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Archive for the ‘anxiety’ Category

First off, Johnson & Johnson (or Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. a subsidiary of J&J) has recently been entangled in a number of lawsuits over the drug that I was taking, Risperdal. The claim is that J&J exaggerated the drug’s effectiveness, while downplaying it’s harmful side-effects–specifically, the risk of developing diabetes. None of this surprises me. I’m sure the majority of pharmaceutical companies do the same thing. And the way that med makes you crave carbs and sugar, it’s no wonder people develop diabetes while on it. All of this just makes me more determined to find a way to manage my anxiety without medication. And so far, I seem to be doing just that. It’s not perfect by any means, but it seems to be getting better.

Meditation: I’ve been pretty good with the meditation resolution. I don’t get to meditate on the weekends, and, caught up in my nerves about teaching, I forgot to meditate on Monday. Right now my meditations are very short, but I’ve also been trying to work Andrew Weil’s 4-7-8 breathing technique into my days (twice a day if I remember).

Schedule (maintaining work/life balance): I’m nearing the end of week two, and this seems to be going okay, but I am already running up against not having enough time (a common lament, I’m sure). Week one without student papers to respond to and with prepping only introductory material is easy. Now comes the hard part: lots of reading, students papers, and intense prep. What I am trying to become better at though is compartmentalizing. When I decide my work day is over (and I’m trying to keep this kind of standard 8-4, 9-5, 7-3), then I try to really shut work out and focus on the things I enjoy: currently working on a puzzle that I got for Christmas, crocheting, and my guilty pleasures: American Idol and Biggest Loser.

Last week, I didn’t have time for an hour of organizing and didn’t even finish cleaning the house this weekend. These things kind of aggravate me, but I’m trying not to let them get me down. I did, however, spend about 20 minutes organizing some paperwork, and I spent about the same amount of time with my Anxiety and Phobia Workbook. I think that focusing on the things that I have accomplished is probably a better approach than cataloging those that I haven’t.

I also scheduled a massage for my first Thursday afternoon “hooky” session which is coming up next month.

The next couple of days and upcoming weekend are feeling pretty unmanageable to me at this point. There is just not enough time to get everything done that I want and need to do. This is why life is all about prioritizing. I am determined to cook some healthy food on Sunday, because I haven’t been doing so well with the dietary improvements.

So nearing the end of the first month of 2012, and I’m still getting along and focused on these goals and resolutions. Let’s see what February has to offer.

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A little over two weeks ago I discussed going off my meds with my psychiatric nurse practitioner. We both a agreed that the holiday break would be an ideal time to experiment with this. I titrated and have been med-free for a week and two days. I’m in a very bad place mentally, but I’m determined to give it two weeks and see if I start to feel better. I am hoping a regimen of meditation, talk therapy (have to find a good cognitive behavioral therapist first), spiritual/self-help reading, exercise/yoga, and regular massage might be able to take the place of the medication. As I strive to put all of this into the written word, it feels so complicated. My depression and anxiety are very deeply attached to my career, and yet, I know that I have a “dream job.” If I describe my 2011, it seems that it’s the year that I got everything I have ever wanted and worked so hard for: I finished my PhD and got a tenure-track job at a local liberal arts college much like my alma mater. I share a cute little house with my wonderful partner–white picket fence and a cute dog included. My life is very close to how I envisioned it when I started out on my graduate school journey back in 1998 (except for the fact that I’m not in Vermont and have a different life partner). So why am I so unhappy? Why am I paralyzed with fear and anxiety? Currently I have myself convinced that it is all because of my job. My anxieties about teaching and my lack of confidence over what I know (and don’t) in my field(s) are overwhelming. I have two weeks until the semester starts, and I am wasting time in state of dysfunction where I spend LOTS of time worrying about the coming semester and feeling like a failure and NO time doing anything about prepping and doing the work that I promised myself I’d get to over break. These two weeks will pass in a flash, and suddenly I will enter into semester number two on the tenure-track filled with the same (or worse) feelings of inadequacy that I had throughout the first semester. I spend a lot of time obsessing over whether or not a career change would truly make me happy; however, my goal is to find happiness free from anxiety and depression DESPITE my current career situation. I need to surrender more to the universe and to God. This is all very difficult to do while in the state that I’m in. It’s hard to get myself going each day and when I don’t accomplish anything work-wise, I beat myself up terribly.

My last therapist had this mug that I loved. It read simply: Where’s the evidence? At this moment I do not have evidence of my failings as a teacher (of course I have not yet read my student evaluations–frightened as I am over the tailspin that they could very well send me into). At this moment I actually have evidence of my success as a teacher: overall strong evaluations from the Dean and colleagues who observed my classes this past semester. And yet, despite the evidence (and lack) I cannot seem to convince myself that this is where I should be and that this is what I should be doing. I hate the erratic scheduling of higher education: 15 week sprints followed by a month to three months of recovery, while I’m more a slow and steady kind of person. I cannot seem to balance the work/life thing at all. And so begins the spiral that I am spending nearly all of my time stuck in these days. I don’t feel that I deserve a break, yet I’m giving myself one anyways and not enjoying it all at the same time.

As I watch, read, and listen to stories of leaving behind 2011 and resolving something new for 2012, I struggle to be part of the merriment and to be filled with the kind of hope that others seem to have. I am, however, resolved to hang on med-free for a bit longer and see if it gets better. That is how I enter into this new year–with a hope that I don’t yet feel in my heart. I enter into 2012 simply waiting….

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