An update on my mental state

Rather than responding to all of the comments on my last post (and thanks once again---really, you all have done so much to help put me in a better mental state than I've been in in a while!), I thought I would do a brief update in a post.

First and most importantly, I'm doing better. Not great, but better---and that's huge, for me, right now. A few things happened in the past week to help put me in a better place:

1. I did as little work as I could get away with. I went in almost every day with the intention of Getting Stuff Done, but mentally, I wasn't up to it. Normally this would be more fuel for the fire feeding that stupid inner monologue from hell, but this week I decided to just cut myself some slack and go at a more leisurely pace. Which meant that I actually gave myself some time to do some Deep Thinking about the state of various projects. I also ended up going through a bunch of old journals, in the spirit of decluttering, and found some great articles to use in future classes. So, by not working so hard, I actually got stuff done. Go figure.

2. I have ignored the computer at home in the evenings (which explains the blog silence---and the email silence, to those of you who emailed---I'm working on replies!). I've spent the time vegging with Mr. Jane, mostly.

3. I had a fabulous conversation with a good friend. I guess you could say that this friend is a peer mentor to me---she's a mom, and she's slightly ahead of me and has gone through hazing tenure, successfully. She gave me some much-needed perspective, and helped me see some destructive patterns I've engaged in lately. Boy, was that helpful. Talking to her also reminded me that I *do* have an awesome support network of peers and mentors and peer/mentors and that I *should* be utilizing this network, especially as I go up for tenure. Which I also needed to hear, because my tendency when I get super-stressed is to hole up and not "bother" people with my problems. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

I'm still not in a great place, but I at least now am beginning to see how to get to a better place. I still am looking at therapy, because what this past year has taught me is that my coping mechanisms are not as effective anymore, and so I need to come up with new ones. And I think the whole conversation about staying or leaving is going to have to happen again, this time in earnest. But the important thing is that I do have options, and that my performance in my job is not a reflection on my worth as a person (liberally paraphrasing Bright Star's comment).

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Thanks for this update. You wrote, "...this week I decided to just cut myself some slack and go at a more leisurely pace... by not working so hard, I actually got stuff done."

This made me smile, because it's a strategy I've been employing over the past couple of days, too!

Therapy is a good thing, and blogging is a good supplement for therapy in the meantime. Unstructured time is difficult, generally, and good for bringing these self-doubts out and about.

I'm glad that you're seeing your way out of this.

Yeah. Monday and Tuesday were holidays here. I felt that I hadn't done enough work last week, so I tried to do work on Monday at home, but couldn't get anything done until after I finished reading a novel I'd started. (Then I managed to write a section of a paper I'm working on.)

Jane -- Glad to hear things are a little better now; sounds like connecting with other people (your friend/mentor, Mr. Jane) is really helping.

Skipped ahead to post here; I'm just catching up after a while away.

I was going to reply to the last message, "call a friend, call a friend, call a friend!" so I am glad to see that you did. As well as getting lots of support from having posted what you did.

I found your last post more than a little bit alarming. I don't really think you'd do anything dramatic, but it just seemed so out of character. I've felt that way (e-mail me if you want a relevant link) and even without directly asking for help, friends can make you feel like you can get through this. And you can and will. You are so strong and you do such great things. From being a terrific mom to that wonderful little girl to being a supportive teacher, mentor, and role model to your students to being a kick-ass researcher.

Hi Jane, I'm glad to see that you're in a better place. Even just feeling like you're in a better place to handle things is going to go a long way towards actually making things better.

I don't have any words of wisdom to impart, just some support to give. You're a dedicated mother, scientist and wife and you should be proud of yourself.


Hi Jane- I am a relatively new blogger, but really enjoy your posts. I am so pleased you've got a peer mentor to support you as you go through the gristmill of academic life :). Yuu have made huge progress, BTW, by strategically ignoring the computer!! I also wanted to invite you to check out my blog, "Spinning the Plates...", which is a later-career version of the parenthood/professor tug-of-war wwith the added thrill of academic adminstration. Keep vegging with Mr. Jane and remembering to ask for help (this was really hard for me to learn to do) from neutral folks who can help you sort through the big decisions and stay focused on your core values. Take care!!

You're doing four full-time jobs. Baby Jane= one, home and relationship w Mr Jane= two, teaching=three and research/publishing=four. Of COURSE you are going to flag occasionally, and yes, it does suck. Coupled with lack of support at work, it's an emotional set-up for a crash- physical or mental.
Can you take a mini-vacation anytime soon, perhaps a long weekend, and do nothing academically-related? Charge the batteries? Just be with baby and hub-maybe go to the beach?
Other than that, you are doing everything I would advise.
Never underestimate the power of rest.
You are one incredibly cool chick. I enjoy your blog immensely and generally read it regularly. (Sorry this is belated- I have been travelling for work and have not been online often enough to blog.)
I hope the rest of the summer is easier on your nerves. And I have no doubt that the powers that be at your institution realize your value to them on some level. That level just needs to get kicked up a few notches.