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.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


I had an anxiety attack talking to my prof trying to do proofs. (He is only helpful to those who are doing well in the class, this has been confirmed by many classmates, the asshole.) SO I left. This period of the class I have only done 2 proofs, I hope that's enough for a C, I did one hard proof so I hope that counts for something. That and I've done a couple of unsuccessful proofs so it's obvious that I'm trying. The 1 mg of Xanax made it kind of hard to finish the proof I was working on since it makes my brain all floaty. *sigh*

Tonight's trivia night and one of two nights a week I get to spend with my math geek and I can't seem to get off the couch. UGH. I don't know what to do. *sigh* Having an anxiety disorder and an anxiety inducing class sucks. A LOT.

Monday, February 25, 2008

My semi-weekly bah

Why I can't wait to get the hell out of the Pacific Northwest:

1) I need a *REAL* distinction between seasons, not that one is a little less grey or a little warmer. I want a few feet of snow and a summer that is 80F/27C/300K on average and a nice crisp fall and a wonderful thawing that occurs slowly and beautifully in spring. Not grey and spitty all year round and where I have to carry long sleeves with me all summer because it's cold in the shade and at night. I want warm summer nights. I'm sick of getting spit on and seeing nothing but clouds and grey and an average of 50F/33C/283K all friggin' year. HATE IT!

2) I never EVER knew that there was such a thing as a non-kosher hot dog. Granted, I'm a vegetarian, but still the point remains. It was fairly mind-blowing, just like how white it is here, even in the lower income areas of Vancouver. (This ties in with #3)

3) This is bar none, the WHITE-IST place I have ever lived. EVER. Although I am used to living on the east coast: Philly/NYC or Chicago and always in low income areas (since that *is* my income) to give you something to gauge that off of. (Though even in Seattle the lower income neighbourhoods are drastically split between African-Americans and whites) I miss people speaking Spanish and the local Bodega and I hate people looking at me funny whenever I use Yiddish. (Though my friend who came out here and is currently teaching at local suburban college has taken to using yiddish curse words since no one out here knows what she's talking about.)

4) I crave a city that's an actual city. (And don't tell me that Seattle, Vancouver, or Portland qualify as cities, they're too suburb-like). I like being able to hop on a train with my bike and get everywhere in appx 15-20 minutes (though in Chicago *everything* is 15 minutes away whether it actually is or not, we're weird like that). I hate having a car, but it'd be damn hard for me to get to all the things I need to get to without one here. And public transport that runs ALL NIGHT LONG to ALL places, not just particular routes once a friggin' hour (the night-bus in Vancouver is an annoying nightmare sometimes.)

Though I love being somewhere where there is a plethora of really good vegetarian food, there are really nice places in the cities, mostly ethnic places, so it's not like I'll want for good food I can eat. It is nice to have Bollywood theatres and lots of Indian culture, but I miss my old Puerto Rican neighbourhoods. That is something I haven't come across before, but it still isn't the whole mix of cultures that NYC or Chicago are.

I guess what brought this on is that it's been sunny, and that's nice and everyone's chirping about spring, but it just doesn't feel like spring, and there will be no thunderstorms to solidify it's springness. *sigh*

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Go vote for me!

I've made it into the top 5 for the Canadian F-Word blogger awards.  You can votes here from midnight tonight (the 22nd) until midnight the 23rd (PST). So go vote!

(I'm just happy to be nominated and now in the top 5. Thank you everyone, and may I recommend Black Looks for best Int'l Feminist Blog and Brown rab girl fish for best WOC blog.)

In light of my last post

My abstract algebra midterm had a delightful question on it that was just too easy:
If G is a group in which every element is its own inverse, then G is abelian.
(HA! Too easy. I LOVE proving that things are abelian, and this is super easy. Wanna see? Too late!)

NOTE: I am not saying that if you can't do this you are not smart, but compared to other things in group theory I think this is one of the easiest things to do.

NTS. If G is a group in which every element is its own inverse, and then G is abelian.

We can do the same for b.

Since we can cancel and therefore which shows that G is abelian.

I also finally just got latex for blogger to work and wanted to use it. Also, I just really liked doing this proof. It's fun, and did I mention easy?

Wow, this explains A LOT!

So, thanks to wonderful women science bloggers from my blogroll (like Science Woman and Mad Scientist) I have found an article about Imposter Syndrome that is in this week's Science Careers.

