This week Marvette talks about navigating the doctorial experience when life happens, and gives some tips on how you can keep yourself motivated when you find yourself getting overwhelmed with your personal life.
Hey, you can finish your dissertation and start a profitable consulting business. I’m Dr. Marvette Lacy, and I’m here to show you exactly how to do that. Welcome to the Office Hours with Dr. Lacy podcast, where we talk about all things healing from your higher ed trauma. So you could become doctor and live happy, free and pay. Now let’s get to this week’s episode.
Dr. Lacy Updates:
Hey, Hey. Hey, welcome back to a new leak. Y’all at this point, I feel like we all know what it is even though I’ve been missing for a couple of weeks. Listen, here’s, what’s been going on. I am in the process of doing a rebrand for the business, and that requires like a new website and photo shoots and a lot of decisions. And so I just needed some time to do all of that because while I love coming up with a plan and I love having all the ideas, I do not like the minutiae. I don’t like the very fine details. I don’t. And so I need more energy to do that, but everything for the most part is done and now waiting for designers to put the new website together, and then there’ll be more decisions to make and more details to look at. And so that’s, what’s been going on over here in this world for the photo shoot. I had a few clients come to Chicago, um, and participate. And I just could not wait for you all to see the big reveal. I think you gonna really, really love it. Um, also as a side note, you probably hear the construction happening outside. And at this point I can’t control that job, but I hope you don’t hear it too much.
Today’s Topic: When Life Happens:
Today, we are going to talk about when life happens, what do you do? How do you make sense of it? And I will explain a little bit more of what I’m talking about, right? So to give like an intro, it’s like you decided to sign up for a doc program, right. You know, it’s a very big decision. Like I want you to think back to when you were accepted and probably that summer or that period, right before you started your first semester. Think about all of the things you were thinking about, like all the decisions you made, all of the arrangements you may, in order to focus your time and energy on the doc process, right? If you like me, you probably had all the notebooks, you probably had all the planners, right? We probably tell everybody your mama and them like, listen, I’m going to be focused and you probably were going along. And then out of nowhere, inevitably life happens. Some big event happens, right? And that causes you to question your commitment to this process, to the program. And you wonder, is it even worth it anymore? Right? And so I think a lot about the clients that I’ve worked with, who struggle with like navigating after life happens like clients who have lost loved ones, clients who were removed or fired from their jobs, clients who are consistently on a daily basis navigating anxiety and depression. And when those things become unbalanced, having to seek leave of absences from their program and their job. Essentially, how do you move forward when those things happen? That is the question we are going to be answering today’s episode.
Join Finish Your Dissertation:
But before we continue, I want to tell you that right now, if you’re listening to this in real time, you can sign up for the finish your dissertation program. And the reason why I want to tell you that you want to make this decision now is because this is probably the last time that we’re going to be accepting people into the finish your dissertation program. Now we have other things coming up, but if you’ve been on the fence and you’ve been wondering if you should do it friends, this is it. This is the sign. This is the last call. And so if you’re like, yep, I need to do that. I want you to come over to www.qualscholars.com/fyd and sign up. You don’t want to miss it. Do not block your blessing. We have had so many students make such incredible results in that program. And we are closing it down maybe forever, but at the, at the minimum six months to do some changes and to update some things, because we are constantly improving, but I promise you even the current version of this program. I mean, y’all have heard countless, you know, clients come on here and tell you about their experience. It works y’all. And you probably are worried if you can do it, if you have what it takes. And I want you to know that you do, you have exactly what it takes. So again, go to the website, sign up.
Life Happening is An Opportunity:
Let me get back to the episode. So what I want to say is life happening as I, as I’m terming it is really the only constant that we have. Like I use the term life happening instead of using the word like change because it normalizes that life events are a part of the human experience. Life happening doesn’t necessarily mean that anything has gone wrong, that you’ve done anything wrong, right. That you could have done anything to prevent it, right. It just, to me, how I think about it is that it means that we now have an opportunity to tap into the essence of being alive, of being human of experience, like experiencing a deep connection to emotions. And that probably sounds really woo, but here’s the thing y’all. In all religious and spiritual traditions, It is always coming back to this conversation about you as a human navigating, the positives and the negatives in life, and being willing to experience the emotions that come along with those events. But let me ground this a little bit more, cause you’re probably like, what are you talking about? So let me give you an example.
