Sunday, September 16, 2018

Grad School, Mental Health

It's been an exhausting weekend of performing and meeting with old professors/advisers to discuss my plans for graduate school. Luckily, my Sunday evening plans had been canceled, saving me the trouble of using spoons I just don't have right now. I have a lot to think about, and some of this feels like starting the process all over again.

My former research adviser noted that the main weakness in my application would be my lack of research experience beyond undergrad--pretty much what I expected as well. She also made the point that my research interests and desire to see my work put into practice when working with individuals with disabilities may align well with certain rehabilitation sciences programs, which may place less of an emphasis on extensive research experience during the admissions process. I've identified a few more program options over the past several days, but I honestly didn't expect to have to shift directions this much. I think I am still going to apply to my top choices in neuroscience/psychology while exploring these other programs.

I know I have a little less than 2 months to get everything in, but that honestly feels like such a short amount of time given everything that I have going on, especially if I have to contact a dozen or so additional people. I suppose I know what I'll be doing in my spare time this week.

Shifting gears a little...

I spent a lot of Saturday night following the show in a sort of trance, though I descended towards full-blown meltdown territory on the car ride back to the hotel. We had planned on staying out a little later, and I felt like I was fighting myself the whole time. I struggled to sit still and avoid screaming. I'm nowhere near that point this evening, but the urge to scream and thrash tends to come and go these days. I know I need a break. I'm taking one as soon as I can, while trying to avoid the need to say yes to everyone about everything. I'm scared that I won't make it. I'm scared that everything will fall apart again. I normally wouldn't even care, but I'm finally working towards something that matters to me instead of just getting through each day. But that's proving more taxing than I thought. I don't think it would be nearly as bad without the travel every weekend, and I know that's something that I'll have to consider in the coming months.

I feel like I keep losing my train of thought. I'm tired all the time but can't sleep. I wonder if this increase in medication dosage has actually made things worse. It doesn't feel any better, but I don't want to keep increasing doses because that's what always seems to happen, with pretty dismal consequences. I still wonder if I really need the medication--if I can resolve my issues by taking control of my environment more effectively--but I don't think that's a decision I can make right now. If the medication worked in a way that allowed me to do that, I could understand. It just seems to get me moving and out of bed, but with all the same mental anguish and anxiety. I'm so over all of this that I want to give up, but I also know that that leads to its own set of problems.

I don't know what the hell is going on in my life anymore.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Rambling about "Motivational" Speakers

Oh look. More generic "inspirational" messages from people trying to be motivational speakers. Like, does this crap actually help anybody? I feel like I just watched 5 minutes of fluff and 20 seconds of an actual point. Granted, some of these people have done a lot for the community, but sometimes I have to roll my eyes because, while it may be just me, I take little comfort in those "everything is going to be alright"/"look at me! i did it so you can!" videos. I prefer people who provide a critical analysis of the problematic shit that fuels feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, and isolation among queer individuals. I'm not really here for your feel-good pieces, but I suppose that's what's most marketable because people love their easy answers.

I know there is a need for young queer people to hear positive messages, though, so I acknowledge that my feelings might be a bit misdirected. But I think they also need to know that it's okay to not be okay. That simply putting on a brave face and powering through isn't always the best choice for your mental health. "It gets better" has always been a problematic phrase for me.

Because it doesn't just get better. Not on its own anyway. You learn to make it better. You learn to claim agency in your own life, you learn to set limits, you learn to cope. It gets better when you realize that you have the power to make it better, even if that's just in small ways. And, as I've said before, better doesn't always mean easier.

The last thing I need to hear when I'm really not okay is that I'm going to be okay. Maybe that's true in a way, but unless I deal with whatever is making me not okay, I won't actually be able to let it go enough to be okay. My brain doesn't work that way. I obsess over mistakes I made 20 years ago, so you can imagine what real problems do to me. Sorry for rambling a bit, but I think I'm getting to a breakthrough point here. What do I need in those situations? First, I need to get it out there. I need someone to talk to me about what's going on, and not just on a surface level. It'd be nice not to have to have those conversations with myself: "What is the worst thing about the way you are feeling right now?" "Do you think anything specific/any combination of things is making this worse right now?" "Can you improve this by taking care of any of those other things first?" I appreciate supportive statements as well, but I feel that generic advice is unhelpful in these situations. I think that offering advice without knowing the full situation or asking what has or hasn't worked is kind of presumptuous. If one more person tells me I need to try deep breathing exercises, I will scream. Seriously.

I've learned a lot about how to manage my own mental health. And how not to. When I finally get to the point where I can't, it's usually because EVERYTHING has failed to help. I've never really had a decent therapist. At least not one who has been able to provide truly novel insights. I'm a shit show right now. I'm doing my best, but I'm not doing well. Sometimes I feel like running away. Running home, even though I am home. I've gotten to the point where I get anxious/overwhelmed by having to do anything at all. I'm taking a break from a lot of things starting sometime in October. I'm hoping this helps. A few days/weeks at a time just doesn't seem to work. I still fear that I'll have to return to the hospital before long. The thoughts hit me at random times. I feel like screaming quite often. I hate this medication and what it does to me physically. I wonder if I really need it. I wonder if getting past the withdrawal phase would change things. But I'm scared to try, and I'm scared to ask. It's not that I have a bad relationship with my doctor, but I wish I felt like I could really open up. It just feels...very sterile, I guess. 

The thing is, I am having more of those days where I feel fucking amazing. Where I'm bouncing off the walls ready to do everything, but still unable to focus on anything long enough to get a lot done. The problem is that I can hit rock bottom the same day. This can happen multiple times in a day, even in an hour. I keep wondering how I will ever be able to live with this outside of my own house. I've been fortunate enough to have a place where I can hide from the world to deal with this for years. If I want to move forward in my life, I won't have that luxury. Maybe that's been part of the problem, but I know I won't have the balance I need. I don't know what this means I should do, but I feel like I at least have to try. I'll just end up regretting it if I don't. 

I wish I could talk about everything that's going on, but I'm entering some new territory. It's largely positive, but things are probably about to get a lot more complicated.