A day in the life (or how not to be a PhD student)

1:20 am- Turn off the Red Sox game on the MLB app and go to sleep.

4:30 am-Wake up to pee.

7:30am-Woken up by a meowing Bailey demanding food.  Feed Bailey and go back to sleep.

10:40am- Wake up on my own and contemplate rolling back over and sleeping more.  Everything hurts right now, so all I want is sleep.  Finally look at the time and realise I could sleep, but decide I want coffee more especially once I’ve looked at my phone and see I have 9 emails from my supervisor.  *eyeroll*

10:50am- Roll out of bed, pee, make a glass of iced coffee from the coffee I made the night before.  Take meds and turn on computer.

11-12:15- Read personal emails, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and my tumblr feed while I drink my coffee.  Chat to Steph.  Pet Bailey.

12:15- Rinally get dressed, gather up laundry and put washing in.

12:25- Make protein shake.

12:30- Get sucked into an online thread (time waster).

12:45-Put on this weeks tv binge watching choice (Being Human UK).  I like the background noise while I avoid work.

12:50- Still reading online LOL thread.

1:50-Read uni emails and re-submit form to the ethics committee for the hundredth time.  Don’t even talk to me about this, I seriously have been dealing with this bullshit since February and I have little patience with it right now.

2:15- Finish piece of writing.

2:30-Realise am starving, make salad w/turkey that Bailey tries to eat.

2:45-Stare at word document for theoretical framework.

3:15-Still staring at document.

4pm- Have written 2 paragraphs that don’t really say much.

4-4:30-Sort of wander around in the flat, not really concentrating much at all.

4:30-Stares at word document.

5:20- Goes to grocery store.

5:55- Eats cherries.

6- Stares at word document.

6:30- Organises desk, tidies flat a bit.

7:30- Dinner.

8-9- Take a walk to Waitrose.

9:30- Gin o’clock.  :)

10- Give up all pretence of work.

11p-3:30am- Read Mystrade fanfiction and weep my heart out.

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On depression

There has been a lot of discussion over the past 24 hours about depression and mental health issues.  Like many who have been discussing it, I have not been immune to depression.

I’ve suffered from depression from an early age and have been on medication since I was 18 and have seen therapists on and off since.  Over the past 3 years I’ve been battling a deeper, darker depression and have had my share of very dark days.

Finally, I recently agreed to look for help; to see a therapist again.  I self-referred through the NHS and there was a fairly lengthy wait period.  I also self-referred myself to see the counsellors at University.   After a few months I finally saw both the NHS and university personnel for intake appointments.  I hadn’t heard anything back after about a month (I know it takes time for these things to work out).  I made a phone call to the NHS office yesterday and found that I had been discharged.  This was a bit alarming, as I hadn’t even had an actual appointment other than the intake!  Today I received a letter stating that they didn’t have any services for me and that I should self-refer to a voluntary service.

While I understand that resources are slim on the NHS, I also was really shocked that I had been fobbed off to a volunteer organisation.  I also had requested to meet with a psychiatrist to deal with some medication issues, and those were not addressed at all.  I am a bit frustrated to say the least.  I don’t blame the NHS; I do partially blame myself for waiting so long to get help for my issues.  I certainly hope I can get a call back so I can have the medication issues addressed and that the university has someone I can speak to soon (they have a waiting list).

So for now, I need to keep on keeping on.  I spend a lot of time cuddling this dear boy.

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I do everything I can to stay present and healthy while I wait to get assistance.

I only hope that with what has happened this week, that more resources are allocated for mental health all over the globe and that people who are suffering have a friend to reach out to and someone they can talk to.

 

Helpful (to me) things I’ve read:

James Rhodes article in the Telegraph

Stephen Fry on depression

It will be sunny one day

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Why I don’t call myself a “runner”

You might wonder why my site is called Running is my Mind Palace then, eh?  Well, you see, I really don’t consider myself a “runner” runner for a variety of different reasons.

