Anxiety

at risk of full disclosure

It’s rare that I get personal, specifically on here. There’s a fear that links vulnerability and inhibition, and the divide between personal and professional – an anxiety that occurs when we let people see too much of ourselves. At the risk of full disclosure, I’m about to get a bit personal, not not too much.

Unless you know me – really know me, I generally come across as a “full speed ahead” kind of person. I’ve always tried to fit a lot in to my schedule.  One of the great things about certain types of anxiety is that in order to process, negotiate, and handle it, you use every technique in the book to avoid the symptoms – which means you keep yourself busy, every moment of every day. I’m really, really, really, really, really good at that.  I’m positive that many of our world’s greatest accomplishments have resulted from similar circumstances. Consequently, once in a while you seemingly hit a wall and can go no further.

No, I’m not at that point, though when I do get there, my walls tend to be fairly thin. That is, it doesn’t take long for me to bounce back.  It happens maybe every other year, and lasts 2-3 weeks or so. I am, however, veering toward a need to tap on the breaks a bit – perhaps to paint the wall a different color or add some texture. I’m acknowledging the potential for that wall to get thicker.

It’s early Wednesday afternoon, and I’m sitting in my home office. I can hear hawks outside my window, which is open. Breeze is flowing in, which is good.  My beautiful dogs are laying at my feet. Above them on my desk, there are stacks of around 400 papers and quizzes to grade, not including those submitted online which adds another couple hundred. My teuxdeux list is racking up bullets. Each day the overflow seems to add 10-15 new items, so today my list is at about 60 items, which of course are mostly big items with several steps that are only noted on my list as “do such and such.”

I’m approximately two weeks behind in a very important class – which means about 400 pages of reading there plus a few assignments. In the others, I’m staying afloat by gliding into each session having just finished the work for the day. However I’m also behind in readings for those, too.  This isn’t how I normally do things. Prior to recent weeks, I generally had things done 2-3 weeks ahead of time. Grading typically takes a few days.  I like to work ahead.  Not anymore.  Not to mention, I have two large exams looming: both tomorrow and Friday.

Let’s dig a bit deeper – not too much. I’ve been feeling symptoms akin to a resurgence of mono. I had it last year for a few months, and this week feels very much like that. I’m waiting on blood test results to see if I’m having metabolic, insulin, or others issues concerning my physical anxiety: I’ve been shaking quite a bit. I’ll leave it at that.  Both of my long-term relationships are on the verge of nonexistence, which of course is effecting everything in the sentences above. One of them already seems to be in disrepair (and yes, for the sake of disclosure again, they’re both very much aware of each other and quite close themselves) and I’m avoiding, at all costs, the mere thought of that for the moment.  Additionally, I keep seeing metaphorical shadows of my ex as I glimpse around unexpected corners. Those are whole other posts, which I’ll spare you. My house smells like a dead cow (which will be explained in a later post), financial stress continues to increase, and anxiety seems to be taking over for logic in a very big way.

Spring break is just around the corner, but I’ll be in New Orleans – for Mardi Gras – not exactly relaxing. Not to mention, it’s fieldwork. Yes, Mardi Gras as fieldwork.  A good thing, however I’ll be so drained by the time I get there, I’m anticipating being a bit irked. It also means that instead of relaxing, I need to stay quite focused.  I’m very irritable lately, which is also unlike me. I typically just take each day as it comes. I never “anticipate” a bad day coming up – normally according to my logic, that would just be unproductive and silly. If I expect it to be that way, it will be. Yet, this is happening more and more.

So – that’s where I stand. Now that I’ve written this down, I’m heading off to the land of paper grading. I have four specific posts on my teuxdeux that I want to add here. I’ll get to them soon. They aren’t a way for me to procrastinate. Quite contrarily, they’re a way for me to intersperse my productivity in various segments and media. That’s all for now –

on finding motivation

I realized tonight, as I sit here spooning out the tail-end of a quart of Breyer’s, that for whatever reason, my system can’t handle procrastination. Once the flood gate is open, it compounds until I’m left sitting here with a mile long to-do list, an extra 10 pounds to carry around, and no motivation. Well I’m pretty ticked off at the whole thing.

I love what I’m doing. I mean I love it. I grew up with the kind of folks who said “you aren’t supposed to have a job you like. You’re just supposed to have a job”.  That was never me. It never will be. So then, if I love it so much then why am I self-sabotaging this week? Yes, all of my assignments are in. I’ve been staying on top of TA duties, my readings, and everything else that’s externally important. More than on top of them, really.

Yet this is the very first week I haven’t kept track of my productivity. I didn’t sit down this past Sunday and schedule my week, make lists, or clean off my desk. Am I really that OCD that the failure to schedule my week would cause this kind of chaos? I’ve started eating terribly again (hence the ice cream), anxiety is back, I’ve been getting 3 hours of sleep a night, I’ve stopped exercising altogether, physically I’m feeling pretty terrible, I’ve had headaches all week, I have no interest in playing with my pups, and reading has become a chore. Those are a few of the symptoms anyway. My partner’s out of town, so at least she doesn’t have to put up with me.  I feel uncomfortable in my own skin when I’m like this.

It’s about halfway through the semester. I know I keep reiterating this, but I really am enjoying my courses/job tasks, etc – with that said, it’s not “work stress” causing this. It’s not a lack of social interaction (which can sometimes happen as part of the lonely existence of graduate school). I really have no clue what the cause is. I only know it needs to stop. I need some motivators – and a bath. Or maybe I just need to sit down, clean off my desk, and feel the satisfaction of crossing things off a to-do list. Bath first.