Self-inflicted illness (not alcohol related) – week 59

I have missed a week for the first time in my blogging career. I missed week fifty-nine. Although, since I have been ahead of the game by three months, no one will ever notice.

The reason I did not write anything last week was that I was sick. I had a fever for about a week, and to top it off I have a blocked ear. Because I don’t have a normal job, I couldn’t have any days off and had to go in and keep my experiments running. Although, I did manage to watch the entirety of series 7 of Game of Thrones in my downtime.


This was my first illness of 2018, and I am pretty sure I did it to myself. Basically, I was culturing some bacteria in the lab and was quite careless of how I disposed of them It was either that, or I caught it from a colleague.

Another reason as to why I could not take time off was that I had to give a talk to the entire department about my research.

One of the ways I deal with nerves for presentations is to over prepare. Where most of my colleagues would spend maybe a few hours preparing for a presentation, I spent a couple of days. In the end, when I gave the speech, to maybe 100 or so people, I wasn’t that nervous, because I was well prepared.

Normally I like to practice my talks until I know exactly what I am going to say, but this time I decided to practice it only a couple of times. Mainly, because I was ill and it was roughly thirty-minutes long, but also because it is not an efficient use of your time to rehearse talks until you can do it word-for-word each time. Perhaps if you have a ten-minute speech or less it is worth it, but anything longer I think it is best to just partially wing it.

Interestingly the size of the audience didn’t affect me, it was of a size where it was large enough to fill my vision. The audience just blended into one and I couldn’t really tell who was who, so I was kind of detached from them, it was a strange experience. I wonder if others out there have had this? I would have thought my nerves would have scaled with the size of the audience, but this did not seem to be the case.

I think I am going to allow myself two-weeks off at Christmas, one week of doing absolutely nothing and one week of working from home. Hopefully, it will renew my enthusiasm for the project as it has been fleeting for the last couple of months.

If you view certain phenomena in life as a graph, as I do, I am currently on a downward trend. This isn’t a problem, we expect ups and downs. It only becomes a problem when the new lower level of whatever phenomena becomes the new normal. I sometimes wonder this when I am ill, have I got better, or have I just accepted a new lower standard of living.

Of course, it is absurd, and I am sure 99% of the time the answer is, I have got better. But there is always that bit of doubt. Otherwise, as we age, we should surely get more and more unhappy due to the accumulation of illness that It is all downhill from the age of twenty. This does not seem to be the case.