How long is too long to use major life trauma as an excuse?
August 1, 2012 2:31 PM   Subscribe

How long is too long to use major life trauma as an excuse for everything in my life falling apart?

I lost my mom 2 months ago today. I flew home in a daze, not really knowing how to process things. Mom and I had a very complicated relationship, but we were surprisingly close and we both knew that we loved each other. The story behind her death is long and sad, so I won't go into it here. Needless to say, it's been an awful 7-8 months.

The day after I got home, I was feeling pain in my knee. The next day, I'm in the ER screaming for painkillers. Turns out that I had ruptured my quadricep tendon. Ouch. Surgery happened the next morning. The next day, I'm all sewn up, packed into a full leg brace and sent home on crutches.

I should also mention that, in December, I decided that I wanted to go back to school after over 20 years after dropping out to finish my degree. Classes started in May, so on top my mom and my leg, I've also been taking classes (summer session, so they're condensed and frankly, more intense than I expected).

Since all of this has happened, I've become very flaky (well, flakier than usual). I find it very difficult to keep my apartment clean. I'm having a lot of trouble concentrating at work, and all of my projects have fallen behind. As for classes, I finished my first class last week. Somehow, I got an A. My second class isn't going as well. Every paper has been late. I can barely write because I can't get my thoughts together.

My boss is noticing the quality of my work dropping. My professor is pissed that all of my work is late. I'm not normally like this. I'm still dealing with all of the emotional fallout from my mom's death. And the leg surgery has screwed me up physically. I go home every night and just crawl into bed because I'm having a tough time dealing with the world in general. I KNOW it will all pass, but how long is reasonable to keep using my mom and my leg as an excuse for not living my life the way I should be?

tl;dr: Mom died two months ago. Surprise leg surgery immediately after. Work, school and general life performance have dropped significantly. I blame the traumatic events. How long is too long?
posted by Cat Pie Hurts to Human Relations (38 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
In my own case, two months wasn't nearly enough to get over the loss of a parent, even without the knee surgery and job+school issues you describe. Give yourself some time.
posted by Zonker at 2:35 PM on August 1, 2012 [6 favorites]

Two months is not too long at all. You are still physically recovering from surgery, which is traumatic. Your mother just died. Try to take an incomplete in school, tell your boss whatever is appropriate about how you are still recovering and you have taken a break from school to give yourself some space, and forgive yourself for just going to bed when you get home instead of whatever else you might prefer to be doing. Hire a cleaner, if you can afford it.
posted by jeather at 2:39 PM on August 1, 2012 [4 favorites]

You've lost your mother and endured a major, painful injury. These aren't "excuses" -- they are significant life events. Of course you're taking more than a couple of months to bounce back. That's because you're human.

Please be gentle with yourself. I think the way to approach this may be more along the lines of "how can I best assess what's really feasible over the next 3-6 months" (and go about getting the support you need to get through that period) rather than "how do I snap out of it and go back to doing exactly what I had planned to do before all this happened." You've been thrown some real curveballs. Life's like that, sometimes. It's challenging and painful, but it's never a personal failing.

Again: be gentle with yourself. Take care of yourself the way you would take care of your best friend.
posted by scody at 2:40 PM on August 1, 2012 [18 favorites]

Two months is not long at all. Have you talked to your professor about what's going on? I would be very nice to a student who was going through what you are going through.
posted by hydropsyche at 2:42 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

The book I'm Grieving as Fast as I Can isn't necessarily applicable (it's aimed at widows/widowers), but I think the title is a good phrase to remember.
posted by Etrigan at 2:42 PM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you haven't done so, please keep your boss and professor informed of what's happened. Two months is not too long, but they have to know there are extenuating circumstances.
posted by Houstonian at 2:43 PM on August 1, 2012 [7 favorites]

When I first saw the question, before I saw the "more inside", I assumed it was one trauma, and years ago. The death of a parent, a major medical issue impairing mobility, and a major life change (back to school)? Two months is definitely not too long at all.

What kind of support system do you have? Are your boss and your professor aware of what's going on? Perhaps knowing that they understand and sympathize will help how you feel, even if they're not able to make any accommodations for you.
posted by booksherpa at 2:44 PM on August 1, 2012 [6 favorites]

I assumed the same thing booksherpa did - I read the first part of the question and assumed it would be years, not months, and certainly not a compound of this many events. You should talk to your boss and prof, and ask about working on a structured plan to get everything done. Breaking down your tasks into smaller pieces might help.
posted by brilliantine at 2:47 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't know how long is too long. I don't think there's any one answer to that question. I am, however, sure that two months it not very long at all. You are not malingering or just using these traumatic events as excuses. You are still dealing with the very real effects.

