First Day of School!

After an unintended detour of a gap year I have started my masters degree this week. Or will start next week when teaching officially starts.

This week has been welcome week (or at least welcome Thursday and Friday). I have been stressing OUT. On Thursday I caught a lift with a friend and that helped to distract my brain from running all the scenarios that could go wrong. Which are varied and endless it seems. Thursday was mainly listening to the Degree Director talk and meet the people on my course.

There’s about thirty of us on the MSc and they all seem like a pretty nice bunch, all from different places, some who have come straight from graduating from their undergrad degrees, others who have taken a year out like me, others who have been in work and are now coming back to education. Illustrating the point everyone makes that it really doesn’t matter when you do things. Life doesn’t have a set timeline. There is no right time to do it, whether you take a year out or not is not going to kill your prospects. Everything will be okay. That’s what I keep telling myself anyhow.

We were also enrolled on our modules on Thursday. Compared to undergrad they are a lot more biased towards techniques. There are at least two modules focused on research methods and two on informatics. May or may not be more then slightly concerned about the bioinformatics modules considering I have never actually done that before.

Storm Ali treated us to a nice early shower on the way home on Thursday afternoon. Fun times in the north of England.

Friday felt a lot more chill. Met up in the Life Sciences building and brainstormed what we would do with the new Masters Base Room, which is currently a magnolia walled seminar room lined with computers. Though we did get told where the microwave and kettle was which feels like it is going to be incredibly important information for the winter.

A group of us ended up going around Freshers Fair. I had been around on Thursday but it stressed me out. I don’t deal well with large groups of people and the noise and lack of space and air was getting to me. Hitching a ride on top of the already heightened anxiety made it a distinctly unpleasant experience. This time around it was much more deal-able, and managed to avoid picking up too many leaflets.

Then we had lunch and got to meet some PhD students in the department. My experience with PhD students at undergrad was mainly in the lab when they were acting as demonstrators during practical sessions. It was refreshing to talk to them like adults and to be able to talk to them about university and hear about their projects and how they got into it.

Friday afternoon descended into a jumble of mess with registration difficulties and timetables not showing up. Note to everyone – make friends with the office staff because when you need them, you want them to be your friends, not people who think you’re a snob.

I’m mainly worried about next week. About if the workload is going to be too much and hoping that I’ll start as I mean to go on – heading into uni for 9-5pm most days and catching up on the days that I don’t. I want to do this well. I’m hoping if I stay organised I won’t get as stressed. Though that seems very much like famous last words.

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Hypocritical rant – or how society sucks

It’s weird how we have this massive thing about body positivity, about accepting our bodies, remembering who we are not in relation to our weight or our size but by the things we think and the things we do and the people we love and who love us, and yet we are also bombarded constantly with the do’s and don’t’s and the things we should be eating and how we should look and how we should act and I hate that that’s the world we have created. Human beings are incredibly ludicrous creatures and the fact that we made this world, we formed it somehow, in the race for more, more money and fame and acknowledgement and power, and how we all seem to not be okay with it, how we all seem to find the negatives astounds and frustrates me.

I see it in the children at work, who come in wearing Fitbits and other fitness trackers that their parents have bought them and remember that I’m wearing one too and I’m just as much a hypocrite. I see it in the things I think to myself as I look at people on the street and the things I think to myself when I see an unflattering photograph. I see it in the ways we hate ourselves as if to imagine that hating ourselves will ever make us love who we are. I see all of this and then I remember that I do all of these things and more, because I’m a hypocrite and I live in this world just as much as you and everyone else does.

I hate the fact that the choice seems to be to either find freedom in food and have the world find you unattractive or to punish yourself daily and fit yourself into the mould that society has decided is acceptable.

I hate the fact that I have to argue about this stupid decision daily, and might have to daily because of my history with my brain.

I hate that we perpetuate this stupid environment, lamenting the fact that more of our children are growing up to learn that their bodies are wrong and their personalities are wrong and yet we do nothing about it.

I hate it and I know I am one of the people who help to perpetuate it, through the posts I make on social media and the things I say to people and the fact that I wear a Fitbit. Case in point – I can’t let it go, for reasons ranging to my eating disorder keeping tabs on me, or me it, in case I can’t let it go completely, for being aware, for making how many steps I take a day a competition with my family. When did it become a competition and why does it have to be?

It’s hard. It’s so damn hard to stand up and say this is me, unattractive photo and all, look at my bumps and lumps and my stomach that isn’t flat and the fact that my legs touch and the fact that my face is never going to be conventionally attractive and be okay with that all of the time. Being honest always sucks but the times that I have been I have felt more okay with myself then before.

I’m trying. I’m trying. I hope it’s like anything, the more you practice the easier it gets.

Fake it till you make it right?

The after of a mental illness

I want to talk about the after of a mental illness. The after when you are medically stable or not in need of therapy. The after when everyone around you, your friends and family, think that you’re back to normal, as if normal is something that either exists or something that should be aimed for. Funny thing is, most of the time, the after of a mental illness means learning to live with it, not living with its absence. It means learning to accommodate for your brain in ways that people who have never experienced mental illness don’t have to. Some mental illnesses can ‘go away’ so that you aren’t bothered by them ever again. You might have a brief bout of depression or an episode of anxiety that never bobs its head over into clinical illness again. Most times that isn’t the case, not really, and we don’t talk enough about learning to live with a brain that is chronically unwell or has the potential to be so, for the rest of your life.

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Ace in more ways then one

I was 21 before I tried to ask if not wanting to have sex was normal. I remember laughter, because what a stupid question, of course everyone wants to have sex at some point in their lives. I remember jokes being made about my ex and how he clearly wasn’t doing a good enough job. I remember laughing it off, grabbing another drink and moving the topic swiftly on.

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