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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Other · #1892424
Phoenix laments about being behind in his reading for grad school...and everything else.
Phoenix was exhausted.  He had only been getting three or four hours of sleep a night.  The first week of his new semester in grad school, he had literally hundreds of pages to read for his four classes: child psychopathology, molecular neuropharmacology, advanced social psychology, and his psychology master's thesis.  Phoenix was behind.  Behind in his reading, behind in his notes, and behind in his sleep.  None of these elements helped.  The next day, he had a 45-minute long lecture presentation to give on Childhood Social Anxiety and Withdrawal.  He had rehearsed it several times with different people and had it down to exactly 45 minutes.  That pleased him and gave him some confidence about the whole affair.  There were the unknowns and uncontrollable factors that may enter into the picture, though, such as some classmate grilling him on the topic or an element of it, or someone blurting out distracting comments during his presentation.  Phoenix hoped these things would not happen, but imagined that they would.  He had several classmates in mind that could possibly ruin his grade on this lecture presentation.  Oh, well, Phoenix thought.  It will go how it goes.  Time will move on, it will be over, and it will be what it will be.  The next challenge would be writing his research paper based on his lecture presentation.  That, he was looking forward to, though.

A major frustration in addition to the impossible amount of reading that he had to do was not being able to download or even find the file to download a neuropharmacology program that he needed for a lab that was due soon.  He planned on asking his neuropharm professor how exactly to do that the next day as well.  Molecular neuropharmacology.  That was akin to neuropsychology.  Both were taught by a neuroscientist.  A likable and extremely intelligent man, this professor was tough while being laid-back and fair.  He wanted the students to learn, to be proficient in the language of medicine and science, and to round out their psychology educations with some cold, hard science.  Phoenix found the subjects fascinating, having a background in both biology and psychology.  This type of class was where the two mixed in a fashion that Phoenix could understand plainly.  It was, however, very advanced and very difficult material.  The book that this professor was using was a medical school book, and went far beyond the imaginations of the average psych major.  The professor attempted to alleviate the pain by explaining what he wanted them to focus on from the book and to elaborate on the more difficult parts in his power points and lecture notes.  Phoenix still had to ask this man for a letter of recommendation for medical school at some point.  Some point soon.  Phoenix was halfway afraid of the man, not because he was cruel in any way, but because he was so incredibly skilled and intelligent.  Phoenix would have to get over this sometime, and why not sooner than later?

Oh, and advanced social psychology class.  Many articles had to be read for this class, most of them being replications of somewhat ancient studies in terms of psychological advancement, with new interpretations of what the studies meant and what they mean for our modern society.  Phoenix noticed that his professor for this class, the statistics professor, tended to focus only on the statistics of the papers and not what they meant.  This frustrated, bored, and tired Phoenix to no end.  It was the last class of the day and it just about killed Phoenix to sit through it.  He dreaded it.  The professor happened to be his advisor, but as an advisor he was not interested in much that Phoenix had to say.  Phoenix thought that, maybe if he included some statistics in his dealings with his advisor when he spoke with him, he would take more interest in what Phoenix had to say.  Short of a statistical analysis of his plan of study, Phoenix knew he would probably have to speak with a different professor on how to go about changing it.

Phoenix's thesis.  That was not going smoothly either.  He was behind in his hours for it and did not know how he could possibly catch up in time for the meeting only a few days away.  He still had to choose a research question.  He had been doing a smashing literature review, but all the reading was overwhelming.  The hours passed and Phoenix passed out from exhaustion half of the time.  His brain would get tired and shut down.  He would utilize the one-eyed reading technique in order to keep reading when he was so tired that he was going cross-eyed.  There would come a point when Phoenix read an entire paper and absorbed absolutely none of what it said.

Phoenix did not know what to do.  The stress was mounting fast and he was hearing the whispers in his head again.  He had left his psychiatrist a note letting him know that they may need to increase his antipsychotic dosage and that he was having trouble.  Thank the Good Lord that Phoenix was to see his doctor today.  In the meantime, Phoenix would continue studying away, both for his lecture presentation the next day and for the rest of his classes and projects that had to be caught up on.  Phoenix had very quickly come to dread Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Class days.  He would make it, though.  Phoenix always did his best and called it good.  He was not looking for any particular grade or rating.  He simply did his best and what the grades ended up being was a product of his best.  That was good enough for Phoenix as far as coping skills went.  It was much easier to control the amount of stress he was feeling as long as he thought of it that way.  As long as Phoenix could honestly say that he did the best he could at the time with the circumstances that were present, he had to let it go.  It was okay.

Phoenix went to see his psychiatrist, who helped some.  He told Phoenix that he would raise his antipsychotic dose and that the VA was working on his weight problem.  Phoenix told his doctor how stressed he was and how hard it was.  His doctor was very understanding and offered a lot of much-needed support for Phoenix.  They determined Phoenix's next ECT date and agreed to meet again in one week.

When Phoenix got home, he found that his spouse had bought him some clothes for his presentation the next day.  The clothing consisted of a nice purple shirt with a tie and a pleated pair of black pants that fit extremely well.  Phoenix received his new Sebago dress shoes via UPS just an hour or so later and now had a completely new outfit, top to bottom, to present in the next day.  That felt great!
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