Thursday, November 29, 2012

Feeling the descent

Imagine, if you can, feeling yourself descend into madness.
You love (ok, maybe not love right this minute, I am in grad school) your job. You are passionate about your field of study. You wanted this.  You want this.
And every damn morning you have to convince yourself to get out of bed. You have to convince yourself that slitting your wrists is actually NOT what you want to do.  That, yes, it would get you out of a few days of work.... but it would potentially ruin the rest of your life. Every day this inner struggle to get up and go do the thing you love.
Now imagine being paranoid to tell anyone about it.  Because they will want to commit you.  They may want you to stop work.  They may want to take actions that would take away the things you love.  You know that the angel can beat the demons.... but they are not confident enough in you.  Besides... you know exactly how to slit your wrists so as to cause damage, but not death. You know the enemy.... you just can't defeat him.
You get to work and can barely do anything for fear of screwing something else up.  But inaction is just as bad as mistakes. So you can't win.  You have to continually subject yourself to a situation where the losses will far outnumber the wins... and your brain is already skewed to make any loss greater than a win anyways.  Seriously, just getting to work is a triumph.  But it is not enough.  You *know* this. But you can't seem to get your brain to be convinced of it.
Every morning you wake up to a partner who loves and cherishes you.  It is the amazing love of someone who understands.  Someone who will not judge.  Plus the undying love of a pet who thinks the sun rises and sets with you.  Yet you feel alone and isolated.  You feel adrift, disconnected. You know you are loved yet you yearn for...what?
It is a cloud that rolls in over your brain.  You feel as if you are working through a fog, or running in sand. You know you need to act... but deep down you just don't care. What is the point? Sure, you may have a good day tomorrow or the day after.  And then what?
The light at the end of the tunnel is not a fixed point, it moves, retreats, advances.  It teases you, encourages you, and then flits away like a firefly.
And then you begin to wonder....why is a raven like a writing desk?
And you yearn for tea....
You watch yourself go through this, unable to stop it. Knowing and not knowing, helping and unable to help. Is it better to know you are mad? Maybe.  But it is not easy to embrace the madness when you know. 
The only thing knowledge may do is stop you from slamming your head around when that is all you want to do. The knowledge contains but never controls the monster in your head. It would be easier to embrace the monster, to let it rule, than to have to keep constant vigil. 
So who is really more sane:  The individual who embraces the insanity?  Or the one who hides it?
The never ending battle takes its' toll on the field. The field becomes no longer green and lush.  No longer able to support life. The tears and craters in the earth are an assault on something that does not chose sides, only favors. The fog rolls in, obscuring the damage, but it is still there.
If only there were a true way to tame the beast.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Shouting in my sleep, I need a muzzle.

One would think that sleep would be an escape. After all that is why people sleep so much when stressed, right?
Well what happenes when even in your dreams you are screaming, crying, and having panic attacks? How are you supposes to get through your days when you can't even get through your nights without your brain breaking down and begging you to quit? I mean my psyche was just flipping out last night. I was having intense crying jags, panic attacks, and seriously considering a medical leave of absence in my dreams. Really, it doesn't make for positive, productive days. And it is not like Sunday is really a work day.
Even once I got out of the panic dream loop I was still stressed and panicked in the dream (apparently I need to watch less Wizards of Waverly place).
I need restful sleep, not more stressful sleep.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Where/When the hell am I?

