take a deep breath everyone

19 Oct

This post is about breathing. Not involuntary-subcortical-breathing. But taking a second to close your eyes and purposefully breathe. In your nose, out your mouth, fill up your lungs (inspiratory checking everyone!) and let it out like you’re blowing out candles on a birthday cake.

Last week I got a blog-hit from someone struggling with SLP grad school. Common sense tells us that graduate school is going to be hard. Duh. This semester has been my toughest (aside from the second block of my first summer when I had a nervous breakdown*). Everyone has high and low points and it isn’t just about grades. Really, the grades are the least of your troubles. Study. Go to class. Talk to your peers and professors. If you got into a Master’s program then you likely know how to get good grades so keep it up. When was the last time you failed? Like, FAILED? I got a 37% on a stats test sophomore year. That was my last F. You know how to be a student. Being a student isn’t the hard part. If being a student is suddenly hard you need to step back and think about how badly you really want to be in a Master’s program for speech-path. Where has your motivation gone? Is this what you really want?

The hard part is keeping your head above water. The hard part is getting up every morning and saying “I can do this” even when every fiber of your being feels like it can’t do this another day.

So let’s talk about how to keep your head above water.

1. Stay positive. I know this is corny and cliche but it is so true. I am a naturally dark type of person. I can get dragged down into the abyss of crankiness real quick. Use the fake-it-til-you-make-it mentality. Smile a lot. Call your grandma. Listen to happy music. Eat something legitimate at least once a week.

2. Get out of the clinic. Listen, I get to work everyday at 8 AM and this week I’ve been in the clinic until 9 PM every night. It has to happen. I’ve got a lot going on and I know you do too. But when you finally get out don’t just go home and get in bed. Go get a drink with the girls. Go watch a Disney movie. Buy a sandwich. Take a little time to do something outside of sleeping and clinic-ing.

3. Use your damn planner. I suppose if you aren’t very busy this doesn’t apply but if you don’t write what you’re doing down it is going to just float around in your brain and make you nutso. This week I’ve got data collection and analysis, meetings, a thousand emails to catch up on, planning for Pathways, ASHA-SOFAC paperwork, clinic, work, a workshop to attend, hearing screenings, class, homework, legislative committee conference call, THE WORLD SERIES WHICH I MUST WATCH —the list goes on. If I didn’t write this crap down I’d never know what was going on.

4. Talk. Talk to your friends. Talk to your professors. Talk to your family. Talk to your guinea pig. Doesn’t matter who you talk to but you’ll feel better after you do it. Everyone (but maybe your guinea pig) has confidence in you, has advice to dispense, and may be going through/have gone through what you’re going through right now. Take what they have to say and use it to your advantage.

* Finally I want to say that if you’re genuinely having trouble with mental health you need to see someone. When I say I had a nervous breakdown I am being completely honest. I’ve struggled with hereditary panic disorder for a very long time and I thought I could deal with it on my own but I couldn’t. Everyone has stress and everyone hits a low, but if you’re consistently in a dark place then please get help. Every school has counseling programs which are generally free to students and confidential. I went to mine and it was great.

Speaking from experience, if you’re scared of your own kitchen because there are knives in there, can’t take a shower because you’re scared of being near a razor, sleep all day (or don’t sleep at all), shake all day, cry all day – maybe it is time to give your doctor a call (my doctor’s office offered to come pick me up from my apartment at 7:30 in the morning). Give your mom a call. Call me. Call anyone. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255.

There is so much help out there and so much support. Graduate school is scary and tough but it isn’t worth your life – we need you to stick around so you can change lives and help people communicate!

NP: Ingrid Michaelson – Keep Breathing

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4 Responses to “take a deep breath everyone”

  1. zealousidler October 19, 2011 at 5:03 pm #

    Thank you so much for this post! I’m a first-year, and a lot of students are having a really hard time now. I don’t think I realized how stressed I’ve been until I read this and started crying. So thank you. It’s really helpful to hear about this from someone who has been there.

    • weathersby October 19, 2011 at 5:58 pm #

      I hope you had a good cry and are feeling better. We all go through it, you aren’t alone! Luckily grad school isn’t forever – you’ll do just great and then it’ll all be over šŸ™‚

  2. anon October 20, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

    What a great post!!! I’m an undergrad and a bit scared of what’s to come!

    Also would you mind doing a post about getting into grad school for slp?

    • weathersby October 20, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

      Of course! I’m actually giving a presentation to our undergrads on getting into graduate school next week so that won’t be a problem at all. šŸ™‚

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