 

  • For example, today I happened to be wearing my Great Scottish Run 10K tshirt.  It says FINISHER in big bold letters.  I was in Starbucks waiting for my latte, when a woman came up to me and asked if I had finished.  Ummmm it says finisher, duh.  I said I had, and she gave me an incredulous look.  Now granted, I get it.  I do not look like a runner.  And half of me understands when people who don’t know me don’t believe that I run or lift or whatever.  And the other half is like really, so I don’t have a runner’s body, but does that mean I don’t run?  I don’t know.  It’s a conundrum.

 

  • If it is raining, I won’t run.  Nope.  Nope.  Nope.  I do not like to be wet and I certainly don’t like to have my expensive running trainers get all wet and squishy.  Call me a wuss.  It is NOT my cup of tea at all.  Granted, if it is raining, getting out of the flat is an endeavour of its own.  I just don’t like being rained upon and getting to my destination wet, even if I have a brolly and wellies, I still end up damp and gross.

 

  • I do not get up early to run.  I don’t get up early to do anything, really.  I generally roll out of bed between 10am-12pm.  I have the luxury of being able to do this.  I enjoy it.  I love being able to stay up and listen to the Red Sox or read or watch telly.   Part of me wishes I could be more motivated to get up to get the working out of the way, but it generally just doesn’t happen and my runs get done when I feel like doing them, be it 4 pm or 7 pm.

 

  • My current mile time is slower than it would take me to walk said mile.  And most runners can run 2-3 miles in the time it takes me to run one.  I know you shouldn’t compare yourself to others, but damn does it get discouraging to see people’s Runkeeper stats on twitter sometimes.  I can generally do 3K in the time it takes people to run 3 miles if not more.  My 10k time is a lot of people’s half marathon times.  My 5K time is a lot of people’s 10k times.  Totally discouraging and depressing.

 

  • However, RE: the above- totally MY fault.  No one has told me to take a month + off running a month ago.  No one force fed me Penny Pigs.  I did those things to myself, and I SHOULD feel disgusted my my habits.  I am certainly not going to improve myself by doing things that damage my progress, just like how not working on my PhD for most of the year is keeping me from getting done on time.  No one did that to me.  I did that to me, depression or not, it was still my choice.
  • I lack self-discipline, willpower, dedication, and perseverance.  When the going gets tough, I give up and eat ice cream.  I don’t try harder.  I don’t ask for help because I’m ashamed (and then I eat ice cream) and the cycle continues.

 

  • I fear injury so I only run 3 days a week (maybe, if I’m lucky).  I mentally know I can do more.  I know I can.  But fear holds me back, just like it does in all areas of my life.

 

  • I don’t think I can join any of my local running groups.  I am WAY too slow and would hate to have to be the last person and have people waiting around for me, or to have to have someone be my partner/babysitter when they just want to run.  That’s not fair to anyone.  I’m also way too self-conscious to run with a group.
  • It gets tiring to have rude things yelled at me when I’m on a run.  I know that this isn’t a phenomenon that’s solely directed at me.  However, it gets old fast to have people laugh at you and say rude things.

So, maybe someday I will be a proper runner.  For now, I’m just a girl who occasionally goes for a run, and that has to be enough for me.

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Where is my life going?

Two weeks ago I had a chance to attend a book signing/talk that should have inspired me to be a better me.  Instead I left needing time to reflect.  And now, after a few days I feel lower than usual.   I feel at nearly 40, I’m an absolute failure.

 

When I was 16 and working at Filene’s Basement, I worked with a few women who were in their early 20′s and I thought they were so glamorous and lived such exciting lives.  I couldn’t wait to be 21.

When I was 21 I was still an undergrad.  I was still trying to figure out my life.  I certainly wasn’t going out to clubs and bars and having a good time.  I was completely screwed up emotionally.

I wanted more; I wanted stability and love and marriage.  I figured by the time I was 25 I’d have it all wrapped up.

When I was 25 I was dating (someone I now refer to as) “the one who got away.”  I thought he was the one.  I thought we were going to be together.  We had been living together (until he asked me to move out) and I hoped we could reconcile and make it work out.  I wanted to be engaged and married and start a family; we already had 2 cats together.  I figured by the time I was 30, I would have it all figured out.  I’d have a a husband and a career and kids.  I’d have amazing mom friends and a perfect house.

