How being bluntly honesty about myself is wonderful, painful, beautiful, impressive, & awkward. A #LISMentalHealth Week post

I’m bluntly honest about myself. I’m old enough to feel comfortable being this honest. Maybe that’s the actual reason. Or maybe I’m strong enough to reject/ignore whatever judgements or assumptions others have about me. (Most of the time.) What you think of me has nothing to do with who I really am: a white trash, trailer park kid from Southwest Georgia who somehow ended up okay and has achieved some fantastic things. I’ve already said everything about myself that I INTENSELY hid for so long.

But I don’t know what else to do beside be open. In person and online. I recently told a checkout clerk that something in the grocery store that made me intensely anxious. They stared at me blankly, but it was my honest response to, “How are you doing?”. I’m tired of saying, “Fine.” or “Not bad”. I know these are things we say to one another out of habit, a social norm, and general politeness. But fuck that. Lying about how I’m doing feels weird and dishonest to myself. Anyway, I feel weird enough without a lie.

On the other hand (or something), I don’t really have an interest in radical honesty. But for some reason it’s oddly fascinating to me. Maybe because it feels partially connected to the honesty I value about myself. Others have taken radical honesty on. I’ve seen it shared on YouTube, tweets, websites, and in books. I think being honest about myself is more than enough (much, much more). Maybe everything for me will go down in magnificent flames as a result, or I’ll classically burn out rather than fade away. Or I’ll nap. And then keep going?

I’m okay right now. I’ve pushed myself to the edge and seen what happens after. For some reason that sounds rather arrogant when it is really simply me saying I live with mental illness and somehow still made it this far. I don’t know why this is a redundant thought I put in my blog posts. I wonder if/think it’s because some part of me believes sharing will be to my detriment. I’m waiting for the crash (that may never happen). The “are you sure you can handle this?” and other comments. For someone to call me outright, “a crazy bitch”. You can say that. It’s happen before.

I go to therapy every week. I’ve cried in public in so many places I can’t keep track. Panicked because a server seemed pushy about my sharing food with others (my ED makes this really uncomfortable if not provokes a complete shut down). I’ve had panic attacks on stage. I dissociate sometimes and don’t know how to get my footing back. My society anxiety sets in so quickly at times that I find the easiest way to escape (basically I disappear to home). I’m intensely medicated at the moment. Morning, noon, and night. The side effects are real and frustrating. My psychiatrist wants to get me to my “optimal level” before we start taking away medications. I’ve curious about this optimal level of myself. Is that real?

This is not a lovely, well-organized, and coherently flowing post. Mostly an assemblage of thoughts I’ve had over the past few months all in one place. I share a lot of my mental health concerns and struggles with mental illness, but for the most part I want others to know that what I’m experiencing may not be “normal”, but it’s normal enough that I know other people are going through similar (or dramatically different) struggles. But we keep on.

Poem by Andrea Gibson. Image from Button Poetry

When the narrator becomes confused because change is necessary yet intensely hard.

I recently moved from Logan, Utah to Milwaukee for a faculty position at the University of Wisconsin (wait for it) Milwaukee. The nature of academia means you move where the job takes you. I’m pleased that it took me to a new part of the country and a new work environment with supportive and welcoming faculty and staff. The goal for many leaving a doctoral program or post doc (as I did) is a tenured track faculty position. A challenge to achieve that (honestly) I try to share with doc students or those considering entering a doctoral program. During your last year of a doc program or post doc, you apply, apply, apply, interview, interview, wait (for what seems like an excruciating amount of time), and maybe have an on-campus interview and (possibly) get something. There’s so many of us searching for these idealized tenure track positions while there are so few of actual positions to go around. I am where I am now for a number of reasons (hard work, mentorship, networking, a great post doc). Some that I may not even know about. I am happy where I am. But the transitional period from post doc to faculty and from Utah to Wisconsin has been much harder that I expected.

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Defending My Dissertation and Other Things I’ve Experienced Recently

On Monday, February 8, I successfully defended my dissertation. I stood up in front of a room of people and presented my dissertation research, opening myself up to questions and critiques (constructive). I’ve talked about my fear of public speaking … Continue reading

How I’m Dealing With Burnout and My Progress So Far

I’m in the home stretch of my dissertation (and that is the lone sports reference you’ll find in this blog). Currently, I working on the final chapter of my dissertation and set to defend in early February. Of course I’m also … Continue reading