Dr. Lacy’s Story:
8 months before starting writing my dissertation, I would say it was probably the most difficult period in my doctoral journey. I was having like anxiety and panic attacks multiple times a day. My depression was so bad, bad that I could barely get out of bed. And when I did get out of bed, the attacks would start again and there that, that’s what it looked like. And the start, some of the circumstances that were surrounding that was that: 1. I was in an emotionally abusive relationship with someone who I am convinced is a certified narcissist, like textbook definition.
So I already had maxed out the allotted appointments available to students. And they, at that point referred you out to the community. But because it had been a while since the last time I went to counseling or therapy, I just really didn’t know where to go in the community. And I did not have the bandwidth to try to figure it out. And so I asked for an emergency appointment, which then the person I saw, she agreed to give me, like, I want to say it was like three or four sessions. Um, until I was able to find someone in a community. But in one of those sessions, she was like, I really think you need to reconsider exploring medical options. And she referred me to the psychiatrist, which I just need to tell y’all the story of that psychiatrist. My stories with psychiatrists in general, they are very fascinating people, but this is not what this podcast, but the psychiatrist prescribed Zoloft and everyone was able to like refer me out into the community.
I want to also say here, I had a lot of resistance about going on medication. Like I thought it made me a failure that I couldn’t regulate my own mental health. I thought I was beyond the anxiety and depression taking me out. I felt immense shame, but I was so desperate to feel better that I was willing to try whatever. Right? So if you want to give me a pill, fine girl, cause I cannot live life the way it was going. And honestly, I went into the process of taking Zoloft, believing like this, not going to work, it’s going to be like, everything else. And I was like, I’ll give it six months, but it’s not going to work. I know that medication is not for everyone. And the process of finding the appropriate medication and dosage can be very challenging and draining. Right. And I will say though, going on Zoloft has been the best decision I’ve made for myself at that time. And currently cause y’all I’m back a year in, at this point, which reminds me, I need to go get a refill. Um, but the combination of medication that they were able to put me on, cause it was Zoloft. And uh, I can’t think of what the word is now, but something that like lowers your heart rate and breathing so that it lowers the symptoms of anxiety. This particular combination allowed me to get out of bed and function at a baseline that I wasn’t able to function that before. It wasn’t like, I was like, yes, let’s go do all the things, but at least I can get out the bed and function and like my normal daily activities and this process of finding the dosage and waiting for the effect.
It did take another three to four months and I want to reiterate that it was worth it. And the reason why I wanted to take that aside and explain that is because I know a lot of you are questioning if you should get on medicine and probably like me having a lot of shame about it, or you’re probably frustrated that it’s not like it won’t be an immediate fix. The human body and brain is very complex and there isn’t a one-all thing that’s going to work for everyone. And I will still say it’s worth it. And so if you are in a situation where you’re questioning it, I am going to tell you to do it.
Also what was happening at this time, that therapist that I ended up being referred to was a hot mess. Y’all and I have an episode about this. Um, we’ll try to find the number for the show notes, but it’s how I’ve found my dissertation topic from this, these interactions with this therapist. And I’ll just give you the cliff notes. Like she tried to facilitate an intervention with a narcissist boyfriend, but she was not experienced enough to do that. Um, she’s, our breaking point came when it was after the super bowl where Beyonce had the surprise performance for formation. And she told me that Black Panthers were a terrorist organization and we ended up going back and forth and I just had to end it. But by that point I was coming out of the fog, as I like to say. And then I was able to receive the support from friends around me, notice that as I said received, cause it was always there, but I wasn’t always in a place to receive it, that I was able to start my dissertation and make progress.
But I wanted to share with you today, some conclusions that I took away from this period. Number one, you are a person who gets the have emotions and take time for yourself. Again, you are a person who gets to have emotions and take time for yourself. The part that will cause you the most pain is thinking that you should just get over it or you should just push through or some other flavor of resistance or avoiding your emotions, right? Because you think that you are a special snowflake and you don’t have time or space to experience and process your emotions, right? You probably said something like, I’m afraid that if I start, I won’t be able to stop. Or if I start, I’m just going to explode and I don’t have time for that got too much to do. Right? And so what also is very likely is that you’re probably used to being in the strong one, like the strong friend, the strong sister, insert identity, the strong one in your relationships. The one that everyone else comes to for help and support this sometimes gives us the false impression that because we support everyone else that they then in return are not capable of supporting us. And so we don’t reach out. We don’t say we like, I’m fine. It’s fine. Everything’s fine. And we just bottle it up. And then we explode in some way, which then leads me to my next conclusion or point. 2.