By the time I was 30, I was an absolute mess.  I had ended the relationship with the one who got away and dated and got engaged to someone else.  I spent 4 years trying to fix him, to make him the man I thought he could be.  I was an idiot.  You can’t fix hate that’s been learned (at least I couldn’t do it).

I had gained back all the weight I worked hard to lose.  I was fat (again) and hated myself (still).

I was single, living in my childhood bedroom in my parents house with my cat.  I was single, miserable, and on the verge of bankruptcy.  I didn’t have many friends.  And despite having earned my first Masters degree the year before, I had a crummy job and could hardly support myself.  I figured by the time I was 35, I would have to have it figured out.

By the time I was 35, my life had taken a major turn.  I moved to Scotland to pursue my second Masters degree since I still had been unable to find a full time teaching job.  It was an amazing decision and I don’t regret it, but I was lonely.  I didn’t make any friends, and the stresses of the year were overwhelming.

I was still fat and frustrated and wishing I had made better food choices; I felt like I had let my body down after (cosmetic) surgery.

Right now at 38 and change?  Well, I’m going to be 40 in a little more than a year and I am not happy with my life.  I say I am happy with who I am (and in some ways I am) but I’m sad overall.  I haven’t really made friends here (my own fault), I’ve been single for over a decade.  I haven’t had sex in over a decade and I think it’s starting to get to me (you think?)!

I’ve had a rough few years here in Scotland; I’ve lost both my parents and a beloved pet.  I’ve lost weight, gained weight, had the never ending headache issue.  I’ve struggled with my thesis, with motivation, with getting out of bed.

The PhD has been one issue after another.  I’ve contemplated a break; taking a holiday or leaving flat out.  I am sticking with it right now, but there are days when I want to run away.

And with all of that, I have no idea how I am supposed to go about getting the life I want.  I know what I want for the future and where I want to be when I am done with my PhD.  I am just not sure I will be able to do and go where I want to (live in London and live a glamorous life).  I’ve accepted the fact that I will most likely be alone and will not have a family of my own.  Accepting that has been hard, but it is probably for the best.  I think that the amount of baggage I carry would be a major issue and in regards to having children, time has pretty much run out.  It’s time to accept this.

 

 

Posted in anxiety, deep thoughts, Glasgow, goals, grad school, headache, health, life, life in general, money woes, pain, Scotland, self-esteem, stress, travel, UK, update, weight | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Headache update

It’s been 8 years having a headache pretty much constantly.  If this is news to you, I will give you a brief synopsis.

I’ve had a headache for 8 years.  I’ve seen 7 (I think now) neurologists, I’ve had a CT scan, MRI, 2 spinal taps (one failed), tests for pseudo tumor cerebri, and taken countless medications, some of which have caused serious issues like Topomax (ended up losing a job) and Lyrica (made me incredibly stupid and I still have issues with aphasia to date). (I’ve tried every OTC med, herbal supplements, yoga, massage, PT, oxygen, steroid infusions, food restrictions, etc.)

The last neurologist I saw told me I was fat (while true, not relevant to having a headache) and told me to lose weight (working on it, it’s not an overnight process, sorry) and when I explained I *was,* told me to work harder.  I filed a complaint.

My GP referred me to a pain clinic.  This was my 3rd appointment.  The doctor was very nice, but sadly I have pretty much exhausted all my options when it comes to medications and treatments.  (I’m assuming he means on the NHS?) He suggested a course of acupuncture and seemed to think it would happen rather quickly.  Yeah.  About that.  The first available appointment is December.  Yes, December.

So I’m pretty much resigned to a life of either pain or pain meds, at least at this point.  I’m pretty frustrated that there is nothing else that can be done, and that no doctors seem willing to investigate the actual cause of the never ending headache.  I understand the limited resources the NHS has, and I am totally ok with that, but I did see many doctors in the US as well, and I still got no answers.

It’s still frustrating after all these years, and it is even more frustrating to be told you are out of options.

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Summer of ’89

The summer of ’89 was when it all went wrong for her.  The adults in her life were making decisions that she wouldn’t understand at 13, at 17, never mind at 38.

