Depression, Anxiety and Meds

So, where to start? Big news first I guess. As of today I’m on an anti-depressant for the first time in my life. I have a feeling I should have looked into it months ago. As you might have guessed from the previous couple of posts, things are not so great in my head at the moment.

(Apologies, this is going to be long, rambly and possibly incoherent. I need to rant today.)

Mind you, they’ve not been great for a while. Kinda seems like I just swing from one crisis to the next, you know? There’s no denying the PhD’s been hell every step of the way, but also I am a terrible procrastinator? Or a lazy fuck? Who can’t be arsed? Who is making excuses for her own failings, when she should just. be. working. already. for. fuck’s. sake.

And yet, if I said those things to a friend who was struggling to work, I would be a horrible person, so why the hell am I accusing myself of those things? I think this might be a serious case of the Sneaky JerkBrain? Because only a Sneaky JerkBrain would think that being a jerkoff douchecanoe will help motivate me? Because what I really need right now is a bag of guilt pulling at my heels at every step? Continue reading

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A note on “normal” for depressed folks

Whelp, I dug up the test used here, and got a score of 27. So it’s probable I am actually still depressed about the whole PhD situation. Coupled with what I think is moderate anxiety, and yeah, I need to go see my GP. I think this time I will be asking for meds, because seriously, fuck this, this isn’t normal.

Book of Jubilation

I grew up in a culture of relative stoicism. We’re the people who always reply to, “How’re you?” with, “Fine, thanks.” Fine was code for, “There is no immediate emergency.” You only ommitted fine if there was something your questioner needed to leap up and do right away: “The house is on fire.” “I’m wet and freezing cold and need a towel and a lukewarm bath.” “An axe-murderer is chasing me up the walk, shut the door.” Otherwise you don’t make a fuss—you’re okay. You’re doing well. You’re hanging in. We’re all fine here. How are you?

My family’s trying to break this trend, but oh, it’s hard. We have the hideous urge to downplay and gloss over, to appear strong and keep from alarming other people. It can be hard to leave each other the spaces to elaborate: I’m fine, but. It takes courage to squeeze more words out.

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Jesus fucking H Christ, my supervisor is an idiot!

Just have to put this out here. Where I’d been accusing my supervisor of not getting back to me with comments, he had prepared comments and MANAGED NOT TO SEND THEM.

I THINK THAT IS WORSE THAN SEEMINGLY IGNORING ME.

This would not be the first time he’s convinced himself he sent an email when in fact he hadn’t. A prime example of that would be when I emailed to say I was going off sick with stress for two weeks and he didn’t respond at all.

So, on top of him not sending his comments on my draft for over 6 weeks, when I finally got to read them tonight, one comment really took the biscuit.

Mmm, biscuit.
Sorry. Distracted.

He’d managed to claim that the thing that was my idea was actually his and that he’d told me to do it all along, when in truth, he’d opposed me from the beginning.

It needs a lot of backstory, apologies.

A long time ago, back in my first year of my PhD, Continue reading

Dealing with Emotions and Thesis Writing

I’ve been trying to pay attention to the meta aspects of my thesis writing process and I have discovered a thing that is making it extra difficult.

I do not like sitting with uncomfortable emotions.

I would rather avoid, avoid, AVOID! than pay attention to them and work through them in order to carry on with what I am supposed to be doing. It is a big contributor to the procrastination habits that mar my writing habits, the other big contributor being boredom. Continue reading

No more lab work – ever again!!! Thoughts on being a scientist.

Let’s just take a moment to savour the fact that I never *have* to do another science experiment ever again. No more Western blots, no more qPCR, no more tissue culture, and best of all, no more effing microscope experiments! I’ve cleared my lab bench, my shelves and drawers and my write up desk, and I’ve condensed my freezer space into one -20 drawer, two racks in the -80, and two boxes of cells in the liquid nitrogen store. I am so very glad that’s over with, so very glad. I never have to do another experiment again!!! 😀 😀 😀

Okay, so maybe it’s a little sad, I mean I have spent the last three and half years doing bench science, and I have no clue what I’ll be doing next, which is a little scary. On the other hand, no more frustration at doing everything perfectly and still have it fuck up for no discernible reason. Never again Continue reading

Things that are wrong with gradschool – or – how academia breaks people

Well this post here is the best thing I have read about the PhD ever. It completely sums up the issues I have been having with academia but as the author says, if I’d read it going in, I don’t think I would have believed it.