Practice, courage and reach out for support, practice, courage, and reach out for support. Ask yourself, is it true that your friends or family can’t support you? Is that true while it may not be the type of support that you give them? It doesn’t mean that it’s, that their support wouldn’t be helpful. Right? For instance, you’ve heard Dr. Joan Collier on the podcast many times, you know that we did our doc program together, the way that she shows up and supports me, I am so grateful for it, right? She’s not like constantly hounding me. What’s wrong? What’s wrong?. Let me fix it. She’s not constantly trying to force me to come up with like a, well, why are you anxious? Why are you depressed? Why do you keep ghosting me? Why are you not answering my text message? Because I am that person. Y’all, I’m already not the best with messaging the emails. But then when I’m going into one of my like moments with anxiety and depression, I just go dark and silent. And it’s because I don’t have the words. It could be like, shame is sometimes at play. And so what she would do is because I had, I shared my location with her share. I think I still share it with her. She would track me on my phone just to make sure I was somewhere like, probably in my apartment. And if I went too many days without talking to her, she would come to my apartment or she would just send me a message that says, send me an emoji to let me know that you’re at least alive and breathing and okay.
And that means the world to me because I didn’t, it’s like, even though I didn’t have the capacity to hang out or have a whole conversation, I was genuinely grateful that she was willing to meet me where I was and check in on me by giving me something very like tangible to do. Sending emoji is something tangible. Her coming into my door and me opening it. Her saying, I just want to get, put eyes on you to make sure you’re okay, give you a hug. And then I leave. It means the world to me. I mean, she understands me as an introvert. She understands how this looks and the willingness to not take it personal is everything I could have asked for. Right. And so maybe the support that your friends and family are trying to give you looks a little different, right? Maybe support looks like your grandma, calling you to talk to you about the pot of greens she just put on a stove or your childhood best friend talking about her job for the 50 11 time, right. People don’t always know how to support you. And they just do the best that they can, which may look like a simple phone call and them telling you about their day, which may look like right, telling you what’s going on at church and what’s going on at job and what’s going on in the family, right? Because it’s not so much about the words that are being exchanged. It is about holding space for one another and being in community with one another.
You Are Responsible to Seek Out Support:
That is very feely. I mean, but a lot of times we’re so busy looking for a particular type for the support to look a particular way that we can miss the ways in which is showing up. And we are blocking it. Remember while your friends and family may not understand what it’s like to be in a doc program, they do know you, they do care about you and they are doing the best that they can to support you. You also have the responsibility to seek out. Like if you want a particular type of support, it is your responsibility to go get what you need. Me reaching out to the counseling office and asking for an emergency session was me like asking for what I need me being willing to go to the psychiatrist and take the medicine and seek out the support when the dosage was wasn’t right, was me showing up for the support that was available to me. Right? Which then led me to being able to receive additional, support, me, reading different books and writing out my thoughts and journaling helped me. And a lot of times people can get caught up in being like, well, nobody cares. And you don’t, you think that you’re waiting for someone to come save you, but what, how are you showing up for you? And I’m not saying you need to do all the things I am saying. Take responsibility just because you may be navigating anxiety and depression does not absolve you from your responsibility for you showing up for yourself and getting what you need.
Which then leads me to point number three, accept that it’s going to take time and patience time and patience. The second part that will cause the most pain is thinking that healing is taking too long. Like you’re, you will want to worry about all the things you want to do, need to do. Can’t do as a result of your mental state or as a result of life happening, you will be frustrated with your brain, with your body because you just want to get back to doing, you want to get back to your regular life or your normal life, right? And you think it’s because like, you need to do that because people are going to be upset with you or you’re holding the team back, or people are waiting on you to complete projects. And while that may be true, it really is coming down to you. You Don’t really care about them People at a job. What you care about is one, what people think of you. And two, like you really just care about resisting your emotions because you don’t want to sit with them. It’s like you broke your thumb on your dominant hand.
