Beginning to Feel Like Myself Again

I think I may be on my way to snapping out of whatever kind of weird mood I’m in.

Monday was not really a good day for me. I have no classes until orchestra in the evening and it’s always my intention to wake up somewhat early in the morning to practice. Even 9:00 is reasonable. That way, I don’t have to stay late and practice after orchestra like I’ve been doing the past three years and I can just go home, relax, and go to bed early. I had my alarm set for 9:00 and when it went off I just couldn’t physically drag myself out of bed. Most of the time it was because a thought or a memory would come into my mind and I’d cry about it or just not be able to stop thinking about it. By the time I’d actually fall asleep it might be 3 or 4am. That wasn’t the first time I tried to wake up at 9:00am on a weekday morning where I had no morning classes, but of course every morning I would hope for something different. I went back to sleep again and woke up around noon some time. Obviously I have to get out of bed now. I couldn’t even bring myself to go practice in the afternoon. I pretty much went to orchestra without having played that day. I went to practice a bit after orchestra but it did not go so well.

Tuesday is a new day, right? Not really. I had class in the morning, so I dragged myself out of bed at the last possible minute to make it to class. I practiced a bit in the afternoon again with no success. My Pilates class at the gym was starting that evening, so I figured if I went to that I would start to feel better. Exercise is the best thing when you’re feeling down right? I thought I could just jump right back into my regular routine. Last year, I’d go to this cardio/strength drop in class and then go straight into Pilates and I’d always feel great after it. I was fine after the first class but as soon as I got to Pilates I was just so physically drained. I could barely make it through all the poses. I could have curled up into a ball and fallen asleep on my mat. When class was done, I got out of there as fast as I could. The fatigue I was experiencing was overwhelming, worse than the fatigue that hit me when I was out for supper with my parents that time. I also had a headache/migraine. Every time I looked at a light, or even my phone, my head would just throb. To give you an idea of how fatigued I was, the Pilates class ended at 7:10 and I was in bed by 8:00. I wasted no time getting out of there and getting home. I feel asleep almost instantly. I had to lie down immediately as an overwhelming feeling of nausea had taken over. I woke up around midnight and felt a lot better. My headache subsided so I was able to check my phone and catch up on email, messages, and Facebook. I went back to sleep, again falling asleep instantly. I woke up at 9:00am the next morning like I had been trying to do the past month with success. I guess it was kind of cheating though, going to bed at 8:00pm, it’s hard to sleep in until noon.

I attributed the extreme fatigue I experienced to the lack of sleep and the poor quality sleep I had been getting due to the quasi anxiety and depression I was experiencing as well as the worrying about everything in general. I also googled the symptoms I had (because that’s always a good idea), and I got a bunch of pages that said exercise intolerance. It makes sense. I was perhaps a bit too ambitious for my first day back to the gym. I haven’t really gone to a gym since last year as I ride my bike and exercise outdoors during the summer. It’s not that I wasn’t capable of doing a workout like that (I did that exact workout every week last year), it’s just that I should have worked up to it and not done that on my first day back to the gym after a long summer. One good thing that came out of this is that I had the best sleep ever on Tuesday night. I felt so refreshed on Wednesday and it was generally a good day. I practiced for almost 4 hours! That’s the most I’ve practiced this school year.

Thursday was another good day, I got lots of practicing done. I went to a hot yoga class that evening as I had a free drop in coupon. It was super intense but it felt really good. I’ve done hot yoga before, but it wasn’t the authentic hot yoga, it was, as the instructor described, “Yoga in a warm room”. I was taken aback by how intense it was and how much I sweat. I don’t sweat tons when I go to the gym, I don’t usually need to bring a towel or anything, so I only brought a small hand towel. By the end of the class, my mat was a slip n’ slide of my sweat. I couldn’t even do any of the poses in the last 15 minutes of class because my mat was too slippery and the heat was so intense. The instructor said to take breaks whenever you want so I took up on that. I felt really invigorated afterward though, I didn’t experience any exercise intolerance so that was good.

Friday is basically a day off for me (relatively speaking for music majors) so I just slept and guess what. I woke up this morning at 8:50am, without an alarm and I felt refreshed. What is this sorcery? I went on my bike to get some groceries in the morning and did some errands. I was that person and went to a drive thru ATM on my bike. In my defense there was no bike rack or space to lock up my bike. There was no one around and of course as soon as I start doing my banking a line of actual cars appears out of nowhere. Murphy’s law at its finest. I practiced in the afternoon and got some good work. This evening I thought I’d just relax and have some me time so I didn’t practice quite 4 hours today, but I’m finally starting to feel optimistic about this year. Things are looking up. I’m going to graduate and kick some grad school audition butt!