Its like when you are exhausted and sleeping in a strange bed.  You wake up and have a moment of  "Where the hell am I?!?"
Only it happens when you are awake.
And it is freaking weird.
Seriously, I just had a momentary freak out as I looked around my work place and for a nanosecond had no freaking clue where I was. My stomach lurched, I started to panic, and I looked around trying to find some clue until my brain finally was like  "...wait... this.  Sorry, boss."
Last week, after a grueling mental thought session (SHUT UP! THINKING HARD! BURNS CALORIES!), I was driving around town and part of my brain SWORE I was in Mississippi, not in Texas.  It was like my eyes were taking in Texas, part of my brain was navigating around Texas, and the other part of my brain was like "Isn't Mississippi wonderful?  I am so happy to be here! I love this town". But... I know that the place it was remembering is not the same today as it was 4+ years ago when I lived there. And when my fiancee tried to explain where this alcoholic slushee place was I was trying to figure out where the road was and I couldn't because Mississippi and Texas don't coexist on a map!... so I had to sit and convince that part of my brain that it was freaking lost in time and space.
Not a pleasant discussion to have with yourself. (also, probably indicative that alcoholic slushees are a bad idea, at least for the immediate time being)
Apparently though, it does happen.  I have a friend who, occasionally, swears she gets lost in time.  She doesn't know WHEN she is. We joke and just say she is a woman ahead of her time.  But, honestly, it is a creepy feeling to know exactly where you are.... but not sure about when you are.
Its not quite the dissassociative disorder thing.  You are still a part of your body, and capable of interacting with things.  You just feel like the guy from Quantum Leap, only you are not used to that shit so it is really freaky.   
At least de ja vu is cool.  This is just plain freaky.
Though if I could Quantum Leap out of grad school that would be AWESOME!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Why me?

Finally got to have a little sit down to plan out my work to try and graduate. And, of course, I got the you need to work more/harder. That I need to be in the lab earlier. Well, sorry but sometimes early in the morning it is freak out time. I just kinda wig out, I have never, ever claimed to be a morning person.
But everyone else gets into work around 10am. And they leave at 5. With a one hour lunch break.
I get in, on a bad day, around 11. I leave around 6. And I am usually too stressed to eat lunch.
So why am I expected to work 10 hour days? I one else does.
I just wish I could explain that working 10 hour days is going to make things worse, not better?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Why did we not do this SOONER!!

OK.  My boss wants to save money. I understand.  I spent about 5 months trying to fix two little tings wrong with my research.  5. Months. Since January. Doing it his preferred way.
I just fixed both problems in about a week and a half doing it the easy way.
Really?  We could not have done it the easy way a few months ago when we were under a time crunch? 
Science hates me, I swear.
Also, the expensive machine I need for only 3 hours has decided it doesn't want to work right now. 
I would like not to work right now too.
Asshat machine.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Facebook...not supposed to be a drama farm once you are out of Jr High

Ok.  So I generally try to keep my Facebook drama/troll free.  I have friends, and yes we disagree politically, but we agree not to start shit.  We all know, mostly, where the lines are and unless we are teasing, try not to start pointless arguments that will just leave us pissed.
SO, yesterday I posted a picture of Irena Sendler, who worked to save over 2500 kids from the Warsaw ghetto. With the picture was commentary about how she deserved the Nobel Peace Prize, for which she was nominated, more than Al Gore or Barack Obama.  Which is true. Al Gore won for an over bloated, not entirely scientific power point, and Obama won it for being....well... himself.  Obama won on the premise that he was going to bring peace to the world and give every child a kitten. 
Normal stuff for me.  I don't overly vett my Facebook, cause it is fun commentary.  Not to mention I have no problem admitting when I am wrong. 
Now, I generally DON'T friend professors I actually know on Facebook.  I have some academic crushes I friend, because I am a nerd. But if I know you from class or around the department, no Facebook friend.  But apparently I was feeling generous one day when Facebook suggested her as a friend and I was like "Sure. why not. She's not too crazy."
So she like ATTACKS me saying that Global Warming is REAL (not), that a majority of the scientific community agrees with it (not), and lists why the Nobel gave the awards (geo-political social commentary was the *real* reason). And she sums it up with "I am disappointed in you".  
Excuse me?
You are what?
Are you my mother?
So... that kinda trips a little trigger I have.  I volley back a few points of my own, ask if we are going to start citing wikipedia, and point out that the Nobel have no place making political commentary. Not their job. 
She writes back but I'm busy know... work (which...why is she not doing work?).
Now look.  I love my Momma.  But she is right wing crazy. She accuses my professor of drinking the Kool-aid, they exchange some leftist-right wing traditional banter/talking points, and I look for places to hide. 
At the advice of my fiancee I shut it down.  Not knowing how to pull the plug on ALL THAT CRAZY I actually unfriended the professor and just deleted all the comments.  Hence why there are no direct quotes. 
So... I actually managed to handle most of it without hyperventilating or having a panic attack.  Though I am still waiting for my PI to come up and say something.  Luckily he is older and so not into the Facebook thing. I hope if she does say anything to him about it he would tell her he doesn't care. 