As everyone has said, talk to your professor and your boss. Maybe take an incomplete for the second class. Focus on taking care of yourself and keeping your job.
posted by Area Man at 2:48 PM on August 1, 2012

I would suggest the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed. It's about her physical and emotional journey on a 1000 mile hike several years after her mother died. These things take time. Much more time than 2 months.
posted by valeries at 2:59 PM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Just the knee surgery alone takes at least 6 months to come back close to anywhere near normal.
posted by infini at 3:01 PM on August 1, 2012

You're doing a really good thing for yourself by recognizing that you're in a downward spiral because of the things that have happened to you and your family recently. One thing you didn't say much about was your support network. Do you have people who can be there to encourage you and help you keep laughing through the tears so that things stay in perspective?

I entered a similar spiral several years back; I didn't lose a parent, but did lose a company I had founded and found myself in a LOT of debt, moved long-distance and lost my support network and all my friends, and entered an abusive relationship. It took approximately twelve months for me to see I had a problem and to end the abusive relationship. Three months past that, I started to have emotional breakdowns and panic reactions. At this point, I finally sought out a psychologist through my works' Emergency Assistance Plan and then went on from there.

If I had to do it all over again, I probably would've sought professional help (a psychologist, counselor through the university, etc.) immediately. The signs you're spotting -- where your work is slipping, you cannot keep your living area clean, and you are 'flaky' and cannot meet deadlines -- are classic signs (at least in me) of depression, which is most certainly understandable. In the short term, if I was you, having been through what I went through, I would probably ask your doctor or a psychiatrist if an antidepressant is right so that you can catch up on work and school. After several months of counseling, I'd probably try backing off the antidepressant and see if you're ready. I'm not one to push "professional help" on people. But you're noticing changes in your behavior that are going to have real consequences to you in the short and long term, and you should probably do something about it NOW before it gets any worse.

About four years after I hit my lowest crisis point, my life is pretty much back on track. I'm back in an excellent professional role with an upward career track, I'm in a stable relationship, I have friends who are optimistic and who have stable lives and relationships, and my finances are pretty much cleaned up. Six years later, I still occasionally see a psychologist and am under the care of a psychiatrist.

How long will it take you to recover? Five years from when you recognize you have a problem (which you have done) might not be long enough, but you'll certainly be well on your way.
posted by SpecialK at 3:06 PM on August 1, 2012

My mother died 11 months ago at a (relatively) young age and there's still fallout from that. The grief is still there, sometimes strong enough to cause problems. My father is still doing pretty badly. My relationships with other family members are still going through a major readjustment. I'm reassessing a lot of my priorities, and changing a lot of how I go about life. My work still suffers. And I'm not at all unusual in this respect: long term consequences to major life events are the norm for this kind of thing. In my case I was starting to function at a barely-acceptable level by about 6 months, but I'm still not back to my best. Even ignoring the surgery, two months is not long.

That said, it pays to be a little strategic. It helps to ease yourself back into things one step at a time. Don't try to do it all at once, because you're not functioning as effectively as you used to. Regarding life obligations, you should make sure that your boss (maybe) and your professor (definitely) know what's going on. They don't need to know details, but they do need to know the generalities. Although there are many workplaces that are pretty poor in terms of the compassionate/medical allowances they'll make, others are surprisingly good. And universities are very good with this sort of thing: as long as your professor knows about the situation you're in (and you can provide some basic documentation) then you should be able to have late penalties waived for your assignments on compassionate grounds; alternative assessments can sometimes be arranged. There's no point in making things harder on yourself than they already are.
posted by mixing at 3:08 PM on August 1, 2012

Hi! I am not your professor, or your graduate student instructor. I am a graduate student instructor, though, so let me say: these are all major life events, and it seems totally normal that you would still be working through them. That said, things are only going to get more stressful for you if you don't bring this up with your professor ASAP. Have you brought this up - like, for realsies, with doctor's notes and documentation? Or just with an apology penned on a late assignment? Or not at all?

