Friday, July 25, 2014

The current plan is, throw ALL THE THINGS at the wall and see what sticks.

Well, currently the wall is a MESS! And ain’t nothing sticking!

I feel like I’ve been going along and asking too many questions. As a grad student that wasn’t in the program yet, I had no advisor and no one was really answering my questions as to what’s what so I came up with the plan of attack of do all of it, email everyone, ask all the questions. Eventually, I got the answers that I needed to, likely not without annoying a few people, and now I’m where I should be in this process… I think.

Moving forward, there’s no new plan, per se, because I don’t know that I have enough answers. I’m not sure if I’m having issues understanding things, exactly, or if it’s just that I don’t have enough information.

The problem I have with my bipolar disorder sometimes is that messages get scrambled, either due to lack of focus or negative thinking. This means that, even when I get the proper information, my mind doesn’t always get the memo and I keep on responding as though there were no new information or that the new information is not so different from the old.

I’ve seen this at work as of late. There were 3 or so conversations online that, upon rereading the exchange, I realized that what the other person was saying wasn’t what I had taken it to mean. In other words, I heard their views or opinions with a negative slant towards me or in a way that was negative in meaning. I’m not sure that I’m explaining it properly, but know that it would have become an argument had I not stepped back.

Thankfully, I have learned to step away from the conversation (more often than not) when I’m feeling misunderstood or attacked by friends. It has become something that I know to evaluate than to take as real. If the misunderstanding is indeed real, though, it has helped me to take a look at their side and consider what is being said or argued. I see it as beneficial all around, really. However, the trick is that I have to be able to stop myself and catch it, which is not always possible.

Outside of conversations with friends, I’ve seen a cognitive distortion in how I’ve read instructions for assignments and in how I take in the information handed to me. The problem with the first is that I will interpret something a certain way and go about the assignment based on how I read it, which inevitably gets points deducted from my grade for “not following instructions.” You see the problem here.

The problem can also manifest itself in repetitive questions, usually causing the other person to lose patience. This was something that I found came into play during a recent interview for a graduate assistant position. Not wanting to ask the person the same question over and over (which I believe had already happened twice) in case it was my fault in the interpretation, I did what I always do and I threw general answers of all the things at them. I found that I rambled when I did this, resulting in confusion and frustration on my part to get to the pertinent answers… or at least the more pertinent answers in my understanding. No one wants to hear about my grocery experience when my software skills or tech skills are clearly what the job calls for.

How do I fix this? I’m not sure. The best I can think of doing is taking a step back to re-evaluate. It also might be that perhaps I am getting ahead of myself and I’m trying to answer questions that I don’t have to yet. Maybe I don’t have to rush into an internship yet, maybe I shouldn’t be looking into attending conferences either, and maybe it wouldn’t be clear to me which track to focus on in school even on a good day.

It’s a little dizzying, and slightly off-putting, too, but I feel like I need to step back and refocus. I hope that one day I’ll figure out a better way to work around this problem, especially in solving how it affects my work and opportunities. Living with bipolar disorder can be a bit of a handicap, and I don't know that this is something that they generally tell you about when working on skills to handle a mental condition. All I can go by is what I've experienced and been through. 

From the New Yorker © 2014

So, of course, I have to wonder... is this real?