And you’re frustrated that it hasn’t healed in two minutes so that you can get back to writing and reading and picking up things. However, your thumb is broken. It’s an injury. And it’s going to take time and patience to heal it. Right? You’ve got to put a cast on, right? You gotta keep it still. You can’t put too much weight on it. And that may take six weeks. I don’t really know. I never broke a thing, but like I know it takes long, right? It’s six weeks minimum, right? For that to be on your, your, your thumb. And even when the cast comes off, there’s still gonna be some like physical therapy. You probably have to do to learn how to bring back the functionality of it. Right? That all takes time and patience. You can’t break a thumb and then being like, it should be healed. Now let’s go. And so I want you to think about like your brain, your emotions, your body also needs time to properly heal and adjust to your new normal, right? Like when a life event happens, right? Like you get fired or someone passes away. You now have to, re-establish a new normal, that’s going to take time and patience going to take support. And if you continue to force yourself to push through and ignore the warnings, you could cause further injury.
Tend To Your Basic Needs:
Point number four, I believe this is four. Remember to drink water, eat food and get outside and shower. I think it’s drink water, eat food, shower, and get outside. When you are in the depths of it. Like when you are in the most intense parts of the healing journey, your only job is to attend to your basic needs. Your job is not to worry about what’s happening at work or what’s happening in the program. Because if your basic needs are not covered, nothing else can happen. Your body will not allow it. The oldest part of your brain will not allow it. The part that is mostly controlling, you’re controlling your brain is very concerned about survival. It doesn’t care about a project or an article or a conference proposal. It cares about basic needs. So I would tell you to focus on drinking, water, eating actual food, like something with a mama, or that was grown in the ground. They also have mama’s okay. Find something with food shower, even if I love a good, you know, scalding hot shower for probably too long, but it’s just, it just helps me and going outside, right. Healing cannit happen when it, without you being properly hydrated and having the nutrients and energy to function.
Yes. Depression will tell you, there’s no point in doing these things or that it won’t matter, or that you don’t feel like it. That’s just your brain being a brain, because it doesn’t want to take the energy. However for me, there is nothing like either doing like some cold waters, hot showers, a good bowl of oatmeal and some sunshine, even if I took the hour to do the shower and the oatmeal, and then go outside for two minutes. Even if I go and stay in a bed for the rest of the day, it helps. Again, this goes back to the time and patience just because you do this once doesn’t mean that everything’s going to magically improve, but you learning how to set yourself up for a new normal and handling or focusing on your basic needs will get you to that new normalcy quicker than you trying to resist your emotions.
Figure Out Your WIN:
And the last one, number five, figure out your win. So my mindset coach, um, has this saying, and she says, whenever you get into a moment, life happens. You’re in intense emotions. Figure out your win. W I N. And that stands for What’s Important Now asking yourself that question of what is important Now. In essence its like, what is the one thing that you have the capacity to do right now that will make the most impact, right? Is it emailing your advisor to set up a meeting? Is it finishing that one data set for the research team by focusing on the one thing that is important now in taking action, it will bring relief. It will help you move forward. The goal is not repeat. The goal is not to do everything or overly use taking action to give you the relief and hit because healing right, goes back to basic needs. Healing goes back to re-establish a baseline healing goes back to giving yourself the time to process your emotions,
However, right. You’re still in real life and responsibilities are real. And so it is about how do you reduce the amount of things on your plate to meet the current level of capacity in which you’re operating within, right? Like how do you reduce the number, like the things that you have to do so that you can make more room for the healing. But if we go back to the thumb analogy, right? There’s just some things you’re not going to be able to do. If you’re the one who was used to taking all the notes and the meetings, or you’re the ones who like one who cooks the meals in the home, you’re probably not going to be able to do it because your thumb is at a commission. In the same way, right, When it comes to life events or emotions, that’s just some that just not gonna happen in some meetings, you’re not going to attend and people you’re not gonna be able to talk to. And that’s fine. But what are the things like you thinking, what is going to be my priority and doing that, do not try to do all the things because a lot of you have these very lofty goals, because you’re not being honest about where you are in your current capacity.
Make Room For Healing:
And I want you to know you either make room for healing or your body will make it for you. You do not want your body to sit you down because you will be in somebody’s hospital and you’ll be questioning how you got there. There’s always options before getting there, and there’s always a way forward. And so next week I am going to have a few clients come on and talk to you about how did they navigate their doctoral doctoral experience when life happened? Cause y’all some shit happened. Okay. And I want to continue this discussion because I know many of you are going through it right now, and you are looking for a way forward and I want to help as much as possible. And I think it’s for me, I know I find it incredibly helpful, when I get to hear other people’s stories. And so that is what we’re going to do next week.
In the meantime, I would love to know your thoughts about today’s episode and how you are planning to move forward. Right now, come on over to Instagram at qual_scholars and let us know until next week, please take care of yourselves and I will talk to you then bye for now.
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