tirsdag, december 06, 2005

Writing a paper as mental illness

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. I have had my first anxiety dream inspired by the paper that I'm (supposedly) writing. I was in some sort of work setting (it's a bit hazy, as most dreams are a while after waking up), and had been given a small but important task by my boss (one of my teachers from an early level of learning Danish, the one who first told me that I needed to spend more time on my written work), which involved informing the rest of the staff (my current school classmates) of something which they had to know in a very timely manner. I hadn't done it, and was going in those endless corridors which appear magically in dreams like this, trying to find everyone to tell them before it was too late. While I was wandering, I was repeating over and over again some line about not living up to my potential. Then thankfully the alarm woke me up.

Of course, I have deduced from this dream, and the rest of my symptoms, that I am going mad. No really. The question is, what type of madness do I have? Let's analyze the situation.

1) Depression: I am not feeling depressed, I must admit. However, it is depressing to have a paper due and not be working on it. It is equally depressing to be working on something, and knowing that it isn't as good as it could be. Turning in a paper knowing that it could have been oh, so much more with more attention and less procrastination is really depressing. So, writing a paper leads to depression.

2) Manic behavior: In order to turn in the paper on time, I know I will have to have at least one episode of frenzied activity, leading up until about 3 minutes before I have to rush to school to turn it in (it can't be done over the internet, or I'd have an extra hour to be frenzied). So, writing a paper leads to manic behavior.

3) Substance abuse: Surely that manic frenzy will be powered by large amounts of coffee. Coffee contains caffeine, which is an addictive substance. And, when all is said and done, and the paper turned in, I may well celebrate with an alcoholic beverage or two. Alcohol is an addictive substance. So, writing a paper leads to substance abuse.

4) Delusions of grandeur: If you aren't convinced at some point in any project that your topic will revolutionize your chosen field, or revolutionize the world, then I don't want to hear it. I know, deep in the depths of my soul, that I deserve a perfect 13 (the highest grade in the Danish scale) just for showing up. When that doesn't happen...see #1. So, writing a paper leads to delusions of grandeur.

5) Manic-depression: In getting my experiment together (not finished, it still isn't, but together) I had to send out a few e-mail cries for help (kindly answered by my supervisor). Thor was kind enough to point out how funny the whole process was (to him, not to me). Discover problem...be extremely depressed, the topic won't work, but what am I going to do, I can't think of another topic, life is horrible. Then get help...ah, everything is wonderful now, my paper will be fine, I'm so happy. Then discover that the solution really didn't help, and the whole thing repeats. So, writing a paper leads to manic-depression.

6) Memory loss: It seems that I have depression, manic behavior...and manic-depression. There seems to be some repetition happening. I must be becoming extremely forgetful, to repeat myself in this way. So, writing a paper leads to memory loss.

7) Split personality: Of course, it may be that there are now two of me, one of whom is manic, and one of whom is depressive. No there aren't. Yes, there are. No there aren't, and anyway it isn't politically correct to joke about split personality. So what, it's funny. No it isn't. Yes, it is, so writing a paper leads to split personality. No, it doesn't!

And finally, 8) Blogging: Nothing gets me to want to read blogs, comment on blogs, and write blog posts, like when I have to be doing something else, like writing a paper. When that blogging involves an overly long bad joke about split personalities, well, what can be more a sign of mental illness than that. So, writing a paper leads to blogging.

So, any illness you'd care to add?

22 kommentarer:

Simple American sagde ...

I'd say you suffer from a major case of humanity. A pulse will follow.

Chloe sagde ...

hey, i found this article about procrastination. maybe you can procrastinate some more while reading it
http://chronicle.com/free/v52/i16/16a03001.htm

Rich Dunbeck sagde ...

That's the same thing I go through on papers. It's just plain insanity until the last word is typed.

al-Ferengi sagde ...

*pops head out*

I agree most intensely with "Simple American" :-)

*pops head back in*

kimananda sagde ...

Mr. American - I'd say you are very wise. I'll let you know when I notice the pulse!

Chloe - that was a very cool article. Now I can procrastinate even more by trying to decide what kind of procrastinator I am!

Rich - yep...maybe it's just a universal student thing?

Ms. Scorpio - glad to see you back, even for a short visit. And your project looks good, at least from your presentation slides.

Daphnewood sagde ...

Just once I had a paper that nothing came out. I need deadlines (impending at that) to get me going but this one on Joel Chandler Harris and Uncle Remus just never could materialize. I remember having dreams about not turning the paper in. In the end I just put some b.s. together and my grade was barely passing. I know how you feel but maybe you are just trying to hard. Sit down and make yourself write one paragraph. It doesn't matter if it is crappy. Just write one and often another follows. Then when you are all written out walk away. Look at it later and revise from there. I am not sure what your mental illness is but I am sure you have something. Anyone who would try to tackle a 25 page paper in the first place has to be mentally ill ;)

Simple American sagde ...

