Small steps


Well, the semester is going, and I’m only in two classes, but still I’m having a bit of a hard time with it. Both classes are not in my own department but rather are in a related department; the material covered in one of the classes is a basis for a method I use in my research and thus is very important to me. The other class is a more general overview which will include the specific technique that I use, but much of the material isn’t too related to my work or what I plan to do.

I don’t regret being in these classes, but in both I am the only person from my department in them, and I feel as though I have a very different skillset to start than the rest of the class. Also I don’t know anybody in these classes either, which doesn’t help. They have regular problem sets due each week and I feel like I’m still stuck at the beginning of the learning curve.

It just feels pretty foreign to be in these classes, and I’ve got so many things going on in the other parts of my work and life, and I just feel tired and slow and I’m not always sure what I’m doing here. I’m feeling a bit depressed again, I think….dull, I believe, is a good way to say it. It’s like my feelings and emotions and excitements are all dulled – the only thing I feel sharply is sadness and sorrow, even though I can’t often articulate why. Part of me feels overwhelmed by the classes. Part of me is stressed over money. Part of me yearns stronger than ever to have a baby, so much so that combined with my other stresses, fantasies of quitting school and having a baby and staying home with the kid have returned. I barely have time to write stuff here, and I miss it, because I see my writing as me-time, self-reflection time. But when I’m home all I can bring myself to do mostly is play my new favorite game, MySims. ….well, such is the way I am.

I am proud about one thing though – I missed some classes this week becaus I just wanted to stay home in bed. But the good thing is, the sign of improvement, is that afterwards I e-mailed the professor, someone who I had introduced myself to but have never taken a class from before, to explain that I suffer from depression and that this week I was rather down and didn’t make it to class. I told him I just wanted him to know why I wasn’t there and that I had downloaded the lecture slides and was going to go through the sample problems done in class. I had been debating whether to send this e-mail or not, but I decided to, and afterwards I was glad I did because he wrote back a friendly response telling me not to worry about it and to stay well.

It’s hard to talk about my depression, especially with virtual strangers that I respect as I do professors, but it’s so much better to just do so, because then I can stop worrying that they think I’m just a major slacker. Still, the fear barrier of “How will they judge me? Is it better to speak, or not to speak?” has often kept me from talking in the past, so I’m really glad I got this out of the way so early in the semester. So, pat on the back for me!

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2 thoughts on “Small steps

  1. I’m glad your professor was understanding. There’s so much prejudice about mental illness, as if, instead of being more like asthma, it were a moral failing. I’ve never told any of my professors about my depression, even when I couldn’t get out of bed. (Of course, my PI is not the most understanding of humans.)

    I do hope you’re getting good treatment?

  2. Oh yes. I see a therapist weekly, and a psychiatrist every three months. I really have created a strong relationship with this therapist; she’s the first psychiatrist I’ve really felt so happy with.

    I can understand never telling any professors about it. What happened with me, how I started, was during that junior year, which I wrote about in my post about university and depression, one day I just sort of wrote a reach out letter to my dean; my academic advisor. She wrote back and I met with her and she spoke to my professors for me. After that, I learned that most of them were actually pretty nice about it – at least where I am, in NYC on top of at a great school, I think people are pretty used to the idea that therapy is ok…I mean people still hide it but they generally respond accomodatingly when I let it be known that I suffer from depression.

    There was this one prof, though, for my undergrad classes, who totally didn’t respond accomodatingly….My therapist really helped me to talk to him and force myself to act normal around him, and it really helped. Glad we got that worked out, since I need to be in the department with him for another many years.

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