And It All Comes Crashing Down

Okay, so it’s not entirely crashed down, but this week has been pretty shitty.  And it’s only Wednesday!  At least I’m over the hump, right?

The quick recap:  Therapy Monday.  Insanely difficult.  High self harm urges.  I decided to stop for a 6 pack of beer on the way home and proceeded to drink most of it.  Then, around three AM, I decided in my drunken stupidity that I may as well just self-harm.  What could go wrong?

As it were, a lot could go wrong.  A lot of Tuesday was spent nursing a hangover and forcing myself to eat, not to mention the hours I spent at the Student Health Center.  I had a meeting with my new dietitian, then sat and waited in the health center for someone to see me.  They don’t even bother to look at my leg and make an appointment for me for later that afternoon.  I start freaking out over the fact that my appointment is really close to my two PM class, but the triage nurse assures me that there will be no problem and I will get to class on time.

Luckily, I thought ahead while I was sitting and waiting for my appointment and e-mailed my professor and told him in the vaguest of terms that there was an incident related to my “documented disability” and could I please make up the quiz if I get to class late.  An hour and some stitches later, I arrive to class in the middle of some sort of presentation about the honor society and while interested, berate myself for ever thinking that I might be able to qualify for something like that.

I skipped my Tuesday night class because I just could not deal.  I couldn’t handle the thought of being awake and alive for three hours worth of research methods so I bailed and asked one of my classmates to catch me up on anything that I might miss.  (Most of the notes, etc. for this class are online, making it really easy to miss a class without getting behind.)

Among the accommodations I requested when I went to my school’s Office of Disability Services at the beginning of the year was my “worst case scenario” accommodation:  my disability may at times require me to miss class or need an extension in deadlines.  This was there just in case I wound up in the hospital for some reason.  But there was no way that was going to actually happen.

Or so I thought.  Last night was the first time I really considered that I may not be able to make it through this semester.  2013 is the first year in a few that I’ve NOT had a trip to the psych ward.  I sort of assumed that I’d be able to make it the whole year and break that little pattern.  But last night I seriously wondered about how the next month or two are going to go — while my depression isn’t so bad that I’m thinking of suicide right now, there is definitely something going on with my brain chemistry and my depression is worse than it’s been in a while.  (And yes, I am taking my meds!  Every day!  As prescribed!)  And I’ve proven to myself that I can do quite a bit of physical damage — so what happens if I accidentally cut a bit too deep?

I am certainly not posting this to be attention-seeking or to make people freak out.  I’m posting this to try and make sense of my own thoughts.  I am posting this because I need my hands to be occupied.  I’m posting because I need ideas on how to make this insane depression abate so that I can be the totally kick-ass grad student I know I can be.

Because I will kick-ass.  Grad school ass.  ED ass.  Self-harm ass.

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5 thoughts on “And It All Comes Crashing Down

  1. really sorry you had such a tough week. But you know, it sounds like you did everything right in terms of taking care of yourself and reaching out for help – still trying to eat, going to the health center, e-mailing the professor, making sure you got the notes, and skipping class when you knew that it would be too much. You have those disability accommodations for a reason, and it sounds like you used them responsibly in this case.

    I definitely understand that feeling of “I’m insanely depressed and I don’t know why” – even with the damn drugs! Have you been in touch with your therapist at all after the hard session? Does she know about what’s been going on since then? YOu should be really proud of what you’ve accomplished, but your health is most important and there is no shame in adjusting academic plans accordingly. Regardless, you WILL be a kick ass student!

  2. My heart goes out to you, Jess, and I continue to pray for you. You can do this. You can “rebound/bounce back/show resiliency,” whatever you want to call it. You can totally kick grad school, ED and self-harm high and hard. And you can be in an honor society. Keep eating. Keep reaching out. Keep fighting for the better life you know deep — maybe way deep — down that you know you can have and you totally deserve as a child of the Lord. He desires that you have life and have it more abundantly. He didn’t give you a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love and a sound mind. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. (Insert any other helpful Bible verses here.) ;)

  3. My heart hurts for you, dear. I’m so sorry things have been so dark lately for you. I’m so proud of you for continuing to press on, staying connected, getting help, and staying safe since then. I know you’re already a kickass grad student, and you will continue to be. And look how far you’ve come in kicking ED- and SH-ass so far! I know you can continue kicking ass.

