I seem to subscribe to the Superwoman school of womanhood. As such I don’t cope very well with having limitations. I feel I should be able to grow and cook my own food from scratch, make my own clothes, do the washing up and cooking, nurture creative skills like knitting, crochet, weaving etc, expand my knowledge through reading, both fiction and non-fiction, volunteer, hold down a full time job, be there for my husband, my family and my friends, keep fit and healthy and maintain a cheerful disposition throughout. Even a non-limited person (if such a thing exists) would struggle to do all of those. As such most of the time I live with feelings of guilt, shame and worthlessness for not being the superwoman I should be.
Despite that, on good days, I still managed to do an awful lot of what is on that list. On the really bad days, when getting out of bed, reading and comprehending something longer than a sentence or doing anything that requires an ounce of brain power without collapsing into tears is just asking far too much of me, I really struggle with my limitations.
My husband says part of dealing with any disability is to find out how it limits you, accept those limitations and work around them. As such I have been telling myself repeatedly over the last week or so ‘Do what you can, when you can.’
I’m still trying to write this dammned thesis. In the last week I have hit a major depressive block. Thinking about anything is difficult, everything in my head is a disjointed mess, not the best when working with data. Today has been slightly better and I’ve returned to my data finally with the hopes of getting moving. I’ve stumbled on some papers that may hold the answer to a data analysis problem I have been having. But no matter how I try I cannot comprehend them. I read it, and then nothing. So I read again, one line at a time, taking pauses. Still nothing, the eyes glaze over but keep moving down the page, the head starts to pound and things go fuzzy. I know that on a good day I could understand this all fine. I’m fairly sure that the answer to my problem lies in this paper. But I need someone to sit next to me, slowly read it out to me, pausing for me to comprehend and then, maybe after a try or two at that, I’ll have understood what it said.
I truly hate being so helpless. I cannot find a way to help myself here, and all I hear is the clock ticking down. I need to understand this and I need to have understood it two weeks ago. I am so behind it is laughable and on days like today I really think it is time to throw in the towel. If I need someone to hold my hand and read to me in order to complete a PhD, do I really deserve that PhD? Is it truly mine? I see myself getting more and more ill, first in body and now in mind too, all to try and get this done and it seems to be going nowhere.
I know it shouldn’t be easy, but every step of this writing process is mental agony. One of my supervisors told me if you really put your head down a thesis can be written in 3 months. I’ve been going since about Feb and it doesn’t look likely.
The ‘sensible’ part of my head says, do what you can when you can. Today is today and tomorrow is a new day, hell with my illness now is now and the next 5 minutes may see a totally different me. But this persistent treacle in my brain feels never ending. Today, that is my biggest limitation.
I’d post a funny comic but I tried reading some and honestly couldn’t follow them…