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Go Ask Aunt Becky


Dear Aunt Becky,

I’m writing to you for advice because you seem like a good advice-giver in general, and because you are awesome and it’d make my day to hear from you.

See, I want to do a Masters degree in Social Psychology, but at the same time I keep thinking I’m not good enough, or the course is a bad (read: fluffy) choice. And I know those self-doubting thoughts are wrong, and that I acquired them from a person who was in retrospect never a friend to me, and yet they bother me.

I worry that the subject is a bad one in the first place, that I’m settling for a masters degree rather than a phd because I’m not good enough to get a phd (never mind that I think a masters degree would be adequate for my purposes), that I’m not hardworking enough or creative enough to do a postgrad degree, that I’ll be wasting my dad’s money (he really wants me to further my studies and is willing and able to pay for it all, so on top of everything I feel like I should be grateful and shut up and stop worrying already), that I don’t have a suitable background to continue in academia because I didn’t do research assistantship or tutoring in college and am (horror of horrors) doing a job that has nothing at all to do with my psych degree whatsoever.

I know I’m being silly and insecure, but I don’t know how to snap out of it.

Do you have any advice that could help me?

your niece in a small tropical country

Dear Niece of Mine,

First and most importantly, can I come visit? Because this weather? BLOWS ASS.

Secondly, here’s my thoughts on your dilemma – if you want to get your degree in BASKETWEAVING because it makes you happy – fucking go for it.

Most people (read: Your Aunt Becky) have a degree in a subject they do not use very much. See, I’m a nurse. Last time I practiced nursing? 2007. Part of that is because I hated it and part of it is because I hated it. So really, when I tried to be practical and shit (I should get a degree in something that pays RIGHT OUT OF COLLEGE), I ended up miserable.

I would ask yourself why you want this degree, what you plan on doing with it, and if your answers make sense? Fucking GO for it.

(if your answers are like, “so I can sign my name with cool initials afterward, I’d reconsider. The work involved is a bit much for a few initials).

You can do whatever you want to do. Kick those self-defeating thoughts in the taco and get thee to school.


Your Aunt Becky, RN-BSN


Aunt Becky-

I’ve pretty much been an avid reader since the beginning of time..and I am just *now* realizing that we have (at least) 2 things in common. Migraines and thyroid BS. This isn’t a very exciting or cool Ask Aunt Becky question..but I’d like some advice from someone who has been there.

I’ve suffered from migraines since 2004. I had one a day for 3 months then, and they’ve been off & on since then. Now, since having my daughter (in Jan.) I started have 2-3 a week, then 4-5 a week and now I’m up to having one every day. My PCP started me on Topamax, but it doesn’t seem to be doing the trick. As bad as it might sound, the only thing that keeps them at bay is Percocet and I know there aren’t unlimited refills on that bad boy. But seriously, if I miss a dose, if I go more then 4 hours, it hits like a ton of bricks.

I’ve taken Maxalt in the past, but it just took the edge off and made me sleepy. And I know about rebound headaches,and I’ve actually stopped taking the Percocet to see ifย  that was the problem. It wasn’t.

So, any helpful hints or suggestions? I’ve got to get them under control and I feel like I’m losing my mind when I have them.

Also, thyroid BS. Apparently I have a multi-nodular goiter? During my pregnancy everything was fantastic, but now, everything is whack-a-doo. I’m not cycling, and I just feel run down. I’m scared to go see the specialist because I don’t want a biopsy or any of that. Can you advise me as to what is going to happen at my first visit and what kind of treatment there is?

I’m sorry this is so long. I looked for an “actual” email address, and did not find one. I’ve been wanting to ask these questions for a few weeks, but felt like you were so out of my league that I couldn’t, lol.

Thanks in advance for listening.

Oh, Prankster, it’s like we’re twinsies! And not in a matching-shirt-kinda-way.

First and foremost, get thee to a neurologist. If The Max isn’t helping, fuck The Max. There are a zillion other drugs out there that can help control migraines. I now take Carbitrol, and frankly, it’s not working well. My migraines have become a daily thing. CLEARLY, I need to call my neuro for another drug. You may have to play around with various drugs to find out which works for you, but there will be SOMETHING. I promise.

As far as the thyroid goes, my endocrinologist is the best doctor I have. My thyroid goes balls out after I have babies, and doesn’t go back to normal. It’s like hey, motherfucker, you’re an asshole for having a baby!

So seeing an endo has been one of the smartest moves I’ve made. Been seeing her since after Alex was born, and I’d send her a Christmas card if I wasn’t too lazy to send such things.

Let me know how it goes. And good luck, Prankster.




