Sharing stories

This is mostly a selfish post.  I want to keep these links handy for myself.  But also if you want to understand my mindset behind the previous post, the first link is for you.  On the other hand, if you want to read a really bleeping fantastic account of what it’s like to live in my head some days (or in fact the head of many people with depression I suspect) then the second link is for you.

Shared with me by the two wonderful ladies who’ve shared the horrors of early high school, and now share with me their lives as young women.

Fighting back against “Imposter Syndrome”. – by my UK correspondent – by Bones


Depression, an imperfect uni student

I’m not very good at writing in the good times if previous journals I’ve kept are any indication.  Suffice to say, I’m feeling rather ordinary about the concept of my life.

I am a lucky bitch.  You wouldn’t know it, but it’s true.

Because I am a smarty pants.  A real book worm.  An effortless nerd.  Going waaaaay back I was always ‘above average’ in those ridiculous primary school where-your-child-is-at assessments.  In prep (the first year of Primary School in Australia) I recall being told that I already had wonderful expression when I read compared to the-cat-sat-on-the-mat monotone.  I never had issues with learning objectives, and come to think of it even at age 8 when we first started receiving ‘homework’ (a double sided sheet with questions including – What weighs more? A tonne of feathers or a tonne of bricks?) I was useless at time management.  You could be assured I’d be doing it the day before it was due.  But surprise surprise, I’d never get less than a ‘B’ equivalent for assignments.  Nerd.

Fast forward a few years, young idealist starry eyed me in high school.  Still a poor excuse for a student, and now last minute deadlines were well and truly ingrained.  I can’t recall ever handing in an assessment early.  Despite this, in Year 7 I received a medallion for getting in the top 5% of the state for the Science Competition Tests that every student was encouraged to do.  I believe in subsequent years I received a similar award for the Geography Test…  I was ashamed in Year 9 to receive my first ‘C+’ grade… but it was the only one I think I got for all of high school to my memory.  But do you think any of those grades were fairly awarded given my effort and time spend studying for those subjects?  I can assure you, the only subject I could have been justly awarded an A+ for would have been ‘Teenage boys and pubescent hormones’ had there been such a subject.

Come my final year, the cords of the black cloak were firmly secured about my neck.  Despite going through some (in hindsight) significant spells, it was a bit more ‘Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak’ than ‘Phantom of the Opera’.  Somehow, despite self harming, despite clearly being emotionally fixated and dependent on someone who treated me incredibly poorly and despite all the issues of being a student with very poor focus, I managed an ATAR (then ENTER) score of 91 point something.  Somehow, and I still don’t quite know how, I accomplished a score in the top 10% of my year level, more than enough to get me into the course I’d chosen for myself.

And then university happened.

May I just say, it makes me sick to even think about this next part. I feel like chucking my life out and starting again, if that were at all possible.

It’s become acutely obvious to me why setting in place good organisational habits in young people is just vital.  I am a completely incompetent uni student, at least thats the feeling I get looking at my academic transcript.  Where once high grades were the average, now ‘60%’ is an achievement.  It is absolutely devastating, and a blemish that is unchangeable, unmovable and permanent.  I’ve spent 4 years showing lecturers who I so desperately want to think well of me that I’m not worth a second glance over.  From what my academic record says of me, I’m uninterested, unintelligent and incapable of being all that I want to be.

And while my psychologist has tried to help me put a positive slant on it – ‘but look what you managed to achieve despite having depression!’, it all comes back to me.  It was only at the end of last year that I realised that there were facilities available to me to help soften the impact of my ongoing depressive symptoms were having on my studies, had I not been so ashamed, defeatist and full of self-pity then perhaps I may have found this out sooner.  I am the product of my own foolish volition.

Suffice to say I’m harboring a lot of anger and hopelessness and shame at who I am.  People keep saying that it all won’t matter in the long run, but it matters RIGHT NOW! I don’t even know where I want to head, whether I want to prove to myself that I’m a capable student and aim for an Honours degree (which at this stage could be almost impossible anyway which perhaps makes me want it all the more) or whether I want to head into the workforce.  But I’m so scared that potential employers will see my record and think of me exactly the way I do right now.

