I know, I know, I said I wasn’t going to blog until I’d submitted the thesis but today has not been a good day. At all. Stream of consciousness coming up…
I have been on the verge of melt down pretty much for the entirety of today. I did an hour’s work this morning after I got up, which = win!
But then, oh then, the anxiety, fear and panic manifesting in the freeze response.
I’m not entirely sure how to describe this but there goes nothing.
It feels like a damn is about to burst and I am about to be drowned in panic. And in order to avoid that, I’m squashing it down as hard as I possibly can. So I’m aware there are all these really strong feelings just waiting to get out but because I can’t deal with that, I’m keeping a lid on the pressure cooker.
And instead my mind goes blank. I’ll stare at whatever’s in front of me but not really notice it. My eyes are unfocused and everythnig outside the tiny pinprick in the middle might as well not be there. I’m aware that I’m hunched up, tense, completely unable to relax, that I’d be in tears if I wasn’t keeping a lid on it. But I can’t do anything to stop it and make the feelings go away.
My breathing gets really slow and shallow with the occassional deeper gasp, and my throat feels constricted because every muscle in my body is so tense.
My muscles feel tingly-wierd, like I want to make some explosive movement but instead they’re frozen.
In fact my entire body is virtually frozen. Except there’s one little tell, somewhere, a twitchy foot, or a finger repetetively moving in cirles on my skin, or playing with a silky label.
(labels/clothing tags have been my comfort blanket since I was a small child. These days I carry a bit of ribbon in my pocket so I can fiddle with it when I think no-one’s watching. If I can get away with it, I’ll suck my thumb).
And when I freeze like that (and it happens quite a lot), when I feel as though I couldn’t move a muscle, time seems wierd. Like I have no idea how long I’ve been frozen. I don’t know if it lasts secons or minutes or as much as quarter of an hour. If I’m alone in a room, I will stay there for ages, but if I hear someone coming, I’ll move into a normal working position, so it looks like I’m doing something productive instead of having a melt-down.
I feel rather like Trinity in the first matrix film when she’s being chased by the agents. She lands on a floor, at the bottom of a staircase, haivng temporarily evaded them. She lies there winded, frozen, saying out loud to herself “Trinity, get up!” After what feels like forever she makes a desperate sprint to the ringing phone.
I feel stuck on that floor, unable to move even, though I know the threat is coming for me.
I want to fight, or to run, and I can’t do either.
I want to curl up into a ball and cry, but I can’t.
I tried this afternoon and fell alseep on the couch for an hour.
I “talked” to Squishy on the phone this evening. I say talked, I cried a lot, silently, trying and failing not to break down into a raggedy mess. Trying to keep my shit together.
In this state, is it any wonder I can’t string a scientific sentence together to save my life?
I was supposed to finish a rough draft of my General Discussion chapter today, along with the short discussion for Chapter 5.
All I’ve managed is one measely paragraph.
When things were bad before but I had time until the Ultimate Deadline, it wasn’t so bad, a single paragraph *was* progress.
But today, with essentially three days left to finish writing my:
- General Discussion Chapter
- Chapter Discussions for Chapters 4 and 5
- Chapter Introductions for Chapters 4 and 5
- Revamp my Modelling Section of Chapter 4 (nearly half the chapter!)
- Write *from scratch* half of Chapter 1: Introduction/Lit Review Chapter
…before I have to submitt something, anything, resembling a Thesis/Disseration,
one paragraph is just not enough. Nowhere near enough, and nothing you can say makes today any less of a disaster!
I’ve been trying to tell myself all day that it’s just a few more days of flat out writing, and then a couple of days to check it over, assemble it, print it and bind it before handing it, and then it will all be over.
But it is not helping.
It fundamentally doesn’t seem achieveable.
And it certainly isn’t going to be achieveable if I have ANY more days like today where my brain will not fucking co-operate to put some blasted words on paper.
It’s so unbelievably frustrating. Especially when yesterday was so productive. My Supervisor earned his keep for the first and last time yesterday, in four FUCKING years. I have lots of notes from our skype calls that yesterday made reasonable sense and that I thought would be, if not easy then possible to get down on paper just to fill the gaps and tick the boxes so I can redeem myself in the Viva.
And today, nothing. I looked at my notes on what to write for STAT3 and I just couldn’t form a single useful sentence from them.
I don’t have time for my brain to gang up on me like this!
I just want it done and out of my life for ever and ever and ever, and five years ago, when I was an undergraduate in my final year I could have churned this out in a weekend, no problem. I would have been stressed but it would have been the useful kind of stress that gives you the motivation to fight on, as opposed to this chronic stress that has mutated into anxiety, depression and burn-out.
I have spent so long facing situations I had no power to change or fight against that my physiology is all fucked up. I resort to the freeze response as my first port of call because for so long there has been no way to run away from it, and no way to fight it.
Telling me to just keep going, or pull my fucking finger out and crack on, just doesn’t help any more.
I just cried for 10 min, calmed down for another 10 min then spent over half an hour lying on the floor in savasana listening to music.
I feel a lot better.
That thing where you should really, really let your body complete the stress response.
I’m going to go with, “well that was rather unpleasant” as my statement for the day.
I’m also sticking with “god, my brain sucks”.
Life is hard enough right now without you, my darling brain, making it 50 times worse, thanks.
Hope you’re having a better go of the new year than me.
I’ll be back soon my dears
I have survived today and the world hasn’t ended. Baby steps, Nessie.