Events like this are begging for accommodation, even if it is as simple as giving you a three-day grace period to hand an assignment in late. Or it could be more. Many (probably all) profs would be happy to talk to you about alternate deadlines, adjusted schedules for turning in work, and possibly whether an incomplete would be appropriate for now (or how it might not be at the moment). Since your situation is based on multiple factors (and not just the knee surgery, where an instructor might expect to get a doctor's note that says, "Please excuse Cat Pie Hurts for 3 weeks, during the recovery period," or whatever), the Dean of Undergrads might have counselors, social workers, or facilitators who can help go over your options, and who can discuss them with the professor on your behalf, so you don't even have to!

BUT: at many institutions, these accommodations are not retroactive. Your professor cannot accommodate you for any major life issue that he or she doesn't know about. And even if he or she is willing to accept late work that precedes the date of the accommodations, that is probably NOT going to happen (or not happen easily or gracefully) if you put this off and mention it, say, on the last day of class, or when you are handing in your final project, or walking out of the final exam.

If you have not done this: go go go! Talk to your prof! Talk to the Dean! Talk to an advisor! They want to help! This is what they are paid to do!

But they absolutely cannot help until you say something.
posted by vivid postcard at 3:10 PM on August 1, 2012 [14 favorites]

I am so sorry for your loss. This sounds like it's a really challenging time for you. Two months is a really really brief amount of time to "get over" your mom's death. And to try and heal from major surgery at the same time, with all the impacts of the pain meds on your body's ability to process, that's no small thing.

I've taken summer academics, in fact, I also tried going back with summer undergrad after a few years break, and it kicked my ass... one was easy-peasy and the other course I almost failed. And that was without the 2 major life events you've experienced.

Talk to your professor, make clear what's been going on and try to find a realistic plan for getting the work done. Then, consider whether you really want to keep up the academics this fall or rather take a break of a few more months so your body can heal. But talk to your Registrar or Dean or something if that's the way you decide to go... don't just disappear - no institution looks happily upon reappearing students. =)

Obviously, you need to talk to your boss too but without knowing much about your work, it's harder to know what advice to give. When Mr. Sleeve lost his mom, he took every kind of leave that was available to him in fits and spurts, including some unpaid time, because he needed it.

I have great confidence, from reading your questions, that you can get through this. Asking for help from strangers on the internet AND your local support network during times like this is really the first step to finding a way through it.
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 3:21 PM on August 1, 2012

I am so sorry for your loss.

First place: I am also a graduate student instructor, and what vivid postcard said, times a jillion.

I would suggest the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed. It's about her physical and emotional journey on a 1000 mile hike several years after her mother died. These things take time. Much more time than 2 months.

Wild is very good and I can't stop talking about it*, but it might be a bit too intense for you at this point. Or it might be just what you need.

I think you would be treating yourself kindly and appropriately if you let go of the word "excuses" and the phrase "too long". It's going to take as long as it takes. And your loss and your physical challenges and your life changes are not "excuses", and they never were. They were, and are, reasons, they are part of your personal landscape, and they're part of what you have to deal with right now. They're not "excuses", they're just what's going on; you work, you study, you grieve, you hurt, you heal. All those things take energy, and you don't have perfect choices about how much energy each is going to take.

*like the bit with the hiking boots.
posted by endless_forms at 3:26 PM on August 1, 2012

2 months is so recent, give yourself a break. You can take as long as it takes to process anything you're going through, don't be worried about what other people think. I'm sure most people will understand, & if they don't you don't really want them in your life anyway. It could be 4 years down the line, & you would still have every right to be healing from what you've been through. There's no time limit to getting better, I don't know why it seems to be such a societal pressure to put back on that brave face like everything is great. It will be better eventually, but you don't have to deny your emotions & what you're going through. Go easy on yourself. Keep doing what you've got to do to get through, eventually you'll be able to focus better, you're still processing what you've been through. I'm so sorry for your loss, I wish you all the best & know that you're gonna be alright. You're not alone :)
posted by readygo at 3:28 PM on August 1, 2012

Yeah, do your boss and professor know about these things? Because if they're pressuring you in these circumstances they are arseholes. They're supposed to help you figure out how to get your work done at a time like this, not lean on you.
posted by tel3path at 3:28 PM on August 1, 2012

There's no such thing as "too long". You are grieving, and the grieving process is different for everyone. Just know that it's okay to be going through what you're going through. Allow yourself to go through all the motions- and emotions- that come your way. IMHO, two months is still pretty fresh. Give yourself more time.