Sometimes, I get around. I wrote about 5 Things Not To Do With Your Kids This Winter.

Your turn, Pranksters! What advice would you give these brillz Pranksters? Fill in where I left off in the comments.

posted under Go Ask Aunt Becky
14 Comments to

“Go Ask Aunt Becky”

  1. On December 18th, 2011 at 11:54 am Athena Cherise Says:

    Migraine sufferer… Definitely get to a neurologist. The most awesome medication I have found is DHE45, unfortunately it turned out that I was allergic to it. (Just my luck) But it kicked my headache to curb like gangbusters. If a med doesn’t do it for you, make them give you something else. There are TONS of meds out there, but doctors usually go for the easy way out by giving you whatever is currently popular. Good luck on getting a med that works for you!

  2. On December 18th, 2011 at 11:59 am Mayor Gia Says:

    The first letter: I also got a degree in a “fluffy” subject (sociology). And I only have my bachelors – I completed a 4 year program in 3 years (and graduated summa cum laude, thankyouverymuch) to try to save money because I couldn’t afford to go to college, much less get a masters or phd. Yes, I get snarky comments sometimes about how I have a useless degree or that I was “too smart” to major in sociology. But you know what? EFF THEM! I’m happy I got a degree in something I care about.

    I mean, I work for a non profit and make no money and am perpetually broke (especially with all the student debt), but at least I’m doing something that I feel is worthwhile. LW shouldn’t listen to people’s criticism or self-doubt — she should study something she loves. Just be prepared to eat a lot of ramen noodles…

  3. On December 18th, 2011 at 12:13 pm Killjoie Says:

    I third it- get thee to a neurologist. If you’re not sure who to pick, ask around- if you know a nurse, ask her who she would go to personally. Ask your doc who they’d want their mom to see if she had a stroke. All they do is brains, and are going to be up on what the latest research has to say.

    That said, I’m counting down the days till this kid pops out, and I can start back on Topamax and Imitrex. Suffice to say, I am NOT one of the fortunate few whose migraines resolved with having a kid.

  4. On December 18th, 2011 at 2:47 pm Elizabeth Says:

    First letter. Go for it. I have two friends that majored in film studies and old English literature. They both got lots of flak for fluffy studies, but they both got jobs they love that required those degrees. If you are worried about it seeming like an Eh I didn’t know what else to do, so I picked this, get involved in some kind of extra-curricular activity. Best of luck!

  5. On December 18th, 2011 at 2:55 pm Luna Says:

    Just a thought, but my migraines AND my thyroid issues were related to an autoimmune reaction to eating gluten. Celiac Disease. Caused both migraines and thyroid issues. Cut gluten out, saw a chiropractor (to realign my neck, which was badly out from all the inflammation) and bingo. No more migraines.

  6. On December 18th, 2011 at 3:24 pm Caroline Says:

    Nice Niece,
    GO FOR IT! Like Sheryl Crow said, if it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad. If you love learning and have the opportunity to do so, then do it.
    I was a liberal arts major with a BA in History. Do you know how many times people ask me if I am a teacher. All the fucking time. Do you how much I care that I’m not a fucking teacher. None. (Although I did teach math to incarcerated boys one time. But that was not fun. Especially when they tried to assault me.)
    Anyways, I studied history because I fucking loved it. If I could go back to school just to learn more about history I would do so. In fact once the Kiddo is outta my hair, i.e. on his own, I want to go back to school.
    Good luck!

  7. On December 18th, 2011 at 8:54 pm Karen Ingle Says:

    There is an in-depth article on this very subject in More magazine October 2011 issue that might be helpful. Many people get addicted to the drugs that aren’t helping their migraines to begin with. Hope this helps!

  8. On December 19th, 2011 at 8:13 am Jes Says:

    Migraine Sufferer –

    Ugh. You’re SO not alone. One thing you said kept pinging in my head, so I really had to say this.

    Husband-Homie has a TBI from Afghanistan, and gets daily migraines. He is also on Percocet every 4. The scary thing about having migraines and taking this med (I know as well! ), is that 1. Its a known trigger and can cause them – even daily. If you were to stop to see if it was that, it would be a very very hard read as there is no way to not physically go through withdrawal, sucks, been there, but true. So, the earliest you could gauge would ne after the half-life, and adding a couple more days to completely let go of all symptoms.

    I know. It blows.

