The last three years

I started THE ANNOTATED EVERYTHING in the fall of 2006. It is now 2011, a full five years later.
During the initial chapter of this blog, I was at the start of a PhD program at the University of Calgary, and this blog went dormant in 2008, right around the same time as I successfully defended my candidacy to get “ABD” status.

Then things went weird.

The candidacy progress, which I rushed through, was pretty brutal on my psyche. I passed, but it felt like one of the most degrading and un-fulfilling events ever. Post-candidacy I had problems getting ethics approval – not that my research was going to be harmful to anyone (quite the opposite), but because of needless red-tape and bureaucratic hand-wringing. After finally starting the actual research phase of my dissertation in January 2009, I spent 8 months chasing down something which I eventually decided wasn’t there, and had to re-evaluate my whole dissertation topic.

It’s actually only been in the last eight months that I actually feel on top of my research and writing, that I’m finally on to something real, and the result is a dissertation that is slowly taking shape. I am making steady progress towards completion, and I think what I have is actually pretty good, but it took me a REALLY long time to fully embrace it and commit to finishing. In fact, up until last December, there wasn’t a week that went by that I wasn’t considering quitting.

There were many, many months over the last three years that I was hiding (I’m not sure how well) a deep depression. Crushingly heavy. Many factors contributed, and it took everything I had to climb out. Scary, looking back, at how awful I felt almost all of the time, and the lengths I went to insulate the people I love the most from this. Lots of late nights sitting alone quietly losing it. Music helped (a theme throughout my life), but maybe actually prolonged everything. Things got ugly.

I’m pretty sure I’m on the metaphorical “other side” now, as if it were so easy. For better or for worse, I’ve still managed to accomplish a lot in the last three years, and I think, in the end, the depression and period of deep introspection will pay off. I never want to go back, but in a sick way I’m glad it happened. Is that weird?

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