In this blog (and in real life), I tend to have a pretty decent sense of humor. Dry and sarcastic (albeit sometimes witty and sardonic, at times), I try to keep myself and others laughing. I let it be known that I’m a serious person in general, which is why my style is more sarcastic and drawling, not “Hey, let me tell you a knock, knock joke.” If you want one-liners, I got you, boo. I just don’t do them on command.
Sometimes I picture my humor as a gas tank. On a good day, it starts out full. I gradually start to use it, occasionally filling it up as I go along in my days. But sometimes, when the perfect storm of things is brewing, the humor tank dwindles. Slowly and slowly until I’m running on Empty.
Ladies and gentlemen, I believe my gas light has come on.
What appears to be an indescribable funk, punctuated with some feelings of anxiety, seems to be manifesting itself into exhaustion. This contributes heavily to my inability to make jokes or generally make light of things so as to indicate that despite the look on my face at times, I don’t actually hate everyone and everything around me.
I’m sure you’re sitting there going, “Great. Eat a cookie, take a nap, do something you like – but what does this have to do with me?”
EVERYTHING, dear reader.
Perhaps I exaggerate.
But it does have an effect on what I choose to write about for the day. I generally take my writing here day by day. The content produced has been usually generated by something happening in the preceding hours of the day. I don’t typically have a stock reserve of topics to draw on. (Admittedly, I tried that last year and it felt like I was cheating on the 90 in 90 Challenge.)
I may not have a reserve of topics, but like in life, I have things that weigh on me constantly. Whether it’s my program of study, the general trials and tribulations of my lack of future plans or things that have happened in my life – ultimately, all things that have shaped me or are in the process of doing so – these things become the topics my mind wanders to when the humor tank is on empty, or pretty close to it.
I should take the hint from my serious posts – they tend to be the ones with the higher views, but as the expense of a lot of valuable energy.
My go-to serious topic has been suicide – whether it’s talking about language or the associated stigma, it was added to the list of things that have shaped me into who I am. I have so much more to say, a lot of it left over from the last 90 in 90 attempt, but it all became too much. Too much to try and figure out my life and then add on apparent suicide educator? Let a sista live and eat some chocolate. (Gas light is on, tank’s not empty yet, apparently.)
This concept of stigma has become more of a defining factor than I realized. It goes with the suicide link; a lot of my area of study has focused on the varying forms of stigma associated with the criminal justice system; but it also goes with my newest admission.
I go to therapy.
It wasn’t necessarily a voluntary decision, unless you define voluntary as my academic advisor stating that I need to, in which case – 100% voluntary. I was given little in the way of an option after my dad passed away; a parent dying when you’re young is all the reason you need, apparently. It took me about six months, with some badgering and threats of meddling, before I made the call.
Not a whole lot of people like to admit they’re in therapy. I sure as hell don’t. People just assume there’s something wrong with you. I assumed that there was something wrong with me for being told I needed to go.
I’m going on the record as saying that’s not true.
I needed someone to process through losing my dad and my best friend. I needed to feel like someone understood me, especially since I was the first of my friends and the first of most of my close family members to have lost their dad. I knew things were never going to be normal again. I knew I needed to create a new normal, but I needed help. Help that I usually would’ve gotten from my dad. I don’t know if you all knew this, but I’m not a fan of asking for help. (And in other news, the sky is blue.)
I’ve thought for the past year, something has been wrong with me and my therapist was just waiting for a good moment to tell me. (I assure you, my logic is always flawless. If you disagree, the door is to the left…where the haters go.) Surely, my funks and little pits of anxiety mean something. I’m beginning to accept this could be my last year in the Lehigh Valley, which essentially means I would like to be done with therapy in a year. It took me a couple months to like this guy and maybe the full year to trust him, so really – there’s no time to restart this process. I have living to do. Chocolate to eat. People to annoy.
So last week, I decided to ask the simple question: “Is there something wrong with me?”
I received a very thoughtful, “Not at all.”
There was a logical explanation that followed. Explanations that I had nothing diagnostically wrong with me, using the DSM-IV as the guiding light. I’m in a period of grief. (I really like to take my time with things, make sure I’m doing them correctly, apparently.) But there’s no clinical diagnosis in my future.
So I did what any logical person would do.
Because when you want someone to confirm that nothing is wrong with you and you get the answer you want, the appropriate response is to fight.
My stubbornness is one of my more endearing qualities.
At the end of the day, I’m grateful for an academic advisor that cared enough to make the suggestion (or mandate), who followed-up on it…constantly. An advisor who was willing to bend some of his personally imposed rules if that’s what it took to get me to go.
The people I’ve met at Lehigh have taken care of me.
Therapy’s given me the space I need to process through things, something I value, with the person most qualified to do it. It’s given me an outsider to talk to, someone who I know can’t reasonably placate me. It’s also made me more self-aware.
Self-aware about the fact that Father’s Day is coming up and I may not necessarily want to deal with that. Self-aware about the fact that I should consciously decide to maybe go to therapy weekly in June, instead of having a certain academic advisor
suggest mandate points of the year when I go weekly. Self-aware about the fact that I’m okay. Self-aware about the fact that humor might be my coping mechanism, but so necessary.
Most importantly, self-aware about how I feel about all of this.
I have a tendency to take on too much. I really like to be busy. This has all been coming to a head with me figuring out my future; I currently fail to understand that not everything you like to do or care about has to be involved with your future career. Something about career vs. interests and additional passions or some wisdom that I haven’t absorbed yet.
I’m self-aware enough to know that I’m not turning around and running back for a psychology degree, enough to know that counseling or some other direct role with mental health is not what I want to do. I’m self-aware enough to know that it is something I’m passionate about.
I’m attracted to the thought of a PhD because I enjoy the concepts of teaching and mentoring. I may have a hard time reconciling what my future PhD program may look like, but I know that I can still take those concepts and apply them to all of the things that I was resistant to do a year ago.
Stigma is the problem. Education is the solution.
There’s over 70 days left in this blog semester.
Class is in session.