So one of the ways that a PhD breaks people is that it’s a huge task, where the final aim is extremely vague and there are often few meaningful intermediate goals. Brilliant student, you’re probably self-motivated and hard-working. Still, it’s pretty hard to stay motivated when you’re not getting any kind of feedback or sense of achievement, when you have no real deadlines on a timescale you can usefully think about. It’s research, so at some point it will get bogged down and you’ll spend many months or even years pursuing a dead end. Short-term student projects are carefully designed to give at least some kind of results in the few weeks available; actual research isn’t that predictable, which is good because the whole point of research is to investigate an unexplored area, but also pretty gruelling if you’re used to getting good results when you put in hard work. It’s not like working hard to complete an essay or project and being rewarded with good marks. You work hard, really really hard, and you often get no reward at all, you just realize you’ve been wasting your time.

 

This is what I couldn’t get my counsellor to understand the other day. Nevermind that my supervisor is often awful and that I’ve had a lot of personal and family stuff to deal with over these last four years*, this is the thing that has caused me problems over and over again. This, and chronic perfectionism. Continue reading

Loneliness and Heartache

I was planning on doing the chirpy up-beat thing on this blog for a while to encourage myself but I am failing miserably. I am lonely and it sucks. I am heartbroken and that sucks even more. I was wondering what’s the point in even blogging? It’s not like anyone reads this anyway, and if no-one reads what’s the point in putting it out there? I started this blog because I thought I had stuff worth saying but the PhD is hard, really hard, and so it is tough to find the energy to be creative with this blog of mine. So yeah, welcome to the pity-party. I am not in a good place right now, though I am sure it will get better at some point. Once the PhD is done and I have time to have a life again perhaps.

just-keep-swimming

I have been mainlining Grey’s Anatomy these last few days, and I should go to bed but the five year old in me insists she isn’t tired and it’s not time for bed yet. So I’m writing – rambling I should say. Continue reading

Life, blergh.

Just a quick note to say hi and that I haven’t forgotten you! Things have been super busy and stressful here. The ex-housemate situation I alluded to in a previous post is still causing me grief but there’s very little I can do about it until the tenancy is up. Long story short, I’m framing it as a friend-break-up, complicated by pantsfeelings and tentative poly shenanigans. The PhD work has been getting on top of me again too, partly because as well you know, my supervisor is a gigantic pain who cannot/will not read subtle body language and verbal hints. My work trip to Barcelona to see our collaborators was a strong success regardless but it means yet more work for me and my brain is panicking, going “nope, nope, nope” all the way to the Nope Rocket.

The Nope Rocket(@kingdomofwench & @louisathelast, via Captain Awkward)

I also have a lab meeting to present on Thursday, which while not uber-stressful, is one more thing to prepare for. Consequently I have been spending a lot of time in Excel and learning Prism’s GraphPad software (highly recommend it if you can get it free off your institution! But it is a learning curve).

Meanwhile, in my personal life, I also had my bike stolen the other week from outside my uni building. The scumbags did a proper number on the lock and rode off on it, managing to avoid the CCTV. That properly shook me up, and every time I walk past the bike rack, I expect it to have magically reappeared, which so isn’t going to happen. The combination of the bike, uni/work/PhD, friend-break-up and my partner having moved to the other end of the country is making me feel overwhelmed and very lonely. I have plenty of good acquaintances here but they are all PhD-associated, while my actual inner circle and family are also at the other end of the country. It sucks. It’s only for another month and a half, but still. Not pleasant. I have spent several nights crying into my pillow about all this, and my jerkbrain has been having an absolute field-day with it. It’s particularly enjoying stirring up trouble in my relationship with Squisher, by focusing on the what-ifs of the future and magnifying legit issues we need to deal with at some point into massive relationship-ending catastrophes. It then adds a helping of guilt and calls me crazy for worrying about things I don’t need to worry about right this second, and adds a side portion of “what if he leaves me?” insecurity and fear. God, I love being me sometimes.

 

The other thing is that I have not been finding as much joy in reading all the blogs as I did in the recent past. I am feeling burned out on the whole “Here be rape culture. Trigger Warning!” thing cluttering up my feed, and the “Academia sucks, bro! Here’s one weird tip that will land you a job for sure!” thing. I just don’t have the energy to care right now. It’s not that I don’t care but right now I cannot deal. On the one hand, I feel like I don’t have enough to read, and on other, it all feels the same and feels like a chore. I don’t look at my reader and go “goody, new stuff!”, I go “oh god, there’s tons I haven’t read yet, I’m falling behind!” Which again, not pleasant. Instead I’ve been bingeing on House, Grey’s Anatomy and Orphan Black and re-watching favourite movies like Billy Elliot, Lilo and Stitch and anything else Disney. I also watched Saving Mr. Banks the other week and I cannot recommend it highly enough. A heartfelt tear-jerker with a very interesting female lead character. Go watch it.

Much love