ABD Day #4: Fake it til…and this too will pass?

At the beginning of the week, I had 221 days to complete the dissertation. The last two have been complete and total busts. As in zero words read, written, or even thought about. Instead I have been plagued by the worse anxiety I have ever experienced in my life.

And I’m getting tired of it. I’m seeing my psychotherapist once a week. I’m seeing my psychiatrist once a week. I’m on five different medications right now. I’m tired but restless. My stomach hurts and I’m not eating. I’m doing everything I’m supposed to be doing: asking for help, receiving support, taking my meds. But I’m still stuck here.

I’m fighting between two messages : the one that say fake it til you make it, fight through the emotion, use your CBT to change your behavior or thoughts to break the emotional down spiral; and the message that says be kind to yourself, take it easy, you know this will too pass so let it pass, don’t fight it. And honestly, I hate both messages because they both suck. They both still require me to sit with the stone in my chest and the thorn in my gut.

I know medication is not the panacea. But in the past medication has always got me to a point where I could do the hard work, where faking it wasn’t so exhausting that I failed to fake, or where being kind actually felt okay to lay in the bed drinking tea and playing solitaire. But it’s not working. It’s simply not working.

I missed something tonight because I was too afraid of professional social situations and the Inevitable question about the dissertation. (There should be etiquette classes that teach folks not to ask about the dissertation unless the dissertator brings it up directly. Even if the D says, as an answer to the “what are you doing right now”, “you know, just finishing up,” that is NOT an invitation to ask about the dissertation’s content or progress. Only if the dissertator says, “yes! I’m working on my dissertation and I’m really excited about it — would you like to hear more?” Is that an invite to engage on the content or progress of the diss. #rantover). More alarming, to me was that i was afraid to drive my car to the city. I’m afraid of losing concentration, as I’m feeling sometimes disconnected from my body.

Tomorrow, though, I can’t not go to a special festschrift to which I was invited months ago. I know there will be many people there that I want to recognize me and my name when I go on the market in a few years. And it’s being held at a university at which I might want to start my academic career.

So I’m getting a good nights sleep to allow me to dress and eat in peace bright and early in the morning and hit the road before the rest of the crazies, and hopefully get there with some time to spare to pull myself together.

Because this too will pass, and faking it is often what I do.

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