Monday, January 7, 2013

Don't minimize other people's problems.

Ok, so this is another, "My family can drive me into anger and/or despair faster than anything else" post.

My sister has been minimizing my problems for years, the most egregious examples of painfully bad advice in "Advice given to depressed people" came from her.  "Oh, you just need a pet to take care of and you'll feel better."  Fuck you, and I have two already, not feeling better.  Never been without a pet in my life, still spent the majority of it with debilitating depression.

Her latest thing is on school work.

Early in the semester I got on a medication that made my depression all better, and made it so I couldn't sleep.  I came to classes half unconscious and didn't get any out of class work done.  Before then the depression itself was keeping me from getting out of class work done.  Then we found a sleep medication, over the counter not prescription, that I can take with no side effects and without cancelling out the effects of the antidepressant.  So all would appear to be good until it turned out that the people who kinda-sorta suspected ADD pretty much all of my life were right.

The only reason I never got a definitive diagnosis before was that it was crushed under depression.

Now it is no longer crushed.  So I found I could interact with people fairly well, and had a lot more joy in my life, but when it comes to schoolwork... well fuck.

I can concentrate on something like taking pictures of leaves.  Probably not on purpose, but I can do it.  I can concentrate on a lot of things involving pictures actually.  Want a picture taken of something from ever conceivable angle?  Give me a camera and leave me alone.  Provided the thing and I are in the same place there are pretty high odds you'll get every conceivable angle.  Or I'll run out of pictures.

Want me to focus on something on command?  Well then you and I are both screwed.  Because I have no control over what I can focus on.  None.

Which means that I got no out of class work done all semester.

And we're still haggling with the drug company to see if I can get the expensive ADHD meds because the inexpensive ones don't work on me.

So I have six days to get an entire semester's worth of out of class work done.  (That's with an extension by the way.)  And in reality it's more like two because other things will be making it impossible, or near impossible, to work for four of them.

So why am I taking the time to write this rather than plugging away now that pressure has finally mounted to the point where I can do the work?  Well, back to my sister on school.

My sister wanted me to help her with things while I was busy trying to do makeup on various things.  Given that the class I failed is one I wouldn't have failed if I'd have a matter of hours more time, it's actually a fair bet that I could have passed if she would have just left me the fuck alone.  Note that that link is about entirely different things, but the point remains, sometimes it is best to leave people alone.

Anyway, in order to try to get more time for me to help her, she tried to explain to me that I was clearly working too hard and should just not let perfection be the enemy of the good, work less long, and pass in assignments that are good enough and this whole thing about needing to spend all of my time working thing is just me blowing everything out of proportion.

Let me take a moment to try to explain that doing a semester's worth of work in a matter of days does not involve being a perfectionist.  It means going as fast as you damn well can.

The problem however, isn't my sister.  It's that my mother has picked up my sister's ball and decided to run with it.  So driving home today from a day spent at the library working as fast as I damn well could because there are fewer distractions there than there are here, I had to listen to my mother try to convince me that the problem I face (I will fail if I can't do three months worth of work in three days worth of time) isn't as bad as I make it out to be and it's really not that bad and I should be breezing through and
I have a serious problem.  I have a lot of work to do in what may be an impossibly short amount of time.  This morning it was three days.  Most of the day is over and I've done nowhere near a third of what was left this morning.  With every day that passes the amount of work I have to squeeze into each remaining day grows.  And the only one of the four days between now and when things are due that I'm not counting as a work day that could possibly be turned into a work day by me (as opposed to forces beyond my control) is one that I don't think I can give up because if I don't get a break from the constant pressure I'm liable to crack.

And you know what doesn't help?  People acting as if I have no reason to be taking things so seriously because my problem can't be that big and I'm just blowing it out of proportion.

I have X amount of work that I need to finish in Y amount of time or I fail.  Those are the facts of the matter.  And the only thing I'm getting from the people around me is that it's something that should be a breeze if I'd just hold myself to a lower standard.  The only standard I'm holding myself to is "go as fast as I fucking can." It does not help to minimize the problem.  The difference is between abject failure and not.  It's as serious as failing a class ever is and should be taken as seriously as anything that would result in failing a class.

Acting as if it's not difficult to do that much work in so little time doesn't help either.


As a side note, when you train to be a teacher there are certain things they teach you NEVER to do.  One is to say to a student who is struggling with something, "This is really easy."  Don't minimize other people's problems.  It makes students feel stupid and useless, it makes everyone feel frustrated.

If something is hard then it is fucking hard, and no amount of saying otherwise will change that.  At most it will make the person for whom it is hard feel like they're deficient.  At best it makes the person think they shouldn't pay heed to your opinions.  In the middle it just makes the person frustrated.


  1. My guess is that if good intentions are involved they're trying to keep your spirits up. Which usually works for just as long as the subject doesn't notice it's being done.

  2. Ergh. Watching my husband, who has ADD and a writing disability, try to write a paper is agonizing. Even though I am a professional writer, I would never think to tell him "it's no big deal" because I know it is for him. (Even if I want to sometimes when he takes a half-hour to write a short email.) There's a big difference between being encouraging and being a jerk and it seems like your family doesn't seem to have any clue about the line there.