Hello? Yes, this is Dog.

August 4, 2012

Oh hey, you there. Yes, you! Internet, isn’t it? Yeah, yeah, I THOUGHT it was! You might not remember me. We used to see each other here a while back. Y’know, I was the one wearing mostly black? My clothing...full of holes… you remember? Hair…dishevelled?  Yes, the ADHDer PhDer – that’s right — that’s me! Wow, it’s been some time hasn’t it? So how’ve you been?

It’s been a fair old while. Let’s just get the excuses reasons for that out of the way dead quick shall we? Last time we chatted I’d just handed in the PhD thesis. It’s all good. I had my viva on the 15th June and am pleased to say I passed. Very relieved, delighted, over le moon etc etc. But the trauma that was “writing up” (a trauma resulting in neuroses that I treated you all to in (ir)regular instalments) has left me with an actual hatred/aversion/perhaps even full on phobia to being alone with my computer. I can just about handle a quick consultation with Professor Google in an attempt to work out what the odd little creepy beasties who are colonising my kitchen might be.* But only just. And only then if there’s somebody with me. I really need to sort this shit out a) because it’s sort of inconvenient and 2) because it’s a really lame kind of crazy.

So, in a nutshell, that’s what’s new with me Internet. I have passed the PhD and I have a newly acquired anxiety to add to my little collection. I may be a total fruit loop but at least I’ll soon be Dr Fruit Loop and you’ve got to admit that has a certain ring to it.
Here’s some other stuff I’ve done since then:

1) Went on a weekend away with 7 friends. Fun, frolics and hangovers were had by all. I also got some injuries from playing badminton in a bikini. Mostly injuries of the sunburn variety but one which I think is a hamstring injury (never located my hamstrings before – didn’t think I had any).

2) Grumbled incessantly about the Olympics. Again, another post for that one.

c) Noticed that the only people not banging on about the Olympics this summer are people getting married. People who are getting married don’t care about the Olympics. They care about tablecloths and other small details. But they do so with all the enthusiasm, energy and focus of Team GB. I find it all very tiring. But I am a bit of a bah-humbug about this kind of thing (y’know romance and that) and as I am more than happy to have sex out of wedlock I guess I am unlikely to ever be bitten by the wedding bug. Or is that not how it works?

4) Celebrated Yorkshire Day by skeptically raising one eyebrow and muttering, ‘Waste of bluddy time’ under my breath. Ah, my people, *sigh* I do miss you sometimes.

*more on that later. I am untidy but I am not unclean. I have no idea what these little fuckers are but I cannot eat in that kitchen until they’re gone. Every night I exterminate, every morning they’re back. It’s like that scene from that film with that guy and all the insects  – yeah, that one, Indiana Whatjamacallhim.

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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).

My First Day…

November 8, 2011

 

You know those times when you feel you are just about coping? When you feel you’re trapped in a box which is slowly filling with water and you’re pressing your head against the top of that box, desperately trying to delay the moment when the water level passes your shoulders, then your chin, then your mouth, and you know within seconds it’s going to be lapping at your nostrils?

Right. Well that’s how I feel about now. Except the water, which I am using here as a metaphor for, y’know, stuff, life stuff (you got that, right?) is in actual fact currently the straw that’s breaking the camel’s back. I think I’ve mixed those metaphors beyond all recognition and, indeed, beyond all rhetorical use. In plain English then: Everything was all getting a bit much but I was kind of coping with it until my downstairs neighbour knocked on the door to tell me that my boiler was leaking so much that it had broken their boiler and was in the process of flooding the whole street. And sure enough, when I looked out of the window, it appeared that the Thames had made a small detour past my window. Fuuuuuk

So now I am spending my Sunday night trying to arrange for emergency plumbers to come and fix the flat downstairs, and trying to get the useless fuckers who fucked the fucking boiler in the first place to come and fucking fix the fuckwittery that was their attempt to fix the fucking thing in the first place. (I heard expletives lower stress levels. I’m giving it a go.) Meanwhile, although there is clearly a surplus of water in my opening metaphor, the flat downstairs, and the street below, there sure as fuck isn’t any in my flat. No. That had to be turned off to stem the deluge. So now I can’t wash up (ok, probs wouldn’t have done that for another few days anyway, but tis hardly the point), can’t have a shower, and more worryingly, can’t use the loo (on the bright side, I have no drinking water so that is a problem with its own built-in solution). Seriously though. On the toilet problem. I might have to consider using the cat-litter tray. Since one of my cats seems happy to use my bed as a loo, they can hardly complain if I share their tray (I have been forced to do this on one occasion in the past but that is a very different story and one which I fear would detract from the general tone of GAH which I am currently trying to express). Or maybe I should just cut out the middle-man and take a piss on the bed myself.