And if anyone reading this totally believes global warming, I have two words for you: dinosaur farts. 
Seriously.  I can't take that field seriously if that is a legitimate topic of discussion. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Did that really just happen....?

I.... I just had a professor start a freaking FACEBOOK FIGHT with me?!  What the HELL just happened?!?
The woman has a DVM/PhD and started a fucking teenage worthy political facebook fight with me!

I... I need time to process this shit and I will totally tell you about it.

But really?

She even pulled out the "I am disappointed in you" card.  Really?  On Facebook?

I just had to unfriend a professor because she started shit fight on Facebook. 

I need a drink.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I want OUT

I want a divorce from my PI.
Seriously. He can keep the house, the car, the boat, the whatever.
I want my degree, the dog, and the fuck out!

Seriously, the last bit of the grad experience is the want to completely sever the relationship, burn the bridge, and never talk to the fucker again.

Unfortunately said fucker still has to write you letters of recommendation.  Damn it.

I just want a job!  With dental! And for people to call me Dr.  And to never have to listen to this man say things again that may hugely impact my career or ability to have one. So I ask for too much here?

I want a damn life where I am not so paranoid or anxious.  I don't want to have to feel the need to hide in the bathroom anytime he walks in the door.  I am tired of constantly feeling like I am going to hurl anytime I think he just walked into the lab.

Mostly I am tired of having to portray this person I think he wants to see.  I am not an idiot.  I do stupid things sometimes, but who doesn't.  I am tired of feeling like he is arguing and testing me all the time.   

I am tired of wanting to punch him in the face.  He is not a complete ass-hat.  Note: I said he is not a COMPLETE ass-hat.  He still has plenty of ass-hat to be considered an ass-hat.  The ass-hat.

But right now he is being a huge Ass-hat and the ass-hattery needs to end.  Or have an end point.


Monday, May 7, 2012

"You need to get worried"

This is the worst possible sentence to EVER say to someone who has an anxiety disorder.  Please, mister, I am already worrying.  I am an Olympic Athlete at worrying. What I need to do is chill out so that I can WORK.

Guess what my boss loves to say to me every 3 or 4 months?  Yes.  He tells me that I need to ramp it up, that I need to start worrying, that I need to work like a maniac.  Ummm... I am already slightly manic.  I don't think increasing that is going to make it better.

Let me explain: Most people know the performance bell curve.

When you are not worried at all you do horribly. Your anxiety starts, you start performing a little better.  You eventually reach an optimal worry/performance peak.( I think this picture is VERY generous with the optimal performance zone.  I am pretty sure mine is much smaller than that. )
Then you start to crash out.  Your anxiety makes you start making stupid little mistakes.  Mistakes you may or may not catch that, over time, will result in failure.  Not only failure of what you are trying to do, but also personal burn out.  Sleeping for an obscene amount of time.  Stress eating, or not being able to eat at all.  The delightful "nervous stomach". Inconsolable crying or other fun emotional swings. This is the right side of the optimal bell curve.  It is a horrible neighborhood with mean kids and where the old people yell at you about everything.   Trick or treating here blows.
I live just to the right of "optimal".  If I want optimal, I have to chill out and relax. Which is a counterintuitive thing to do in a world full of people who live left of optimal. Most people have to work up, get worried, get excited! CHANT! YELL! CHEER! BRING DOWN THE HOUSE!  Football pre-game would not be near as exciting if you had two teams meditating to soft, eastern style music with water features in the locker room.
But that is my life. You want me excited and optimally functional, do not, for the love of God, give me some scary pep talk.  I don't need to be pepped up.  I need to be talked down off a ledge.  You know those people they send in to get jumpers to come down?  THAT is how you need to talk to me.
And please, please DO NOT tell me that I need to worry more than I already do.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Music does not always sooth the savage beast...

