The worst thing about applying for positions–permanent, temporary, full time, part time, attractive, repellent–is that in doing one’s damnedest to convince the search committee that one is right for the job, one has a way of convincing oneself, which makes the (almost guaranteed) rejection far more of a blow than it would have been otherwise. Being hoisted by one’s own petard, so to speak.
Physical manifestations of my stress and/or self-loathing:
Perpetually clenched fists
Bruxism both sleeping and waking
Relentless headaches (no doubt bruxism-related)
Inadvertently holding my breath.
That’s right, kiddos, I’m forgetting to breathe.
And did I tell ya that the part-time job I was offered fell through because it was grant-dependent, and said grant was denied? The hits just keep on rollin’.
You find out that you’re swimming with the same mental sharks.
I didn’t write anything last week, because I didn’t know how to type the equivalent of vomiting blood (which is especially bad when you’re swimming with sharks). This week wasn’t any better.
I’ve been doing this therapy thing for 4 months, and here’s what has come out–repeatedly:
I am never satisfied by what I write. I only occasionally enjoy the writing process. No matter what I do, I don’t think I will ever get a job. No matter what I achieve, I always feel underqualified. I am deeply ashamed to be so old and so unaccomplished. I was a fool to think that academia is a meritocracy. I was a fool to think that I could have a really boring but basically satisfying middle-class life.
If I enjoyed the process enough
If I were able to survive financially
If I thought what I did mattered
But I don’t, and I can’t, and it doesn’t.
As soon as I figure out how to, I’m quitting therapy. It’s only been further evidence that I’m a fucking sucker.
I don’t know if its the dope or the therapy or the sunshine or the what, but last week, I was able to squeeze out the first bit of academic writing I’ve done in…an embarrassingly long time.
It was only a 250 word abstract, and it was primarily because the conference for which I wrote it is being held in Puerto Rico, but still! It was directly related to my dissertation, and it might have a whisper of a hint of a notion of a seed of an idea that would be useful to the larger project.
Which I have decided that I have to finish. Again. Because…well, because this is all I really ever wanted to do. Sick and stupid, perhaps, but completely true. (Well, except for that period of time around the age of 7 where I was committed to both marine biology and primatology.) I don’t know how I’m going to do it, since I feel like I’m standing in the middle of minefield: safe for the moment, but afraid to take a step in any direction for fear that I’ll get my “legs” blown off (again).
The “good part” is that I have another project to practice on, so to speak: an essay for an edited collection that has nothing whatsoever to do with my diss. Baby steps, training wheels, et cetera. I am not terribly interested in this project any longer, but there are more reasons to do it than not, and so…check in next week to see if I still have legs.
You might have seen Daphne Merkin’s article on chronic depression in the New York Times Magazine. I’m not in the same league, at all, and I can’t imagine living as she has. I suppose I should be grateful that I’ve only now begun to deal with counseling and drugs and such, but this is what leapt out at me:
But even as I talked and laughed with the other guests, my thoughts were dark, scrambling ones, ruthless in their sniping insistence. You’re a failure. A burden. Useless. Worse than useless. Worthless.
That’s the loop. While I can ignore it some times, particuarly if I’m going about easy, punching-the-clock type of things, when I sit down to write or think about academic work, as I did today, since there’s a deadline coming up for an important conference in a very appealling locale, it starts up again.
Why try? You’re going to do all this work and get your hopes up and then you’re going to get shot down. Again. Why waste everyone’s time? You don’t really have anything to offer. Nothing to say that can’t be said better.
And even on the rare occasions that I can temporarily drown out that chorus, I’m completely overwhelmed at what it is I’m supposed to do. Which is write, every day, for the rest of my life. Or for the rest of the year, at least. Sit down and write, in spite of that drone which assures me of nothing but failure. And yet I’m failing now, as it is, by not writing.
Bravery is supposedly being afraid of something, and then carrying on with it anyway. I don’t think I’m very brave. And even if I were to pull myself together, skirt up, and do this thing, what sort of self-hating insanity is it to dedicate yourself to a profession that almost literally drives you crazy? Is that bravery worth lauding?
Cornu- of pharma-.
That’s me, the pill-popper. I had three appointments today, two last week, and the meds just keep rollin’ in. Shall I recap?
For about two years now, I’ve had some elevation of a cardiolipin (which is…?), and an increased risk for blood clots and some sort of pregnancy risk, too, if I had wanted to go that route, so at my last annual lady-business exam in the fall, my MD suggested switching to a non-hormal method of BC. RB and I had already been talking about it, and he ended up getting the snip. I went off BCP in December.
Hormone wackitude ensued: 1. Crazy libido! 2. Massive adolescent-style zit flares! 3. Whippy moods! 4. Different sensitivity to smells (and different smells to be sensitive to)! 5. Previously regulated cycle goes off the tracks!
It’s been several months now, and I’m still dealing with #2, #3, and #4. Doc sends me to a Derm, who is putting me on Accutane (aka The Big Guns because I am disfigured), which means regular blood and urine tests to make sure my liver doesn’t go to foie gras, and I don’t conceive any horrific fish-babies, and after more than a month of mickey-mousing around to get all the baselines and clearances, I can finally start eating that poison. (And guess what, the law requires that I use a secondary method of BC, because apparently vasectomy is insufficient! Thx!)
Plus, thinks Doc, this depression or whatever the fuck is wrong with my brain (we think a little SAD + a little cuckoo chemisty + a shitburger of a situation = broken Wroth) is traceable to various hormones, and so today suggests that I a) up my meds (so flattering! now I’m crazycakes with extra nut sauce!) b) start taking BCP again, so as to control whatever tidal ebb and flow of brain pudding is making me want to crawl under my bed and die. Apparently blood clots are not so bad.
That’s three, Three, THREE daily medications, my friends! And next month, one of them will be 2x a day! And if future bloodwork shows an increased risk re: the clotting factor thingamajig, then I can look forward to yet another! If my birthday hadn’t already passed, I’d ask one of you to send me oneathem multi-compartment pill-minders.
If I weren’t 34, with no employment prospects, no assets, and no great hopes for either, I’d try to glam up my routine, Valley of the Dolls-style. Alas.