Lately, I’ve been struggling. And I mean REALLY struggling; the kind of struggling that involves spending days on end laying in bed trying desperately to hide from the world and the impending stresses of life (read: impending doom).
I knew this was coming: grad school anxiety. What I didn’t know was that it was going to be this bad. I had anticipated that I would feel anxious for maybe a week or so leading up to the first week of school but that the excitement would triumph over the nerves. I was wrong. So very, very wrong.
My anxiety started eight weeks sooner than I originally predicted and the excitement most certainly did not win out. On the contrary, the excitement has virtually disappeared and in it’s place I’ve been feeling this overwhelming sense of fear and uncertainty. Will I be able to handle grad school? Will I be able to manage the workload? Will I be able to afford to support myself on top of all of these additional costs? And, most pressing of all, how will I survive such a huge transition?
I thrive on stability; I need it. Without stability I feel as though my life will implode. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that grad school is starting to feel like a life threatening situation rather than a new adventure for the coming years. My stability has been compromised and I am now in full blown fight or flight mode. But the problem is that I don’t feel strong enough to fight and I don’t have the energy for flight. So instead I stay in bed. I stare at the same four walls of my bedroom and feel endlessly sad. Whereas the time leading up to grad school admissions decisions seemed to slow to a crawl, time now seems to be flying by impossibly fast and I am desperate for it to slow down and give me time to breathe. September is just five weeks away. I start classes in just over a month. One month. How is that even possible? And how will I cope with the reality of that situation in five weeks when I can hardly cope with the idea of it right now?
Honestly, right now I don’t have an answer to that question. But that doesn’t mean I’ve decided to do nothing. On the contrary, after months and months of steadily increasing anxiety I have decided that it’s time for me to go back on medication for anxiety and depression. I’ve been avoiding medication for the past two years ever since my first experience with a different antidepressant; however, I’ve got to at least give it a shot. My doctors claim that this medication should drastically decrease my anxiety and at this point I really need some relief, especially with grad school starting soon.
My only source of hope at this point is the fact that I went through this before starting my undergraduate degree and I somehow managed to pull through that. If I could get through these feelings when I was 17, surely I can get through these same feelings six years later.
As Dory would say, “Just keep swimming”.