Wednesday, February 27, 2008

This is kind of cool: why anxiety means homework goes unfinished

My kick-ass rad fem therapist today and I were talking about (what else) the overwhelming anxiety I am having from my proofs class which is coupled with the fact that I went to see him today to ask for help and he just stared at me. (You should listen to him when people who are doing well in the class go in for help, he's super-helpful. All other C students like me say the same thing: when you ask him something he stares at you, but he'll help the people who all ready get it. Being one of 3 resources for the class (another one being his crappy definitions and the third being me, who can't figure out the definitions and is therefore struggling to stay afloat) this SUCKS.)

ANyway, back to my story. There is, of course, some PTSD triggers thrown in there as well. So much about this mirrors being in a house with my abusive mom: having to be somewhere I hate while being helpless and having no one to turn to (b/c yes I *can* get a tutor, but all the math fellows either a) tell me they did horribly at the class, b) took it from someone else and every prof covers different material, or c) blocked it out of their memory), and then there's the constant replays of my mom's voice telling me I'm stupid and a litany of other similar things. HOORAY! Isn't my head a fun place to be these days? My best friend begged me to leave the class (we have similar mental health (dis)Abilities and are always watching out for one another, but I can't. I have 2 friggin' quarters to go and I will have that BS in my hands. Can't change now, don't want to either. Like math, want to continue doing math for a very very long time. Must push through even though b/c of this class they've upped my Xanax AND my Lamictal. Heh. (and I had to double my xanax dose yesterday b/c one just didn't work)

SO, here's the cool part. My therapist likes to explain how these things work inside your brain by modeling it for me. I really like this. SO today she showed me how anxiety and PTSD affect the entire brain, not just how PTSD traps you in your midbrain (and how the techniques we use like EMDR try to put these things into words instead of just emotions which move them out of your midbrain and make them something that is easier to deal with and not an automatic reaction.)

She held out her hand in a closed fist: this is your brain (I know you probably all pictured the frying pan, but shake it out), she then opened her fist and pointed to the middle of her hand and said "this is your amygdala" and then to her thumb and said "this is your hypothalamus" and re-closed her hand. She then said "this is normally how your brain is, but when you get activated, or in a manic state, or in a mixed state (which happens to me when I get activates), or have anxiety this happens" and she opened her hand (which makes sense since in PTSD the midbrain takes over) "and your neocortex is unable to function properly."

I all ready knew that anxiety meant that I was not going to get anything done, but it's nice to have an idea of *why* nothing gets done. Although I'm sure if I had a more technical explanation I would just be confused.

Finals start the 17th, we don't have a final in this class, just a 2 hour class period of, yay, proofs that Wednesday. Everyone keep their fingers crossed that I don't have a nuclear meltdown before then, because it really feels like I am heading for a major one and I really REALLY hate the idea of having one because of something that I put myself through.


Lab Cat said...

This might seem odd, but is there another Math prof who might be able to help? One from another class you liked in the past. This one obviously just has a big ego and cannot lower himself to your level of incomprehension. A more sympathetic mentor might get you started.