Sunday, 16 August 2015

Summer Developments

I know, I know, it;s been a long time since the last post.  I seem to have spent the Spring (and most of the Summer) in the grip of depression and anxiety.  On the plus side, I now have a therapist who was able to actually point out to me that I do actually fit diagnostic criteria for pretty severe anxiety.

(Me: But I don't really feel anxious unless I do something like try to work or talk to someone, and I don't get panic attacks.
Him: So, do you avoid doing any of this long list of things?
Me: Oh yeah, pretty much all of them. The thought of them is terrifying.
Him: Yeah. That's anxiety.
Me: *Lightbulb* Ooooooh, so I'm actually just so awesome at avoidance that I don't even notice I'm doing it any more? Wow, my brain fucks me over in some interesting ways...)

This has been...interesting and kind of awesome in that now I'm learning how to recognise feelings of anxiety instead of just...oh, I have an overwhelming desire not to do that thing that I was planning to. Unfortunately, the internet has provided no magic ways to get over this, except CBT and graduated exposure - which kind of condenses down to 'get the fuck up and get over it (but, you know, over time)  and you might just have to accept living in a degree of discomfort for ever. But hey, you'll notice it less as you go on to do even MORE uncomfortable things'. 

So, I've been trying to do more things, and notice what my brain is veering away from and seeing if I can redirect it.  Which is useful but also exhausting because it adds an extra level of fighting myself.

(Apparently one thing I need to get used to the discomfort of is letting myself exist in social situations. So I'll start with the internet, post a few things and then maybe actually tell more than one person that this blog exists.)

The other thing I need to get into is the habit of writing.  Expressing myself is one of the things that I've slowly let dwindle away - honestly, it's much easier to say nothing or focus on being utterly unremarkable than risk venturing an opinion or being creative...and that's a line of thought that I've been following for years.  And of course, because I rarely risk it, I never learn to get over that fear of exposure - putting myself out there (where ever that somewhere is) where another actual person could have an opinion about me or my words. 

Why yes, I do need to write a 100,000 word thesis in the next two years.  And publish papers in journals. And speak at conferences in front of people I would like to be able to consider as peers. 

These things cannot exist together.  So, either I suck it up, retrain my brain and fear reflexes and learn to live with discomfort, or the PhD I've been working towards for 5 years will turn out to be a pipedream.

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