Not crazy, just tired…

February 24, 2012

Something odd happened this morning, Internet.

I woke up with a familar fuzzy-headedness that could well have been the fault of the wine consumed last night with a certain shiny friend of mine (Hi, Shiny!). But I don’t think so. You see, as I went about my morning routine I became aware that I was thinking in rhyme. You know when you do a little mental commentary of your actions and talk to yourself in the second person? It mostly happens when you’re a bit drunk, like this:

‘Now the reason you’re feeling a little bit sick is more likely to be this bumpy bus-driver than the amount of heineken you have just consumed, so don’t beat yourself up because that won’t help with the nausea. The main thing to do is remember where you’ve put your keys so that you don’t have to look for them on the doorstep because a) that’s where the muggers hang out and b) you already need a wee and that’s only going to get worse.’

Etc Etc

I refuse to believe that this is not a universally experienced symptom of intoxication. Sometimes I even nod to myself in agreement. I’m doing it now.

Anyway, this morning a similar thing happened but my brain must have slept on itself funny and it woke up with a crick in its interior monologue synapse (or IMS as it’s known in the completely made up school of neurology in which I am valedictorian), and this resulted in a completely involuntary urge to rhyme my thoughts in the following manner:

‘Half a cup of coffee in a mug for me, cool enough to drink by the time I’ve had a wee’

‘Don’t give into pressure from hungry little cat, calorie reduction will prevent him getting fat’

‘Don’t get distracted, there’s just no time, it’s a little perturbing, this thinking in rhyme’

‘Today must be productive, a PhD bonanza, failure not an option, do-de-doo-de-do-rananza’

(When the spirit of improvisation failed me, I just made words up. It was a compulsion, I couldn’t help it)

Anyway, I have added this strange phenomenon to the list of side-effects that I am compiling in order to submit them to the company that makes ‘Sleep Well’ herbal sleep tablets. They have been reasonably effective in their improvement of my recent bout of insomnia, and in all fairness they do warn you not to consume alcohol with a dose, but still… I think it only fair that they include the following in the list of possible side-effects:

  • Compulsive Rhyming
  • Impulsive gherkin-eating
  • Repulsive night sweats
  • Propulsive vomiting

According to google, two of the above are possible symptoms of pregnancy, and two of them are possible symptoms of stress and anxiety. I am fairly sure that my total clusterfuck of a reproductive system makes the latter explanation far more likely than the former yet neither account for why I would wake up one morning to find I am thinking in rhyme. Answers on a postcard to:

‘Fuct int ‘ead’ PO BOX: At least I’m not Dead (yet).

And how are you today?

January 31, 2012

Wrist hurts, tooth hurts (stupid fecking wisdom tooth), have a weird shaving rash on my leg from new crappy razor, feel oddly warm even though it’s a bit chilly. Feel gross because got up too late to shower, bit worried about work even though I’m not there, and for some reason a fingernail on my right hand hurts when I type. I also have a snuffly nose that may or may not be a cold and may or may not have something to do with the cat hair that’s been in my eye all morning.

Oh. Wait. Were you just being polite? I’m fine thanks, and how’re you?




December 12, 2011

Oh bloody hell, I have some form of man-flu.

I rarely get ill. I rarely get the colds and bug type things that go around. But when I do, I am a miserable wretch. No soldiering on for me. I feel extremely sorry for myself and just want someone to look after me, wrap me up in blankets and make it all better.

Fortunately, I have just such a person in the form of my friend Y, who came over at short notice last night to look after me. She’s a keeper.

Tonight I will be self-medicating with Lemsip, whiskey and cats. I will write a better post when I am feeling less like dog vomit, and after my office’s Christmas party tomorrow which (assuming I survive the man-flu) might well be the death of me.

Maybe it’s the cold, but I’m not feeling too positive anymore. Infact, everything all seems a bit shitty. Bleugh.


Making things worse

November 21, 2011

Sorry about this. Something appears to have gone very wrong since my last post. I think I am having some kind of breakdown that started approximately two hours after my last post (or perhaps that post was a way of me trying to talk myself out of the breakdown as it was breaking), and seems to have spun off on its own trajectory of crapness since then.

The whole story (which would involve me going back in time several months and relating a tale that would probably have you shutting your browser and reopening only once you were sure it was safe) is not for now. But it can be summarised in that age-old formula: Girl meets Boy, Girl and Boy break up, Boy has royally fucked up,  nevertheless Girl and Boy can’t stay broken up, Girl and Boy make up, Girl fucks up, Boy doesn’t break up with her, Boy fucks up, Girl does break up with him, which in and of itself is a fuck up. I concede that.

Still with me?

