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Waiting for Answers

I don't really know how this works, but here I am. I'm a graduate student, working through a pain flare up and fatigue and still no answers. I had a spinal fusion 10 years ago, and I've had pain on and off since, but never at this level. There's no visible issues with my hardware, which I'm super grateful for, but it's also a little frustrating. My blood work was abnormal but there's so much waiting in American healthcare, I still have 3 weeks until my next appointment. It's so hard to keep showing up and doing all my work when I can barely keep my head up. My housemates have been so supportive, but god, I wish this was different? #Scoliosis #ChronicPain #GradSchool

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Vulnerability is Powerful

I remember a time where my family gathered at the dinner table. It was not the standard gathering of parents and children, who pass the salad and spilt bread, like we see on tv shows. I never had that. Instead, we had our own version; the dinner table where my parents were almost always absent due to their line of work, and where my grandma was the one in charge of feeding us. Whether my parents were sitting with us at the table or not, I distinctly remember always having my siblings around me. We would share our school stories between us and most often, have my older sister help us with homework once supper was over. That was over 10 years ago, when we didn’t have jobs or odd sleeping/working schedules. Today, I’m lucky to even see my own twin brother more than twice in 24 hours – despite living under the same roof. I eat by myself most times or in the company of my dog, who only joins me to beg for a nibble. I miss the times where I heard their stories and shared my own.

Dr. Starla Fitch’s 2015 TEDtalk on human relationships talks about the importance of human contact. Her message is impactful in the simplest form as she merely suggests for us to give hearing, seeing and talking to each other a chance. Her message is brilliantly important: We are social beings and when social contact is denied we threaten our own lives.

Humans. We are odd creatures. Brene Brown, renowned author, speaks about human vulnerability in her 2010 TedTalk. As I heard the words coming out of her mouth, I began to question my own shame and heartbreaks and struggles. For many years, my weight has been my biggest challenge to overcome. In school I was briefly treated by a school psychologist for bulimia. Prior to treatment, I had already accepted my binging habits as a part of who I was and I did not see myself as being out of control. So much so, that I only attended therapy a few times, believing I did have control. As any teenager would, I promised my mom that to start anew and dedicate myself to school as an emerging freshman in high school. Yet, my disgusting tendencies continued well into high school and not much changed.

It was only at the end of my high school career that I’ve learned to contain my anxiety and fears through reflection and healthy eating. You can say I’ve transformed from a chocolate binging addict to a broccoli obsessionist. I had to let go of my shame, my past hurt and embrace a new me. I had to change for me, not for my mom, not for a school psychologist, but for me. I had to be okay with not knowing this new lifestyle I was to embrace would guarantee a positive change, instead as Brene Brown says I had to accept my vulnerability as a way of life and sought comfort in knowing she was right.

Here’s why: people who were unable to accept their vulnerability become numb and turn uncertainty to certainty. I numbed my pain. I ignored my therapy sessions. I ignored my mom’s pleas and dove into school work as a distraction. Out of stress, I became rude and out of frustration, my reality became terribly skewed. I was certain my family hated me when they looked at me. I was certain I was meant to be fat and forever ugly. So I became mean. I refused to attend family gatherings and made a point to have them know I didn’t want to be around them. I pretended that my struggles were my own problem and that it didn’t effect those around me. I saw how my mom looked at me, in concern, but pretended she looked at me in disgust. I pretended I was fine. I pretended I was okay and didn’t need any help. I isolated myself from family and friend and in parting ways with human connection, I ultimately paid the price.

Human connection is built on love and compassion, and one cannot receive it if one does not practice it. All those years I felt alone was because I made myself lonely. So when I learned to love myself first, I was able to shred the blame and rage I had felt for so long.

#MentalHealth #BreneBrown #psychology #Students #studentinterns #Imhc #GradSchool #MentalHealth #Therapy #counselors #Selflove #vulnerability #Shame #Powerful

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Grad school and fibromyalgia #GradSchool #Fibromyalgia

