31 May 2013
If I was going to try and name what I feel like I'm going through I would say it is like slipping in to a sort of depression. Except it's not a depression that can be addressed with drugs or talk therapy. It's not a secret that human beings can only handle a certain level of stress and then they start acting funny. That's how I feel. I'm incredibly stressed and overwhelmed and I feel out of my depth, like a faker, as if I have an impossible task ahead of me, a failure before I've truly begun. I attended something or other a while ago that told us that something like 40% of all PhD students suffer from some sort of depression. I am familiar with some of this as I have watched some of my fellow students plummet into what I can only call a depressive and dark place. And in all honesty, I have not particularly equated my own feelings of rising stress with the same. But in fact this morning it seems relatively clear to me now that this is what is going on.
But what can be done about it? It's really rather ridiculous. I can't seek help to get my work done. I can't go faster, and I have all the time in the world (although my funding will run out, it's not exactly like something terrible happens if I don't finish by a certain time). So I have everything I can have, but it's not good enough. I am panicked. I am stressed. I am struggling. And this causes me to desire caring and assistance. Which I have also fairly obviously objectified into the form of a mysterious (and non-existent) partner.
I suppose in some ways it's all very textbook but it doesn't make the experience of going through it any less real. I am stressed. I am on edge. I feel needy. Because I am in a sort of trouble and the only immediate relief that I can imagine is that of someone else offering me.... solace? Comfort. Solidarity. Someone else to pick up some part of this massive burden and assure me that I can do this, that I will get through it, and again in an informative sort of way, to let me know that I am not alone. Because I suppose that's a hallmark of depression, be it chemically brain induced or self induced. You start to plummet to a point where you just feel alone. And when you are stressed or upset or unhappy, being alone is not necessarily a very nice place to be. In other circumstances, I'm very happy being alone. This is not one of them.
I wonder how long this is going to last? If this is my emotional template for the next six months? I can see quite easily how it might be. Fuck but it's unpleasant.
By Kopaylopa at 9:24 AM
30 May 2013
I've been thinking about writing which I suppose is a good thing. Or it's really not a value thing at all, it's just a thing. I haven't felt too much like writing for some time but suddenly I feel a lot like writing. And I can even tell you why. It's because I feel I have no one else to talk to.
This is not, actually, true. I have many people I can talk to. Many very good friends cultivated over many years who would probably be very happy to talk to me. But maybe this thing with S of the not-making-time-for-me-in-Chicago-and-not-talking-to-me-about-godparents has gotten to me. In fact I know it has. But add to that that my next best friend here just got engaged and has all sorts of stuff going on in her life anyway means I don't really feel like just dumping on her and anyway, it's not that I want to dump on someone. This is part of the problem. If I just needed someone to talk to, I have people to talk to. What i want is someone who WANTS to talk to me and that is actually something that is very different.
This has been thrown up to the surface by my continual perusal of dating sites and the never ending dismay that I do not have a boyfriend or any current hopes of one. I feel lonely is what it boils down to. Lonely for someone I can build a life with, not just a friend who has their own lives that take precedence. And that's the rub of it I suppose. I want to be one of the most important things to someone. And reflexively I wouldn't mind making someone else my most important thing. But right now it's just me. And I'm lonely.
Although I'm not lacking for things to do. That's for fucking sure. I have so much to do and I'm so awful at getting it done. This probably also is fueling this loneliness issue because if I had someone who really cared about it me and was intimately involved in my life, maybe I'd feel a bit more ashamed about my procrastination or to put it in a different way, I know that I perform much better when I have someone expecting something from me and that could be filled by a partner. Although I realize that sounds like an entirely selfish reason for wanting a partner. Though isn't not wanting to be lonely in general a selfish thought? I don't really care. Like I said, I'd be very happy to provide the counterpoint- to alleviate someone else's loneliness.
So anyway, here's the thing. I may start writing here a lot more. Mainly because I need a place to dump some shit out of my head. Not that most of it's going to be very interesting, in fact, I suspect it won't be. But I need a connection- a deeper connection to something. And I can say whatever I want to myself (and the few of you who stumble by on occasion). That's how I started writing in an journal in the first place. I think I haven't felt an urge to dump my brain for some time but suddenly the urge seems larger. Probably because I'm procrastinating. But that's okay. It doesn't matter why. It only matters if it helps.
By Kopaylopa at 4:13 PM
19 May 2013
I'm about halfway through my annual trip home. I've been in Chicago, now I'm in DC and in two days I'm off to NY. I've seen a lot of people. I've gotten a little bit of work done. In fact I need to do some more work and writing this is in part a bit of procrastination on my part but I'll do another 'pomodoro' when I'm done.
So there's no point in trying to make sense of everything. I just need an outlet and space to get some thoughts out of my head in in particular order. Though I suppose I should start with the farthest away and work closer. My Chicago family. My time with them was good, but also frustrating. It was interesting to me because when my step-mother and two aunts came to visit me last year we had a really good time and generally got along well. But this trip was a sort of slow and organized chaos. First of all, my one uncle was particularly difficult. My dad was mostly okay, and my other uncle was mostly okay, but the other one was really cantankerous. He was snappish and nasty and quick to anger and raised his voice quickly. This stressed me out. My Aunt was also having a difficult time as she's at the front end of some chemotherapy. She's usually the one who wants to get up and get us all out and doing something (which is not at all an easy task) but she was also tired and not feeling great. So she kept complaining that we needed to go do something without particularly helping to deliver us all doing something. I mean, it's not easy given that half the group has no interest in doing anything at all, and even if you could convince people to go do something, the other people would be adamantly opposed to going to do it. So it's not a task that I envy, but the constant complaining about it didn't help make it better and only added another level of stress.
