Deadlines and brickwalls

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I  managed to get the project due in yesterday given in today (which was ok – yesterday was a holiday anyway). So, taking into account my extensions for when I was super stressed in Feb/March, it was given in on time. I’m happy that I achieved that, though more tired than anything. Not sure it was worth the uncomfortable nights I spent in the studio recently (still easing out the major crick in my neck now!). But I should be happy! Despite worries, anxiousness, mini meltdowns over the weekend and this morning, I did it!

But now I have the worry in the back of my mind that the work will go in my portfolio, and it is still not a quality I am happy with. And at the same time it is in my portfolio, so anyone I show it to will expect that I can produce that kind of quality work. Yet I honestly hope this is the last time I work such crazy hours. I’m afraid I’ll disappoint any potential employer and feel like a fraud when trying to apply for jobs.

I’ve been having images of myself as a character in an oldie goldie video game bouncing against a brick wall. My view is so squashed against the wall I can’t see anything except pixellated splurges of brown. On the one hand I know rationally I need to take a step back so that I can see which way to go to avoid the obstacle. But somehow I keep thinking everything is going along fine until I suddenly find myself pressed against that wall and can’t see which way to go. I know it’s wrong and I need to take a step back before its too late,  but I don’t know how to avoid it! Will try harder next time. I have one more ‘practice’ at it (ie university, before Real Life jobs)

Slump II

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I guess I knew it was coming. I don’t know where to begin on how to get anywhere close to completing my uni coursework project on time for Tuesday. And as it’s a bank holiday weekend, I don’t feel I can’t really email tutors asking for such major help like ‘how do I go about designing an eco-town?’. I’m ok on the principles. But trying to actually put it on paper/in CAD, where you can’t just put a rough line, it demands precision, I am falling down on. I can’t believe I’ve got to nearly the end of my course and still can’t do such a basic thing.

As I’m down to so few hours now, especially if I’m going to fit in sleep (I already forgot to eat supper last night),  I need to prioritise so at least I get the important bits done. But I don’t even know what those things are. And that really is what post-grad is meant to be about: to recognise, understand the problem and challenges, and plan to meet those (just to pass) and then to do it well and produce an inspirational plan, vision and strategy, all well back up and rationalised.

I’m failing at even doing the bare minimum, despite putting in what must be more than normal number of hours. I’m just not using them right.

I wish I hadn’t been so darn positive and optimistic last week. I could have had the opportunity to sit down with my tutor to go over what I needed to cover over the next few days and a plan for how to achieve that. But no, I was feeling good about work and life, and said I was fine and had everything under control. What an idiot. I wish that when I feel good I would know to ask, and know what questions to ask, to get hep and advice. Instead I seem to shrug off any offers of help when I’m feeling good, and then when everything goes pear shaped, I’m not in a state to ask for help, and then it’s too late anyway. Idiot.

Confidence?

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I hope I am not being too hopeful. The past couple of days, since I wrote out my Three Options and came to a decision about how I would go about getting one of my uni projects done, I have felt quite upbeat. As I said in the previous post, things seemed to click and finally I haven’t felt like I don’t know what to do/what I’m meant to be doings, and as a result haven’t felt too exhausted/brain dead.

Yesterday morning, Enise (uni Nurse Shrink) phoned me to check how I was getting on (she’s good like that). I said I thought things were quite good. She asked me to rate it, 0 being the worst, and 10 the best I’ve felt. I said (I think truthfully) that compared to the rest of this year where I’ve felt so lost, I thought it was a 10. I’m not sure she believed me. I’m doing my hardest to convince myself that I am doing OK, it really didn’t help that she’s not convinced!

I explained that I had done what Celine (NHS CBT Lady) had gone through with me, of writing out my different options and evaluating the +ves & -ves of them to come up with a plan that I would be happy to follow. I explained that I was happy with my choice to just work through my work methodically and to be happy giving in the work on Tuesday in whatever state it is in, rather than killing myself trying to make sure it is complete or else trying to do a little bit on everything and just making myself more confused, tangled and upset.

She then prodded me, asking how I would make sure that I didn’t fall back into the option 1, of working myself into the ground trying to make sure it was all complete. I’d already said to Celine that that is a concern of mine. Perhaps I’m just being a bit unfair to Enise, that of course she wasn’t in on the session with Celine, and so as I had raised that concern with Celine myself, then its natural that as I didn’t mention it to Enise, that she would have the same thought herself.