I know that in the grand scheme of things, this isn’t really a massive problem. It means sharing my flat with people who call me ‘love’ and ‘my dear’ for several days while they try to cover their ineptitude by patronising me with unsolicited life-advice, but it’s not really the end of the world. It’s just that I feel I am only ever just keeping the pressure of anxiety and panic at managable levels and this kind of needless, pointless, frustrating obstacle sends that pressure gauge shooting up into the red, and big read flashing letters reading PANIC, PANIC start blinking behind my eyes, and I cope with it in the only way I can release some of that pressure: I start to cry. And then I’m crying, not just because the boiler is fucked but because I have a PhD to write, and a new job to start, and because the water bill just came in and I don’t know how I’m going to pay it, and because I feel guilty because I don’t call my grandma enough, and because my grandma is 93 years old and all her friends died like twenty years ago, and because my brother feels low and there’s nothing I can do about it, and because I feel guilty and confused about some very confusing stuff at the moment, and because I owe about ten billion people emails…..everything just unravels. And then I feel so useless and pathetic because I really don’t have it that bad, and I know other people have ACTUAL problems to cope with and the truth is, I just don’t deal with normal day-to-day stresses very well. I need to work on that. Chamomile tea, yoga, breathing exercises, maybe some good drugs wouldn’t go amiss.  Whatever…I need to sort it the fuck out because you know what? Sometimes boilers break down. Sometimes things go wrong. And one day I’m going to have something really bad to deal with and then I’ll bloody wish it was only a case of ringing an emergency plumber.

Anyway, in an effort to convince myself that it’s not all bad and that the world is not an evil place populated only by cowboy plumbers, I am going to list some achievements/good things to come out of the last week:

1) I sent some work to my supervisor and she sent it back and apparently it’s not as crap as I thought.

2) I am planning to take my first proper holiday in almost eleven years. There will be sun, sea, endangered species, hopefully some vegan cuisine, but most of all there will be no PhD. Or any studing of any kind. Roll on April.

3) Last night, I went to watch the fireworks with people I love. It was beautiful and so were they.

Well, Internet. Thanks for reading. I feel a bit better now. That’s why I love blogging. I tell myself what’s what and give myself a bit of a talking to. I start writing in a frenzy of anger/panic/anxiety/frustration and then feel a whole lot better for getting everything off my chest (or small flat tits, as the case may be). Ok, signing off now. If you need me, I’ll be standing on the traffic island in the middle of my street, playing poo sticks with the body parts of chauvenist plumbers.

Till the morrow, fair Internet…

 

Good morning, Internet.

It’s a chilly autumnal morning here in Wonderland. I have had an uncharacteristic (and entirely involuntary) early start to the day, having been woken up by the postman who delivered my Halloween costume. I forgot to take off my make-up last night and had been in a very deep sleep so the poor guy could be forgiven for his barely concealed surprise when his knock was answered by a creature for whom the donning of a scary Halloween costume could only represent an improvement. A creature who resembled this chap:

Anyway, I digress. After a shaky start, I am determined to remain on-topic today without hesitation, repetition or deviation. I need to talk to you about my decision to go back on the Ritalin before the rapidly loosening ball of wool that is my life unravels completely. I’m feeling completely incapable of getting things done and it’s always the PhD and my blood pressure that suffers most.

For example: I have so much to do today, and I am desperately trying not to panic. I am having people over to the flat tonight for a halloween gathering. Ideally, my itinary for the day would go something like this:

1) Blog about my ADHD meds (or lack thereof).
2) Despite lack of said meds, nevertheless, produce 3 or 4 hours of quality writing towards my PhD, thus sedating the little monster of PhD anxiety so that he has a good long nap.

3) Clean flat from top to bottom without breaking off at any point to explore the Internet or check that the dietary needs of chinchillas have not changed since the last time I conducted this research. Pay particular attention to the removal of cat fur from surfaces that guests are likely to want to sit on.

3.i) Decorate flat with cheap Halloween tat purchased from poundshop.

3.ii) Do so without sustaining injury from climbing on furniture.

3.iii) Dispose of all packaging and rubbish associated with cheap tat. Do not
leave on living room floor.

4) Go to Sainsburys and purchase food, alcohol and suitably proportioned pumpkin.

5) Carve pumpkin (may require sudden and spontaneous increase of artistic ability)

5.i) Do so without sustaining injury from big sharp knife.

5.ii) Should injury occur, at least have presence of mind to collect blood into
suitable container for incorpration into Halloween costume.

6) Shower, apply scary make-up to face, put on scary costume and wig.

