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Content warning: anxiety.

[Read on]Do you know how anxiety works? I am going to tell you how mine does.

You have to do something that you don't know how to approach. It is vast, and difficult, and you have already missed the first deadline, and the second one, and the third one.—You actually don't know how many deadlines you have missed or postponed or just wiggled your way out of.

It is vast, you have to do it, and you don't know how, and you feel that you can't. Can't, can't, can't. So you do anything but what you have to do. Anything at all, to avoid so much as thinking about it. On Monday, you put it off until tomorrow, and on Friday, having still done nothing, you sigh in relief and put it out of your mind until the next week. You get really productive in everything else, and you do a lot of—shit, but not that thing, or things.

And then sometimes you get anxiety attacks, too. Mine happen when all the missed deadline converge into one monstous "WHY HAVEN'T YOU DONE IT ALL YET". Anxiety attacks—they are not "can't" (but actually could, if I forced myself to), but CANNOT, physically, because my mind shuts down. Then I have to stop, and start back slowly, and say, fuck the deadlines. Starting doing it slowly and steadily often, but not always, helps.

And then your body cannot take the amount of stress you are putting yourself under to do the thing (but fail), and starts shouting at you that this will not end well. (This can manifest in different ways.)


Well, I have not been further than that down this particular destructive road than my body's loud warning. When it did it (you don't need the exact details), I was so afraid that I somehow just stopped not doing those things, because health was more important. I began doing them, instead. I began getting rid of them. You get at task to do, you do it, you get rid of it at once, and you don't add it to the pile of tasks you are struggling under.

Well, I did this in two aspects of my life: regular work, and translation work.


I have yet to do the same with my PhD.

Which, don't even get me started. I don't know how I will finish it on time, at all. I want to. And I will somehow, but currently it is like this: set self maximum and minimum PhD goals, every day. And fulfill the minimum one, whatever happens.

Today, for example, I procrastinated starting my goal (writing an article) for almost two hours. Because my research is ash and shit and piss, my anxiety is telling me. Because my references are understudied at best (not read in full at worst). Because, because, because.

Well, I started, but then I wrote one page, and began procrastinating again. Do you know how you procrastinate during a task you fear and don't really know how to approach? You fixate on a minor sub-task and do it and redo it, and you have to have THIS thing PERFECT, RIGHT NOW, AT ALL TIME COSTS. That, too, is procrastination and putting off what you don't know how to do. I did it with an illustration. Well, I decided that what I had did not fit, for valid reasons, and I do need to redraw it, but streamlining the text is more difficult, more important right now and comes first.

My must-do task for tomorrow is finishing up the text (and pictures, maybe) and sending the thing to my thesis advisor.


And I am going to sit my ass down and do it. Tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, and the day after that, as well. (Take that, anxiety!)
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