I just wish that she would have a bit of confidence in me that I won’t do something bad to myself!

No wonder I lack confidence in myself!

Vulnerability, Core Beliefs, Rules…

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Another sessions with Celine (NHS CBT Lady who comes to my uni) on Thursday. This was a useful one, involving a worksheet (third para down).

Earlier this week (Three Options post) I finally felt like something had clicked: rather than mope about not knowing what to do or where to begin, I tried going through my various options and the positives and negatives of them, and ended up with a particular route that I would try to stick to. That is much better than I have been before, where everything in my mind gets too tangled and I worry about wasting time, only to waste more time worrying! So that is good.

So this week Celine suggested we tackle how I can stop getting wound up every time I get a little bit stuck – which is a major problem for me and has been since I was at least 10, 11 or 12 years old (when it first dawned on me that the world might not be perfect). Something about realising that every time I’ve got a bit stuck, I’ve ended up feeling totally stuck and crawling to the dr’s for some happy pills (am hating that term more and more as they don’t even make me happy, just a little bit better for coping), it’s made me even more depressed thinking that I might be stuck in the circle for ever more, unless I do something radically different. Til now I haven’t been able to figure out what that is, and has made me feel stuck and set me off on another stuckiness rampage (do you see the circles forming?).

Celine had a worksheet for me. She’d clearly just printed it off the internet (complete with the source address. Ha she wasn’t even plagarising!) We looked at the first few sections and agreed that the headings don’t really apply directly to me. But never mind. I can get over that. We didn’t have time to go through it very thoroughly, so my homework for the next fortnight is to think about it and fill it in.

The first section was “What made me vulnerable in the first place”. Although I know that being an only child has affected me in all sorts of ways, I’m not really sure I’d say I’m ‘vulnerable’ because of it. Am I even ‘vulnerable’? Celine suggested I tackle that question just by thinking about what has shaped me and my ideas from an early age… with leads to the next section:

“Core Beliefs – about myself, others, and the world: I am…; Others area…; The world is…”. At a surface level, those are fairly easy: about myself, I like to think that ‘I am Likable’, ‘Others are Perfect’, and ‘The world is Good’. These simple statements quickly became more complicated when I thought about the next section, so I will look at them again more closely later.

The next section was “Rules I live by…” and divided into “Helpful” and “Unhelpful” columns. This is where everything seemed to become more complicated. Where some rules start off as positive, but then I put an unhelpful twist to them. Others seem to conflict and show how my supposedly core beliefs are a lot more tangled, and that what I initially wrote down is what I would like them/the world/others to be, or how I imagine in a perfect world they would be. I’ve never thought about things like this before, and already I can see where having imaginary ideals that in that fantasy world everything and one lives up to them, causes me problems because then I can’t live up to them, and in reality nothing is as perfect as I would like.

The other sections are, “What triggered the problem”, “What helps me cope: helpful/unhelpful“, and “What maintains the problem now: thoughts –> emotions –> behaviours –> physical sensations –> etc” (hot cross bun thingy).

Anyway, there is a lot of meat in there, and I need to go though it more carefully if I am going to make use of my sessions with Celine. And as my nasty little vicious circle shows, I am rather desperate to break out of it, by any means possible! I haven’t got time (as always) to look at it all right now, but will try to think about each section in turn over the next two weeks.

Here are links to my entries for the rest of the worksheet: Early Things | Core Beliefs | Rules | Current Problem & Triggers | Coping & Maintenance

Three Options

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I’m feeling pushed against my next university coursework deadline (due on Tuesday). I’m trying to write out my possibilities and the pros and cons of each, as I did with Celine a few weeks again when dealing with my End of Year Show display.

