Really tricky week.
I’m in my ‘second term’ of my first year, punctuated by the Christmas break. In my mind that means I’m halfway through my first year and, whilst this is not strictly true, I look at all the things on my broad plan that I need to do this year and I feel lost.
I am feeling extraordinarily anxious.
My brain shuts down. Fight, flight or freeze engages. I can’t think clearly. I can’t think.
My difficulties with sensory processing are exacerbated. I can’t filter sounds. I’m meeting a colleague for lunch and we wander around the pub trying to find a spot that I can bear to sit in. In the end I pretend. I can’t bear to be touched. I can’t stand artificial lights. The instinct to shutdown is immense.
My capacity to be with other people, even people I know care about me, is impaired. I can’t process the words; I can’t interpret the intentions. It is exhausting.
I am jangly. I need to stim, to soothe. I rock discreetly. I roll the edges of my scarf, over and back, over and back. My fingers move through their routine, the synchronised pattern of movements they’ve followed since childhood, cycle after cycle.
I’m supposed to be starting my literature review but I can’t seem to read. The words don’t go in. The amount I have to read is overwhelming. The words don’t go in.
I can’t seem to string a sentence together, which is tricky since my Supervisors are wanting a draft of a section of my review. I have no words.
I feel like a failure, an imposter. I believe people must think I’m lazy, or not putting in the hours. Not working hard enough. Procrastinating. I believe.
I can’t do nothing so I just do something. I decide to spend a day learning how to use Scrivener properly. I go to the library and find a framework I can use to help me read critically, rather than word-by-word. I find a template that allows me to input the aims of my research, and chart my progress in answering my substantive aims through the literature.
I revisit my plan. I haven’t done any writing. Am I a failure? Am I procrastinating?
I am doing. I am creating structure. I am finding order. I am managing my anxiety. I am doing.