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Fourth Year Struggles

Hello again! My postings on this blog are somewhat sporadic but I just haven’t really been in the mood to write anything lately (as you will see later on in this post). I began my fourth year of school two weeks ago and it hasn’t been treating me well.

I arrived on Saturday the 5th. I unpacked some stuff at my place and eventually got too tired so I just went to bed and planned to continue the next day. I didn’t think much of it. I woke up on Sunday and went about my day as usual. I was out for dinner with my parents. They had dropped me off and were planning to go back home the next morning so I wanted to go out with them before they left. I was fine when we got to the restaurant but all of a sudden this wave of extreme fatigue hit me. I was just so physically exhausted out of nowhere, I couldn’t even finish my meal. I was planning to hang out with my parents a bit more but I was just so drained that I had them take me home. It was 8:00pm. I went straight to bed and woke up on Monday morning (the labour day holiday) at noon. Mind you I wasn’t sleeping the whole time, I had trouble falling asleep as I had a lot on my mind and there were some loud hooligans in the hallway. On Monday I spent almost the entire day in bed watching YouTube videos. I would drag myself out of bed occasionally to go eat something but then it was right back to my YouTube watching. You’d think I was recovering from surgery or something. Getting in contact with my friends to see what they were up to was out of the question.

I didn’t really think much of it at first but I began to think that maybe there was something wrong. Normally I’m as motivated as ever to begin a school year and then later on I lose my motivation. Never have I began a school year wanting to lay in bed all day and not talk to anyone. Why the lack of motivation? Part of it was the summer program I was in. I had done the exact program in summer 2014 and it was amazing. I began third year more motivated then ever and I worked incredibly hard that year in all aspects. I do the same program again in 2015 and it has the opposite affect. I come back to school feeling defeated and inadequate. The level of playing at the program was exceptionally high this summer and I just felt like I didn’t belong musically. I’d see all these amazing people doing amazing things that I’ll never get an opportunity to do or be able to do and it just made me think, “Why do I bother?”

Also, what comes with being a fourth year is the looming thought of what I will do next year. Of course, there are the societal pressures to go to grad school. Ever since I was in grade 12 I knew I wanted to go to grad school. There was no question about it. Now, I’m not so sure if I should even continue in music. I really want to, it is something that I love doing and I can picture myself having a career in, but I am concerned if I am disciplined/skilled enough and have the mental fortitude to pursue it. I mean, if I get so offended and heartbroken from losing some meaningless competition at my school, how would I handle losing an audition at a professional orchestra? I can’t sit around in my room crying for days every time something doesn’t go my way in the real world. There is also the option of taking a year off but that is also frowned upon by people. The more years you spend working, the harder it is to go back to being a student.

I was always so opposed to and disturbed by the idea of taking a year off, but now I honestly think it might be best for my mental health. After two summers of doing programs, I feel like I’ve been in school nonstop since the beginning of second year. I haven’t had a real break. As sad as it sounds, I’m at a point where I need a break from music. The pressures of being a music student/musician are getting to me too much. But then again, maybe the summer is all I need and I can have a fresh start next year at grad school. As much as I want a break, if I start grad school right away after my undergrad, then I can be done and take as long of a break as I want. If I take a year off, it will be nice but I will only be prolonging my schooling. Why is life so hard?

I thought once classes started and I got into a routine I’d snap out of whatever this was. Not really the case. I haven’t had any days where I spent the entire day lying in bed, but I haven’t exactly been in the practice rooms for my 4+ hours a day either. If anything, this is the year where I need to get my sh*t together and practice more than ever. But no. It’s not that I haven’t practiced, I’ve made some good progress on the Clarke Sonata and my unaccompanied Bach, I’ve just been dragging my heels on my concerto and my other recital rep which I haven’t even confirmed yet. Yay me. I have to have all this rep learned by January/February if I’m going to be doing grad school auditions and I’ve wasted most of September moping around. I mean, it’s not too late to turn things around. There’s still 9 or so days left in September and at least 3 or 4 months left. I thought I’d gotten myself back on track last week, but then I fell back into my moping again. It’s kind of concerning, if I don’t start getting my act together soon, then I won’t be able to learn my rep in time for grad school auditions and I’ll have no choice but to take a year off. At least if I can push myself through the auditions, I have the option to change my mind or defer it for another year.

I guess if it’s any solace, I’m probably not the first music student, and won’t be the last, to feel like this in fourth year. It’s a stressful time. I’m so close to the end of my schooling and the beginning of my professional life. There are so many options available to me both in music and not in music. I guess I just have to take things one step at a time and get through this year first. I’ve gotten through 3 years of university, why should this one be any different? I have to find that sense of motivation and determination within myself. It’s there, I know it. I wouldn’t have made it this far if it wasn’t. I need some more positive self talk, rather than focusing on negative things.