"Impostor syndrome" is the name given to the feelings that Abigail and many other young scientists describe: Their accomplishments are just luck or deceit, and they're in over their heads. The key to getting past it, experts say, is making accurate, realistic assessments of your performance. Perhaps equally important: knowing you're not alone. Abigail thinks that sharing her feelings with other people is how she will eventually come to grips with her sense of feeling like an impostor. "It's fantastic to hear other people say, 'I've felt that way, too.' "

It's a feeling I get often, thinking that I have somehow gotten this far in math and physics by dumb luck or cheating, though I have never EVER done the second one, but I still feel that somehow I *must* have done something to warrant it. Example: For abstract algebra we get notes for a test, and I know there will be T/F problems on it, and I have space left on my sheet because I've all ready written all the definitions, proofs, and theorems that I can not easily remember or access (my brain looks just as messy as my work space), so I type up all the T/F questions with the answers (I've had the prof before and know they'll be the same questions). I got them all right when I answered them on the homework, and I have horrible test anxiety, but it feels like I'm cheating, even though I know the material well, having A's on the homework and knowing that other people in the class (who are mostly math fellows and grad students) are doing the *exact* same thing that I am doing. It feels like cheating, but I'm still doing it, because I know it's a big portion of my grade and to be honest, I can do homework, I can help people, I know the material inside and out, but I bomb on tests. ALWAYS. It's why I've gone from an A to a B in some of my classes. The damn final.

I get extra time on tests because I have a severe anxiety disorder. I am getting a tutor for my proofs class because (dis)Ability resources stepped in and intervened because I was having anxiety attacks every time I did the homework and even one in class the other day. This is the class we're supposed to do Moore Method though the way it is described in the link sounds wonderful compared to the way my class is run. *I* do not learn well this way, not at all. A few of my classmates told me that they are fine with this and expressed concern over my anxiety problems (it's a small department and one of them is a math fellow and I tried to keep this away from them since I didn't want to lord it over them, but they found out). This is obviously something that is warranted due to my disability, but it still feels like it's an unfair advantage over others (though I'm sure that they don't have to get up and take a walk around the building to calm down during a test as to keep from having a full blown anxiety attack.)

I have passed classes I've never studied for, and actually done really well. So why do I feel like I somehow don't deserve this? Like I won't be able to survive grad school or post-grad school research (I want to go into research) because somehow someone will discover that I can't do it, that I'm incapable, that I don't know what I'm doing, that I'm horrible at math and physics. I'm 2 1/2 quarters away from completing an undergrad degree in mathematics (the last quarter being computer programming and math history being the only required classes, so really only one more quarter of real math classes (I am also taking quantum mechanics b/c I'm a geek and may be going into mathematical physics)) and I have to constantly remind myself that I AM smart, that I DO know this.

It's strange that I have to continually remind myself of these things so close to my goal. I am passing my proofs class, even through all the anxiety (which up until I was told I could have a tutor was giving me such horrible anxiety I was unable to sleep for the first 6 weeks of the quarter), and I am IN LOVE with my abstract algebra class. It was really tough for the first assignment, but the last one was easy, I was helping other people out with their homework, and I was LOVING it. I'm confident that I will do well on the test tomorrow. I love this stuff and am seriously considering going to graduate school for it. It's fun and it comes really easy for me. But I still feel like there's a catch. But I'm just going to try and beat it out of my head. I may not be a grad student or a professional, but knowing that other people feel this way is v v helpful. I CAN do this, and I AM good at this.

UGH. I hate this ridiculousness.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I've been nominated for a Canadian F-Word blog award!

Apparently someone nominated me (THANKS!) and there will be the first round of voting the 15th and 16th, so vote for me! You can vote for me here in the "Best Canadian Feminist Blog" category. I'm really excited to check out the other nominees, maybe my reading list will grow.

GO VOTE!!! (I think it's on PST, since it's almost 11 here and voting hasn't opened. Remember, voting closes at midnight PST February 16th.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Valentines Day is important (sorry it's so late)

Every year in the DTES of Vancouver there is a march to bring light to and remember all the women that have gone missing and/or have been killed. This is the 17th year, and is something I always participate in

Here's the info (found here
Starts indoors @ Carnegie Centre (Main and Hastings)
Followed by March through the DTES and lunch and circle at Oppenheimer Park.

Call Marlene George at the Carnegie Center if you want to help out. (604) 665-2220

Much financial support is required to make this march happen. Please make cheques payable to Women’s Memorial March c/o Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre Assn. (DEWC) 302 Columbia Street, Vancouver, BC, V6A 4J1. All donations over $10.00 will be gratefully be acknowledged with a charitable tax receipt.

The tragedy of the disappearances and heinous murders of so many women from the downtown eastside community continues to affect every member of this community and has a wide reaching impact on our society as a whole.

