In September I’m going to THE national conference for my field. There are other conferences, but this is by far the largest. I’m excited, but also a little nervous if I’m being honest.
The last time I went to this conference was three years ago when I was still in school. Before we knew I was sick and I was still in denial that I had a problem with anxiety. (How did I ever believe that anxiety wasn’t a problem for me?!?) It was my first weeks of grad school and I signed up about a month before the actual conference. Oh the panic attacks leading up to that. I had no idea they were panic attacks and I made no connection to anxiety. Surprisingly though, there was no epic crash when we returned.
Fast forward a year and a half when we went to the second largest national conference. It wasn’t last minute and I was So. Excited. Except this one was different. The entire semester I had struggled with my mental health, I even had to tell my professors I needed extensions because I couldn’t handle the workload anymore. This conference our advisor had us running around constantly. We left a day earlier made a few stops at other sites, and then when we arrived in the city for the conference we switched hotels every night to save money (long story) and she had the schedule packed with events and networking and the like. It was stressful, but it was fun. I was so proud of myself for handling it well and making the most of it.
Except when we returned home. I crashed so hard. I had to skip class and work for a week. Ever since then, I’ve struggled with overnight trips and busy schedules.
This conference will be more relaxed, and I’ll be rooming with one person (my boss) instead of 3. We’ll be staying at the conference hotel all week.
But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous.