I’ve been giving the phenomenon of long-term chronic stress a lot of half-baked thought lately. It’s begun to hold an objective clinical fascination for me as I witness my symptoms unfolding. I believe the psychology people call this “intellectualizing”. It’s apparently my go-to coping mechanism these days.
Note:I must warn you, this topic has absolutely nothing to do with travel other than the fact that I’m hoping that, when I’m able to finally do it, it will be my salvation.
There have been a few troublemsome incidents this week. Allow me to list them.
Last week instead of returning the milk to the refrigerator, I put it in the pantry. The realization was almost immediate. Just as it was the other day when I finished brushing my hair and promptly threw the brush into the wastebasket.
Yesterday morning while getting ready for work,I was holding a pair of earrings in my left hand and a glass of water in my right. Lost in a storm cloud of thought, about the day's schedule probably, I stopped myself just before I swallowed the earrings with a gulp of water. I must have mistaken them for two Advil. Imagine trying to explain that one to the people in your life?
This morning I had to look up the day’s date at least 4 times because I couldn’t remember the two-digit number 19. It is the 19th, isn't it?
I can only imagine how awful my lecture was this morning. Nothing like making a fool out of yourself in front of 49 people who are paying you to know more than they do. My (unreliable) recollection is that I started out strong but towards the end I couldn’t think of the work “appendicitis”. I said “appendix removal” hoping that was the actual term, feeling certain that is wasn’t. My students, bless ‘em, must be very forgiving. Such compassion will carry them a long way in nursing.
I’m having very unsettling reactions when I sit down to work on the last 2 chapters of the dissertation. It’s completely irrational. Mostly, when I sit down to compose, I start to tense up, breathe hard, lose focus, and (seriously) make one typing error after another. This behavior is really bogging me down.
My conclusion is that the stakes on every keystroke are so high right now. And that fact alone builds a cinderblock wall of distraction. Downright dysfunctional is what it is.
This afternoon, I left the office earlier than I wanted to because I wasn’t getting any quality writing done - although I was hyperventilating pretty successfully. So I stop at the library. I’m not finding a single one of the 4 books on my list which, only hours before, I had confirmed were in the stacks. I’m starting to get very frustrated – I felt tears welling up – especially when I realize that I can’t remember which comes first – F or G. Nope, not making it up.
All I could think was that I should just leave the building, walk slowly to my car if I can find it, and get home. That’s what I did.
But it’s not only a memory issue. I’m having trouble with dot-connection. Several days ago, I noticed that the annuals on the porch were looking just awful. Really brown with no blooms. I thought, “Hmmm. I wonder what their problem is?”. Before I could finish this very dim line of thought, I began thinking of something else entirely – probably a statistical issue. Today, once again, I noticed the plants are still looking really bad. Worse even. Then it occurred to me that I haven’t watered them in God only knows how long. So it took me days to solve that mystery.
Now I’m worried that maybe tomorrow I won’t be able to find the milk or my hairbrush. Or my earrings.
1) is this a) an irrevocable descent into senility or b) situational loonyness?
2) should I be driving?