Thursday, March 13, 2008

I Want to Tear it All Down and Build it Up Again

The worst part of this is something I don't have a word for. It's a kind of frustration, I guess. It feels like paralysis, as if I were straining to move my body--focusing as hard as I could--and yet feeling myself lying perfectly still. Or it's like I keep screaming until I can't breath anymore, except that I never manged to make any sound at all, and all I have to show for myself is my own exhaustion.

Most days are better, but for no particular reason today was worse.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

That's a panic attack.

Anonymous said...

Posts like these are the PJMB equivalent of Maurice Leiter's poetry.

diagoras said...

I believe the Germans have a word for that - but merely on inductive grounds.

Anonymous said...

Today was so bad it had you putting up posts with Queensryche lyrics!!!??? On the one hand, that is hot. On the other hand, that is terrifying.

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain. I'm (happily but stressfully) in the middle of my tenure evaluation, and I've been remembering lately just how much worse--worlds worse--l I felt during my two years of being on the market and not getting a job. (Sometimes three times really is the charm.) One day just after finding out, for the second year in a row, that I wasn't going to get a job, I was sitting at the front of the classroom looking at my watch to see if it was time to begin. I looked down and saw the socks I was wearing. They were perfectly ordinary socks. No different from any of the other socks I usually wear. But I was gripped with a deep, undeniable feeling that they were The Wrong Socks. I was wearing The Wrong Socks. I couldn't do anything right. Not even socks. So yes, I understand how crazy failing at this can make you feel. As Omar would say: I feel you.

Anonymous said...

TAKE A BREAK. Watch a movie. Go
for a hike someplace pretty. Read a novel.

I understand the feeling that the only way you can get your life to go the way you want it to is persistent hard work, but people have limits. When you're posting stuff like this all the time, it's glaringly obvious that you need a break.

Anonymous said...

Seriously,you need to see a therapist or at least a doctor. I have some experience with panic/anxiety attacks, which is what you seem to be experiencing (if you description here is accurate), you need to get help, and probably medication. Don't let it get worse. be safe.

Anonymous said...

Letting yourself feel the frustration can be cathartic, but you've got to find a way to balance those days with better days. Finding something to throw yourself into is useful. Maybe this blog helps you do that.

Keeping up with your writing is also important. It's possible to make progress even when most of what you write on a given day isn't going to end up in your final version, as long as it helps you get to the final version. Yesterday I wrote 900 words. That's not a lot, but it's enough to keep my momentum up, and my spirits up, so I'm feeling better today than I did earlier in the week.

I'm starting to worry about you, PGS, it sounds like you're having a lot of down days recently. Maybe it would help to take the day off and go to the beach/movies/mall and admit today's a wash, just a day to recharge?

Anonymous said...

Queensryche? I thought this was Calexico? Maybe it's a cover...o.k. who cares?

It's interesting how different people react differently to the job market stress. Back in December, something snapped in me and I kind of stopped caring. But not in a depressed or anxious way; I just stopped taking the process so seriously (come on...now we have offers before the job deadlines even arrive). I still apply to jobs and so on, but I just don't care as much anymore. Given that my department doesn't seem to care too much if I get a job or not, maybe I have the right attitude?

Anonymous said...

"Posts like these are the PJMB equivalent of Maurice Leiter's poetry."

Which is not really poetry but sentimental prose broken up in funny places. Not poetry at all. Yes I'm a snob.

Anonymous said...

I thought that my feelings of anxiety and panic would dissipate after I completed my dissertation. I've finished, but I still find those feelings. I'm not sure if it's just a matter of habit and will slowly subside or if I'm genuinely prone to these states of mind and need to consider treatment. Anyone care to offer some first-person perspective, those who are two or three years past finishing their dissertation (whether or not you are TT, though perhaps success on the job market aids in the recovery process). I'm not looking for medical or psychiatric advice, mind you, just how those with a disposition to be anxious or panic in the dissertation/job search phase fare after some of that is finished. Do you return to normal?

Anonymous said...

Speaking from experience, I'd emphasize that your anxiety and depression are rational responses to what has in fact been a severe disappointment. Indeed, not to feel the way you're feeling would be a sign of pathology.

I vividly remember at times feeling so depressed while digesting my own first failed search that I simply couldn't move: if the feeling hit while I was walking I'd just have to stop and sit down for a while (once, on the curb of a busy street). I did worry that I was losing my mind, but looking back I can see that I was simply letting the disappointment register.

Beyond that observation I can't say much to help. It did work out for me in the end, and I even got a decent two-year visiting position in the spring of that first search. But of course you know that things might still go well for you. What you don't seem to realize is that feeling just terrible at times is not only the normal but the rational (or if you want, the reasonable) way to feel in your situation.

Anonymous said...

During the diss. and job search phase I got mentally and physically ill. The physical symptons were visible to even those who didn't pay that close of attention to me, and there were other symptoms that no one knew about but me. Then I had a grandmother and aunt die of cancer in the same month and the next month a family friend suffered the same fate. Then my mother was diagnosed with cancer. That was a kick in the ass to let me know I was being a self-loathing sissy and needed to quit my snivling. My advice, if it sucks this bad, go hang dry wall or tar roofs for a living. Otherwise you could move to Darfur and be truly worthy of sympathy. Short of that, get over it. Grad. school is a choice, make another one. The job market owes you nothing.

Bobcat said...

Yes, you return to normal, but it takes a while, and things like the job market don't help.

Anonymous said...

I'm also hoping for normalcy. I received TT job offers this year and accepted one of them (which I really wanted). However, I'm still being followed by the same feelings that I had before I got a job. I always thought that it would all go away when I got a job but here I am. I think that I developed a habit of being anxious and with time perhaps it will loosen. It also seems like a better idea to exercise or socialize (etc.) instead of drinking too much.

Anonymous said...

dude. exercise. regular exercise, even if it's just going for a walk holding your morning coffee cup.
get out and pound the pavement, or bike, or swim, or row, or whatever the hell you can.

get the body moving. don't mistreat the poor animal. if it's happier, it will be better able to help you.

(the same advice applies all the more if you reject my dualistic language and think you *are* your body. take it either way.
anyhow, even materialists don't generally think they are their major muscle groups. what i'm telling you is: get your major muscle groups out there, get them working, get them anaerobic, and get them fatigued. the next day you'll feel much better.)

Anonymous said...

"But I was gripped with a deep, undeniable feeling that they were The Wrong Socks. I was wearing The Wrong Socks. I couldn't do anything right. Not even socks."

Best story I've read on here in a while. Out-fucking-standing!

Pseudonymous Grad Student said...

Yeah, the lyric's Calexico. Though maybe Queensryche too? That is disturbing. . . .

LA Seneca said...

"Posts like these are the PJMB equivalent of Maurice Leiter's poetry."

Truth. In content, anyway. I suppose Sunday Comics are a more apt analogue in form.

A little google action shows that lyrics websites believe the following:

"I Want to Tear it All Down and Build it Up Again" is from Calexico's "All Systems Red", whereas "Tear it all down; we'll put it up again" comes from Queensryche's "Empire".

Anonymous said...

"Anyone care to offer some first-person perspective, those who are two or three years past finishing their dissertation."

It comes and goes. I'm almost four years out, I've kept employed for the most part in universities, but until landing something fairly permanent, it just keeps on. You cycle through all the moods like despair and resignation and just not caring, in an endless loop. Sorry to tell you that.