The summer was ok though, because she didn’t know what was coming.  The summer was spent tanning in the backyard and instructing her innocent, younger sister in the brilliance of the Beatles, Tom Petty, and the Traveling Wilburys.  One would think the music coming from her room would have been from a 40′s something yuppie, not a 13 year old girl.

And then it happened, the walls came crashing down.  She heard the rumours, of course.  It wasn’t hard to not hear them.  In the end people were bold enough to come up to her and ask if it was her, if she was the one.   She heard other rumours too of course, that it was retaliation, jealousy, that it was all lies.

She tried to find out the truth of course, but who talks to a now 14 year old girl?  She wasn’t exactly Sherlock Holmes, you see.  She wasn’t even Trixie Belden.  She tried to find the newspaper articles, but they seemed to have disappeared from the library.  Strange, that.

She didn’t understand until she was much older, and sitting in a similar position herself.  Jealousy is such a vicious motivator.  History repeating itself yet again.

She tried to solve the mystery many years later, but was unable to make any headway.  Too bad the internet was not around back then, she thought.  There might have been answers to questions she shouldn’t ask.  Especially now.

Maybe she should let sleeping dogs lie.

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Meet Bailey!

After 5 months, I decided it was time.

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He’s a Russian Blue and he is gorgeous.  He is still a little anxious about his new home, but I have been able to pet him and he seems content to nap and explore.

I was really glad we were able to bring Bailey into our home.  The woman who owned Bailey had fallen on some hard times recently; a lot of things I could totally relate to.  I am glad to be able to help someone out and give a cat a good and loving home.

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Juneathon day 1

I wasn’t planning on doing Juneathon this year, but I sort of just decided to do it at the last minute.  Today I walked for 6km and cleaned my entire flat like a crazy person for a total distance of nearly 6 miles (according to my fitbit).

I have lots to update on here, and I promise an actual real update update in the next few days, along with some good news.

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A long overdue update

It’s funny how time slips away from you while you’re not looking.  Or perhaps it is because my perception is off right now.  I’m not quite sure anymore.  It’s like when you wake up from a dream and you aren’t sure what time it is, whether it’s day or night.  Life in slow motion.

I’ve obviously not been myself lately.  I don’t usually go so long in between blog posts.  I usually even manage to start posting something and finish where I left off, and I didn’t even manage that with my Oxford trip.  (Oops.)

I didn’t realise how far I had fallen, until I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to get back up or not.

I’m hoping with time, it will get better.

 

 

 

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Dream

I’ve always dreamed extremely vividly.  Colours, sounds, images, scenes; all accurate down to buttons on shirts.

When I get stressed out, I dream of a place I felt safe, valued, and loved.  The people are exactly as I remember them. The layout of the store is always accurate to details long forgotten.

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The other night I dreamt of someone from my past; someone I haven’t seen in nearly 25 years.  But the details, feelings, and emotions that I felt were so real, that I actually expected it to be 1989 when I woke up.  Sometimes I think my brain plays out my own Life on Mars fantasies.

I honestly have no idea why *now.*  Why at this moment he was on my mind.  I don’t remember actively thinking about him, but I was thinking about one of the reasons I spent so much time with him.   There was a connection made in my subconscious, then.

I know that my thesis topic can bring me back to this particular time in my life, and I shouldn’t be surprised that I had this dream.  I was reading stories that reminded me of my own; stories of pain and sadness and anguish.  Stories that make up the sad statistics and reality of the current climate and reality of young people around the world.

I could have been a statistic.

Some days that frightens me.

I was lucky.

Despite the self-destructive path I was on then, I came out the other side.  Battered and bruised, but I made it out.  And it was down to him.  It honestly was.  He saved me.

He saved a silly girl who just wanted to have friends and her first boyfriend.  He saved a girl who loved science fiction, INXS, the Weather Channel, and detective stories.  He saved a girl who didn’t know how to ask for help; a girl who hid for months at lunch because she didn’t know how to stand up for herself or ask why.  He saved a girl who was (and still is) flawed, goofy, says ridiculous things, is a complete spaz from time to time, has no filter, and is pretty damned self-absorbed when she wants to be.

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He saved a girl who went on to become a teacher so she could do the saving.

I wish I had said thank you enough.

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