I’m sitting in my hotel room, waiting to go home.  This is infinitely better than sitting in the hotel lobby which is what I’d be doing if I hadn’t arranged to check out late.  Still, I hate waiting and I have a lot of it today.  Waiting now, waiting during my four hour layover in Dulles, waiting while on the plane.  I am tired of being elsewhere, I want to be home.

This trip has been a real challenge for me.  At a time when I have difficulty leaving my apt. to go to the grocery store, I have flown across the country.  I’m an introvert, which makes things difficult when you are supposed to be meeting new people.  I never know what to say.  And I felt particularly awkward because I don’t know where my life is going right now.  When people asked me why I came to the conference, I couldn’t say, “Well, I’m hoping to be inspired so I can figure out what to do with my life because I’ve kinda lost my interest in just about everything.”  Or maybe I could have said the first part.  What I said was something about being interested in science outreach and education and those things are sort of true.  I mean, I’d like to be more interested in them (I’d like to be more interested in just about anything right now).

Another problem I have with the socializing aspect of conferences is that I have difficulty hearing.  If I’m in a crowded room of people talking, I can hear the people right next to me and that’s it.  So, on the one hand, I feel uncomfortable talking one on one with a person but on the other hand, if I’m in a group, I can barely hear what people are saying (or just can’t hear them at all).  And, all the while, I want to run back to my hotel room, climb in bed, and hide under the covers.

And today, that’s what I did.  The talk I was in got out early for the second session and I wanted desperately to go back to the hotel and someone offered me a ride, so I did.  I went back to the hotel, skipping the last session and lunch and went back to bed and boy did it feel good.  It felt so good, I might even be able to face going out and hobnobbing except that the conference is over and there is no more hobnobbing to be had.  Maybe that’s why it felt good, because I knew I wouldn’t be required to socialize anymore.

It’s not that I hate socializing completely.  I enjoy being in small groups of people I know.  It’s not knowing the people I’m trying to socialize with that’s the problem.

So, now it’s all over and I’m sitting here, praying the rain will stop, or at least that it won’t delay my flight because I think I would go crazy if I couldn’t get home.


This evening, there is a gala (which I hope is casual because I don’t have anything dressy) with food and drink.  I am going but I am rather dreading it because I really suck at networking and meeting new people.  Really suck at it.  I am shy.  I hate that awkward feeling when you try to insinuate yourself into the conversation.  I get really nervous and scared and want to go and hide.

And then, there’s the “drink” part.  I think just about every medication I’m taking says not to drink alcohol while taking it and I’m on five of them.  So, no wine for me.  It’s awkward to be the one person who is not drinking alcohol.

I made it

I’m here at the conference.  Today there are the workshops in the morning, lab/museum tours in the afternoon and the gala tonight.  I wasn’t interested in the workshops, so my first conference event will be the museum tour in the afternoon.  Then, it will be back to the hotel for a little rest and then to the gala.  I’m not sure what the gala will entail.  Food and drink, I suppose, but the term gala seems very grand.  I only brought casual clothes (jeans and sweaters) so I hope it’s not a dress up event.

So sleepy.  Jet lag sucks.  Tomorrow will be worse.  Registration is from 8-9, then sessions all day.   I usually get up around 8:00 CA time!  Hopefully, the sessions will be so inspiring, I won’t think about falling asleep!

3/4 the way there

Well, I’m at Dulles waiting for my connecting flight and enjoying the free wireless.  The anxiety is at a manageable level.  My thoughts started to race when I was on the plane so I took my panic attack med and I’m feeling better.  Still antsy, though.  Can’t believe I’m going to have to spend another hour waiting to board, then an hour on the plane.  I’ve come this far, I just want to be there already!

After my last post when I said I was going to the conference, I changed my mind about five times and had a panic attack so bad I almost called the whole thing off.  I’m glad I didn’t.  I’m starting to get excited about going to the conference and I think things will be okay.  I hope.  Okay, in optimistic moments, I think everything will be okay.  And, I’m having more and more optimistic moments.

The anxiety problems are really starting to become scary.  I don’t ever remember being this bad before.  My doctor says I’ve hit the bottom and it’s only up from here, but I’m not so sure.  Or, at least, I’m a little concerned about how long I’m going to remain at bottom before things get better.

Unreasonable anxiety

As the conference approaches (leaving tomorrow), I have more and more anxiety about the whole thing.  I was freaking out about renting a car and maybe getting lost or the car breaking down (not to mention the expense), so I ditched the car and now I’m worried about what happens if I need to go to the store because the airline lost my luggage and I have deodorant.  So then I think, well, I’ll bring my deodorant in my carry-on, and an extra shirt and underwear just in case my luggage gets lost and then I worry about my deodorant getting confiscated by security for being the wrong size and then I’m back to the problem of having no deodorant.  Maybe the answer is to have two deodorants?

