We're a little crazy, about science!

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.

4 responses

  1. Brains can be so annoying. I’m familiar with the “It was okay every other time, but this time is different!” nonsense feeling, though maybe I never get it as strongly as you do.

    I was a little worried you might end up overworked again … but I know you had to do this to yourself if you were going to hang onto both the hospital job and the PhD project, and keep all your commitments and opportunities. And like you say, you have come through deadline panic before. I just hope it doesn’t stress you out too much.

    Remember I’m keeping an eye on you. My ability to protect you is frustratingly limited: I can’t control what your PIs do, obviously, or a whole lot of other things. But if you ever really crashed, I’d … do what I could, to pick you back up again. Never mind about me being in CO, if it comes to an emergency you’re only a long day’s drive away. You’ve got this, and in the unlikely event that you don’t, I’ve got you. It’s okay.

    No need to reply if you don’t have time. I worry that I talk too much; I’m trying to keep you company (plus I just enjoy talking to you), but I know you like to respond to nearly every comment, and sometimes I wonder if I’m creating more work for you. Just take my words and keep right on going if that’s what works.

    Liked by 1 person

    January 15, 2022 at 11:20 am

    • I always have a minute to reply! Plus, I enjoy talking with you so I don’t mind at all. I don’t feel overworked exactly, just overwhelmed. Maybe they are the same thing, I don’t know that I would exactly be able to tell the difference at this point lol.

      I think I just have high expectations for myself and what’s ACTUALLY required and what I THINK is required are two different things. This was probably most obvious when I took my statistics course and we got to showcase the work we did over the course of the term. The instructor wanted to see our work, then ask us questions about it, but when he saw work he said I obviously got it and had no questions for me. I still find it funny, but it was a good reminder that I tend to put a lot of artificial pressure on myself. I just can’t seem to help it! Plus I don’t even know that I’m really doing it until after the fact.

      Thank you for all your support. You’re amazing and I really do appreciate it. I wish I was in a better position to offer you support and it sounds like you’ve got your life more together than I do, but if you ever needed anything and I could help, I would totally do it.

      Liked by 1 person

      January 15, 2022 at 12:34 pm

      • You’re very sweet, Alex. You needn’t worry about me – I’m in a good spot – but I deeply value the fact that you want to look out for me. I just hope I can actually come through for you if you ever need it. Have a good busy weekend.

        Liked by 1 person

        January 15, 2022 at 2:20 pm

      • Thank you, you already do far more than I would ever ask for! I hope you’re having a good weekend too.

        Liked by 1 person

        January 16, 2022 at 10:06 am

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