28 October 2013

(Barely) Holding it together

I've finished the work I wanted to do today, and it's been a fairly tumultuous day, which included a long venting session to a friend but then more stuff happened and I figured I'd use this opportunity of my head being on the verge of exploding to write a blog post.

The most overwhelming thing in my life right now is that I am writing up my thesis.  I have 30,000 words so far which is probably about 33% of the thesis.  Most of that is the work I could do without analysis of data.  I've now taken a break from writing to focus on data analysis.  As that takes shape, I'll put it into the thesis, but the analysis needs to be done before I can write it, so that's what I'm doing just now.

There is a lot of pressure on me to try and get a full first draft by the end of the year.  This is very stressful because while it is two months away, you could also say, it is only two months away.  I've been working on the thesis properly from the beginning of September.  By that standard, it took two months to write 1/3 so another two months will only result in another 1/3 and not a complete draft.  On the other hand, once I get the analysis done and start writing up the results, most of that isn't referenced so the writing can go a lot faster.

There are other pressures about the end of the year in regards to the thesis.  Mainly that it's the four-year mark for my work and that comes with a number of problems.  The main one being you aren't supposed to go over four years.  Although it doesn't really affect me too badly, it's just additional pressure and may come with some minor problems that are mostly paperwork.  It's annoying for any number of reasons that I'm behind and late as I really strongly dislike being either to a level that I don't think I can adequately express.  It's not normal.  I feel panicked- like a tightness in my chest, when I think about it.  I really don't like being behind or late.  It stresses me out more than I think it does other people.  And obviously it's not helping my general situation.

But lets leave the thesis aside for a moment and concentrate on other issues.

I'm doing some teaching, which is great, because I love teaching, and also I could use some extra money.  But teaching requires time and I don't have time because any time I do anything else is time away from the thesis.  Most of the teaching is okay at this point in that, I don't need to do too much prep for it.  But I just got a new teaching thing that I do need to do some prep for and it's taking time and so it's making me stressed.

Continuing down the list, I got an email today from the director of one of the courses I teach on to say that his sabbatical for next year has been approved.   This is good news because they want me to fill in for the associate director who would fill in for him.  This is bad news because the job would start in January and so we're back to the thesis problem.  This creates huge pressure on me for getting a full draft done by the end of the year.  People don't like to hire you unless you can prove you have a good working draft, especially if you're at the 4-year mark.  I don't want to lose this job because I haven't finished the thesis, but there is nothing I can do about it except work my ass off trying to get the thesis done.  Oh, but to apply for this job, I need to stop working on my thesis and update my CV which is hopelessly out of date just now.  So that's not entirely helpful either.

Although this is important of course because I have no job and no income and so I'm starting in on my savings.  To be fair, I have enough savings to last me at least next year if I had to, but the whole 'don't have a job' thing is actually a pressing problem and one I can't entirely put off either just because I'm working on my thesis.

During the past month I've also been doing another cycle of egg freezing.  I suppose I could have put that off for a time when I was less stressed but that process comes with it's own stress.  I'm 39 now and every month I let go past is a month my fertility is disappearing.  So it wouldn't stress me out less to wait.  So I just went ahead with it.  The retrieval procedure is tomorrow morning, so that's good because then that will pretty much be it, but it's been stressful, adding to my general stress levels, and oh yeah, that means I'm not really working tomorrow. 

Today I also got an email from the journal where I had previously had an abstract accepted for a special issue.  I worked for months getting that article ready and submitted and today I found out that it was rejected.  That was deeply disappointing for any number of reasons.  While it's not adding to my stress in the sense that, I'm so busy there's nothing I can do about it right now (like submit it to another journal after trying to address some of the reviewers points).  It is stressful because if it has been published it would have given a certain level of authority to my thesis.  So what this has done is knock my confidence completely that my thesis is even worthwhile.  I know part of this is not good thinking.  The thesis has a lot more justification and information than I could squeeze into an article and I know that a number of the reviewer points are addressed in the larger thesis.  Still, it's worrisome.  And disappointing.  And really a bit upsetting.  Which isn't what I needed at the moment.

And if all this work stuff wasn't enough going on, I'm having mental gymnastics over a guy I've had a date with and been emailing.  I think this guy has potential.  And I'm interested in him, which to be honest, I'm really not interested in most people I meet.  But what has this done?  It's made me entirely insecure.  He's been away for the week for work where he didn't have internet access and was supposed to come back yesterday.  I know he teaches all day on Monday, so I suspect I'll get an email from him tonight as he's supposed to email me to arrange to meet up this week.  But, as I'm feeling insecure, I now am wearing a groove in my mental dialogue about how he's going to say he's not interested, and he wasn't attracted to me, and he doesn't see a possibility for us to date which will be an unpleasant sort of rejection.  I know I"m projecting slightly, but I can't entirely keep those thoughts out at the moment.

I barely have the mental capacity to do anything just now.  I honesty don't know how I'm getting anything done except I get up every day, and just put one foot in front of the other metaphorically speaking and am just getting on with things.  Because I don't see not doing that as an option.  And anyway, there isn't anything else I can do. 

However, it's incredibly stressful.  I'm not sure I have ever been quite so stressed before.  Earlier this year it manifest itself as depression.  I don't think I have the capacity to even be depressed just now.  My flatmate came home and I told her about the paper and she asked me if I cried about it and I was a bit startled by the question because I don't think I have the capacity to stop and have any emotions about much of anything right now.  Except of course, raging insecurity about internet guy.  I think I am just barely holding things together.  I don't know what it's going to be that shoves me over the edge, but I feel hyper alert, because it could be anything.  I mean how many things can one person bloody deal with at once?  I really don't want to be the person who tests this question.

Anyway.  I haven't even read this as I've written it.  It's come out as a massive torrent of words.  Usually when I do this sort of purging writing I feel better.  Right now, I don't feel anything.  Except maybe a slight headache.  And I need to go make some dinner.  And maybe I'll do some knitting to try and relax. And not check my email wondering why internet guy hasn't gotten in touch yet.

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