It may not be a surprise to you that even though there has been an arrest and a recent conviction there continues to be women who have gone missing and who were murdered. Their lives matter to us and more importantly they matter to their children, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters. Who will seek justice for them?

This is an opportunity for our communities to support us by coming together in this public way to bear witness, to grieve the loss of our beloved sisters and to remember the lives of those who are still unaccounted for.

Please respect the march and do not bring agency banners to the event. The women are at the centre and the Women’s Memorial March carries five banners to honour the women.

The itinerary is as follows (in case you can't meet at the Carnegie center):

12:00 PM Family members speak in remembrance of their daughters: Carnegie Centre Theatre
1:00 PM March begins with a circle at Main & Hastings
2:00 PM Community activists speak outside the Vancouver Police Station
2:45 PM Healing Circle at Oppenheimer Park Memorial Pole, Candles of Remembrance
3:00 PM Feast at the Japanese Language School 475 Alexander St.

We ask that media interested in attending the event please arrive at Carnegie Centre by 11:15 am.
Media Protocol will be available in the library.

For more information please contact: Marlene at (604) 665-3005 or Carol Martin at (604) 681-8480 x 233

You can read about the history of the march here.
The February 14th Women’s Memorial March is organized and led by women because women, especially Aboriginal women, face physical, mental, emotional and spiritual violence on a daily basis. We invite the whole community to join us in the spirit of the march. We ask that men share their grief and show their support by respecting the structure of the march

The DTES is the poorest neighbourhood in Vancouver, so it should comes as no surprise that the people there, especially the women are some of the most disenfranchised. I encourage everyone to go and hope to see you all there.

There will also be marches in Toronto and Edmonton if you are in those areas.

Don't count Hillary out yet

States where Hillary is leading in the polls:
Texas: 228 delegates (large latino backing...see previous post)
Ohio: 161 delegates
Pennsylvania: 188 delegates
Puerto Rico: 63 delegates (she's done amazing things for health care in Puerto Rico)

Not to mention presidential candidates that have lost the majority of states in the past: Bill Clinton, most recently, and Jimmy Carter who, incidentally, lost 23 states.

Anxiety attack in math class today

I almost started screaming at someone in class today (do you *really* need to prove 3 things in one class when you were the one who proved the most proofs for the "first 3rd". You only raise the bar for the rest of us who were ecstatic (and I'm not the only one) of proving 3 in the last period, now we'll have to do more. We're 2 weeks in and I have none, but then again every time I try to do a proof I have an anxiety attack.) But (thankfully) instead I had a *quiet* anxiety attack and cried for the last 30 minutes of my class. It was AWESOME.

So here's the email I just shot off to my advocate at disability resources:

I have a math class in which my anxiety has got progressively worse in as
the quarter goes on. It's Math 312, Intro to Proofs via Elementary
Analysis. The style of the class is "teach yourself." We are given
definitions and sometimes theorems that, frankly, I do not find
illuminating or helpful and I do not find the prof helpful either. We're
not allowed to use any other resources, other people, books, etc.

Prior to today I was only having anxiety attacks every time I attempted to
do a proof, but today I had an anxiety attack during class. I am having a
horrible time and this class has just made my depression and my anxiety
worse. I can't get myself to school sometimes because of this class. And
I know it's going to get worse. I don't think I will be able to make it
through this class, but it's a requirement.

Is there anything you can do? I have to pass this class, but I don't
think I'll survive this and with only 2 quarters left, and full with the
rest of my requirements I don't think I'll be able to fit it anywhere else
(and everyone teaches the class this way).

Need I say again that I think this class is incredibly unfair to people with anxiety disorders (like me).

Oh and for good news, 48/50 on my Abstract Algebra homework (both points lost were ridiculous, they were things I knew that I forgot to put into my proof. ARGH!) Pure mathematics ROCKS!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

i will, i will, i will

I WILL leave the house in time to go to school tomorrow.

I WILL go to EVERY class, even if one of my prof's doesn't lecture on the material (our test on Wednesday had questions from 3 chapters ahead of what we were assigned to study. WHo does that? No reading, no lecture, no homework. I have no idea how the hell we were supposed to know that. I just looked up temperature in the index and read EVERY section on it until I got to the relevant one.) , the other prof lectures straight from the book, and the last class is the evil proofs class where I desperately feel as though I will fly into a blind rage or cry at any given moment.