Communicating with those around you will help you through this process, no matter how long it takes. Explain your situation to your boss/professor. They're human beings, and any boss/prof who's worth their salt will understand the difficult times you're facing.

Sending you my best thoughts just the same-
posted by chatelaine at 3:31 PM on August 1, 2012

I lost my dad a few years ago. My life fell apart before he died, while he was battling cancer (I lost my job and didn't try to find another one, because it just felt like too much to deal) and after I lost him, it took me about six months before I put my life back together.

I'm fairly at peace with the strange knowledge that a tragedy in my life may have led to me to go on to do some remarkable things, like finding the courage to finally get a job in my field or meet the person I hope to spend the rest of my life with, but I felt guilty for a long time about it. (It's definitely a weird blessing that my small inheritance allowed me to take my time to find a better job, move away from a place I disliked, and come out stronger. Talk about guilt!.)

The best support I had came from a friend I wasn't even particularly close to, but who was the only person who told me something that stays with me today. She told me to "be kind to yourself" over and over.

OP, please be kind to yourself. Let people be kind to you. You're not doing it wrong.

It helped me a lot to give people an explanation of what I was going through and I'm surprised by how supportive people were, although it makes sense—not many people can say they've never had a a period of intense sadness or at least a rough spot in their life.

If you have the means, hiring a housecleaner may help make your home feel more like a place of refuge instead of making you feel guilty. In my case, grieving in a clean room somehow felt less overwhelming.

I'm sorry for your loss, and hope that your leg heals smoothly.
posted by thesocietyfor at 3:34 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm so sorry for everything you've been through.

Echoing what others have said about being kind to yourself: as you grieve, you might feel like you can't tackle everything you've got going on. Let that be alright.

Your professor and your boss will probably be understanding and work with you, but if they don't, it's not your failing or your fault. Take the time and energy you need, and don't let anybody else's time table or expectations dictate your actions.

Be kind to yourself.
posted by heliostatic at 3:47 PM on August 1, 2012

I was mostly a wreck for a year after my mom died, and I didn't even have major surgery. I couldn't remember stuff, I'd forget to eat, I'd bust out crying in the grocery store, I had the attention span of something with a very short attention span. There are good chunks of that time that I just don't remember, because I wasn't "there."

Be kind to yourself. Two months is very definitely not "too long."
posted by rtha at 3:49 PM on August 1, 2012

If you're not comfortable going directly to your professor, there is almost certainly a dean whose job it is to deal with this. I got my exams spaced out more than normal for three semesters after two traumatic losses during graduate school. Two months is absolutely not too long, but I encourage you to ask for help.
posted by Mavri at 3:59 PM on August 1, 2012

My father dropped dead a year and a little bit ago. I'm the oldest kid as well as the executor and the whole year has been the usual ups and downs with CLUSTERFUCK just sort of layered on top of it. Even in the best possible circumstances having a regular fixture in your life no longer there is difficult. having "complicated grief" as I have and as it sounds like you have had, is more difficult. Add to this the injury and the extra work [I had sinus surgery in December, my dad had been dead for seven months and I still felt like I had more of a melt-down than necessary worrying about it because I will still all agita about my own mortality] and yeah it's not too soon. I'd suggest a few things

- seeing if you can drop and/or delay your class and/or just talk to your prof about what is going on
- if you have a decent job and are solvent maybe see if you can temporarily pay some people to help you with the things that are hard. I'm thinking eating (healthily) out more often and having someone come in to clean your house so it's not looming over you
- getting some social time with family or partners or friends [hint hint!] so you can not feel that it's just you versus the huge morass you are dealing with.

tl;dr: I didn't feel like I got my brain fully back for a year and I felt 100% okay using the "hey my dad died" as an explanation for my slightly off demeanor for 6-9 months and felt totally okay about it. Two months is about when I started being able to sleep regularly at night and not have scary dad dreams. You are okay and I am sorry you are hurting.
posted by jessamyn at 4:23 PM on August 1, 2012 [4 favorites]

People take years to get over the loss of a family member. Years. Two months is hardly enough time to recover from that alone. Give yourself time. Your boss and your instructor should seriously be accommodating your grief and your physical recovery. It hasn't been too long.
posted by patheral at 5:29 PM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Give yourself at least a year to get back to "functional"...and that's just for the loss of your mom. The knee might add some time. Could you possibly take a quarter or semester off from school to give yourself space to grieve and adjust to the "new normal" of your life?

