I'm having a tough couple of weeks, and I'm not really sure what to do about it. This time of year is always really difficult for me, as it triggers lots of memories and feelings that I'd rather not face. This year it has been especially tough because I am in my first year of a very demanding PhD program.
The trouble is this: I know that I am very, very blessed. So many incest survivors will never recover enough to do the things that I am able to do with my life. I have a wonderful partner, stable finances, reasonably good physical health, and good employment prospects (assuming I can finish the PhD). I recognize how lucky I am to have those things, and I don't want to let down the other survivors who (through no fault of their own) will never have the chance to have so much. But that doesn't mean that it isn't really hard. I still have so many, many days where I have no motivation, where my emotions threaten to overwhelm me at any second. I still live with depression and PTSD symptoms every day, and they do interfere with my ability to function. I have an excellent therapist and a very nice psychiatrist who monitors my meds, and we all do the best we can. But I feel as though I will never be able to keep up with the "rest of the world", the ones who don't have the sort of stressors in their life that we survivors have. No one else in my program seems to feel as burnt out as easily as I do; they seem to be at ease in social situations, comfortable interacting with the professors, happily close to their families. Maybe that's not the case, but it seems that way to me. I, instead, am stressed out just by attending class; I am terrified of interacting with my professors, because I have a history of breaking down in tears when I deal with male authority figures, and I don't want to do that this time; I find a phone call from my parents to be so triggering that it can leave me in a dissociated state for the rest of the day.
My psychiatrist suggested today that I register with the disabilities services office at my school, so that I can drop back to fewer classes at a time if I need to do so. That's how I managed to survive college, but college is a different atmosphere than grad school. I'm worried that if I take fewer classes, people will notice, and they will want to know why. Everyone in our program takes exactly the same courseload every semester for two years. If I deviate from that schedule, it won't go unnoticed. I just don't know how I would explain it to people - I like to keep my privacy, and I don't want to have to disclose my history just to get them to leave me alone. I don't know. What do you all think? Are any of you in a graduate program, or have any of you completed one? Or have any of you had to take a lot of time off from work? How did you deal with it?
P.S. - Can I just say that I hate the Halloween themed LJ header? And I hate their presumption that anyone who didn't like it was just trying to spoil their fun? I find Halloween very triggering and I hate that I can't remove that banner from the top of my journal. :(