The point of this back story is this: Why can’t I just leave it? Why do I have to keep poking and prodding to see if this thing is still alive when I dealt the possibly fatal blow? I’ve never been able to cope with leaving things. It’s torture for me. I get that other people have to back off and calm down or figure things out or whatever and I can see why that’s probably a good idea but I just can’t do it. And it feels completely beyond me to do anything about it because even when told, repeatedly, that I am making things worse, I just keep trying to fix it. Nobody likes being unhappy, I’m not saying I have some extra-low tolerance for unhappiness, but when something is wrong with one part of my life, it consumes all of it. Compartmentalising is as alien to me as living underwater. Or putting things away when I’ve used them. I just can’t do it. Sticking with the compartmentalising metaphor, I want my life and mind to be made up of a series of secure chambers or boxes, all sealed off from one another so if the iceberg hits one, the vessel stays afloat. But I just don’t work that way. If one box springs a leak then we’re all going to fucking drown. That’s what’s happening now, with the hurt, but that’s also what happened on Friday with the anger. It sprung a leak and I just couldn’t stem the flood so I sunk the whole thing (apologies for this, I can hear how I sound, I just can’t help it).

And what do you do when you feel unhappiness so intensely? I can’t work, I can’t write, I can’t even put myself to bed, even though being awake is too painful. So I do anything I can to try to make it feel just a little bit better, promising myself that this will fix it, just hoping that I can get through and that the other person will see this pain and have enough compassion to let me mend it. And all I’m doing is making it worse. I’m trying to patch up all the leaks but using the wrong tools, axes and knives rather than …..whatever it is you’re supposed to use to mend leaks, something less sharp, I suppose.

I’m sorry that I go about clumsily trying to mend it. I’m sorry am making it worse. I am human, I am flawed. Some of those flaws are irritating, some are self-destructive, and some make me difficult to be with. There was a time I thought we were impossible, that it could never work, that you were too flawed for me to trust you with my feelings. You hurt me badly once and it felt like I would never get over it but I chose to believe in the person I knew you could be, and in everything I knew we could be together. And so yes, there’s that bit of me always waiting to get hurt again, and so when the red lights started flashing I shut down the system in a panic. And I wouldn’t blame you if you couldn’t take the risk again, but you have better insight that I did then because you know how good it can be, you know that there’s something worth saving. All I ask is that you choose to believe in that, and in the person you know I can be.

Even writing this, I know I’m running the risk of making things worse. But no more now. I really will leave it here. I’m putting all the sharp objects away, and keeping my hands in my pockets. That’s it. No more.

I just hope it’s enough.




My, my, what have we here?

December 12, 2009

Search terms used to find your blog:

Help me feel less anxious about my PhD

I am sorry, anonymous searcher, that you are in that dark and frightening place. I know the anxiety, the panic, the nausea, and it sucks. Especially when it does that creepy thing of sidling up to you when you least expect it, sliding its cold slimy fingers around your neck. And then the sun goes out and your heart frosts over into a ball of fear. Oh, wait, I think I’m getting the PhD mixed up with Dementors again. Oh well, semantics. I am sorry you feel this way and I am sorry that you submitted your desperate plea to the Internet and that google, in its wisdom, responded, and that you pitched up here. I am fairly sure that my self-indulgent ramblings were not what you were looking for (although they are probably of more relevance to you than the to person searching for ‘can chinchilla catch swine flu’).

Perhaps you had something else in mind? Maybe yoga lessons, betablockers, or a whale song CD? In which case, you need to be a little more specific with your search terms, my friend, because although Google moves in mysterious ways (and who am I to question its greater plan for us mere mortals? Many a time it has saved my vegan bacon by coming up with a page number I have forgotten to record, or locating some obscure article at the back of one of its sock drawers) it has, alas, not yet completed its PGDip in Counselling, and is therefore unlikely to reduce any anxiety you feel as a result of the rocky path that is the PhD. The fact that it brought you here, to my blog, where there is anxiety and self-indulgent ramblings in abundance, but not that much in the way of practical help or advice, is a case in point.

I can’t help feeling Google let you down on this one, my anonymous friend, so I recreated your search to see what your other options were. Let’s have a look at this:

Help Me Feel Less Anxious About My PhD

So on the right-hand side, we get the sponsored links. Helpfully, Google suggests ‘’ Because, clearly, the anxiety you feel could be helped by the addition to your life of one of the ‘Thousands of Postgraduate Courses’ on offer here. I am presuming that your anxiety has arisen in response to a PhD on which you are actually enrolled, rather than merely the prospect of one on which you might or might not be enrolled at some point in the future, yes? Thought so. Ok, moving on.

First up in the results list, we have this article from the New York times, which I think must have been written especially for ‘ International No Shit Sherlock’ week. Go on, I’ll wait here while you join the stampeding millions whose excitement Ms Reynold’s had clearly anticipated with this ground-breaking report. Appaaarently, exercise is good for us! And wait, not just for our bodies, no, but for our minds too! Who the fuck knew?? Just hang on a mo while I do a couple of star-jumps and readjust the laptop so that I can type this while adopting a casual reverse warrior pose. Ok, thanks, that’s better.

