Grad School Hangover

Hi. It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? I’ve got a ton of excuses as to why, but none of them are truly good ones. Plain and simple, I just couldn’t find the time or motivation to be here, so I just wasn’t.

This semester of school was like a terrible wind storm. It blew hard and faster in ways I never knew the air could spin. I held on as tight as I could, thinking that any more moment it would calm and there would be peace, but the storm raged. When it did finally stop, pieces of branches scattered the terrain, marking a new normal.

Last week, I finished up my spring semester of graduate school, and now I am constantly refreshing my Blackboard app to see my final grades (I messed up royally on submitting one paper, and I am praying that my professor will grant me some leniency and give me the points I need to secure the A). I thought once I finally reached this week, I would feel relaxed and eager for a restful and easy summer (despite one class). Instead, I feel like I am managing a seven-day hangover. I have no motivation for anything, except sleeping, drinking white wine, and eating frosting from the can. I have nearly quit every run I’ve attempted this week, I am mean to my dog and my husband, I don’t feel like seeing people, and I certainly don’t want to work or do anything that resembles it.

It was a rough semester. Most people know this by now, but right at the tail end of the fall semester, my husband lost his job. And because I left my good-paying job to go to school knowing that he had solid employment, this was devastating. For months, I waited and prayed for this trial to be over, for him to get another job and for us to continue on with our lives. But, that didn’t happen. E is working now, but his job doesn’t include a steady income or any benefits, like health insurance. We’ve been able to keep our heads above water, but only because we’ve been treading like hell under the surface. My part-time job has helped, along with both of our savings and parents who’ve picked up a few of our bills, but this set back has cost us. Our marriage has been tested, and between working at school and at the bakery, I’ve morphed into someone I do not want to be. I am irritable, angry, emotional, and constantly stressed. And all of this on top of being a graduate student with a history of anxiety and depression. I have lost a great deal of sleep thinking how one big emergency could wipe us out, or how our luck just might suddenly stop and we can’t make rent one month. The feeling that we are on borrowed time gnaws at me every day.

This week, my emotions frazzled and my energy all dried up, I’ve been craving to be somewhere else, to be someone else. I want trees and quiet nights. I want bright Saturday mornings among flowers. I want cappuccinos in place where I don’t know the language.

This feeling, though, it’s familiar. So comfortable that it is home. These emotions make me think of my first summer out of college, when I moved to Idaho to work at a mid-sized daily. Or in those few months that I lived in D.C. and rode my bike through Logan Circle on Saturdays past bars full of people day drinking. Or, when I came to Chicago and wishing I had some place to be other than in my bed, drinking bottles of wine by myself and watching “30 Rock.” It’s loneliness, it’s wondering if I will be ever enough, it’s wanting everything but what I have.

Throughout this semester, I kept thinking that the stress and sadness would go away if I could just get to the other side. Of this assignment. Of this shift. Of this hardship with Ethan’s job. Of this semester. But, life isn’t that easy. You don’t find joy and peace when you tick off boxes. Rather, they are mixed in with the fear, despair, and hardship, and you can only enjoy them if you pick them out and choose to honor them. I lived my whole life waiting for this or that to happen to finally be happy, and I am only starting to realize that maybe that calm I so desperately dream of in a different life is already within me.

Tonight, I made dinner. Because of my schedule, and the crushing exhaustion at the end of the day, I don’t do that often anymore, but tonight I wanted to use up some veggies we had in the fridge. As the frying pans sizzled and Annie snooped around my feet looking for whatever scraps I inevitably would drop, I got this sense that we were going to be OK.  This happens from time to time. I don’t know how, and I have no explanations, but relief settles in for a minute and I know that we’ll be fine.

When I have a hangover, I know to let myself rest, eat some Jimmy Johns, and drink lots of water. With this emotional hangover, I need to take care of myself. So far, I’ve started by quitting my part-time job at the bakery and getting another at a running store, which I think will be a better fit. I also know I need to find a way to get back to therapy, health insurance be damned. And, I have to do other things that lift me, like taking those slow days and making the time to write. The truth is, unless I really start to address some of my mental health issues, I will continue to long for what I don’t have, and in that find loneliness and unfulfillment.

Tonight was a good start. I looked around at E and our dog and our little dinner, and for a brief second, I wanted to be no where but here.

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2 thoughts on “Grad School Hangover

  1. Continuing to write is such a solid step in the right direction towards accountability.

    I hope reading this creates a long enough break for you to ease the need to refresh the Blackboard app for a while (I know just how miserable that can be).

    I have randomly picked up on your blog. As I follow it here on WordPress, I will catch a posting as it shows up on my feed. I have always found that I can appreciate and relate to your stories. If I can relate to it, I have no doubt you will be relatable to your future patients and will make for a wonderful additive to the workforce of applied psychology.

    I hope you’re continuing to watch those reality TV shows on MTV at night, and are still making the time to recognize the need for small steps of self-care.

    I look forward to reading of a better time for you—that will undoubtedly come—in the nearer future.

    If you set the goal to inspire others, I’ll attempt to regularly let you know (through this platform) that you are meeting that goal by at least one.

    Like

    1. Thank you so much for this sweet message. It really brought some light and pause to my life that I needed. It really means so much to me that someone is still reading this. Thank you for the kind words and attention!

      Like

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