Sunday, April 30, 2017

On Grad School, Life, and Anxiety.

As I write this my friend is editing (read: overhauling) my final thesis for grad school, and I have to do something to keep from staring at this Word document any longer. When I entered graduate school for my MA in Mass Communication a year and a half ago, I never would have believed you if you told me I'd end up where I am now. Which is a mess.

First, I've never wanted this blog to be my personal diary, as an anon account (for work reasons), I've always wanted it to just be about the books. That changed a few months after I started with my mom's sudden death, and then with each Top Ten Tuesday that went outside the realm of books, but I've kept it pretty level (at least I think I have). Second, I've always had anxiety, it ranges in severity, but has never been so intense that a long bath or talking it out hasn't been enough to help me step away from it (or so I thought, more on that later). And third, I hope this doesn't just go out into the void. I never know how many people are reading my blog posts (more of you interact with me on Twitter or Instagram), but I genuinely hope if you take the time to read this, you'll let me know.

We don't know how my mom died. I think that's a big part of it. We never found out. The official cause of death was a heart attack, but, we never looked into it because my dad didn't want to.

My anxiety has always been about death and dying, or loved ones dying, or me not being in control of something, and that resulting in their death (especially driving).

I have never felt like more of a failure than since I've been in graduate school. Impostor syndrome is very real, and it's happening. Coupling it with my extremely stressful job, this has been one of the most anxiety-inducing, soul-crushing experiences of my life.

My husband and I had been trying to conceive for almost four years. I'm on a whole host of medications to make this easier, and I've suffered more than one miscarriage. So, my hormones and body aren't without pressures of their own. (This is also why anxiety medication was off the table for so long.)

This has manifested itself into some Obsessive Compulsive Disorder tendencies, namely contamination OCD. This was compounded by a plumber spilling Drano on our kitchen counters, dishes, and floor about eight months ago. Ever since then, I've been a wreck about it. I wash my hands to the point that they crack and bleed, I throw away food, dishes, anything I think is contaminated or spoiled, and I cry and have panic attacks daily.

My husband witnessed approximately 80% of this behavior (my friends dealt with it a lot, usually by phone, especially the amazing friend that is currently editing my thesis). And he was over it. I mean, really, really over it. He would yell at me and get frustrated, a lot of what I needed was reassurance that something wasn't contaminated, and he wouldn't give me that. I love my husband, and I probably always will (again, more on this later), but he was not supportive of me coping with these issues.

In January I called to make an appointment with a counselor and a psychiatrist. The earliest I could get into either one was May. In March my husband came home to me in panic mode over some fruit I had purchased, and he told me he was done. Very calmly, actually. And I said that it would be better in May, once grad school was over, once my work calmed down, once I had time to really clean things, once I could get on meds, once I could talk to someone, once I could breathe.

And he said that was too far away. He said that it didn't matter. He told me he couldn't deal with the anxiety, and fear, and panic anymore. That he was done.

In the next few weeks I found out how done he was. He was done enough to have love notes in his truck. He was done enough that I saw him cuddling a girl in the parking lot of his work. He was done enough that he blocked me on social media, and doesn't respond to my texts.

So I moved out. More specifically, I moved my things to a friend's house. And all the while, I didn't cope with my anxiety, and I didn't work on homework. I didn't care. (Read: I still struggle to care.) I also starting working on divorce paperwork, because my husband asked me to.

So now I'm here, done with all my assignments except the thesis I have received three extensions on, and can't bear to write because my brain turns to mush because it's like a different person did that research and drew these connections.

On top of it all, my dad and brother have started having health problems. So everything seems trivial.

When all of this started I said to my friends, "I've been through worse. No one is dead. No one is dying. I have a job. I'm almost done with school. I have you guys." And I still feel that way a lot, but I also know that just because I've been through worse, and there are people out there with "bigger problems," it doesn't mean this isn't worth crying over.

In case you're wondering how the counseling went, the answer is not great. My counselor was kind of unprofessional and told me that I never should have married my husband anyway. That he's immature. I'm working on finding a new counselor.

Additionally, I've barely read more than ten pages in a fiction book since February. In the past few months I've stepped down from some volunteer gigs, and relinquished some responsibilities, and I've thrown around the idea of stepping away from blogging and deleting my accounts. But for now I just can't do that, I care too much about my ships and my #BookVerse, and you guys.

I'll let you know how the thesis turns out (if it turns out), and the psychiatrist. I'm asking you all to bear with me, to send me good vibes, and advice, and to understand that it goes beyond the books sometimes.

Thanks for listening. Back to editing, and homework, and trying to get better. And hopefully back to reading. <3

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