It seems my three choices are:

  1. Work as hard as I can, without much food or sleep
  2. Make a timetable and stop working on sections once I’ve done my allotted time on it, regardless of its state.
  3. Work through it as best I can but probably will end short of the last section(s)

+ves/-ves:

  1. Will leave me physically and probably mentally exhausted, and not guarantee its completion anyway
  2. Will leave me in tears (mental exhaustion), as the work will have so many gaps in it that every time I look at it, it confuses and upsets me more, and the work I have done won’t make much sense anyway.
  3. Nothing bad will happen to me, but it will be so annoying to have put so much effort and time into the the previous pieces of work for this module and others, and then end with a bad piece.
Summaries:
  1. Is what I would normally do, but I know it’s not healthy and I really shouldn’t try it.
  2. The one everyone (family, friends, tutors, Enise) seem to think is the best way forwards.
  3. Path of least tears.
(lack of) Conclusions:
So 1) is a write off. I am liking the least tears bit of 3). But I’ll probably be annoyed with myself for not doing 2), which everyone else thinks is best academically and they are probably right.

I’d like to go through this with Celine tomorrow, but then that will be the best part of another two days written off (today and tomorrow) and by then my options will be very limited.
Ho hum.

Update: A decision! I have decided to go with option 3. The final part of the advice from Celine was to make a decisions and then stick with it, and not waste more time worrying over it or flip flopping between plans. Hopefully as well I might just surprise myself and not end up with too much missing at the end!

Small doses

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It’s been an interesting learning experience the last couple of weeks or so, really watching what I do and how I do them. A while back, towards the end of last year, SG (Stress Guy, from IAPT who comes to my university once a week) suggested that I tend to see things in black and white. I was a bit put out by that, as I think/thought that actually I was fairly good at seeing different points of view and different sides of arguments. But I have to admit now that he did have a point: while I can see the greys in everything else, when it comes to me, I either do things, or I don’t.

I’m having a couple of days off in London to visit gardens and work at the Chelsea Flower Show (woop!), which has been a good break from university stuff. I’ve enjoyed being able to completely ‘switch off’. But now if I even try to think about my university work, it all comes tumbling back on me. I don’t seem to be able to gently think about my university work, and equally don’t seem to be able to do small bouts of entertainment. I either throw myself into one or the other. Somehow I need to do a bit of both work and fun gently mixed together, in shades of grey, without ending in tears and exhaustion.

This blog is definitely a bit navel gazey, but if anything it is a shade of grey, helping me relax and think about uni work, without actually working myself into the ground over it and not getting anyway (this isn’t getting me anywhere either, but at least I’m not expecting it to, so am slightly less resentful of spending the time on it!)

Maths

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For one of the main modules on my university course, there are four pieces of work. The first two combine to give 50% of the mark, and the second two are each 25%, so again 50%.

So far I’ve been happy with my marks. The first piece received 70%, although this was only 10% of the first 50%. The second assignment got 65%. While this is obviously still a very good mark, it slightly got to me that most of my friends did better than me, with several getting 66%. Somehow if they had been way ahead I would have accepted it. But something is extremely frustrating about being worse by such a tiny amount. It irritated me a bit more that despite doing really well on the first piece of work, it only raised my overall percentage for the first term to 66%. I’ve just received my marks for the third piece of work and I did exceptionally well with it – getting 72%! But now I come to the fun bit of maths: I know I have already passed the module. I would need to receive 76% on my final piece of work to raise my percentages to a distinction overall (70%), yet a meager pass (46%) will get me a comfortable merit!

On the one hand, that should be a good thing. I know I can relax a bit and should still end up doing well overall, or could even not lift a finger and still pass the module. Yet it is annoying that I know I won’t let myself do purposefully badly! In fact I think it would be quite dangerous to try to only get 46%, as for one thing I don’t know what that looks like any more than I know what a 76% piece of work looks like, so I don’t know what I would be aiming to produce. I could end up getting 45% or lower, which would make all my hard work this year feel wasted. Also, I have the nagging portfolio in the back of my mind: regardless of marks I want to have something that I am proud of and can confidently show off to potential employers.

I can already see myself working myself into the ground, not knowing what I am aiming for, not knowing what is required, coming up with something that from everyone else’s point of view is something I should be happy with, yet resenting it because I will have gone to so much effort and used so much energy to produce something that won’t actually change the overall module grade, and by that point be so exhausted that I won’t be in a fit state to look for work and show my portfolio off anyway.

Spending time working out these percentages isn’t useful and isn’t helping me any. And I still have another piece of work for the other big module still to go (again has cruel percentages: 14% needed to pass, but 73% for a distinction. That is almost a possibility, providing I work my absolute socks off.)

Don’t know what I should do. What I want to do is probably dangerous to my health. Don’t know what to do.

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