Writing a thesis while being depressed, mission impossible?

If you read the title of this post and expect to find an answer for the question I presented, I’m sorry because I will disappoint you, I’m getting good at disappointing people. I haven’t excelled in writing my thesis, no matter what the high expectations everybody had on me, but once my dissertation was in the mix together with severe depression, that’s when I really lost sight of how to do what needed to be done to get where I wanted to go.  Some days I don’t even know why I keep trying. On the bright side, this is not happening every freaking day like it used to, now the really gloomy days appear to come less often than the grey ones. The bright, happy ones are still a gift I’ve yet to receive.

It’s funny I should be thinking of this issue today, writing about it, when I actually managed to get a lot of work done. Well, a lot compared to my other days, because it was nothing compared to what I used to produce when I was more functional. Maybe that’s just the point, I feel intellectually tired and ready to pop a movie and just relax, like I had an incredible amount of work finished, but the fact is when I looked at what I did, I felt completely miserable because of how little it seems, and it’s not difficult to go from there to self harm for me.

Today I had pretty strong thoughts of doing exactly that instead of going to therapy, fortunately it wasn’t like other occasions when I can’t think of anything else and I end up falling for what in that moment seems like the easy way out… in the end I dragged my ass to shrinky’s office. Maybe I’m not being completely straightforward, I was feeling miserable in the first place because I didn’t go to work. I have a deadline due on Friday and I knew there was no possible way to get my chapter finished and my pending stuff from work if I didn’t force my schedule a little bit (working as a teacher means you’ll always take a lot of work home). This makes me feel like a complete failure, like I’m failing all around my responsibilities, and well, that’s sort of the train of thoughts I was riding when I wanted to cut myself.

Shrinky told me some stuff that I didn’t want to hear and didn’t help much at that time, but now is making me feel a little better. He said I’m too hard on myself, verging on cruel, and that for me it’s always about being the best or being nothing at all. There’s no in-betweens, and when I dare to not be the best, my self-hatred is so strong that all I can think about is hurting me. He reminded me of everything I’ve dealt with in this past month and how it’s perfectly natural if I can’t meet my deadline…still feels like I’m an utter failure, but it’s helping me get a hold of myself.

Back to what I was talking about before I started rambling, I guess I’m just wondering out loud how I can deal with these two things that are eating me up. One is my Frankenthesis (a term coined during T, because my own creation is turning against me), and the other is my depression. Somehow, they’ve become bff’s, allies in putting me down and keeping me from moving on. And don’t get me wrong, I know I am doing just that, except that it’s not at the pace I’d like to, not at the pace everyone expected from me. Generally speaking, I am better than I was months ago, it’s just I’d like to be free from these plummets and get on with my life!

So if you have any thoughts as to how I can deal with writing a thesis while being depressed, do let me know! Pretty please?

Related posts:

If you found this post by googling key words such as “dissertation depression”  or “I am afraid of my dissertation”, these readings might help (thanks to @carmenmccain for bringing them to my attention):

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Avoidance mode: off

Gosh, some dark stuff I wrote about last time! The good thing is I can always fall back on the bigger picture to have some sense of calm and feel a little better… oh, wait… except for the ongoing drug-war, the devastating economic crisis, and why not? Mexico’s demoralizing political reality. And while it’s easy for me to get my system jammed in the pessimistic mode, I also find it relatively common to find reasons to have a good laugh about things, though apparently that ability decided to take a hike for the past few days and it’s just timidly starting to return.

For the past couple of months I’ve been avoiding the fact that my country’s reality pretty much sucks, and it doesn’t look like it’s gonna get any better any time soon. Well, apparently my avoidance is over,  just in time for my conscience to fully appreciate the pathetic show us mexicans will receive on December 1st, when the legally, though not legitimately, elected president takes office. Just in time to watch the government announce they have killed the second most important drug lord…only to have to add that they “lost” the body, and the list can go on. That’s why it’s pretty darn important for that acid humor to come back soon if I’m to bear stuff like the European Union winning the Nobel Peace Prize!