I WILL finish that damn proof I've been working on for 3 hours. (mixing delta/epsilon proofs with cluster points and continuity (but at least it's a closed set and I *know* how to do it in a hand wave-y way, but not a "rigorous" way *sigh* I can explain the concepts and how it will work, but how to put it all together to form that whole crappy rigorous proof thing, bah. Have I mentioned lately that I hate this class? He doesn't like it when I turn in proofs written in the style that my 401 prof likes them to be written. ARGH. At least I get A's for those assignments, so it's not that I can't write proofs, just not these (since I can't use a damn book)))

I WILL get up 2 hours early to go to my prof's office hours so I can finish said proof.

I WILL do my physics homework tonight, even though I will have an hour between office hours and class tomorrow.

I WILL drink that glass of wine tonight so that I can make sure I will actually sleep so I can get #' 1, 2, and 3 done.

I WILL FINALLY call the doctor's office and make that appointment to up the dose on my medication that I so direly need since I've had a "low mood" (nice euphemism for depression) for the past 3 weeks.

Ugh. *fingers crossed* these things actually happen.


Somebody asked why does she have so much of the latino vote? Short answer: Cesar Chavez's union, United Farmworkers, endorsed her, and I believe she'll do well in TX because she has been endorsed by the Tejano Democrats for work she's done in TX (also there are a large number of union members in TX as well). mmmmm, Cesar Chavez.

Also, my friend in Spokane pointed out that the Hillary/Obama split was divided strictly by class, with the working class voting for Hillary, which, unfortunately, in our society affects many latino/latinas

Saturday, February 09, 2008

WA Caucus Obama v Hillary

SO today were the WA caucuses. I was caucusing for Hillary. Of course I knew that there would be plenty of Barack supporters in attendance and I was sad that they were the majority in my precinct (9 delegates to 2), simply because of the reasons that they gave for supporting him.

1) I hate Hillary.
Ok, why? Nothing concrete, of course.

2) He's not a politician, he doesn't "play the game."
Oh yeah? He's slagged off the other candidates just as much as they have slagged off each other. And just because he doesn't appear to play the game, he *IS* a politican and he *WILL* be making compromises and deals. If he's elected, boy will you be disappointed.

3) He'll change the system.
Not even superman can do that. People don't seem to understand how the system works. We need someone who can change things from the inside out, someone who knows how to work and manipulate the system. B/c there's that whole checks and balances thing.

4) Hillary's voting record shows she makes compromises.
See #2, also he abstains from so many controversial votes, which is something he won't be able to do as president. Aren't you scared that you don't know what he's going to do when faced with a hard decision? It terrifies me.

5) He inspires young people
Well, we not only had the *youngest* people in our precinct, but when we broke up into candidate caucuses we also had the majority of young people, funny how that works, eh?

6) He's a uniter.
A) Bush said that *shudder*, B ) if he's such a uniter then why was it not unanimous? Also how much uniting do you think he'll be able to do without making compromises?

Also, I got up to give a speech for why the undecideds should vote for Hillary (or Obama supporters should change their votes) and I was visibly shaking. Never done that before. Shaking and my voice was quivering, but even Obama supporters told me I did a good job, so I guess it wasn't that bad, but I'm finally starting to calm down, 5 hours later.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Pure awesome

I've been re-watching Heroes on DVD and I totally forgot about the part where Claire almost gets raped (but doesn't because she gets killed) and just tells everyone that nothing happened until another classmate comes up and tells her that she once went off with the quarterback and "nothing happened" and Claire decides to take things into her own hands (having regenerative powers and all so she doesn't have a scratch on her and the fact that even if she had stayed dead it most likely wouldn't have been pinned on him.) And drives his car into a brick wall with the two of them inside of it, because she knows that he'll just keep doing it again to more women. Go Claire. Granted, not the best way of dealing with things, but deciding to take action when she knows that women have been and will be raped by him, pure awesome. I love it.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


Wine, 50 mg of Topomax, and 25 mg of Seroquel.

I can't wait to get to the doc as this is not a promising long term solution.

Looks like it's time for a med update

I've had insomnia for the past 2/3 weeks, bouts of depression and mania, and it is seriously interfering with school. I got 3 1/2 hours of sleep last night and I have a test tomorrow and can't fall asleep now and just want to cry. I want to go to the emergency room as I can't get in to see my doc during office hours until next week b/c they'll give me some valium and I'll be able to sleep at the very least which will make everything SO much more bearable. It'll just screw up my school stuff, and I really can't afford that, but if I don't get any sleep tonight I will definitely have to go tomorrow or Thursday b/c I don't think I could wait for Thursday, and it would be nice to *actually* be able to hang out with my partner.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Finished abstract homework, evil moore method class taken today, and my thermal physics prof told us that the test is "you can use anything except the person next to you."

Not so stressed anymore.