Look, it’s not that I doubt that exercise helps with our mental and emotional resilience. Having read the article with the curious yet cursory skill that seven years of higher education has honed to a dark art,  I would have liked to have seen the single mention of dopamine extended a bit so that I could rip it out, fold it and put it in my pocket with all the other bits of paper I mean to look at later but will probably use instead for hygienic chewing-gum disposal in cafes.

But I digress, as is my wont.  We all know that anxiety, depression, poor concentration and all those other little bastards can be helped by doing something slightly more active than cocooning yourself in a duvet on the sofa and watching BBC iplayer from beginning to end in an effort to stave off the crippling panic you feel when you contemplate the self-worth-trashing effort involving in making some kind of dint in the 80k words standing between you and the viva. But forcing rats to run around in little sweatbands (ok, they probably weren’t wearing any kind of rodent-sized leisure accessories, but in my head? They totally were.) and then forcing them to swim in icy water which, readers, it would seem, ‘they do not like to do’, is not going to make the difference between somebody googling ‘Help me feel less anxious about my PhD’ and actually getting off the sofa and onto the bloody step machine.And the reason for this is that the anxiety causes poor productivity, which means that you go to bed each night knowing that there are simply not enough hours in the day to do everything you need to in order to catch up, which means you feel even more anxious about the work and time slipping away like a grounded teenager in the night. It’s a cycle of causality that turns the screw of panic deeper and deeper into your heart everyday and, although you might know that going for a jog would help, that kind of panic is more conducive to alcoholism than exercise. Hey, I’m not defending this position, I’m just sayin…the dumbells don’t work.

For most of us, that is. There’s always one, isn’t there? Here’s a little taste of what Dr Silva, (PhD, doncha know) contributes to the discussion in the comments:

I do jogging since I was 22 and by the way I ran two half-marathons during my PhD at Penn State Univ. Perhaps my healthy lifestyle has helped me to mold my professional career on brain performance.

~ Dr Elson Silva, PhD

Ooooh, Elson, not one but two half-marathons while you did your PhD?!!! We are a little goody-two-shoes, aren’t we? Who reckons that Elson was the one at school sitting at the front of the class with his full range of highlighters out on the desk before him, his hand up like the reverse warrior every time the teacher dared to ask the class a question, or else smugly laughing into his hand in a not-so-discreet way, every time the teacher picked somebody, please anybody, than Elson to answer.

To be honest, Dr Silva (that’s Dr as in PhD for those of you who might not have noticed the letters after his name there and the mention of it in the comment itself), you’re something of a drive-by comment-leaver on the news sites and I think you might be starting to get on people’s tits a bit.

Maybe it’s the fact that rather than having a breakdown during your PhD like the rest of us, you do jogging and ran two half-marathons??? In conclusion, my response to this article was less an urge to renew my gym subscription and more an urge to push Dr Silva into very cold water.

And so, after this little foray into the world of science, I no longer think that Google exercised particularly poor judgement in placing my blog at number 2 in its results list for our anonymous friend’s search for  ‘Help me feel less anxious about my PhD’. In fact, I now feel a sort of responsibility to anxious PhD candidates everywhere who might potentially become anonymous searchers themselves and stumble onto this little outlet of anxiety and self-loathing. So much so in fact, that I leave you with a tip of the day for feeling less anxious about your PhD:

Do not ever Google the terms PhD and Anxiety. No good thing can ever come of it. Instead, why not visit me here again? Go on, I’ll wait while you add me to your bookmarks or hit the subscribe button all the way down there at the bottom of the blog. Done it? Good, see you next time for more cathartic outpourings of self-pity.

A bientot x

The fun continues…

August 17, 2009

I have to have my wisdom tooth out. This morning I spent four hours in a walk-in emergency dentists because I had woken up with one enormous hamster-pouch cheek. And it bloody hurt. I have antibiotics which make me feel nauseous and a promise of a consultation with a special dentist that deals with high risk wisdom teeth. Apparently my wisdom tooth has deformed roots and is pressing on the nerve. Hurrah! It’s just one ailment after another round here. Just because you’re a hypochondriac doesn’t mean you won’t get ill.

Famous last words…

August 10, 2009

I feel awful. It’s just a cold. Which is kind of annoying. If I’m going to feel like shit then I might as well have swine flu and get it over with.  If my temperature hits 38C then I can consider myself swine flu’d but it doesn’t look like it’ll happen. Boo. Several of my colleagues have had it and it doesn’t sound so bad. I could do with a week to recuperate from, y’know, life.

See, having just written this my temperature will suddenly sky-rocket and when, later, word gets out about my unfortunate demise, somebody will point out that I kind of had it coming if I was going to hold up a red rag to fate and cry ‘bring on the swine flu’. On the internet.

So posting may well be light until the sneezing and wheezing abate…And if it stops all together? Well then there  is such thing as fate.