Or worse still.  Maybe I am my grades.  Maybe the fact is that I’m not nearly as God-damned smart as I like to think I am.  Maybe I’ve been a ’50 – 60%’ student all along somehow fluking my way through.

And the irony of course is that all this floats around my head and hinders me from doing the uni work that might see my uni grades improve, because well hey, I already have a crappy grade point average.  Whats the point of trying to do well now, it will only make my average just a bit better.

I really would like to put all this down to insane Black Cloak self sabotage.  But I’m on drugs.  I’ve got my power trio of Doctor, Psychologist and Psychiatrist.  My biggest fear is that this is just me.

Warning – may contain traces of nuts, distraction, anger

Now comes the tricky part.  What’s depression, what’s the drugs, and what’s me.

I’m one of those annoying people who never had to study very hard at high school to get by, and often ‘getting by’ meant ‘doing well above average’.  I know that kind of makes me a bastard, but please don’t envy me, because if anything this particular trait of mine has only caused me harm

You see, here I am, sitting in my bed at 12.20 am AEST, with now TWO assignments (long essays) that I have had to apply for special consideration for.  I know I know I actually have an illness which makes me eligible for spec. con. but that doesn’t take away the guilt and the shame factor.  I feel so under the pump trying to get it done AND it’s over the official deadline so I feel completely un-entitled to ask for help from the lecturers.  ‘You got yourself into this mess Hayley, so be it’

 But the real problem is this; I actually do not know how to study.  Honestly I’ve had 2 extra weeks for this particular essay, and I still am struggling to get the reading done so I know what to write on!! I CHRONICALLY leave things to the last minute and there’s no question that this is part of the reason why my uni grades have been nothing like my previous ‘top 10% of the state’ without even really trying/having undiagnosed depression marks… it’s a different ball game altogether, and it’s like I rocked up with a tennis racquet to a soccer game.  I never really learnt about time management, about keeping up to date or about learning to ask for help.  I have no doubt whatsoever that I could be a fantastic student, an Honours student, even a ‘top of the grade’ student.  But unless I stop leaving every assessment piece til I’m too stressed out to actually answer things to the best of my potential knowledge, I’m not going to get there.

But is this me being held back by fear and depression?  Or is the lethargy and reluctance I’m feeling right now a product of being on new drugs?  Or, am I just a lazy bugger who will always always struggle with time management and deadlines??

And just as confusingly, I’ve found myself being a bit more aggressive in my recent netball games.  I do feel it’s coinciding with new meds, but is aggression just a sign of having a renewed passion for life?  Or is this persistent whisper of ‘mania’ in my ear a more serious warning?

I suppose time will tell.  BUT, I completed as much reading and comprehension as I think a girl can manage in one night. That’s at least something. 

Just the little highs and lows

Have been feeling a little more stable the last couple of days.  Annoyingly this comes with a relatively lesser need to vent and therefore less posts.  Will need to do another posts about amazing songs tomorrow.

I just looked over my Facebook activity for the last week… I worry about myself.  Call it paranoia and perhaps it is, but I have always been a little bit too bubbly, a little too quick to anger and a little two quick to change from irritable or bubbly to blue.   I used to put it down to being a silly redheaded female, but I would be lying to say that I haven’t considered it to be something more, an illness more sinister.

For example tonight.  I was angry.  I don’t really know what triggered me.  But it almost seemed I was all the sudden angry at the boyfriend, and at my parents for some reasons I could put words to and some I couldn’t, annoyed at this really persistent cough I have right now, and friggin pissed off to the point I wanted to break something that my keyboard is making it hard for me to type at the mo.  A big deal? No.  But I wanted to slam doors.  I wanted to break glass. 
And further to that, the last week or so in particular I’ve felt this need to argue, to create controversy and to get myself hyped on the adrenaline that comes with that.  It’s so stupid though because I know following one of those sorts of adrenaline rushes I end up feeling like rubbish.  I really worry that it’s all a sign of more to come.

