Burn Out

A few months ago something started to happen that I wasn’t expecting. I stopped caring about my psychology degree. It was like I had been racing along my degree track, working at furious pace to get my degree next year, really enjoying my two current courses and suddenly ran headlong into a brick wall. I just didn’t care anymore at all. I’d sit and stare at the computer for hours, meaning to write an essay, or do some research and I’d open up a document or log into the search facility only to realize suddenly that at some point I’d switched to facebook and had been staring at that for 20 minutes. I stopped going to the library cold, it’s been two months at least since I’ve been, and I used to go five days a week and spend three hours there studying. I’ve had extensions for my last four assignments and only completed them by staying up and working through the night before and the entire day they were due.

My son had broken his leg and there was the eviction and money worries and of course all the other stuff going on in a family of five and I was finding this feeling of not caring was becoming usual. Poor attitudes or behaviour from my children which I would never normally put up with, I’d shrug my shoulders at. I couldn’t muster up any interest in anything, my kitchen whiteboard had the same information on it for three weeks at one point. And then I started crying. I’d be completely unmoved by anything for days, and then I’d wake up morning feeling like the whole world was crashing down on me and I just wanted to go home and crawl into my own bed 6000 miles away and sob and sob. (Which is funny because my mom sold that bed, which I loved, ages ago) I’d be walking through the grocery store, robotically picking up every piece of junk food there, not even realizing it and occasionally turning to my husband and standing in the middle of the aisle crying as he held me.

I could see that something was wrong, really very wrong so I finally went to my doctor who, obviously, diagnosed me with depression and gave me the British or generic or whatever version of Prozac and told me to take a 2 month extension on all my course work and come back in two weeks. I promised I would. But, you can’t take two month extensions on OU course work, that would put me two months behind on my next two assignments as well, not to mention putting me smack dab in the middle exam revision time. I was afraid that telling the OU would be disastrous- would they insist I drop my courses? Take a sabbatical? Would it delay getting my degree? So, I kept quite. And I didn’t go back to my doctor, because she would ask about the extensions and what would I say?

I took the pills, and after the third week stopped taking them, I don’t know why, it started with just forgetting and I kept on forgetting. Now I feel like I’m back where I was a month ago. Staring at the computer, knowing I have a huge project due, but not able to do anything. Not caring. Knowing I have another assignment due for my other course, but I haven’t even cracked the new books on that one yet. The whiteboard in my kitchen has the same stuff on it that it did last week. I wander through the grocery store, blindly picking up crap, only to be humiliated when I get to the checkout and discover I have tarts, cakes, cookies, makings for chocolate cream pie, and ice cream piled up on the belt.

I’m not sure what this is, perhaps the equivalent of the runners wall. I know I was better after I’d been on the pills for a couple of weeks, so they must have been helping, and I know I need to get back to the doctor and sort it out. But, I’m worried. Am I sabotaging my degree? How will I break through this? Why is it happening? Is it just a temporary wall? Am I truly burned out? Is it just biological- depression, fucked up neurotransmitters in my brain?

I feel awful, and I tear myself down. I’m lazy, not dedicated, irresponsible, not cut out for it. Then I cry, then I just stay away from it. Avoid the computer, the books completely. Then it all starts again. I wish I knew who to talk to about it, I wish I knew someone who had been through a similar time and could hold my hand through it. I feel like I’m throwing my degree away and I can’t stop myself.

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by peach on July 11, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    Honey, there is no surprise that you’re battling with depression with all that you have on your plate right now. I think you should get back on the meds asap. It is VERY dangerous to stop taking anti-depressants cold turkey especially without a doctor overseeing it. I think when you feel better, you will find some of your drive and focus return. But please, please get back on your meds.


  2. You’re getting a degree in psychology. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that you’re aimed at a degree in psychology because you like to help people. Try taking yourself out of it (I know it’s hard, but give it a shot and see what happens) and think of what you’d tell someone who just wrote this post. I’m going to stick my neck out a bit further and suggest that you would never be as hard on someone else in this situation as you’re being on yourself. You mentioned that you felt better after a couple weeks of taking the pills? Fantastic. You KNOW you can feel better than you do right now, you’ve done it. You have a goal, and you have a means.

    Stepping away from you degree? Yes. It might mean you won’t land quite where or when you intended. But, if you keep feeling this way, will you land at all? Of course you will. But you might not get there as quickly. Taking a couple months is a much smaller wrench in the cogs than feeling this way long term. And, you know what? You’re not going to be the first person who goes back to that doctor to say you stopped taking the meds. Forgetfulness is a symptom of depression. She’ll give you some tips on how you might better remember to take them, and then hopefully she’ll recommend that you see a therapist to help you stay on track.

    With everything going on, I wouldn’t blame you one bit if you felt like you were stuck between a rock and hard place. But, there are choices available to you. Maybe not choices you really want to make, but they are there. We can only do so much before we run out of fuel. You need to take care of yourself in order to keep taking care of everyone else. You’ll be glad you did, and so will those who rely on you.


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