what he hopes for across the desert) books are particularly bad for this, especially once you start mixing hardback and paperback. ANYWAY. Continue reading

Still alive!

Just a quick post to say Hi!

I’m moving house today – moving in with Squishy for the first time! No more long distance for us! Finally!

I’ve been busy with work and packing and that sort of thing. I should also be starting on my corrections next week and I really, really need to sort out my CV/resumé.

I will also admit that I’m at a bit of a loss as to what to write about here. I’ve spent two long years hating on the PhD process and what it’s done to my mental health but it’s not actively an issue right now. The sources of pressure are significantly reduced and at a distance. I’m still a bit anxious about working through my corrections and working on the paper with my collaborators but these tasks feel eminently achieveable. Finding the time to focus on them while also job hunting and moving house has been difficult but I’m sure I can figure it out.

Red dahlia against a brick wall

Red Dahlia – CC NessieMonster

I’m burned out on the whole feminist ranting about sexism thing too. I haven’t read anything recently that’s shattered my world view and it all seems a bit samey topic-wise. Reading about how women get screwed over in career advancement, in the home, in politics and in health matters is just depressing. Yes, I am well aware the world is full of shocking, hurtful things and that many people really suffer from it, thanks. Just reading the word “r*pe” in a headline is enough to make my stomach sink and frankly, I don’t need to put myself through that anymore. I’m much more at peace with my own trauma history than I was a few years ago. It still affects me from time to time but I mostly know where those tripwires are and for the most part I can talk it through with Squishy if it’s actively affecting our sex life in the moment. Continue reading

Please Welcome… Dr Nessie Monster! aka Post-Viva Feelings

Hello my dears, how are you?

I am exhausted but relieved. I passed my viva, emerging with minor corrections, so you may now address me as Dr Nessie Monster!

;-)

I slept for 11 hours straight last night and feel somewhat more human today, although I am yet to get out of my pajamas and red fluffy dressing-gown.

I can’t believe the viva is over and went so smoothly. It was difficult at first and there was a bit of scrabbling for answers to the more general questions at the beginning but once we got into the specifics of my text and experiments, it was fine. The first thing they did was congratulate me on producing one of the best written theses they’d read in years, that was also clearly structured, which is high praise from such experienced examiners. Their biggest criticism was a lack of illustrative diagrams for the signalling pathways and cross-talk mechanisms, and that, as with many students, I hadn’t spent enough time in “fantasy land” in the Discussion Chapter. I could have been far more explicit and specific about what I would do next if I had all the money, resources and time in the world, and if I had the opportunity to start over, what I would do differently. However, as I was able to talk about that at length in the viva, it wasn’t a major stumbling block. Continue reading

Adrienne Rich, Power

Living in the earth-deposits of our history

Today a backhoe divulged out of a crumbling flank of earth
one bottle amber perfect a hundred-year-old
cure for fever or melancholy a tonic
for living on this earth in the winters of this climate

Today I was reading about Marie Curie:
she must have known she suffered from radiation sickness
her body bombarded for years by the element
she had purified
It seems she denied to the end
the source of the cataracts on her eyes
the cracked and suppurating skin of her finger-ends
till she could no longer hold a test-tube or a pencil

She died a famous woman denying
her wounds
denying
her wounds came from the same source as her power

– Adriene Rich, Power

 

Citalopram Side-Effects

Soooo, I’ve been taking Celexa/Citalopram for 6 months now. Two months ago we increased my dose to 40 mg/day because I was sufferring badly with depression and anxiety symptoms.

Two weeks after handing in my thesis, I had a PHQ-9 score of 11 and a GAD-7 score of 14, flagging up as moderate depression and moderate generalised anxiety. I was having crying boughts/hysterics every day, nightmares *every* night and what I now know is “sleep maintenance insomnia”, which is where you wake up in the small hours of the morning and are unable to get back into (a deep) sleep. I couldn’t make any decisions and trying to plan anything resulted in my mind going completely blank with fear and dread. Alternatively, my mind would get stuck in a loop of a list of all the things I have to do and the order in which to do them. So I’d decide “first this then that, then the other thing….” ending up with a massive list and yet being unable to complete even the “simplest” first task on the list, which would be something like “get out of bed” or “put on clothes” or “clean teeth”.

After upping the the dose to 40 mg, these problems slowly subsided, particularly the anxiety-type symptoms, only to be replaced with crushing anhedonia. This alleviated after two to three weeks of being on the higher dose. After that time, I started my new job at the RCN (which is going really well by the way!).

Turns out I am capable of getting up in the morning, doing the London commute (only by avoiding the Central line entirely!), and turning up to work *on time*. Turning up on time was emphatically NOT something I was capable of whilst doing the PhD, to the point that I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to manage it on the job. So, winning so far.

Once at work, I can make polite/friendly conversation and LEARN NEW THINGS. Yes!

AND…. *drumroll please*…. NOT dick about on Facebook/Wordpress/Tumblr/the Internets in general aaaaall day. Again, not my strong suit whilst doing the PhD. This equals win number 3.

So, it’s sounding good, right?

The downsides are:

  1. Still suffering the with sleep maintenance insomnia
  2. Still suffering with nightmares/bad dreams
  3. Being so tired when I get home after work that I basically go straight to bed. I didn’t used to be a bed-by-9pm gal. This has affected my plans for working on my thesis/reading papers for a couple of hours every evening, which is really, really bad given how close my viva is.
  4. Libido, what libido? Squishy has been like “sex? pretty please?” and I’m like “nah, not really feeling it”. This is SO UNLIKE me, you don’t even know! I haven’t even felt inclined to masturbate. Sad, sad times.
  5. Rapid weight gain. I’ve gone up to a size 18 for my jeans, which I noticed round about Christmas, and when I weighed myself for the first time in months, turns out I’ve gained over a stone (14 lbs for you Americans). That is a lot to gain in the space of a few months.

Guess who’s going back to her GP! Perhaps once her viva is out of the way…

 

Hope you find what you’re looking for at the end of the desert

Sir Terry Pratchett awakens. A skeleton stands at his bedside, wearing a long black robe. He sits up. “Well, hang on, let me get my hat,” he tells it.

The skeleton reaches into its robe. From abyssal depths it produces a heavy book bound in sheets of lead and night. It is the kind of book that gets stolen by a rugged adventurer from a temple with more spike-traps than the average house of worship contains. It is the kind of book to which the word “tome” might properly be applied. Frost forms on its pages from the lingering chill of the void.

The skeleton coughs once and holds the book out to the man sitting on the bed.

WOULD YOU SIGN THIS? it asks. BIG FAN.