Thursday, May 21, 2009

Brigit, finally Ph.D candidate

So I finally took my candidacy exam yesterday, and passed. [YAY!] The whole process has been the most nerve-wracking experiences in my life. I had a ridiculously high stress response. I had to reschedule once due to dehydration/high-blood pressure/sleep deprivation/exhaustion.

After one of the worse experiences with college emergency medical care, I reopened my stomach (that was shrunken and spastic), re-hydrated myself, gave up caffeine, and slept over the next 48 hours. I returned to the doctor (who's this awesome lady) and talked about my extreme fight or flight response to the A exam. We decided to go with beta-blockers, since they reduce the social anxiety experienced in performance situations, and won't make me sleepy/fuzzy as opioid anxiolytics would.

I do have an anxiety disorder - along with a hereditary depressive disorder- but I self-regulate my treatment along with my psych. nurse, and I had kept panic attacks at bay for years. But this exam changed everything. This was even knowing I chose an excellent committee, full of pretty hard-core people in my fields (pharmacology and biophysics) that are all genuinely dedicated professors, and just very good people all around. And maybe that was part of it, since under-performing (as I anyways feel I did, because of the nerves fucking with my memory) was one of my worst nightmares.

After they told me I passed they gave me the very constructive and accurate criticism of my proposal and performance, and told me I did a good job. By the time I packed the stuff with the help of the hubs (who went out of his lab to give me support while they deliberated) my body was just begging to cry.

And although I used beta-blockers my body found a way to tell me it was freaking out. I have a contraceptive implant - I have "periods" very, very rarely now [yay]. Guess who came down for a visit the moment I went out of the exam? Yup, bitch aunt Flo.


  1. the body -- so magnificent. . .ly shitty sometimes. :P but you made it! you took the time off you needed to, cooled off in a multitude of necessary ways, and accomplished goal number one! i assume this is your first year in the program and they make you do something like a master's thesis until they officially accept you as a doctoral candidate?

    anyhow, congrats! i know how hard it can be to have anxiety and depression and still have the nagging self-requirement to over-achieve at everything!

  2. how you holdin' up, mizz official graduate student? :) haven't heard from you here in the blogiverse for a while -- understandably so, but i worry when i know all too well how easily it is to crack under all the pressure! <3

  3. Thanks!!
    @ Danimo: You usually take your A-exam within your 3rd year of grad school, after you've finished all of your coursework. I took it later because I was scared. heh.
    I've been catching up on my benchwork - which I abandoned last semester. Also, my laptop has started acting up and is stuck @ home and the new one won't arrive until next month :(

  4. ahh, i see. well i'm glad to hear you're getting caught up and are still getting along nicely, save the malfunctioning laptop. if you've got a phone that doesn't frustrate the hell out of you and a service plan that doesn't incur any/much text/data charges, you could try blogger mobile. or you could just let temptation naturally melt away and become one with your benchwork. hehe :)