Monday, October 24, 2011

So Here's What Happened...

 Remember this post from the beginning of the semester about classes starting and how you should all expect a stress meltdown around late October?

  Well anyhoo, I'm totally back now and the only casualties were a jar of peanut butter and my blissful ignorance regarding whether or not I could in fact fit an entire bottle of wine in my purse.

  I've decided to begin referring to these meltdowns as "Baylee's Bi-Annual Breakdowns" because it happens right on schedule right around midterms every semester and also because, you know, alliteration.
     I'm going to have to do some fact checking with my parents, but as far as I can tell this has been happening on a regular basis since kindergarten.
    Many kids are born with disadvantages of one kind or another. I was born shouldering a figurative satchel of stress* disproportionate to my level of awareness. I may have mentioned this before, but I popped out with dark circles under my eyes, biting my lower lip as if to say "Was that ok? Did I do it right? I'm sorry I'm early I was just so concerned about being late you know..."

    *Look at me with the alliteration. If I add more spaces I could pass this off as post-modern poetry.
  Stressed-and-Anxious was kind of my default mode as a small child. Take that and throw in the need for perfection and it wasn't long before the professionals thought it was best to medicate me in what I think was a preemptive attempt to prevent me from going all Carrie on my third-grade class.

   Over the years I have learned to deal with these tendencies and as a result I have become an expert in all things relaxation. Seriously, if you could get a degree in "Stress Relief" I'd be all over it. I should be the most relaxed a person could be without the addition of narcotics. I'm thinking of opening a Relaxation Clinic (it's like a spa but everyone wears sweatpants and carries around a fluffy pet and we serve pumpkin spice lattes and watch HGTV all day).
   So perhaps the most annoying thing is that even though I know what's happening and have every trick in the proverbial "meltdown prevention book" at my disposal, I can't seem to avoid them. I have tried to pinpoint certain triggers but had to give up because either I have none at all or too many to bother counting. Here are triggers I identified before I realized identifying them was itself a trigger:

    - Not going outside enough

    - Going outside too much

     - Not enough socializing

     - Too much socializing

     - Not enough exercise

     - Setting high goals

     - Too much exercise

     - Having only trivial goals

     - Too much coffee

     - Swimsuit shopping

     - Not enough coffee

     - Too many classes

     - When the special strawberry you've been saving for last is actually rotten

      - No classes at all

      - Losing a game of Peggle

     - Too much Law and Order: SVU

   Before anyone becomes overly concerned about my mental health I feel I should argue that these are all valid points and really the disturbing/admirable thing here is my ability to micro-analyze my issues with such attention to detail.
   So because I have so many/zero identifiable triggers it's hard to tell exactly when these meltdowns will occur, how long they will last, or what form they will take.
   Sometimes I can feel them coming several days in advance. Last semester's meltdown began slowly, but it's severity increased exponentially over the course of a week eventually culminating in a nervous breakdown in the doctor's office when a lab tech tried to draw blood to test for the thyroid problems everyone was positive I had. Turns out, it was just the Bi-Annual Breakdown manifesting as serious illness, inability to concentrate, insomnia and lack of energy.
    This semester's meltdown took me completely by surprise. It appeared out of nowhere a few weeks ago, smacked me in the face and then skipped away having left me with a lingering feeling that it wasn't quite finished with me yet. That's when the jar of peanut butter was consumed, as per usual, and the stress of waiting for a relapse is what facilitated the wine bottle-purse discovery.
    Then I was driving home after an average day at work (meaning mostly terrible but not quite horrifying) listening to some new music and generally just enjoying the fact that all I had to do that evening was eat dinner and trim the cat's claws (not that that's a fun activity, but I do sort-of enjoy the challenge).
      As I came over a hill I passed a a truck driving the opposite way. Just a regular truck, driving in his lane doing everything perfectly safely and following all traffic laws. That is exactly the moment when stress-induced full on crazy-town moment went down in my brain completely unprovoked. This is a play-by-play:

     Did that guy swerve a little?

Was he drunk? He could have hit me!

Crap I'm out of milk.

What if he had hit me?
What if I had died?


I'm going to die someday. 
Maybe not soon, but eventually.
 Death is inevitable for everyone.


What if there is no Heaven and we all just cease to be?
There is no consciousness before life, why should there be any after life?

Steve Jobs died. That was sad.

I hear soymilk is better for you, maybe I should switch to soymilk... or almond milk....

Seriously though, we all just die.... so what's the point achieving anything?

What's the point in even trying to be happy if you aren't going to be able to remember that happiness after death? Everyone works so hard to be successful but what is the point of it all?

I'm going to die someday



............................................What if there's no God?

