The edge of panic
I’ve got a lot going on at the moment and the more I seem to get done the more I have to do. By Monday I need to have work done that would take me about twice as long to do. If it’s one thing this blog project has taught me, it’s that I’m always one missed deadline from catastrophe. Or at least that’s the way it feels inside my brain and I do not enjoy it!
Here we are in a familiar place. I’ve got a mountain of tasks to get done this weekend and only the next few days to get them done. You would think that after my ~15 year or so journey as a student — starting from undergrad of course — I would be used to this feeling or at least I would be more habituated to the endless list of things to do. That is far from the case though and maybe I’m a better student for it, but it is exhausting always being on the edge of panic (hey, a perfect title for this post, or better than what I originally picked anyway).
I’m trying to keep a calm mind about this whole thing. After all I’ve done this dozens of times in the past few months alone and I assume that I will make it through this just like I did all the others, but that’s the thing, you don’t know for certain. So each time my list piles up like this I’m left to wonder if this is the time that I fail and how it will effect me. Will I lose my job at the hospital? Will I get kicked out of my school’s lab? Those are probably the most extreme choices in a spectrum of bad outcomes, but those are the things my mind focuses on.
For those non-academic types, this is why people drop out. It’s why despite having just a year left (hopefully), I’ve thought about just throwing in the towel as well. It’s been a long exhausting journey and I’m tired of feeling like this, but I really want to finish, so I push forward. That isn’t to say dropping out is a bad thing, mental health is incredibly important and for others it may be the right choice, but my mental health would probably be worse if I went that road. At least without some very clear very, good outcome for doing it.
My mental health isn’t the most stable of things to begin with, but I’ve lived with me long enough to know when stepping out of a hard situation will make things worse. Frankly I don’t mind hard, my entire life has been hard, the problem is not having a feeling of stability. There’s always some catastrophic outcome my mind is worried about and mostly for no real reason. I doubt hospital-PI would give me the boot if I didn’t finish the data analysis on time. I also know school-PI is very considerate of the fact that I took the job at the hospital and so my time in his lab — and thus the things I can achieve — are limited.
I know these things, yet my brain won’t accept it, stupid brain! So for the next few days at least I’ll be rushing to get everything finished and dealing with my stupid brain. Deadlines are a pain like that, but once again I’m left to look back at previous posts where I’ve had this feeling and I’m trying to reassure myself that this will not be any different than all those other times.
But this time, this time is different. At least that’s what my brain is trying to say. To be fair I am having some potentially distracting housework being done, because when isn’t my home falling apart?
And that my dear readers is a small glimpse inside the mind of a mad man.