Ancrene Wiseass

A would-be medievalist holds forth on academia, teaching, gender politics, blogging, pop culture, critters, and whatever else comes her way.

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Location: United States

Yes, this really is yet another blog by a disillusioned grad student. I sympathize, but that's just the way it has to be. For hints as to what my bizarre alias means, click here and here and, if needed, here and here. To get a sense of what I'm up to, feel free to check out the sections called "Toward a Wiseass Creed" and "Showings: Some Introductory Wiseassery" in my main blog's left-hand sidebar. Please be aware that spamming, harassing, or otherwise obnoxious comments will be deleted and traced.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A word on therapy and this blog

I do thank those who have responded to my last post with advice and sympathy. But concerning the comments that I should seek therapy: while I appreciate the kind intentions behind those recommendations, I also would appreciate not having them repeated.

Please understand that I am not just sticking my head in the sand here: I don't believe I've made a secret of my battles with depression. I don't harbor any illusions on that point.

My last post should not, however, be taken as an indication that I'm "hating on" myself in especially dangerous ways. I am frustrated and peeved with my lack of progress, but I have not lapsed into abject self-loathing. What I indicated is precisely that I'm aware Old Man Depression could drive me down that road unless I take care.

In the past, I have worked with therapists when I was having particular difficulty. I did find some aspects of those visits helpful. Unfortunately, my university-sponsored health-care package does not allow for anything close to consistent treatment for under $40/week, and that's simply not something I can afford unless I'm experiencing a serious crisis. That’s particularly true since most of the advice I’ve gotten from therapists is that I need to get out of grad school as quickly as possible because it tends to do a number on people’s mental health.

In fact, that professional observation may help to explain part of what I'm after in writing this blog. One of the reasons why I write here is that I find it therapeutic to do so. I do, however, want to avoid making this a space for endless self-indulgence, and I have some hope that my comments might have additional uses.

If the conversations I’ve had with friends and acquaintances and much of what I’ve read about other people’s grad-school experiences are any guide, the way I'm thinking and feeling isn’t particularly exceptional. In fact, I'm hoping to use this blog not only to offer myself a "safety valve" of sorts, but also to provide other grad students with the sense that they aren't either alone or crazy, to provide a frank forum for writing and thinking about graduate school, and to offer a snapshot of what it can be like to pursue a higher degree.

That last objective is especially important to me, since I think grad students suffer a great deal from misunderstandings of what we do for a living and how the very real pressures of our lives affect us.

There probably is no such thing as a representation of oneself or one's ideas without some aspect of performance. But I do my best to write this blog in a way that is simultaneously as honest and as ethical as I can manage. While it's not my intention, on the whole, to cause people alarm, being honest will sometimes do that.