I did get to have a nice lunch in the city with my cousin and that was really really nice. I'm glad that we have had a chance to get to know each other better as he has gotten older. There's a chance that he'll do a semester abroad next year perhaps and he may try to come over to London to visit the girl who is doing it this year and he can stay with me then as well. I have so little family that I'm close to, and even less that is close to my age (not that he's close to my age, but I only have 2 first cousins and he's one of them) so I'm really pleased that we seem to be building a relationship though I'm aware I need to put more effort into reaching out to him as I can't really expect him to be the one doing it. I'm older. I should be setting an example.
Anyway. I got to see two friends which was great fun. My family doesn't give me a hard time if I want to go see my friends. This is very different from how the next part of my trip will be with my mother when every time I want to see a friend will be complained about and argued about. So one of my friends I got to see twice and it was great to see her. But the other friend... well. I can only think about it in this way. Once upon a time, I had a conversation with a friend of mine who was very upset and she said something about how I was her 'best friend'. And this really took me aback because I was shocked that I was her best friend, because it was very clear to me that she was not my best friend. I mean, she was a friend of mine, but not my best friend. And I felt this imbalance very keenly. At any rate, one of the people I intended to see this trip, in fact, the person whose schedule dictated the planning of this trip, is the same person who has made me feel like the wrong end of that story up there. She's one of my best friends. I had bought my tickets and sent her my itinerary before she bought her tickets. We overlapped in Chicago by only a day and in DC for only a couple of days. And in the end I've seen her for only a couple of hours, and then at a party where I saw her very little (though it's hard at a part, I admit). Still, I felt quite strongly that I got the short end of the stick on her time and attention. And I didn't like it. She can email me to say she's spending time with someone else and doesn't want to put -her- out but it's okay to put -me- out? And to continue with my petty train of thought, the same person I got ditched for is the same person who magically ended up being named god-mother to the baby. Well. I suppose it tells me what I need to know, but I'm not going to say it doesn't hurt. When the person you think is your best friend shows you that they aren't.
On a completely different tangent I had my dad make some rude comment about a picture I put up of myself on facebook which I knew was not the most flattering but I thought was funny. And my step-mother making some odd comment about my weight and exercise and no one needs to be told in not quite so many words that they are either a)fat or b)ugly. It's not nice and it makes me feel bad and grumpy and there really isn't loads more to say about it other than that.
I had an awesome day yesterday with two married gay friends who cooked me an amazing brunch and then we went for a kick-ass meal at what they tell me is the best restaurant in DC (Komi). And that was lovely and they are always tremendous fun to see and catch up with and eat delicious food with. So that was definitely a highlight.
I also went shopping with my step-mother in Chicago and managed to get 2 pairs of jeans and some other stuff so that was a positive. I'm not saying there haven't been positives on the trip, but it's the accompanying bad stuff that builds up alongside with it that makes it hard to be relaxed or enjoy the holiday. I just feel stressed and anxious and oddly angry a lot. It probably hasn't helped that I've had my period but I can't blame that for everything.
I feel like being with my family makes me an angry person. I don't think I am generally an angry person, and I would have been angry about the friend situation in any case. But I see that I'm particularly angry while I'm here. Anger that comes as a response to stress.
And of course on top of everything I keep fielding questions about how the PhD is going and what am I going to do afterwards and that's sort of crappy as well. I know that it's pretty much the only thing people can ask me, but it's the absolute wrong thing to ask a PhD student. And I don't want to talk with random strangers about how I'm thinking about whether or not I want to be a single parent soon because I think there's a limited time window left for this sort of thing and so that will probably dictate some of my job seeking interests after the PhD. No, I'd be happy to discuss that with one of my good friends who knows me well but it feels a bit personal to be dumping that on to strangers. And on top of which through the random arena of social media someone I know made a comment (not to me I might add but just in general) which tells me that they wouldn't probably approve of my desire to have a child in my early 40's. I've fielded one friend expressing their opinion (directly) that they didn't think being a single parent was particularly acceptable and so here's another saying that being an older parent isn't particularly acceptable. And while I do generally not care about these opinions in the sense that I believe each person is entitled to their own and only an individual can decide what is truly right for them, it does make me sad if I think that I would lose the support or respect of my friends if I make decisions they strongly don't agree with.
Although lets be honest, I probably do that all the time and I don't lose their love or support, it's just that they have the good sense to talk to each other about it and not to me and I'm generally none the wiser. It's the knowing part that's less pleasant.
Anyway. That's most of what's going on in my head at the moment. It's really quite a lot. And on top of which, I set myself a target of doing one hour of work a day while I'm away and I've only managed to do about half an hour of work a day so far which just isn't good enough. The entire sum of this is to say, this isn't a relaxing holiday at all. I'm having good moments, and I'm happy to see friends and family, but it comes with a large cost and emotional stress and while I'm here away from my own place and network and life I feel perhaps much more susceptible to these energies when I am more adrift and less grounded.
By Kopaylopa at 11:25 PM