    Secondly, please please please, as a new mother, go look @ the bottle. You should be on the /325 type if you’re ever 4 hours. The /325 is the level if acetamenaphin each pill has. Tylenol OD is no fucking joke, and in fact, is scary as hell. You HAVE to stay under 4grams (4000mg) a day to stay safe, so understanding how migraines work and how frantic we can all get to JUST MAKE IT GO AWAY FUCK ME SIDEWAYS KARMA IS THIS YOU? be so so careful with whatever else you pop, read all labels, and frankly, just say no to anything else with Tylenol. You don’t die immediately from a T.OD, it builds up in your bloodstream, overloads your liver, and can be irreversible at that point. Stick to naproxen for headaches if you have to take above the Perc. Pretty please.

    And man. Good Luck. I KNOW how it feels.

    Also: NEUROLOGIST!! They are like God. But not. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. On December 19th, 2011 at 8:50 am JP Says:

    1st poster, Social Psych is not a “fluffy” subject! My husband has a Masters in Social Psych and went on to get his PhD in Epidemiology and Biostats. He is now a manager of over 20 people and really likes what he does at a local health unit. It can be a great stepping stone, as in my husband’s case, or by itself it has many avenues of employment. Do what you love, life is too short to worry what others think.

  10. On December 19th, 2011 at 10:10 am Christopher Says:

    I will second what Luna has to say about Gluten and add the chemicals in manufactured foods can be deadly as well.
    Check out
    and also google “ketogenic diet to treat migraines”
    The ketogenic diet has been shown in actual medical research to improve/cure a host of neurologic conditions, including Migraines (childhood epilepsy was the first where it was shown to be highly effective).

  11. On December 20th, 2011 at 7:59 am Carrie Says:

    I’ve got a Bachelor’s of General Studies which basically means I spent enough on pottery and poetry classes that they decided I could graduate. Doesn’t really prepare me to do much, except be very entertaining with my well-roundedness at dinner parties. So, I followed that up with 3 years of law school. Four months in, I knew I didn’t want to practice law. But I had no better ideas, had already borrowed the federal government’s money and was actually enjoying the education. Now I work in legal publishing. Here’s the thing: I WISH I had had the smallest hint of what I actually wnated to do vocationally. Now, at 38, I wish I had become a forensic psychologist so I could study juries. So if you know what you want to do–be greatful and GO FOR IT!
    As far as migraines go, I’ve suffered since childhood. Started taking Midrin at 18 to deal with the pain. So, I only vaguely remember that portion of my early 20s I was actually awake for. During college, I ended up becoming a vegetarian for different reasons, but as a nice side effect, that change definitely helped with the headaches. So, if you haven’t already, I’d look into trying an elimination diet to see if it’s something you’re eating.

  12. On December 20th, 2011 at 6:16 pm Miss Adventure Says:

    Prankster with the malfunctioning thyroid: PLEASE get that checked out. Go to your GP and have your TSH tested NO.W. I developed a golf-ball-sized goiter at the age of 20. Every test they did (cancer or not?) was inconclusive, but I ended up with lethal hyperthyroidism (when your thyroid works too much) and I was a barely functioning skeleton by the time the decision was made to yank the goiter. I would have lost my entire thyroid had the goiter actually been cancerous, but thankfully, it was benign. I kept my left thyroid half and the isthmus. That was eight years ago. My doctor still carefully monitors me for anything funky because if my thyroid went wonk before, it can do it again. My remaining gland functions at the high end of the spectrum, but that’s always been my norm. Still, I have an icky scar (which is thankfully fading into obscurity) and I feel up my neck constantly just in case…

    GET IT CHECKED! Thyroid *anything* is always curable, even if it means yanking the whole thing.

  13. On December 23rd, 2011 at 7:29 pm Heather Says:

    Aunt Becky ~ I loved the answer you gave to the first poster so much that I made my indecisive 20 year old (who has just determined nursing will never be for her) read it.

    Today she added this to her fb page….

    Harvard University ยท Basket Weaving

    She then asked if I thought it was funny… Told her I loved it and thought Aunt Becky would too ๐Ÿ™‚

    Basically I just want to say “Thyank You!” for telling her what I’ve been trying to for years…

  14. On July 7th, 2012 at 7:22 am your niece in a small tropical country Says:

    Dear Aunt Becky,

    I never did thank you or your pranksters for your replies. In the elapsed time, I made up my mind, put in my application (though for a different but very similar course), got accepted, and will be taking a course in Psychological Methods (poncy name for psychology research) come September. I reread this just now because I felt a sudden stab of panic. Thank you, dearest Aunt, and thank you, pranksters. I will go into that course with confidence and interest, and if nothing else, I’ll come out of it with interesting knowledge and experiences.

    with love,
    your niece in a small tropical country with hellish traffic jams

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