Seriously, let go of something to give yourself time and space to heal. If you have to keep your job, drop school - just temporarily - so you can scrape by at work. Communicate with your boss that you are struggling but making work your priority. Balancing work and school is difficult in the best of circumstances, and you are not in the best of circumstances.

As for the mobility issues, I suggest a combined strategy of giving yourself a break, and asking for help. Your home is going to be messy and dirty, because you can't walk, let alone clean or carry something from one room to another. But do ask someone to come take out your trash. In your situation I was too proud or humble or something and wound up with a major mess on my hands!

Keep breathing. It gets better.
posted by TrixieRamble at 6:47 PM on August 1, 2012

If you're signed up for fall classes drop them! You need more time to heal. Do you have any friends who would be willing to come help you clean up? Have a pizza and cleaning party. Don't be embarrassed to ask for help. Can you afford a cleaning service? Like others have said, be kind to yourself.
posted by mareli at 7:15 PM on August 1, 2012

I can't believe I'm seeing the words "Too long" and "Excuse" here. In fact, unless you literally have steel testes, it's hard for me to fathom this question at all. Let me put it this way - if I were in your shoes, I'd still be curled up in the fetal position.

You have my heartfelt sympathy. Good luck.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 7:55 PM on August 1, 2012

Like jessamyn, my father dropped dead, and like you - it was two months ago. I'm also the executrix, and it's a complicated grief, and I'm often still reeling. I don't have surgery to add to the mix, but I have an old grandmother who requires daily care until she can move to assisted living. I'm also in school and struggling with a course that requires far more work than I'm prepared for.

I'm juggling all these balls and struggling, and letting everything non-essential slide. Friends are met for lunch, not after work or on weekends, homework is attempted to be done right after work (I just stay at the office an extra bit, it's easier to be organized there), and cooking is pawned off on the partner.

Reach out to people. They offer to do anything for you, and now is the time to ask. Have friends rotate a house cleaning schedule for you, see if you can outsource some meals, and enjoy at least a couple of months of real help from your nearest and dearest. Don't worry about imposing, most people are genuinely glad to help, and you can always return the favor down the road. This is the time to ask for a pan of your friends' special lasagna and such.

I can't help you with work, I find work is a bit of an escape for me, and I can do everything as a matter of routine. I do find myself using Outlook reminders a lot for deadlines and such. School - well, I've bought a course extension and will likely buy another one, but so it goes. They will work with you if you let them. All the banks and paper pushers have been surprisingly nice and helpful. I'm trying to take the same advice everyone has been giving you - be kind, take it one day at a time, and outsource as much as you feasibly can.
posted by tatiana131 at 8:06 PM on August 1, 2012

It took my mom about five years to get out of the mental fog after losing my dad. These things usually take years (unless you're me, but I'm a cold bastard).

But you're asking how long you can use this as an excuse. Right now, surgery + death should be two very good reasons why a professor and boss should get off your back or at least lower their expectations of you right now. Two months is nothing. If we're talking work/excuse-type stuff, I suspect you might have about six months to a year to reasonably get leeway, though. Once your leg is better, that's one less stressful thing, so after that's better... Theoretically if I were your boss/professor, I'd probably expect you to get more on the ball by then, or go into therapy, or both.

But right now, I second the "let everything slide that you can" idea.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:32 PM on August 1, 2012

Seriously, be kind to yourself. My dad died 17 years ago and I was laid off a few days after his funeral. I had no physical ailments and honestly I didn't even get out of bed for two weeks after that. All I did was sleep. I was lucky enough to find a job shortly afterwards where I met an amazing group of supportive, friendly people. Other than them, my support system was nil.

Please seek out the people who will support you. College professors and people who work with students I've found to be helpful and reasonable in times like these. Tell them the whole story - they'll understand that you're not looking for an easy way out, just a little more time.

Give yourself a break. I like the suggestion above about taking the fall semester off. Take some time to process everything and figure out your new course in life. Even if your mom hadn't been a huge presence in your life, you'd still need to recalibrate things in your life that you'd have never thought of.

