Extreme data: Research at the cutting edge

Work is hard. Thinking is hard because my mind doesn’t stay where I put it. I get sidetracked in anger at the stigma carried in the way psychologists write and talk about mental health. Title: Borderline mothers. Mothers at the periphery of two countries? Women about to give birth? FFS. And anyway, it was the poster next-door I came over to read.

I have to concentrate. I am in the U.S. at the main conference in my field. Get this wrong, and My career is stuffed. I am so tired from lack of sleep. I need to stay present; show interest. I write copious notes to try to keep my brain in the room.

*

I want to talk to that researcher. And that one. The professor sitting between us knows them. But he doesn’t introduce us. I daren’t introduce myself. I am a fool. Foolish. I’m not presenting in the seminars. Research not worth it.

I blindly copy down what the presenter is saying. Then I stop. She just said that if we don’t give children the tools to develop group knowledge, to think about group norms, they’ll remain spastic. Spastic. The word rings around me. Resonates. She means stiff, stationery. I hear echoes of children’s voices. From primary, and secondary school. From a few weeks ago. The chant is repeated and relentless. I sunconsciously dig  my nails in hard then retract them. I want to harm myself. I miss whatever is said next.

*

IMG_1079I meet with the professor. He works down the corridor – but has arranged a meeting here. He is 45 minutes late. I am stressed and hot and panicked. And when he appears, he keeps talking at tangents, and I keep having to bring him back to the papers we are discussing. And we have talked about this paper before. Its findings are drawn on his whiteboard. He says it is alike to one he has written into a grant proposal. But, he says, I can’t be on the grant because I don’t have a contract. I remind him that I do. He signed it. But it’s too late. He says the grant will also cover a novel method. And I remind him of the grant we are writing together with a colleague bc I suggested months ago we could be using that novel method. But my input doesn’t seem to matter. My input seels worthless. Or rather, I am. My ideas are worth the taking. Just not me. I am livid.

*

I do present my poster. And I introduce myself to two of the people I want to be known to. I speak with them. We agree to further communication. Then, the conference is done. I am shattered and floored and neck-deep in emotional rubbish. I want to harm myself. I’m not sure how much more rubbish I can take.

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