A writing technique I use for fiction is to stop writing at the day in the middle of a sentence. Just don't complete. Your subconscious will maintain a focus on that and it may help speed up your writing process.

Sangroncito sagde ...

A difficult diagnosis to make....but I have the perfect cure...a trip to Brazil!

Leslie sagde ...

Even if you were crazy, you are the funniest, most brilliant crazy person on this side of Denmark.

If you ever want some pills just to "see what would happen", let me know...;)

kimananda sagde ...

Daphnewood and Mr. American - both of you have given good advice, which I am trying to follow in my way. I'll let you both know how it goes!

Sangroncito, that is a great suggestion, but first I should finish the course I'm doing so that I can go back to having a full-time income (lucky that I have a financially supportive boyfriend is all I can say really). Actually, I have just come back from a weekend spent (partly) at the beach...but on the North Sea, so not what can be called tropical!

Leslie - thank you...now I'm off to find a map to see which side of Denmark is 'this side of Denmark'! ;-) And I'll let you know about the 'see what would happen' pills. At this point, I suspect that what would happen is that I would fall asleep...the weekend at the beach involved 1000 km of driving, and so I'm a bit knackered.

HanktheDog sagde ...

There's always carpal tunnel, of course, due to your last-minute, frenzied spate of typing.

On the bright side, carpal tunnel is the perfect excuse for procrastinators. (I'm just waiting for the swelling in my poor paws to go down!) As a Labrador, I find that typing excuses work better than talk about depression. Nobody buys a depressed-Lab story for some reason.

kimananda sagde ...

Hi Hank!,

Yep, carpal tunnel, I'd forgotten about that. Actually, my whole life, and all I do (for example, typing on the computer, using a mouse, cross stitching, writing, riding a bicycle) has led to wrist 'issues'. And I buy the idea of a depressed lab. Though I must admit, I've never actually seen one!

Chibithulhu sagde ...

the Great Old Ones have always enjoyed humans with delusions of grandeur. They make such nice squishy sounds when they fall from their imagined heights.

The Hapless Photographer, a former scholar now mostly bed-ridden with infectious ailments, says that it's even more depressing to have a paper due to not have done it.

David sagde ...

i found you again! happy day!

kimananda sagde ...

Hey, chibi, nice to see you back...and Hapless Photog, get well soon, yes? I recommend granny remedies like plenty o' sleep and chicken noodle soup and tea with honey and brandy (or snaps...I think this part is from my mythical Danish granny). And I'm not deluded at the moment...it's crystal clear how far I have to go to get any paper at all, much less a brilliant one!

david - thanks for finding me again...I'm so busy with my project that I didn't even notice that I was lost! ;-)

Morose sagde ...

oooh, I haven;'t had schnapps since high school, when me and my klepto-druggie crew sat around drinking peppermint schnapps, reading The Books of Magic (great modern fantasy comic) and watching Rocky Horror Picture Show. Well, I was reading the Books of Magic while everyone else watched the movie, as I'd already seen it a bunch. I still piped up at the appropriate audience-participation moments, th ough.

Sangroncito sagde ...

Have a Happy New Year!

Etchen sagde ...

So how did the paper turn out? Has all mental illness and anxiety subsided once it was turned in?
I hope you have a happy New Years!

kimananda sagde ...

Hi Etchen,

Can you believe it hasn't been done yet, and I mean hardly at all? I've spent days on the 'experiment' (and am only doing a tiny fraction of what I'd planned to do with it to begin with), and hardly done any writing. And it's due on the 4th, but I'll have to turn it in on the 3rd because of work commitments. I have the framework, and know what I want to say, and what I need to say, and I know it will get done...but I am so totally blocked it's unbelievable.

On a happier note, Happy New Year!

Etchen sagde ...

I'll keep my fingers crossed for you!

Chibithulhu sagde ...

CHibithulhu eagerly awaits your return to the blogosphere, and your purchase of one of his stylish Zomb-Aid shirts, suitable for all human occasions.

Two Wolves sagde ...

The Yaqui shaman/teacher once told Carlos Castaneda that, to become sane, you must first go insane. Maybe you're just on your way to sanity.

I do know about procrastination, though. I wrote a regular opinion column for the school newspaper when I was in college and *always* found myself scrambling at the very last minute for even a glimmer of an idea. Once I even wrote about the joy of smoking a good cigar. Wellll, that and the value of silence. At any rate, it worked -- the piece was reprinted in a couple of local community papers. I've found that some people just work better under looming deadline pressure -- maybe you're one of those fortunate ones.

The Auld Scot