Please take care - lean on MeFites if you need to, they're an awesome bunch.
posted by bendy at 10:16 PM on August 1, 2012

Butting in again to say that college professors work with students in their 20s constantly. I know you're not that age, but there are so many major life events that happen in your twenties - family deaths, psychological breakdowns, horrible breakups. Profs have seen all of that many times over and will - almost without fail - give you the benefit of the doubt especially if they know you're a good student otherwise.
posted by bendy at 10:23 PM on August 1, 2012

I lost my major professor, my aunt, my grandfather, and my brother in one year. It was my last year of grad school, and I didn't feel comfortable taking time off because I "couldn't hack it." I managed to finish, but I don't remember months of my life at that time. I don't remember my thesis defense - a thing I really wish I had memories of.

Don't. Push. Yourself. Two months is not enough time. You might manage to handle it, but it won't be as rewarding or useful to you later.
posted by nile_red at 11:37 PM on August 1, 2012

It sounds like you have a mental List Of Things To Do, and it looks like this:
1. Work
2. School
3. Be a Responsible Adult (clean house, etc).
And that's totally manageable, if those three things are your only three big priorities!

But I think you need to admit that your actual List Of Things To Do looks more like this:
1. Process feelings from mother's death
2. Recover from knee surgery
3. Work
4. School
5. Other responsible adult stuff.

Doesn't that look like just too much to do? In life as in juggling I find I'm less likely to drop something if I limit myself to three balls in the air at a time, so I certainly think it's too much. But the important thing is that no matter what you think your prioties are, those first two things are the things that will come first on the list. You cannot avoid doing them, and it is going to suck a lot of your energy both consciously and unconsciously. So you have to think about what you can really do with the energy you have left.

In my tradition, you're considered a 'mourner' for a full year. Two months is nothing.
posted by Lady Li at 11:45 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I took nearly 18 months off my PhD after my father died. I did loads of stuff in that time, but almost nothing in the first 4 months, and nothing that required me to be emotionally present for at least a year really.

I don't think it's helpful to think of yourself as having 'excuses'. I found it more helpful to think of myself as heroically managing to do the minimum necessary to keep living despite everything, rather than failing.
posted by kadia_a at 9:47 AM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm so sorry all this happened to you. I just wanted to add that there is nothing quite like physical pain to add a dimension of hopelessness to everything.
posted by BibiRose at 10:28 AM on August 2, 2012

Also a TA & college instructor here, and I would n'th what is said above - run, do not walk, to talk to either a TA or professor about all of this. I am always willing to work with students, but there's a lot more I can do when they come to me a) early on in the course and b) before an assignment is late rather than after.
posted by rainbowbrite at 7:01 PM on August 2, 2012

My father-in-law died last September after a long period of suffering with heart failure. A month later, my mom had a massive stroke and was in a coma for a month and died. Mom's death was very unexpected (she had just come out of shoulder replacement surgery, blood thinners, hematoma, off the blood thinners, seizures, emergency surgery for the hematoma, seemed to be recovering, then massive stroke and flying out to the Midwest to be there when she was taken off life support, a month of waiting for the phone call, then the funeral). Flew back home and then moved in January.

I just now feel like I am not as flaked out as I have been the past several months. Able to deal with normal stuff like mopping the floor without crying. I'd accepted my FIL's death because we knew it was coming, he had all of his legal and medical stuff in place, and we were able to spend time with him and say our good-byes. Never got to say good-bye to Mom, as our last phone call consisted of, "Bye for now dear, the nurse is coming to take my blood pressure." With me crying because I was so worried about her and so far away.

So that's what, 8 months since Mom died last November and it will be a year in September for my husband's father. I still have trouble remembering things that should be obvious; it's like my brain knows but it doesn't translate into a cohesive thought. I already had issues with anxiety and this didn't help.

I've come to realize that heaping stressors upon oneself and living up to unrealistic expectations only results in more stress. And beating yourself up for not being perfect after what you've been through will make it ten times worse. I did once quit night school due to a lot of other factors, someone got ill, husband at the time was in danger of losing his job, and something had to go. The night class lost out, and well, I don't regret spending the time with the sick relative and their family. The world doesn't need another COBOL programmer, and I just wasn't able to do the make-up work, given the circumstances. Oh well. At least I'm not curled up in a corner and I can get out of bed every day and function now.

By all means try and get some accommodation from your professors! If you feel you are up to it, or maybe reduce your load, but don't go around thinking you're not normal. There is no light switch for grief, there is only a crazy annoying-as-fuck blinding disco ball that fades slowly into the distance over time.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 10:47 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

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