Just to show you what I mean, on the left there’s the avoidance face I’ve been carrying around for the last months, and on the right there’s the face I intend to put on from now on.

I cut myself, I want you to love me

I don’t remember when was the first time I hurt myself, but I know I started doing in on a regular basis as a teenager, after a couple of harsh isolated episodes when I was around 12 or 13. I don’t know if I enjoyed being in pain, I just remember I was desperate for attention, but my efforts were always futile, so it turned into my own little private ritual to take out all of my anger on me. Yes, it sounds dumb. To take out on yourself the anger caused by the abuse donde to you in the first place. But when you feel your blood boiling with anger inside your veins and you know the blade will make it stop, sometimes you just don’t stop to think about the pros and cons of it.

However, cutting makes it better only for a very short time, and after that it makes it worse. The anger certainly stops, but as time goes by and I realize how pointless and stupid my actions are, I start to fall into a depression that’s almost handicapping at times, and its a fight uphill to be able to feel functional again.

The difference this time around is that I’m talking about it (not without some pressure from Mr. Shrinky). I told my partner, which was pretty hard, and I guess know I’m letting it out into the world, something I probably wouldn’t have done without meeting such brave and amazing people and their blogs here at WP. And now that I’ve done it, that I’ve shared it, it actually feels just a little bit better, almost as if I were exorcising at least one of my demons. If I could only not feel that kind of anger again… all that seems to help right know, besides this, is Proust, so I’ll leave this little piece of me right here and continue my reading.

The 24/7 torture

Being a teacher is hard, and there are a ton of things I hate about it (no, I’m not going to balance this sentence by adding next all of the wonderful things about it, I’m just to grumpy right now for that), one of them is the fact that half the work is done outside the classroom. This means that my full-time job is not finished after my work hours, for I have to spend a percentage of my “free time” planning. So, having a growingly reduced spare time for working on my thesis, I’m starting to think I might not make it through.

What’s worse is having to dedicate just this free hours to the single most important thing for me right now, and it’s a vicious cycle that never seems to end: I can’t work on it full time because I have to make money for my expenses, so I have to get a job, the mentioned job being so far away, I have to use a car, which needs maintenance, which costs money; I also need clothes for this, oh and groceries to prepare the lunch I’ll be taking, and a whole bunch of small expenses that just keep adding up.

After working 8 hours straight plus another couple wasted in traffic, the last thing I wanna do is sit dow and work on my thesis, though it’s usually the one thing that tortures me on a daily basis. Now another deadline is approaching, and the whole process feels like watching a snowball running downhill to get me, I guess this is just one of those days.

Countdown to hell

At what point does writing stop being a hobby and become an obligation? At what level should you care? Did I leave the car door opened?… These are the kind of questions I have tried to keep myself busy with, but it’s becoming quite difficult so I resorted to my very last way out: Science Fiction. However, after watching Alien and halfway through Aliens (for the non-initiated that’s the second part of the saga) I had to accept that poor acting and jalapeño popcorn just weren’t gonna cut it for me.

Fact is election day is this Sunday, and I’m not the least bit excited, maybe because I’ve been busy freaking out about it. We got a lot to loose, and some very dark people have a lot to gain from whatever happens on that day. The once (and hopefully not soon to be) State party PRI has been caught over and over again in nasty stunts to get voters, and you’d have to be quite blind no to see all the different ways that is election has become tainted, and still experience has shown us mexicans that no matter how filthy and election is proven to be, results will be upheld.

In fact, I’d dare to say there hasn’t been one clean federal election in Mexico’s history. Not that every single one of them has been a fraud, not obvious ones in any case. No, what I mean is that there’s always the ghostly figure of vote buyers, of threats against uneducated people to make them vote a certain way, of endless tricks and obscure possibilities to make and election’s result tilt a specific way, as you can see here or here.

Still not everything’s lost, and hopefully the left wing candidate has learned his lessons from last election and has acquired a better defense mechanism against such threats… it’s just sad that he has to. There’s an incredible amount of problems to be solved immediately in Mexico, and it would be kind of relieving another huge one on our backs.

*You can also further your reading a bit more here