  4. So I usually just lurk on your blog rather than commenting, but I thought my perspective might be helpful here. I’ve been considering whether to comment, because that meant giving advice, which I try to avoid. Warning: I am going to give unsolicited advice, so feel free to stop reading now if you want. :) I hope that it is helpful and doesn’t feel intrusive.

    Also, I am not a therapist or someone with expertise in EDs or trauma or anything. But, I did go to grad school and now am a professor. A lot of my current job involves working with grad students. So that is the place I’m speaking from.

    Grad school is a hard scene. We (by we here I mean the faculty and administrators and other decision-making type people) make it harder than it needs to be, for various dumb reasons. It’s a hard scene for everyone, but I think especially so for people with perfectionistic tendencies. It’s tempting to think “I got here by trying to be as perfect as possible, and so did everyone else, so that means I have to try even harder and do even better and be even perfect-er, or the whole thing will come crashing down around me.” Everyone (or everyone I’ve ever talked to about this issue, at least) feels overwhelmed and in over their heads at some point(s) in grad school. I once had to leave a statistics exam in the middle to go into the bathroom and cry. So, don’t feel that you are all alone or that feeling overwhelmed means you aren’t qualified.

    That said, my advice is this: ask your professors for help. Ask early and often. Ask for help even if you’re not even 100% sure you need it. Speaking as a professor, I would much rather someone asked for help earlier rather than getting into a mess later. So, for example, if you think you might be late with a paper, ask if it would be possible to get an extension. If you end up not needing the extension and turning the paper in on time, great! But it’s way better to do that than to get to the day the paper is due and realize you aren’t done and have to ask for an extension at that point or beat yourself up for not getting it right.

    You don’t have to tell them everything that’s going on, but tell them you’re struggling. You can mention you have an official disability if you want, but you don’t have to. I think most of them will be sympathetic. If it helps, start with the one you feel most comfortable with and ask him or her how to proceed in dealing with other people. Asking for help might feel like saying you’re not smart enough or good enough or perfect enough, but really it’s not. It’s much smarter and braver to ask for help. Studies show it actually makes people like you more too (I would give you a citation, but you probably already have enough reading to do).

    When you ask for help, try to be as specific as possible. Say things like “I’m having trouble finding articles for my paper” or “I don’t feel like I’m understanding X concept very well”. It’s easier for people to help if they have a specific task. Make a list before you meet with them. The list makes you look organized and prepared. I love it when students come in with a list. It’s ok if you seem a little freaked out or talk too fast. It’s even ok if you cry (plenty of students have cried in my office).

    Don’t worry too much about your grades. In most graduate programs, grades don’t matter that much. (There are some exceptions, and maybe your program is one of them, but maybe not.) There are other things that matter more. What those things are will vary from program to program (publications, doing well in practicum, whatever), and eventually you’ll need to figure out what those things are, but for now just focus on not freaking out too much about grades. Focus on learning the material and on keeping yourself healthy.

    Similarly, honor societies don’t matter. I have sat on committees where we looked at dozens of applications for graduate programs and jobs, and not once have I heard anyone on the committee mention someone’s membership in an honor society as an important factor. (That’s not to say you’re wrong for wanting to be in a honor society, do it if you want, of course.)

    Anyway, this is getting too long, but I just wanted you to know that I am rooting for you. I know other people are too.

    • E –

      Thanks so much for de-lurking! It’s so great to have your perspective as someone who works with grad students — and I love your comment that you’ve never been on a committee that has cited someone’s honour society as an important factor for school or employment.

      Like you suggested, I’ve made sure to ask professors specifics when I need help — not just using my blanket “disability” statement as a reason I need an extension or whatever.

      Thank you!

      j

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