Life is hard these days and sometimes I wonder what my limits are. Sometimes I wonder how many more disappointments and frustrations I can manage before I reach my breaking point. And, to be completely honest, I’ve felt very close to finding out in recent weeks and months.
There have been several moments when I’ve fantasised about walking away from it all; about running away from home, never to be found again. There have been moments when I’ve felt that the universe is conspiring against me and that the best thing to do would be to listen to it and surrender.
Go back to where I belong...
There have been moments when I’ve wondered if I should just suck it up and finally realise that I am just a silly, small-town redneck and I don’t belong in the city—let alone one in a funny foreign country! I’ve wondered if I need to finally acknowledge that my destiny is working as a waitress at the local truck stop—not wasting my time on highfalutin things like a PhD.
Before you ask: No, it’s not because the PhD is too much for me. In fact, the PhD is probably the easiest challenge in front of me right now. (If you can call a PhD easy, which I wouldn’t.)
The problem is that there are several other challenges that keep cropping up and they are destroying my soul; one by one, little by little, tear by sobbing tear.
And those individual problems and challenges are piling up on top of each other. And many of them are long-term ones that won’t go away if I ignore them. And they only get worse when I try to fix them or make them more pleasant for me. And each one magnifies the next until there is this massive monster of problems and challenges that I can’t seem to solve.
And to be honest, my PhD is suffering for it! Yes, that “easy” challenge—and the one I’m most excited about—is feeling the full force of the stress. And then I feel bad about myself and that then adds to my stress, which just feeds the monster.
I’m not really comfortable talking about the various problems and challenges publicly. And there isn’t anyone in my life to share everything with; there is not someone in my life who can act as my confidant/e. (I’m sure it doesn’t help that the end of the month will mark another year since my beloved husband and confidant died.)
It’s not that I don’t have anyone to talk to, but I don’t have anyone who I can be absolutely open and honest with. I don’t have that one person in my life that I’m comfortable sharing all of my worries with, knowing full-well that any confidences will remain confidential*.
So yeah, I’m stressed beyond a healthy level.
Now, before you begin to worry, I am not actually thinking about giving up on my dreams. I’ve just had several moments where I’ve had the urge to do just that. As the frustration at my situation grows, I’ve found myself wanting to lash out; to throw something; to punch someone; to scream and yell and shout; to just … flee. (It’s that fight-or-flight thing, I guess.)
So, what do I do? Because I can’t keep going on like this if I want to maintain the shred of sanity I have left in my possession.
Thankfully, there are a couple of people in my world just now who’ve helped me to see that I need a break. They’ve managed to acknowledge and accept that I can’t change some of the problems and they haven’t made me feel bad for that.
And they’ve helped me realise that I need a break from my current way of life. So that’s what I’m trying to do now: Work out how to take a break before I hit my breaking point!
Sadly, the break won’t be a holiday in the sun. But it might be staying a week or so at an undisclosed location where I can be a bit closer to the city and my office. It might be staying somewhere that I can change my pace of life for a bit, and where I will be nurtured and encouraged as I try to re-balance my life.
Because, ultimately, all of the non-academic stresses are impacting my PhD. I have allowed the stress to build up to such a level that I am unable to focus on the thing that should be my top priority: me! And part of me is my desire to do well in my PhD.
My hope is that a short break from many of my stresses will help me refocus my energies. I hope that it will act as a bit of a writers’ retreat to help me catch up on my PhD. I hope that it will help me reprioritise my needs (and reprioritise me!). And, importantly, I hope that it will help to revitalise my soul.
I am confident that once I get caught up on the PhD (which requires me to set aside the other stresses for a bit) that I will be able to look at my stresses in a different light. After all, once I’m caught up on the PhD I’ll feel as if something is going right in my life. It’s going to be hard work, but that’ll just make me appreciate it more!
In the meantime, I’m digging deep into my soul to muster up what strength I can, and I’m asking the Lord for His guidance. And if you want to send some positive prayers and vibes my way, they’d be more than welcome!
But don’t worry! I am reaching out to a couple of key people and I am trying to de-stress as much as possible. And, importantly, I’ve spoken with a medical professional who doesn’t believe that I’m suffering from depression; I’m just trying to cope with too much stress on my own. Which, if not sorted, will eventually impact my mental and physical health. So, I am going to get sorted!
*That’s not to say there aren’t people in my life who would keep a secret, it’s just that the most reliable secret-keepers aren’t the same people I’d feel comfortable baring my soul to. I’m sure you get it. After all, you wouldn’t share your deepest, darkest secrets with all of your friends; you’d save them for that one kindred soul. (Or maybe you wouldn’t; I don’t know.)