Facebook privacy… or lack thereof


This appeared in my ad strip on FB today.  It has me thinking, and it has me concerned.

So I have talked privately with friends on my account about my depression, but I haven’t posted anything public.  I suppose this means that they have access to all my actions on FB and that shouldn’t surprise me all that much.  But this seems like an awfully private thing to be sending me messages about, and I worry about the implications and whether this information could be being leaked.

It’s not that I am ashamed and want to hide myself away. But I feel kind of violated thinking that something that for the time being is a private matter is an ‘ok’ zone for FB to target me for advertising.  This information is not passed on to third parties but that may change in the future.  Anyway.  It caused me to be anxious at least momentarily.

Another thought that crossed me mind is this; should I perhaps close down my FB page at the end of the year, when I start looking for potential employers?  And the reason I thought this was very simple; I’ve said a lot of heated and emotive things on Facebook, but then I know a lot of this was borne out of my inner emotional turmoil rather than being an accurate or rational representation of my feelings.  I worry about the implications this might have on me if future employers were to see some of these things, or whether it could be brought out against me in the future.  I kind of would like some thoughts and suggestions on this one.

Anyway.  Enough of this.  I have spent the whole evening procrastinating from uni assignments that are this close to giving me a stress aneurysm… 

Updates and self encouraged madness?

‘Ray!! So my ‘Roma’ (psychiatrist) has doubled my dose.  As of Tuesday.  Hopefully I will start being normal productive me sometime soon.  But uni is really, really suffering.  And the worst bit is that I KNOW I understand the content, and I know I can be annoyingly smart.  I don’t think I would have passed as much uni as I have had I not been… but I just can’t muster the motivation to do it.  It all just seems like such an uphill battle.  One of the options is to withdraw from a few units and try again next year… but that idea is so distasteful to me. I’m already a 5th year student!!! I NEED MONEY, I NEED A NEW CAR, I NEED TO MOVE OUT!!!

I haven’t been as good with sharing this blog recently… had a bit of writers’ block as well I suppose.  But I was talking to a dear friend who… actually she said something that few people say that actually means a lot I think to people with mental illness.  I was worried that my blog would upset her, and she said ‘of course it upsets me to see one of my friends is having to go through one of these tough times’.  Bingo.  Bullseye. Snap.  Sometimes just hearing that someone else is sorry, actually sorry that you are dealing with this is enough.  Because somehow, those sort of words both acknowledge your hardship and support you in trying to deal with them.  I hope that makes sense.  Because it just rang true as soon as she said it.

Also… being the little pocket rocket of wisdom that she is (but perhaps doesn’t realise it) she was saying how it was good that I’m starting to know my own triggers and flaws that put me in a bad place, so that I can start to say to myself – “Hang on a minute, I’m not willing to do that to myself. I don’t deserve to feel upset tonight and that’s all it will do.”  She put it so eloquently that I had to copy it word for word, hope she doesn’t mind. 😉

But it got me thinking.  It’s a weird sort of thing, dealing with mental illness, cause it’s kind of like your brain is feeding you false and nasty information.  Generally the best recommendations for depression is a course of medications and sessions with a psychologist,  who like ‘Sria’ has for me, starts to deconstruct all those thoughts and teaches you to rationalise those thoughts.  But it essentially means that one of the ways that you help a ‘crazy person’ is by teaching them… to talk to themselves. haha! It seems a bit ironic, but there’s a lot of truth to it.

So the lessons to take away from the end of today’s class, kiddies?  In my case, the best way for someone to approach me to try and help me is to empathise and rationalise thoughts; things like ‘I’m sorry you’re going through this’ and ‘Do you think those thoughts are borne of reality or fed from your depression?’ Also, and I haven’t mentioned this before, if prayer is your thing I would so love to be included in your prayers.  And if prayers’ not your thing, the ‘Hayley desperately needs to move out/hire a motivator’ fund could use some help. haha. Just kidding.  But seriously. 😉