In the morning I get up early. This is so untypically me. Strong coffee needed. Riding my bike to the train station. Buying more coffee at Segafredo. Vegging out in the train to Lausanne. Fribourg is mysterious with all the fog and a golden autumn sun in the morning. Usually I work on my private defense in the train. My presentation is still too long.
I have experienced quite a bit of instability lately. After I handed in my thesis I did not experience a magic happiness as I had been expecting. On the contrary, I got extremely exhausted. I felt heavy and got pulled down. At the same time I was shaken by existential thoughts. Big questions about life. Feeling lonely and more intensively. Convinced that I have no future I started worrying about the people in Gaza, and in the end I mostly cried. It is difficult to slow down if you have been driving in the sixth gear for too long.
It is good to write about it now. For several days I could not understand what is going on with me. I repeated often that everything is too much to me. It felt like a huge wave that was falling down on me. I suddenly realized that it had been too much. I finally reached a point in my life where I can truly say, I did too much. With all my honesty, it is hard to admit that I actually do have limits. It is no nice experience to feel your limit. That moment when you are enjoying a fast drive with your SAAB. Faster than ever. Totally hyper. And then the road bends and for a little second you lose control. This is how it feels like. During this little second something triggers a reaction, a little cut.
Now it heals. It feels like a wound that needs to heal. I will let it heal. I just handed in my PhD thesis and I am not allowed to take a step back and look at it with pride. While I was convinced during the last couple of days that I have no future and that I did not achieve anything, my husband and our daughter convinced me otherwise. My future started yesterday and I will have to cope with it. I discovered my limits and the people working with me need to respect them.
I do not expect that I am able to change much. I am 30 years old and the last 10 years I developed my own surviving strategies. However, I am hurting and I do not want this to happen again. Taking care of yourself is much more difficult for me than I would like to admit.
Here are some simple rules:
1) Sleep enough. Take those fucking naps if you do not sleep at night.
2) Try to eat healthy. Even if it has to be cute little calves and innocent fish.
3) Stay away from nicotine.
4) Do not think that you will stop drinking alcohol or coffee one day. It is too tempting and my brain got used to it.
5) Given that I have an awesome husband and the cutest and smartest daughter in the world, I have to pull the emergency break at the moment when I come home and feel unable to enjoy them. My little family is the most precious thing I have in my life and I want to always prioritize them. They will give me the strength to endure injustice and immoral behaviors at work.
6) I try to challenge myself and reach new goals every day at work. However, sometimes I realize that my contribution to science does not matter at all. Reminding myself about the feedback I get after presenting my work helps. I see my job as a way to learn how to solve problems and answer questions. While I feel pushed and forced in different directions right now, I should remember that one day I will be able to decide myself which problems I want to solve.
Appendix: When darkness falls and surrounds you, when you fall down, when you’re scared and you’re lost – be brave.
I am coming to hold you. When all your strength has gone and you feel wrong like your life has slipped away – follow me. You can follow me and I will not desert you now. I will keep you safe. You can trust me. I will protect you, my love.