Sunday, April 25, 2010


Last Wednesday, I found myself sitting it yet another three-hour long exhausting policy seminar for which I hadn't done the reading because I have no interest in the material. I was passing the time by thinking about how I would finish all the requirement's for my master's thesis next semester when I made a very important discovery:

I have completely lost my focus.

Before getting diagnosed with RA, I started this dual degree graduate program - for a law degree and a master's in environmental policy - with a purpose: the issues fascinated me, I had enthusiasm for finding answers to complicated problems, and I had at least a vauge idea of where I wanted to end up when the whole "graduate school" thing was over. 

I have no idea what I'm doing anymore. 

While I still think environmental issues are important, no particular issue grabs my attention anymore. I couldn't think of a single topic that I'd like to spend six months researching - or even that I could bear to spend six months researching. I still think the world needs to find answers to complicated issues, but I'm not certain if I should be the one finding them. And I have zero idea what kind of job I'd like to end up with when I finally muscle through these degrees. If it pays the bills, I'm not sure I care anymore.

I know this is partly (mostly?) exhaustion talking. I know I'm tired from a long  four years of law school, the past two of which I've done while trying to get my RA under control at the same time. I know I'll think more clearly when finals are over and I've had some time to recover. So I'm not making any decisions any time soon. 

But, lately, I can't stop myself from thinking. Or crying, actually. And the only reason I can come up with for why I am still "doing this" is because I'm stubborn. Because I already put in most of the work so I might as well finish it, no matter how miserable it makes me. It will be "worth it" somehow. That's what everyone else says too. "You're almost done." "You might as well finish." "You'll feel better soon." "It will be worth it in the end."

But I'm not sure a Masters in Stubborn is that good for my health. Or my sanity.


~kelly marie~ said...

I have felt like this so many times before. We are just so similar! I am sending you lots of hugs. If you want to talk, I'm a phone call away!

Unknown said...

You. Me. Self-sustainable organic artichoke farm. We'll be dull and useless, but tan and happy.

Mirela said...

Dear Mariah, I've shaken my head in agreement with your post until my neck hurt:) I know you will finish because you're too stubborn and from your posts I gather you're someone who is always finishing what they have started. To get to do the degrees you're doing you would have had to have felt passionate about the topics (don't forget that that passion is still in you even if RA has managed to threaten your goals). The work you're doing is hard and not a walk in the park (not the greatest analogy for someone with RA). Listen, stay strong, don't pull any all-nighters and certainly don't add guilt to your's not your fault you got RA and now you are more limited than others. Could you defer some exams or ask for extensions for your masters work? You have a very legitimate reason. Wow, can't believe I have no problems giving you advice but when it comes to taking my own advice I suck. I'm struggling with these issues too at the moment and I think because I've been so involved in following my educational passions at all cost (sometimes not enough sleep, too much stress, keeping all deadlines no matter what etc) I can't help but blame my work for triggering RA. I know it's not true entirely but I often wonder what if I would have chosen an easier road.
I believe that when you will be done with these degrees and when your RA will be under even better control (in 2 years we can barely learn to accept that we have a chronic, painful condition and we still continue to acquire the psychological skills required to live a happy life with it), that the fog will lift and that you will remember again why you pulled through and how much you love what you do.

Laurie Grassi said...

You seriously need a vacation. Some time away to, first, not think at all, and to, second, have time to think and mull things over.

You're at the start of everything, there is all of life ahead of you and you have time. So get through this period and then take time to think. You're exhausted – not surprisingly – and you need to just give yourself a break.

Anyhoo – that's my two cents worth from someone who's further down the road in life...

:) L

~Mariah~ said...

I'm still struggling a lot so I'm not quite ready to respond to any of this yet - but I wanted to thank you all for your kind words and support. I appreciate it.

Peggy Sirk said...

I'm pulling for you, Mariah. I feel your pain and understand the frustration of losing focus. When RA starts to define us, motivation is one of the first casualties. From reading your blog posts, I gather that you have a great deal of determination and spunk...and just enough "good" days to get you to the finish line. It would seem that the regret of not making it (even if you limp across) would forever linger and outweigh the stress and RA related difficulty of plodding onward. Along the way you might consider eliminating as much outside interference as possible...don't expect perfection and let go of the superfluous...accepting "Good Enough" as a mantra/motto can get you through some demanding situations, assignments, and all- round crummy days. Wishing you the best ~