7) Admit guests to flat without any indication of preparation hell. Probs attempt smile if poss but if not, pass lack of smile off as costume-appropriate expression.

8)  Drink Halloween punch until I pass out and care not that my flat enjoyed approx 1 hr of tidiness before being littered with the debris of celebration and intoxication, debris that I will inevitably be too hungover to dispose of.

Oh crap. How is that the time?? Despite the carefully delineated 8 point plan above, I am going to have to jettison Step 1 and postpone my post on ADHD meds. Again. FFS.

Good day to you, Internet.

Today is the penultimate day of my current contract at work.  I then have nearly two weeks to make some significant progress on the PhD, undistracted (HA!), before I return to the same place (but a different department) in order to begin a new contract. In honour of my last day in this office, tomorrow I am going to make a concerted effort to arrive on time less than an hour late. I am making this promise here and now, in writing. Because, clearly, if I tell the Internet something that makes it true.

I am so fed up of having to call in to work at 9.05 and explain, in my sleep-hoarse voice that I have overslept (again), and then make a promise to be in by 9.30 even though I know that it takes at least 30mins to get ready and at least 20 minutes to actually make it from my flat to my place of employment. Add at least 15 minutes to account for ADHD, and it is clear to anyone with only a rudimentary grasp of mathematics, that it will be AT LEAST 10am before I make it to work, overheated, overstressed, and dangerously under-caffeinated. Why do I do this??! Why is being late for work once not enough? Why engineer the situation so that I am compounding the original lateness, by further tardiness so that I have to feel humiliated by my own inadequacies not just once but twice?

The thing is, they’re kind of used to it here. It’s not that the chronic lateness goes unnoticed but it’s tolerated. It helps that I seem to have accidentally cultivated this image of myself as a sort of lovable scatter-brain.  I think it might be an ADHD survival strategy that enables one to get through life being a bit crap but without incurring the same penalties as other people might. I think I’ve inherited it from my father who is anything but lazy but whose working days were a scramble of missed meetings, forgotten deadlines, and lost paperwork. Strangely, he was always well-liked despite these short-comings, and I am fairly sure that he retained the affection of his colleagues by the same means as I do now: 1) Apologise profusely, even when things aren’t your fault. 2) Be more cross at yourself than your colleague is – this results in their irritation metamorphosing into sympathy before your very eyes. 3)  Seem a little bit helpless. Instead of wanting to kick you in the face, they want to help you.  4) Cultivate an attitude of self-deprecation which encourages others to laugh affectionately at your difficulties and roll their eyes with a smile instead of a final written warning.

As I write the above, I realise that this sounds very manipulative and a little exploitative, as though I purposely deploy these tactics of defence. This is absolutely not the case. It is a defence mechanism in the same way that a squid releases ink in response to attack. It’s the ADHD equivalent. In the face of attack by completely normal, everyday challenges, it’s me rolling myself up into a little ball with my arms wrapped protectively over my head, shrieking ‘I’m not very good at this, it shouldn’t be this difficult, but rather than you take my shortcomings too seriously, I’d rather you just took me less seriously. I am therefore prepared to relinquish some of my pride and dignity in return for your forgiveness and tolerance’.  I don’t want to be seen like this. I would quite like to feel that people took me seriously. I would quite like to feel that people looked at me and thought, ‘there goes a capable twenty-something woman who is going places’ rather than ‘ Awww, how typical – Rose has fucked up again, bless her. How *does* she make it through each day without close supervision?’  Sometimes I feel like I am a joke of my own devising.

But when I move departments, I would really like to try to minimize the extent to which my crapness is immediately obvious to my colleagues. I want to start a clean sheet, a new leaf, and other paper-related metaphors for a fresh start. And this brings me to the thing that I was actually going to blog about today but which might need to wait until tomorrow now because I am running out of working hours in which to do some actual, y’know, work etc: Namely, I have decided that coming off the Ritalin was probs the worst decision I never actually made (I lost my repeat prescription and was too embarrassed to admit to it.  And as an(other) aside, by the way, the staff at the GP surgery are definitely not as susceptible to the whole lovable scatterbrain thing as my employers seemingly are). So that whole post is now going to have to wait until tomorrow. Tomorrow, when hopefully I will be able to report that my punctuality has (at least temporarily) improved.

Until then, Internet, I bid thee farewell.

 

 

 

Aaaagh!

February 1, 2010

Number of days since chapter deadline: 3
Number of words unwritten: approx 5000
Number of items lost today: 2
Number of items found: 1
Number of hours spent looking for lost stuff: 3
Number of miracles needed: 1 would do.
Number of miracles anticipated: 0
Number of expletives uttered during course of day: Approx 5000

Fuck.

5001.

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 ‘findaPhD.com’ 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