27 and a PhD

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Taking it all in

Welcome to my blog!

Hello there, awesome reader. My name is Dr. 27. I'm older than that now, but I'm staying faithful to the origins of the blog.

This blog started 2 months before completing my PhD in a pretty southern university back in 2009. It was a way to practice my writing and take a break from all things thesis. My PhD is in a branch of structural biology where I studied some rather impressive stuff.

After completing the degree, I packed my life of 6 years in 3 days and moved to Canada to do a postdoc in a completely different field. Two years later, and after attending a lot of seminars, workshops and doing some much-needed soul-searching, I ended up getting out and looking for an alternative path to academia and industry.

The blog chronicles my mishaps, ideas, musings and tips on entering, staying and finishing grad school. It also talks about some (or a lot) of personal stuff. For a while, the blog became a place to talk about the frustrations of not knowing what to do after PhD. I wanted to explore alternatives to the traditional paths of research (academia, industry and goverment) whilst going back to my field of training (if at all possible). Eventually a job materialized. Follow my quest as I navigate the waters of being a staff scientist at a core facility.

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I know it’s been a month since I last wrote. Life has gone fast at times, and at other moments it’s gone too fast to even think. I’m still busy with work, lots of it, which is good, but it also means I’m tired (as usual) and I’m facing the last minute crunch of everything and everyone that needs to collect data before their grant/paper/presentation/defense are due.

I’ve been off and on on Twitter due to personal issues. I will share a bit, so you know what’s going on. And if you have any words of wisdom, I welcome them.

A month and a half ago my dear husband went to a NP at a counseling office, as he’s been diagnosed with panic syndrome. Hon is very panicky and anxious by nature and since his first panic attack (in Canada), he’d been on a mood pill to help with the panic attacks. The pill had worked well for the last couple of years. But this summer, after having two major medical procedures, and having to take an adjunct job that left him very dissatisfied, things came crashing down. He started getting panic attacks more often (a couple of times a month, when they had been absent since 2010) and we thought that perhaps he’d developed some sort of “resistance” to the drug. He tried getting to a psych doctor at school, but turns out they’re really swamped with new patients. Instead he was referred to the facility I  mentioned above and after the intake interview, he saw the nurse practitioner who suggested he upped his dose, since the drug had been working for 3 years.

Little did we know that upping the dose would sent my hubby on a downward spiral, which culminated with a visit to the psych ER on Thanksgiving. We’d planned to have a nice dinner, cook delicious (non traditional) food, stay home and rest from the hectic weeks we’d had. But it wasn’t meant to be. On Thanksgiving Thursday, hon woke me up in panic. He’d had thoughts of hurting himself, and me. And though he didn’t act on them, the mere thought sent him in a downward path. We tried everything, from watching funny shows, to driving around, but his anxiety wasn’t budging. Finally at night, when I realized we were sleep deprived and he was still panicked, I took the same decision I did in Canada 3 years back … I drove him to the ER to see if there he could find an answer or some form of treatment to whatever was going on.

We ended up staying the night after he was first interviewed. Once he told the nurses and doctors in the ER of the thoughts, that was enough for him to be taken to the psych area of the ER and for him to get even more interviews, more vitals and more questions.

It was a hell of a weekend.

At least in the ER he was being observed. His mind had a million thoughts, all being fired up at the same time. He was anticipating the death of his careers, blaming himself for choosing to study a topic that apparently no one has interest in these parts of the country, mourning the loss of the career he thought he’d be in by now. He was afraid I’d have him committed, them have the key thrown away. He was afraid I’d think he was crazy.

I didn’t think we was/is crazy. I just knew that my husband wasn’t the same man he was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. That he was anxious, panicked, terrified. And that just talking about things wasn’t doing shit.

The next day we saw a doctor. I had to leave for work for a few hours. My bosses were understanding, though I didn’t give way too many details. I went back and the doctor assured him he wasn’t crazy. That in all likelihood, the change in dose of his med, and the fact that he hated the job he was doing, plus the stress from the surgeries and recovery had made the perfect storm. This wasn’t just another panic attack. He was depressed. This was serious. And before he could act on his thoughts, he needed to be stabilized and needed urgent counseling.

The last couple of weeks have been a mix of good news and progress and the occasional set back. But mostly it’s been moving forward. He’s being weaned out of his med, changed into a “classical” one. He’s taken powerful meds to try to get his stress levels down. Though he’s afraid of what will happen once he’s off of it (there’s no history of addiction in his family, but still, he’s scared). I’m scared of not being a supportive wife and of “dumping” him on the doctors at the ER when things get stressful.

I’m sure it will be a long recovery for both. Hon seems to be doing better now that he’s in counseling every day and that there’s a plan of action. But still, I know that any “little” thing could destabilize whatever “normal” we’ve had until now. I’m eating my feelings away. We’re both going on little sleep.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayer. They are felt. If I don’t write before the end of the year, I hope your 2013 ends well and that 2014 is even better.

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6 Comments

  1. I am so very sorry about what your husband is going through, and also, how you must feel. I myself started suffering from panic attacks when I started grad school. I know the feeling and I also had to take medication to ease the emotional pain and the anxiety. I remember being curled up in a corner in my room, crying until my eyes hurt and not knowing what to do. I wish I had the right words to say, to help you and your husband ease the pain, but if it helps, I know how terrible the experience is. But you have each other and your love will get you through it. It’s also a great thing that you sought help in time. My thoughts are with you and your husband. After a horrible time, life got better for me, and I am positive it will be the same for you two. Hugs!

    • Dr. 27 says:

      Thank you SO much for your kind words and advice. A few yrs ago I had no idea how many of us were affected by depression, anxiety and other mood disorders. Little by little I find out more of us. It’s sad, but comforting to know that we’re not alone. Hugs to you too!

  2. Moncochon says:

    Hang in there! Ur readers will be here supporting you.

  3. Here’s to moving forward… and your amazing support no matter what. Sending best wishes to you both 🙂

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