Thursday, October 19, 2006

Dr. R weighs in

Saw Dr. R tonight before my second midterm in as many days. I didn't get to tell him about the community programming I'm working on because I had to talk about how the unanimous faculty, Dr. Jerk, the bitch TA, and Jerusha are all trying to kill me with stress and misery.

For a while he was saying things I needed to hear but didn't want to: even if I am factually correct, there must be something about my manner that is alienating all these people and causing them to criticize me. (Well, nothing would make my sister happy, and Dr. Jerk has hated me from day 1, but the TA and the faculty could be on to something.)

He recommended that I just tone myself down. "You don't always have to show them that you're smart and you know the material," he said. "All you need to do is pass."

He's right, of course. My grades don't really matter as long as I pass, and I doubt Dr. Jerk would be able to justify flunking me if I demonstrate a good grasp of the subject matter. So I really just need to back off. Less is more.

I thought grad school would be a place where students could be free to be you and me... but that record's way out of date. I need to come on less strong; one of the criticisms the deputy director lobbed at me was that people thought I had a very strong personality. I need to tone it down. I don't have to change; I just don't have to charge forward at 100% all of the time. Don't need to give it to them with both cylinders.

I wasn't happy to hear this, but I had to admit he was right. If they're not going to know about my disability, then I need to work extra hard to conceal it.

As I was leaving, one hand on the open door's handle, I said, "I just can't believe Dr. Jerk can get away with treating me like this."

Dr. R took off his glasses and beckoned me closer: "Treat him like a patient."


"If you had a patient who was very angry at you, unfairly, you would not be angry at him, no? You would not react to his anger because you are a professional. So treat this professor like a patient and do not react to him."

That was lovely to hear. Of course Dr. Jerk is irrational and unreasonable -- he's a psychiatric patient! I need to be patient and understanding with him, and not make any demands because he can't tolerate them.

Of course, this is a slightly condescending view of patients, and if he were my patient he wouldn't have all the power over me that he has now. But I think it's a useful metaphor.

So I'll try to react to him as if he were a "difficult" patient. It will be good practice. I'm planning on working with criminal offenders who suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder. Little Mary Sunshines they are not. In fact, they might even remind me of him.

So I guess this is a blessing in disguise, of sorts. A very heavy disguise. Like a gorilla suit.

Even though I felt a little better after therapy, I still had to rush to make it to my midterm, and of course the trains were all delayed. I ended up taking two clonazepam. It's an anticonvulsant that's also used as a tranquilizer. Not as dreamy as lorazepam, also known as Ativan, but it does the job and it's less addictive. I have to say, I sailed through that exam. Thought calmly and clearly, worked out the answers, finished in record time. If it turns out I did well, I might just pop one or two clonazepam before every exam, at least while my behavior's under the faculty microscope and my professor despises me.

I'm not really worried about getting addicted. I've never had a problem with drinking too much, and I really love the way I feel when I'm slightly drunk. But I go months and months between drinking; then I have a few drinks, remember, wow, how much I like it -- and then I forget it by the next morning when I wake up, and go for months without drinking again. If I'm addicted to anything it's Entenmann's cakes and donuts, on which I gained 20 pounds during my last hellish depressive/anxious episode, and I've gone cold turkey.

With all this unavoidable stress in my life -- today, before my appointment with Dr. R, it was so bad that I couldn't eat or study -- I need something to take the edge off. I can't change my daily medications; I'm at the maximum dose that I can tolerate of all three. Without clonazepam, I don't know how I'll function when things get really harsh and I'm stressed beyond endurance.

It's better to take two clonazepam than to take an entire bottle of lithium and pray to die.

And I have to say, I haven't even come close to finishing my last clonazepam prescription, which I filled almost three months ago. Although I asked for a new prescription tonight. Just in case.

I'm also going to go for a blood test to see if I can try upping my dose of lithium. I used to take Depakote as well as lithium and could only tolerate a certain lithium level -- they're both very demanding on the liver. But now that Depakote's out of the picture, I'm hoping I can increase the lithium. It might balance me out more, and right now I could use that. I need to roll with all of these punches being thrown at me.
Copyright (c) 2006 "Ayelet Survivor"


  1. Dr. Roda did you much good today.

  2. Hehe...good trick, to think of Dr. Jerk as a particularly difficult patient. Whatever works, right?