Tuesday, October 13, 2015

I've been working on a few posts. There's one about flu shots and why you should get them. There's one about World Arthritis Day, which was yesterday, so I guess better late than never. There's one about how I study in medical school. This is not any of those posts.

This is a post that was inspired by talking to one of my best friends, V. The context is unimportant, because the message is really what matters.

Part of depression and anxiety, a big part, at least for me, is the near-constant self-doubt. At times, it can be crippling. Despite having a list of pretty decent accomplishments, ranging from graduate degrees, to successful jobs, to personal accomplishments like marrying a fantastic man and having an amazing group of friends, there are times (a lot of times) that I feel like a big failure. Like someone who is just playing pretend at being a grown-up. Like someone who somehow doesn't deserve whatever good has come my way. Like someone who, at her core, is not "a good person," whatever that means.

Another part of it is the exhaustion of feelings. I tell people all the time that they have to "feel their feelings," and that having feelings, no matter what they are, is totally okay. (Of course, I'm not as gracious to myself.) I joke a lot about having a lot of feelings, a la "Mean Girls," but it is seriously true. I have a lot of feelings. What's worse is that I have feelings about my feelings. That is the exhausting part. But, as Kelly Williams brown aptly puts in her book, "You don't have to have feelings about your feelings." My therapist also tells me this. I tell other people this. And yet, here I am, having feelings about my feelings on a regular basis.

We've all done it at least once.

"I know it's stupid, but I feel nervous when I fly on airplanes."

"I shouldn't feel jealous of that girl from high school who got married before I did, but I do."

"I'm so mad that I am so upset by the fact that my boyfriend broke up with me. He was a total jerk!"

And on and on. But it's okay. You can be afraid to fly on airplanes, you can be jealous and not be a bad person, you can be sad about something, even if in the end, it might be better for you.

The time I sabotage myself the most, oddly enough, is when I feel good, though. You would think that someone who suffers and struggles through feeling functional, let alone feeling good, would welcome "good" with open arms. That positivity would feel amazing, not terrifying. Maybe for some people, that's how it works, but not for me. The minute I start to feel good about something, whether it's an upcoming exam, or a job prospect, or life in general, there's a tiny voice in the back of my head that says, "You can't feel good. The outcome could be terrible, and then you'll have felt good about something that turned out to be BAD. And then what would you do?"

Spoiler alert: This usually ends with me in what I refer to as "the doom spiral," the ending of which is always that Ken will leave me, and all my friends will leave me, and my family will abandon me, and I will live alone, in a box, in a van, under a bridge, down by a river, and there I will die, childless, and alone, and I will be eaten by wolves. Basically, a bad time.

Second spoiler alert: It doesn't MATTER if it turns out terribly. How I feel right now has literally NO BEARING on the outcome of whatever I'm feeling good about. It only affects how I feel right now, and if I feel good, then I need to just let myself feel good. I don't need to feel anxious about feeling good, I don't need to feel sad or stupid or angry or anything else about feeling good. I can just feel good, and that's fine.

This is all easier said than done, of course. Anxiety isn't something I can fold up and put away on a shelf because I want to. But for me, it helps to remind myself that if the thing I'm feeling good about goes well, then I got to feel good, and then I will feel even better! And if the thing I'm feeling good about goes badly, then having felt good about it doesn't make the bad outcome worse, and if I had forced myself to feel negatively about the whole thing, it wouldn't make the bad outcome LESS terrible. The two events have nothing to do with one another. How I feel right now has no effect on the outcome of this thing. So if I feel good, I'm going to feel good.

Or at least I'm going to try.

Here's to feeling our feelings, and letting ourselves feel good without repercussion from our inner anxiety and depression voices.

What do you think? Do you have feelings about your feelings? What do you do to make it easier for yourself to feel whatever you're feeling? Are you sick of hearing the word "feeling" at this point?

Life Lately: October

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Oh, hey there. I guess I should blow the dust off of this blog and get back to writing, huh? The last two weeks have been nuts, with exams and being sick and general life stuff, so I figured before I get back to the real writing, I'd quickly update everyone with a little look at what life has been like around here.

THINKING about how much cardiology I have to cram into my brain between now and next Friday. We basically have an exam every two or three weeks, which is way nicer than when I was at Nova and it was every Monday, but it's still a lot. Also, I still am really bad at reading EKG's. 

 like I'm on an emotional roller coaster. Some days, I feel okay, and then there are days where I can't get out of bed and nothing feels like it's worth it. And then there are some days that I feel great. Feelings are hard.

READING All the Light We Cannot See, which I am loving. I only get through a few pages every couple of days, but it's lovely. I'm also reading a ton of blogs. And journal articles. #nerdstatus

WATCHING all the fall TV! Granted, I'm watching it via Hulu and other streaming services since we dumped cable last year, but still. This year's line-up includes The Blacklist, Law and Order: SVU, Criminal Minds, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, and Blindspot. I also want to start Quantico before I get too far behind, and of course I'll be "checking in" to American Horror Story: Hotel when it starts TOMORROW. If you want a great review of fall TV, check out Becca's post about it!

EATING more healthfully... or at least making a valiant attempt. Since last January, I've put on about 20 pounds, which is not great, especially because it makes my PCOS symptoms worse, which makes me gain more weight, vicious cycle, etc etc. Of course, I've been craving carbs and sweets like crazy, which is not helpful. Carrots and celery are just not the same as Reese's peanut butter cups, yanno?

LOVING the weather, now that the weekend is over and Hurricane Joaquin has passed. It's been so nice now that the temperatures have dropped below sweltering, and I am so glad that we were finally able to turn off our air conditioning. Fall is my favorite season, and I'm hoping it hangs around a bit before we go straight into the winter temps.

ENJOYING the second year of medical school, even though it makes me want to cry or yell or quit life to go herd goats in Greece at least once a week. The material is so much more relevant to actual doctoring, and despite the fact that there's so much material it is absurd, I can appreciate why they want us to know this stuff. I am sure I will regret saying this at least 28 times before the end of the year, though, so please don't say "I told ya' so," when that happens.

HOPING that the blood work I had drawn yesterday for the reproductive immunologist comes back soon, and that it's good news. More on that to come.

LISTENING to podcasts! My favorites right now are Undisclosed and Freakonomics. Undisclosed is a podcast about the Serial podcast, and it makes me so thankful that I am not a lawyer. The Freakonomics podcast is done by Stephen Dubner, one of the authors of the books of the same name, and it makes me wish I had studied more economics (or... you know, any economics). Other podcasts on my "to-listen" list include Mystery Show and RadioLab. Do you have any favorites that I should be downloading?

PLANNING a trip to DC next weekend, a trip to Atlanta in November for a conference, a trip to FL to see my dad in January, and possibly a trip to the midwest again for spring break to see some of my favorites. We'll see how many of these actually happen, but it's nice to dream...

LOOKING FORWARD TO our wedding-photographer-turned-friend's twins' first birthday party! The girls were born on Halloween and they are ADORABLE, and their party is a costume party! I've never been so excited to go to a child's birthday party. Now, to figure out our costumes!

What are all of you up to lately? 

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