Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I just don't get it.

I signed up for some shifts at work the other day. I'm supposed to work tomorrow night in Friday morning, Friday night into Saturday morning, and Saturday night into Sunday morning. This was usually how I'd try to schedule my overnights: all in a clump. It really doesn't make sense to space them far apart, because then you never get back on a daytime schedule and just become a useless zombie for the rest of the week.

Today I went through a big box of random paperwork that I had stowed in the corner upstairs. I spent half the time crying. Fat stacks of xeroxed opera scores; memos and travel itineraries from the recital series that I used to work for; letters to hospitals requesting to volunteer; notecards with praise from conductors and colleagues, binders and folders crammed with notes, assignments, and papers; my name on old concert posters and in programs. I don't know why I saved so much. I guess I figured maybe I would need it. Maybe the old me would have needed it. I slowly leafed through it all, and put almost everything in a pile to use as kindling for the wood stove. It was sort of devastating to review the things I used to do in my old life, versus everything I don't do now. I miss life as a student. I liked being sheltered from the real world -- from owning a house, from having a frustrating full-time job, from paying property taxes.

I need to go to work but all I can think about is how I'd rather be trapped under the ice on a frozen lake or browsing the aisles of Agway for rat poison. I keep telling myself not to indulge in thinking this way -- I mean, it really isn't me, right? They're just stupid thoughts. I don't really know anymore. Maybe it's exactly the opposite; maybe I'm irrevocably drawn to these patterns of thinking; maybe they define who I am.


  1. My mother told me that you can have everything you want, just not all at the same time.

  2. I am 36 and just now getting all of the pre-reqs done for med school. I've wanted to do this since I was a kid (on and off for various reasons. You need to be in a place where you are ok before you can be in a place where you can help others. You are young, you have a lot of time. I'm the first one to understand how it can feel like you have to get everything done all at once, but you don't. You have to live in the now. I've got 3 kids, my youngest is 4. You've got a tough work schedule right now. Just BE for awhile and get in a good place. This too shall pass. It's hard to feel like you're treading water and biding your time until you can do the things you really want. You will be able to do the things you really want. It might just take a little longer. But you need to be in the good place in your head first. And spending time with your little guy isn't a bad way to spend your time right now until you get in that good place.

  3. Older med student here. I've found keeping that flame as bright as you remember it isn't impossible, but it's not human. Life happens while your trudging through the ditches on your way to your dreams. It's only when we come back to our center, our belief in out passions that we find strength to wake up another day and go for it. Hang in there.

    Doug S

  4. Based on your previous post and this one, I think that you really need to find a competent therapist who can help you, regardless of what your primary care doc says. Just because your other therapist didn't think she was helping you doesn't mean that someone else can't. I was really scared for you in December, and that wasn't very long ago. Your last paragraph makes me feel scared for you again. It sounds to me like you're not ready to turn up the dial on the pressures again. You need someone to help you get rid of some of your pressures and help you navigate the ones you keep.

    Some additional ideas...
    Could you and your husband move somewhere that would make your life easier? Maybe where your expense to income ratio might be better? Would you both be open to it?

    Can your husband pick up more hours or find another job that pays better so that you don't have as much of a financial burden on yourself?

    Could you be satisfied with a career as something other than a doctor, which maybe wouldn't require as much sacrifice to get there right now? I know from experience that it can be hard to say, "I've changed my mind," but it truly is okay if you decide that it's not for you right now.

    And finally, I know I said this at the beginning, but whatever else you do, could you please start calling to find a new therapist today? Tell them about burning the mementos of your previous life, the crying, and the things you've been thinking about drowning and poison. See if they'll see you today or tomorrow. Please find someone to help you with everything that's going on.

  5. Thanks for all the comments, guys. I don't know why I was in such a funk, but thanks for bringing me back to earth.

    And to Anonymous, thanks for reiterating the "find a new therapist" advice. I called four psychologists this morning (mostly left messages), but I do have an appointment with one on Tuesday.