Graduate school comes with it's own challenges: fast-paced learning environment, a never-ending to-read list, and demands from professors to use critical thinking and analysis. As a Master's student, it took time to adjust to the intensity of the program; the coronavirus situation doesn't make it easy since Zoom calls can be torture for those with sensory overload, bad hearing and fatigue. On the other hand, the Zoom calls spare me the pain of walking to class while lugging my books and laptop with my Trolley Dolly (it's a large shopping bag that has a discreet seat that I can pull down to sit). I miss the library which is essential for research, but I use databases. Note-taking can be brutal on hands but typing them is okay (I don't recommend OneNote since it doesn't save my notes without an error report). I find Post-It notes and colorful note cards useful for taking notes. It may not work for everyone, so it's good not to compare yourself to other students. Most importantly, pace yourself. I work 45 minute blocks uninterrupted and take a 15 min. break. If I'm having a high pain day, I take breaks from sitting so I work standing up. And neglecting sleep was the worst thing I've done, which is why self-care is important. I even had to drop a class due to my fibro and my enrollment coordinator was very understanding about the importance of self-care in chronic illness. There were times I regretted the program, but I immediately changed my thinking. I was accepted because I met the admission requirements. I made the Dean's list 4 times, became a member of Sigma Alpha Pi, Alpha Chi Honor Society, and I'm a first-generation student. Grad school is not a race, but a marathon. So far I enjoy the program because I am studying Spanish Linguistics and Central American culture now.



Hey everyone! I wanted to introduce myself and say hi to all of you. I'm a graduate student at Dalhousie University, mostly studying prescription drug use among university students these days. I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease about 6 years ago, and I have been trying to make it through school with chronic issues that have been making the process a little bit challenging. Looking forward to chatting and connecting! Happy to be a part of the Mighty community. #CrohnsDisease   #GradSchool


Was it even real?

I was studying at a university in another country for a year and a half. Most of my classmates have now completed their degrees and almost everyone has returned to their home countries. One of my classmates made a big post on Facebook with fifty photos of all the good times we had as a class. Looking through the photos made me start crying, not so much because I miss it, but more because I just feel so detached from it. I know logically that I care about those people and that they care about me - we lived a lot of life together, laughed, cried, studied, traveled, and had so many new experiences. But I feel like none of it was even real and I just feel nothing. I'm tired of my life experiences feeling like they get sucked into a black hole.

#goodbye #GradSchool #Relationships #Friendship #Depression #Anxiety #CPTSD


How do you know when you're strong enough to make commitments to move forward?

I haven't been able to work on my masters thesis for the past six months. I'm starting to feel more stable and like it might be something I can take small steps toward. The thing is, I am afraid to message my supervisor to tell her because I did the same thing six weeks ago and then crashed again. What are the signs that you can do it?

#Depression #Anxiety #GradSchool #movingforward #MentalHealth


Work or study?

I am a masters student with only the thesis component left to complete. I've been studying abroad and there is a time limit on my tuition fee scholarship. I plan to apply for study leave for medical reasons, but it is a bit uncertain if my scholarship will carry over or not. My finances are very low and the main reason I came back to my country in December was so that I could get a job while writing my thesis.

Frankly, I have not spent even one hour working on my thesis for several months and trying to work on it just brings up all sorts of anxiety. However, I did get a part time job (less than 10 hours/week).

Today, I found a couple job postings that fit with my goals, but they are both full time and start in March. I think they would fit with the capacities and energy levels that I have right now. I hadn't intended to get a full time job until September because I would theoretically be finished my degree by then.

The dilemmas are:
- do I expect that the scholarship will continue and I can just work for now and work on my thesis later?
- do I accept not working on my thesis for now or do I keep fooling myself into believing I'll get to it tomorrow?
- I might not even be selected for an interview, so is it even worth applying?
- I would have to either quit my current part time job or end up working more than full time hours (which I probably can't manage very well). My boss invested a lot of training hours in me and I would feel guilty about quitting.

What should I do?

#Decisions #Jobs #MentalHealth #GradSchool #Anxiety


Self sabotage

I'm doing it again - staying up late for no reason. Then again, maybe it is sabotaging my ability to go to the library and work on my thesis tomorrow. I'm tired and I know that I would fall asleep if I would just turn out the light and let myself sleep. Why do I do this to myself??
#Anxiety #Depression #self-sabotage #Sleep #GradSchool


Bipolar 1 Fun in Grad School

Am I getting sick? Sliding into a depressive episode? Caffiene withdrawal? Existential dread setting in? Who knows? 🤣🙃 #BipolarDisorder #GradSchool #Depression


I did it!

I've had so much anxiety about opening up my university email because of courses and assignments that I left undone last semester. It's taken me a couple weeks, but I just did it. My heart is still pounding and I'm feeling kind of dizzy, but I took the first step by emailing our course coordinator and asking for support. I hope the teachers will still accept my assignments... and that I'll be able to get them done.

#Anxiety #University #GradSchool #Onestepatatime #Ididit