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The Party's Over
July 11, 2004 - 12:55 p.m.
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It's been so long since I've been here, I don't remember how I do this.
I've been feeling lousy over the past few months. A lot of stress, a lot of panic attacks. I had another really bad one yesterday.
My thesis is due August 6. I have done very little work on it in the past year. Every time I try to bring myself to work on it, I feel overwhelmed and I can't do it. It doesn't make sense. I know my topic inside out, and even starting late I'm able to write 100 pages in a month.
Yesterday I told myself I'd start writing seven pages a day until I finished it. Basically starting from scratch. So I wrote seven pages of introductory fluff. Then I went back to old papers I had written that were relevant, and Frankensteined another 40 pages together. So halfway there after four hours.
Then I couldn't bear to work on it anymore. I started thinking about how all I had done was just the easy part, and now there was no more easy. I had to figure out a way to expand on the points, I had to do new research. I still have all this legal work I'm doing that will eat up some of my days. I dwelled for about an hour on how hard it would be. I tried to play a computer game to take my mind off it, but it didn't work, I kept thinking about it, and panicking.
So I wrote an e-mail to my advisor telling him that I would be unable to finish the thesis, and asking him if there would be a way to salvage my M.S. (since I already completed 36 hours and just had the 6-hour thesis left). I don't expect at this late point that there is a way to salvage it. Then I drove to my mother's office, and asked her if she'd be disappointed in me if I didn't complete the M.S. Because she's paid my tutition and supported me for the past three years so I could do it. Of course, she said she wouldn't be disappointed. So I cried in front of her for an hour and went home.
It's still possible for me to finish the thing. I have almost a month (though not really- August 6 is the time it has to be filed, that doesn't accout for reviewing a draft by my committee, which I can't spring at the last minute). I could even turn in garbage, take a C, and still get my M.S. because I had high grades in everything else.
But the only thing that brings me to peace is convincing myself that I don't have to do it. When I start feeling better, and then thinking that maybe I can finish it, the panic starts to creep right back in.
I've just wasted three years of my life. I've failed to achieve something that would advance my career. I feel like I'm not as smart as I used to be for some reason. This kind of work had never before been a problem for me. Now it overwhelms me. I'm paralyzed for hours thinking about how I'm going to fail.
I get the same way doing legal work too. I have trouble finishing rather simple things because I feel like it's to hard for me. I know it's easy, but I feel like it's too hard for me to even start.
Tomorrow I plan to call the therapist I saw a few months ago and ask him to refer me to a psychiatrist, so maybe I can be diagnosed as having something and get some treatment for it. I'm just unable to function in life right now.
Some of you sent me some notes, and I haven't read them yet. I will. Even reading e-mail seems like an overwhelming task to me, and I haven't read about half the e-mail I've received over the past few months. (That is, half of the stuff actually for me; I get about 300 spam e-mails a day.)
I don't know what I'm going to do with my life. I just need the pressure of the thesis released. Even if it means ruining all the work I've done and creating a bad mark on my academic record. Even though I'm trying to convince myself that I don't have to finish it, the pressure still doesn't feel off, because I haven't heard back from my advisor yet. I'm hoping he'll have some solution for me, I guess. Or fearing that he'll convince me to do the best I can to finish the thesis.