I admit it- I was a pretty big classical music geek in grade school.  I took piano for like 12 years. I have a good appreciation for the classics.
I claim this mostly because I also have a sick love of a good bit of pop music, so I feel it gives me a little street credit.
Anyways, I like classic music. In my nerdier times I am all about turning to NPR, or making a classic station on Pandora. 
However, it seems that when my anxiety is the worst classical music agitates me.  Which is NO GOOD.  Namely because we have this very sweet older woman who plays NPR on her radio. Her radio, which is turned up so she....and others... can hear it.  Sometimes it seriously sounds like a creepy background music for some horror flick.
"So, they make these things... mp3 players, iPods, internet radio...".
Yea... see... sometimes, ok... many times I forget to charge my iPod.  And I can't carry my laptop around the lab with me trying to blast out NPR.
Sometimes, honestly, I just want some damn quiet. 
Mostly though I just get tired of feeling like I am working in a horror movie and waiting on the killer to sneak up behind me to slash my throat.
I blame Hollywood for using too many classic tracks as killer theme music.
Thanks boys.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Eye Contact

The summer before my 8th grade year my mom got a coupon in the mail for some discount karate lessons.  I am sure she thought it would get me exercise and learn to be self confident.  I thought it would be awesome to be a power ranger. So we both totally agreed I should take classes.
In one of the self defense lessons sensei told us that a great way to keep from being bullied was to walk with our head up, and eyes forward.  Making eye contact was a way to communicate that you were confident and not someone to be picked on.
Look, I trip up the stairs and over my own two feet walking on flat surfaces.  The reason I don't get hurt when I fall is because I have fallen so many times that I actually know *how* to fall. My looking down and around is more of a safety precaution than a statement about my self confidence.
Though, to be honest, I don't like to look people in the eye.  For some reason people have taken looking someone in the eye from meaning "I see you there and will not run into you/hit you with my car you jaywalking fool" to "Lets start a long conversations!".
No... no.  Looking you in the eye means we mutually acknowledge each others relative position in space and will not attempt to violate rules of physics by being in the same space at the same time.  It does NOT mean I want to talk to you and hear all about your week, your life, your...whatever.
However, because some people have gotten the rules mixed up I now get to play the "don't make eye contact" game when I am feeling anxious or depressed.  Namely because I am so busy focusing all my energy on acting "normal" that I really don't have much left over to be "normal AND in conversation".  Sorry.  But my output is only so much.  Plus, I am *really* trying not to trip over my own two feet.
In that same self confidence lesson we were learning how to get out of wrist grips.  I was paired with the teacher.  And I totally hit myself with my own fist getting out of a wrist grip.  See, I am a self hazard.

Monday, April 30, 2012

A Mouse Masquerading as a Mountain Lion

This blog is, in part, to honor and pay tribute to those who suffer from mental illness. 
This blog is, in part, to tell the story of one girl who refuses to be a victim to mental illness.
This blog is, in part, to all the masquerading mice out there.

Now, anyone who has met me would never accuse me of being a mouse. I excel at public speaking.  I can naturally assume leadership roles. I am not afraid to back down from a fight. I stand up and voice my opinion. When needed I will stand up and voice other people's opinion. I fight for myself. I fight for the underdog. I sit on committees with deans and presidents of the university. I am someone who would hardly be considered a mouse.

But I am a mouse.  A mouse masquerading as a mountain lion.

I have generalized anxiety disorder, that I feel is slowly worsening.  I may or may not have a little depression, the two are so close together.  The anxiety is worse. It maybe my fault.  After all, I am an introvert acting as an extrovert. I am a mouse going against all of my normal preferences.

Not that doing so is a bad thing.  There is nothing wrong with being able to communicate effectively to a large group.  There is nothing wrong with being able to lead.  There is nothing wrong with stading up for one's self and not being afraid to stand up for others.

But you have to be prepared for the possible problems that come with acting against your nature to a great degree.  Eventually the nature comes out. Eventually the mouse needs to run and hide.

This is the story about dealing with the life of a person who has to almost constantly act contrary to her nature.  But I have been doing this so long that contrary IS my nature, and maybe it always was.  So this is also the story about dealing with being someone who is constantly at odds with yourself.

A mouse and a mountain lion. way this CAN'T go wrong, right?