It’s the most miserable time of the year

I’m depressed.

Not clinically, at least, not yet. But I’m definitely in a major slump. I’m crying a lot and sleeping a lot and I feel tired all the time. Everything exhausts me.

Part of it is weather-related, because this time of year is always so dark and cold, and even though it’s not all that cold right now, it is so dark for so long.

Part of it is lack of exercise because I stopped running during the tww in our last FET and then didn’t start up again because (see above) it was cold and dark in the mornings and E. started waking up unpredictably early.

Part of it is Christmas burnout. This is the first year I have really, really not wanted to be buying presents. It’s just felt overwhelming. Q. and I have decided to do “presence, not presents”, so we’re each in charge of organizing six dates over the the course of 2015, which I’m excited about. I’m also in discussions with my family to stop gift exchanging (other than for E. of course). Anything we really want/need we can afford to buy ourselves, and I’m so tired of buying stuff to give to people because they’re going to buy stuff to give to us. We have so much. Too much, really.

Part of it is trying to engage with the end of treatments. Today I packed up a duffel bag of clothes and three bags of books and toys for the son of a very dear friend from high school (we’re going to see them over the holidays). I felt both happy and relieved to be able to give them these things and heart-broken that we were able to give them away because we were never going to need them ourselves.

Part of it, a big part, is missing the little person who was supposed to be here but isn’t.

And part of it is finishing the PhD. I didn’t think this was going to affect me as much as it has- I handed in the final draft of the dissertation in early October and I didn’t touch it again until December, so I thought I’d had a break from it. But I was clearly still focusing on it, even unconsciously, because ever since the defence (and the celebratory party the day afterwards), I’ve been out of sorts.

I haven’t googled it, but I would bet money that feeling depressed after finishing a PhD is completely normal and probably expected. After all, I’ve spent the past six years working on it.  It’s not helped by the fact that I’m not starting a new job immediately afterwards. I’m still figuring out what I want to do and what will work with our family. So there’s a lot of uncertainty and not a lot of answers right now. I know that will change, but the here and now is a challenge.

I’ve been trying to push everything down until after Christmas, but it’s not really working. So, as of today, I’m trying something new: acknowledging that this probably won’t be my best Christmas, but there will be other years ahead when I won’t feel this way. I’m giving myself permission to grieve, to mourn, to feel adrift. It is a year of endings, after all.

And now that I’ve dumped out how I’m feeling, I’m going to turn off the computer and go for a run while the sun is still shining.

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5 Comments

Filed under Anxiety Overload, Friends, Grief, Life after the PhD, Loss, Mirror, Mirror (Body Image), My addled brain, PhD, Running, Second Thoughts, Sleep, Three's Company

5 responses to “It’s the most miserable time of the year

  1. I hope you enjoyed the run. I know what you mean about the giving and receiving of presents. We stopped doing it a few years ago. I spent around £30 on shopping for a food collection for the poor hear. Best money I’ve spent in a long time.

  2. A.

    Toughest thing about this time of year is the pressure to be happy despite whatever’s going on. Take good care of yourself.

  3. Hope it was a great run!

    Thinking of you friend.

  4. it is a time for grief and introspection and reckoning. I think that is likely the healthiest thing you can do. Also, depression post-defense is definitely a thing. It’s ultimately a very anticlimactic process, and still very self-directed for moving forward, so it’s really common for disorientation/depression afterwards. E.g., http://blog.mathemagenic.com/2009/06/10/post-dissertation-stress-disorder
    Enjoy the things that you enjoy, and endure the things that you don’t, and spend the time to focus on how you feel and what this means, rather than on what to do next. And ask for help, from us, from Q, from others, if and when you need it, as you are not alone, and need not ever feel that way.

  5. Post-PhD blow-out seems to be scarily common. It’s not enough to say that the PhD was a big part of your life – in reality it was probably something you thought about every day for several years! And now it’s suddenly over and you have to suddenly move on whilst still tidying up all the bits and pieces from the four-year-relationship with your thesis. But like all past relationships, it ended for a reason and soon you’ll move on to something better 🙂 Congrats on submitting it after what sounds like a really crappy year!

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