(First of all, if you’re reading this because I accidentally commented on a Captain Awkward post using my WordPress account — erm, hi? I blog about science and disability. I also have not-very-insightful opinions about abusive men, but that doesn’t really come up very often on this blog.)
Anyway, all the angsting I did earlier this year about a job that maybe wasn’t a job? Yeah, that wasn’t a job. I found another job, though. Which I’ve now started. And it’s been…harder than I expected.
Last year I was technically working part-time, which was great. (Yes, a part-time postdoc, they really do exist.) I could keep flexible hours and not feel guilty about failing so spectacularly at mornings. I’m now working full-time, though, and even though literally every single person in my new lab has told me that nobody cares what hours I work, I’m still trying to come in at a reasonable time, failing miserably, and then getting stressed about my miserable failure.
(Relatedly, I have SO MUCH WORK oh my god the work who knew it could get worse how do people do this argh.)
I have zero support system. None. Before a fortnight ago, I didn’t know a soul in this country. And I had underestimated how hard it was to come into a place where you’re the only new person, where everyone’s already got their friends all set, where the group is big and diffuse so nobody feels responsible for integrating you into the milieu. I’ve always before started at the same time as at least one other person; turns out that makes a big difference. Last year I was in a comparatively large lab in a very small department — hello built-in social structure — and I had officemates who were always in whom I knew I would always have lunch with. Now? I don’t have a clue who anyone is, I can’t crack how the socializing works around here, and I’m feeling pretty adrift.
I’m living with housemates now and that’s actually really stressful. One of my medications causes anterograde amnesia and another just causes me to be really out-of-it and confused and I really, really can’t be around people for the 11-13 hours per day that they affect me but now I have housemates! Who want to socialize! And I’m like ‘ah, can’t handle people, go away.’
My current romantic relationship is probably ending and this is also not helping my stress levels.
And then, of course, poor mental health makes everything worse. (For example, I’m writing a pointless blog post rather than working.) And then I have to have the ‘is this depression talking, or actual real fatigue’ debate, because sometimes I push myself and it’s the right answer but most of the time when I push myself it’s the wrong answer.
So, yeah, that’s me. I guess my point is, being a postdoc is hard.