In Which I Share a Struggle

Monday, May 20, 2013

Well, I survived my first day of class at Penn after a full day at work. I know that I took a class last winter, but it was intro to anatomy at a community college, not Autonomic Physiology at Penn, haha. In any case, I'm very tired, but the class should be interesting and there only seems to be one obnoxious girl who insists on commenting on everything that the professor says. The professor is a really great lecturer and she's very funny, so at the very least, it will be moderately entertaining.

Today's assigned post is, "Get real. Share something you're struggling with right now." Clearly, I am struggling with blogging every day in May. But seriously,  I feel similarly to when I had to write about a difficulty in life, mainly because I feel like this blog exists largely because I use it to work out things that I'm struggling with on a regular basis. Here we are with today's post theme and I tried to focus on the most pervasive struggle that affects my life. Read what other people had to say over at the link-up...

I found this quote by randomly Googling, and it brought me to Whitney English's blog (which is linked if you click on the picture). Anyway, it sounds cliched, but it really is true that our struggles make us who we are, and even when they are sucking the life out of us, they are part of the story. I am not going to life and say that without them, life would be boring, because I'm pretty sure that I could take a year (or fifteen) of "boring" given my life thus far. I'm also not going to say that "anything easy isn't worth having" or some variation, because I think that's what we tell ourselves when things suck so bad that we want to give up. Regardless, no matter how bad we want them to, problems and struggles aren't going anywhere anytime soon, and as soon as we get rid of the ones we have, it won't be long before new ones show up to replace them... you just always hope they're not as ridiculous as the last ones, haha.

I tried to pick a struggle that has, for lack of a better phrase, "grown up" with me. I think it's one that many people can identify with. Doubt. Doubt can put me in bed (or under my kitchen table) faster than anything else. Doubt feeds the anxiety monster, doubt fuels depression. Doubt has stopped me from doing things that I wanted to do, and not let me enjoy thing to the fullest extent. Doubt invades my personal life, my academic life, and my professional life. Doubt sucks.

On Pinterest, if you were to search "doubt" you'd get a variety of things, including:

- When in doubt, drink coffee
- When in doubt, wear red.
- If in doubt, bake a cake.
- When in doubt, run it out.
- Leave no room for doubt.
- If you are going to doubt something, doubt your limits.
- Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.

And then:

- Where there is great doubt, there will be great awakening; small doubt, small awakening; no doubt, no awakening. (Zen Proverb)

- "If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things." - Rene Descartes.

Lots of people are trying to ignore doubt, push it away, do things instead of doubt, or turn doubt into some kind of positive thing. I think that the biggest issue with doubt is that a healthy dose of doubt will go far (I mean, look how far it got Descartes!) But I doubt myself to the point where I don't get anything done, or I feel intensely unsure about everything the entire time I'm doing whatever I'm doing (and often long after I'm done, as well). I have no delusions that one day, I will stop doubting my abilities and my ideas entirely, but I do hope that I can find the line between detrimental self-doubt and the kind of doubt that produces great awakenings.

I think one of the hardest things about anxiety and depression is the doubt that gets insinuated into every situation. I feel like I can't trust the world, my emotions, or my ability to remain upright and functional. For awhile, I couldn't even trust my own senses because I was having auditory and visual hallucinations (and even some olfactory ones... spent an entire day smelling pineapple in lecture once... that was annoying.) But the doubt starts to take on a life of its own, it starts to creep in when you aren't even aware, and before you know it, you're laid out on the floor, wondering have you even got as far as you did and if you'll ever get up again. Even now, when I'm in what I'd like to call a "remission" of my depression, I doubt that it will stay. Yes, I'm taking my medication and going to therapy, but I can always feel the depression on the edges, and I doubt that it will ever truly leave me. Doubt has robbed me of so many things, and continues to make me uneasy, even when I'm doing "well". It's hard to trust the world when you can barely trust yourself.

I don't think that my struggles are any more difficult than anyone else's; in fact, comparatively, I'm doing really well. Today, I watched a documentary about an 18 year old boy who died of osteosarcoma. It was a beautiful documentary about a beautiful human being who left this planet way before he was supposed to. My life, compared to that kid's and that kid's family's life? Practically problem free. That doesn't mean that my problems are any less significant to my life, but in the grand scheme of things... I'm not dying of osteosarcoma and neither is anyone that I hold near and dear, so thank God for that. Every day, I go to work at a The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in the oncology department, and every kid I deal with has cancer of some kind or another. Compared to that, my doubt/depression/anxiety is small potatoes (Unrelated: Who even came up with that phrase? So weird.) I hate when people say that something is a "first world problem" (and they're being serious) because just because someone is dying of cancer or starving to death in some far off country doesn't make someone's problems less of an issue or less upsetting. It is, at least for me though, a good wake up call that I work where I do, because it reminds me to be thankful for every day I have, even if it is filled to the brim with doubt.

So, I struggle with fitting my "issues" into the grand scheme of things. I struggle against myself and how I fit into the world. I struggle with doubt and how I can subdue it long enough to get things accomplished and enjoy my life. I struggle with walking the line between a healthy dose of skepticism and second-guessing myself to the point of immobility. I struggle against my own brain, and that is the biggest struggle of all.

- A

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