And then there’s the flight back.  The conference ends with lunch from noon-2 and my flight’s not until 5pm.  Then, there’s a four hour layover in Dulles before the very long flight back.  What will I do during all of that time?  I hope I can sleep on the flight but that still leaves me with all the extraneous time in the airport.  Why this freaks me out, I have no idea.  Now, if I was traveling with small children and had to keep them entertained all that time, that might be something to freak out about.  But, it’s just myself I have to try to keep entertained.

Somehow, the conference itself doesn’t seem as scary as the traveling, I’m not sure why.  I guess because if I completely freak out, I can go hide in my hotel room if I have to.  The traveling makes me feel…trapped, I guess.  Trapped in one place with no where to go and nothing that can be done if I’m uncomfortable or freaking out.

I hate having all of this anxiety and feeling like I’m completely messed up.

I’m going

I decided to go to ScienceOnline 2010.  If any of you out there are going, send me an email at:  mrswhatsit.loves.science [at] gmail [dot] com (with the appropriate symbols replacing the words in the brackets.  I’m going under my real name and in an unfortunate twist of fate, someone who knows me in real life will also be there.  So, if you contact me and I contact you and we agree to meet up at the conference, you have to agree to not call me by my pseudonym and to not reveal my identity.

I am still a little freaked about going to the conference.  The money situation has gotten better, but I am still very anxiety-prone and going to this conference is tripping all of my triggers.  Would be nice to know some supporters there.

Losing myself

Let me tell you a story.  There once was a girl from Iowa who grew up in a lower class family whose parents had to work many hours a week just so that the family could have the necessities.  In junior high, this girl decided that, in order to avoid her parents fate, she should go to college.  But, since there was not enough money to send her to college, she would need scholarships.  To get scholarships she knew she needed to have a really good academic record, therefore, she resolved to get all A’s in high school.  She thought she would be able to get into any school she wanted with this kind of record, but alas, her school didn’t have honors or AP classes or weighted grades so despite having the top grade in her class, she wasn’t able to get into her first choice school.  However, she was able to go to a good school in Boston.  So, despite never having been to the city of Boston, she headed there for school, alone, confident she would be able to handle whatever problems there were.

While in Boston, the girl had her second major depressive episode (the first was just before junior high) and it had a negative effect on her classwork and relationships.  But, she persevered and was able to graduate with a reasonably good GPA and honors.  At the time, she didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life except to move to a large city in the midwest because that was where her boyfriend was going to school and she was sure she would marry this man.  So, having very little in savings and no job whatsoever, she moved to this large city, confident she would be able to be hired to do something even if it was only waiting tables.  She first got a job at a store selling lingerie  but eventually was able to get a job as a tech.

Then, the girl decided that she would really like to backpack around Europe.  So, she planned and planned and despite never having been abroad before and having very little safety net should it all go horribly wrong, and despite speaking very little of the languages for the countries she was visiting, she took a long vacation from her tech job and went with a friend and stayed in youth hostels for three and a half weeks while visiting four countries.

After being a tech for several years, the girl decided to go to grad school.  She got into a good school and that was when she had her third major depressive episode and it was such a doozie that she started seeing a therapist and eventually started taking medication.  And she fought the depression really hard and after years of therapy and medication changes and tears and fear it would never get any better, she got better.

Now, let’s talk about another girl.  This girl is trying to finish her PhD.  She’s desperately trying to write her thesis while in the midst of a major depressive episode.  For reasons she doesn’t understand, she is filled with anxiety about very simple things like going to the grocery store.  She has to summon up courage whenever she wants to leave the house.  She is totally freaking out about going to a conference and about all of the things that could go wrong there (and worrying about money on top of it) even though she went to this conference once before and it was great and it’s in the same location and some of the same people she met last time will be there.  She seems to have anxiety all of the time and has to take something for it.  She has to work like crazy just to be able to focus for two hours a day on her thesis.  The rest of the time is spent worrying or reading a book, or watching TV because those are about the only things she can handle.

I do not understand how I can be both girls in the story.  Something has happened to me.   Somehow, I went from being a person who had no problem taking big chances to a person who’s afraid to take small risks.  I went from being a person who had lots of ambition to a person with no ambition.  I’m not exactly sure how it all happened.  It doesn’t feel like it should have been able to happen, and yet, it did.  Some of it, I blame on grad school.  I never had such great self-esteem to begin with and it really took a beating in grad school.  Now, my self-esteem is so low as to be practically non-existent.  How I’m going to get through my defense in this shape I have no idea.

What seems clear to me, at this point, is that I need help.  I have a doctor and I love her but we can only communicate via email and the phone.  I think I might be better with a doctor here, except I’m scared to try to find one (what if the first person I talk to is no good?).  I think I need a new therapist, too, but again, I’m scared to try and find one.  I’ve just about reached my breaking point, though, where i feel so bad, I’m willing to do something scary like find a new doctor just in the hopes that I will feel better.