Full Plate

Yeah, so I haven’t been sleeping. Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know this isn’t something new. I’ve had trouble sleeping for a long time. I think I remember it beginning to be a problem around my sophomore year of college. I would imagine that if any psychologists have been reading my blog they would probably find enough evidence to suggest that I’m depressed. I mean look up the symptoms: sad mood, ruts, weight gain, loss of interest in activities, and of course, lack of sleep. It’s all there people.

The thing is I don’t think I’m depressed, I just think I have too much on my plate.

My first year out of college I started teaching high school. It was a stressful job because a) I’d never done it before, and b) I taught super honors students who were to be frank, pains in the ass. I also was living at home, which can make any person go insane. I started getting panic attacks. I had to wear one of the heart monitors for a week. You want to know when my heart raced the most? When I was driving home from work. That’s right people, when I was headed away from my job. Now if that doesn’t freak you out…


My panic attacks subsided in grad school. Every once in a while I got a panic attack, where I couldn’t breath or my heart was racing so fast, or both. I usually got panic attacks towards the ends of semesters when I had papers due, and had to grade my student papers as well. The ability to sleep, never returned. On occasion, if I’m wicked tired or have been awake for a long time, or had a great workout I’ll be able to conk out, but this is rare, if ever.

Well this semester the panic attacks are back, and with a vengeance. I’m not having one right now, but I have been getting them more often that I like to admit. When I first started having anxiety it was during the day, lately though, I’ve been having panic attacks in the middle of the night. I wake up from them.

Oftentimes, I’ll have had a nightmare. Two nights ago I dreamt about a serial killing priest–I’ve been reading the Dexter series–a few nights before that I dreamt that my wedding dress came in, but it was the wrong size, and I had to lose like 50 pounds in 2 weeks to fit into it–I’ve been watching a lot of Girl Meets Gown, and Say Yes to the Dress (oh shush, you know I’ve been good about the wedding talk). I wake up because I need air, because my heart feels like it is attached to an explosive.

Last night, I woke up and all I could think about was the papers I needed to grade. It was ridiculous.

My plate is full. I teach an absurd amount of classes. Beckettian even. I have about 120 students all of them turning in an average of 4 papers a semester, not to mention the presentations. I get paid part-time,  but I work overtime. Most instructors (not tenure track professors) teach 4 sections a semester. Four sections is manageable. Six is not.

Oh and did I mention I’m planning a long distance wedding.

Okay, I know that there are a lot you out there who have way more on your plates. Honestly, I’m blessed that I don’t have to worry about a lot of things like paying my bills, my health (knock on wood), the well-being of children,  and other issues that plague others. ( I’m not saying children are a plague–Freudian slip?).

My problem isn’t that I have a lot on my plate (that’s part of it, but not the whole thing). My problem is that I don’t know how to handle the things on my plate.

And so for the first time in almost four years, I’m dealing with panic attacks in the only way I know how. And that means shutting the hell up and getting my crap done.

Sometimes, that’s just good enough.

Here’s to trying.


    1. I wish I could delegate some things. The wedding stuff isn’t as stressful as I first thought. Mostly its the paper grading, and that, unfortunately has to be done by me. I just need to man up and do it.

  1. I wonder if you’re having melatonin complications. I have bouts of insomnia that begin when I’m stressed and then just continue regardless of how I feel. I typically experience racing/repeating thoughts when I’m trying to get to sleep but also during sleep (resulting in little rest). I found that taking a melatonin supplement about a 1/2 hour before sleeping helps a great deal. I had to play around with amounts to find a balance—too much and I felt like a zombie, too little and I was still restless. I was able to reduce the amount over time and eventually stop taking them on a regular basis. You might try this and see if it helps.

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