   This last thought was immediately followed by a panic attack that included an overwhelming feeling of despair and terror so great it physically hurt me and I stopped breathing for a good thirty seconds. Then right as I was about to pull over and find a paper bag, the moment passed, a new song came on the radio, and I spent the rest of my drive filled with an odd kind of serenity that I can only imagine was a subconscious defense mechanism that people have to stop their brains from exploding while over-philosophying.
   I'm not exaggerating about the panic attack either. I Googled the symptoms and I assure you it's as horrible as it sounds on Wikipedia.
    At any rate I think it's over now, until spring semester anyway. 

   Oh plus I found this really helpful diagram in case it ever happens again and one of you is near me:
Thanks Wikipedia,
I never would have thought of that.

   Also, I'm kind of glad I was right about the relapse or there would be no way to justify the wine bottle thing.



Friday, October 7, 2011

"Die, Childlike Sense of Wonder, Die!" - The dark side of the Holidays

   Every year, retail tries it's hardest to kill my childlike love of Christmas. I love the Holiday season, probably more than is healthy for someone my age. I can't help it, I love the music, the smells, the food, the emotions... (not the real ones like Resentment and Jealousy, but the ones in the movies, like Love and Selfless Joy). I spend October through December obsessively collecting harvest scented candles and pumpkin-pie recipes. I pretend to be annoyed by the carols blasting over the loud speaker all day and then hop in my car and sing a-long to them all the way home.
   But this week blatant and unrepentant materialism tried it's darnedest to kill the child in my soul.

    It started early in the morning with a migraine and the horrifying discovery of an empty shelf where the espresso should be. On a regular day I can handle these things with some semblance of decorum but today also happened to be Christmas Freight day.
   You see, the retail world runs on a different schedule than the rest of us and not even baby Jesus himself can seem to keep up. This means that for us the Christmas season pushes it's way into our lives on October 1st and makes our stockroom resemble Santa's post-earthquake workshop before regular people have even had a chance to pick out a Halloween costume.
    So I faced a day of unloading boxes of items like this:
That's right, it's a toilet seat cover. Because everyone want's to tinkle on Santa.

             .........with no coffee and a throbbing head-ache. These items don't trickle in over the course of several months either. Instead they all arrive on one day and you suddenly find yourself faced with a stockroom that looks like a reindeer ate some elves and then crapped glitter all over the place. Even for someone who loves the Holidays, it's a hard thing to take.
     Even Hanukkah tries it's darnedest to get in on the misery. I'm not very familiar with all of the history involved with this Holiday, but if I had to piece it together based solely on the items we sell in our store, I'd say it has something to do with tacky LED candles and the worshiping of Dreidels. 
    It doesn't help that roughly 98% of my co-workers are already shamelessly bitter about the Holiday season. I can hardly blame them for this. Even thinking about the abuse that I have taken on past Christmas Eve's from the woman who holds me personally responsible for running out of mini cupcake makers, or the gentleman who thinks I should already know the perfect gift for his estranged son, makes me want to hide out and not show myself till February.

     This week almost broke me. After nothing but negative rants about the Holidays from every person you talk to, and being faced with the undeniably tacky decorations that we manage to convince the public they simply must have, it's hard to keep that childlike sense of wonder.
       It was in the middle of listening to my boss rant about how stupid and pointless Christmas is and wading through our stockroom trying not to trip over items like this:
"Hey kids, if you love Santa so much, why don't you eat him?"

Or, if you're Jewish:
The blessed dreidel.
   ... that I finally had to agree that as far as retail is concerned, the Holidays just aren't that great. Capitalism and consumerism have almost ruined the whole thing for me, and I suddenly understand why other people hate it so much. Starting in October, retailers start pushing you to buy tons of crap in the name of Santa and/or The Almighty Dreidel. It's hard to find the joy in that.
   So I settled on the age-old sentiment popularized by losers and turncoats: "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em".
   I still love the Holidays and, outside of work, will continue to revel in the season. I will continue to watch movies like Prancer and bawl my eyes out, and will unabashedly indulge in binge-caroling while peer pressuring friends to join in.
  But at work I'm just going to go ahead and Grinch it up. I can't take the pressure of assuming the role of Cindy-Lou Who. I'm just not that strong, and besides, who can truly love the holidays every minute while simultaneously listening to this:

......over and over....and over...and over again, all day long. About twelve of them. All singing at once. 
With Back-up singing by this guy:

From now until January.

                    *For the full effect, play both videos at the same time. Then open this page in 12 new windows and press play on all the videos. It's like singing in a round on cocaine!


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Discoveries made during a lengthy stretch of self-pity.

 This commercial makes a good point...

But I can fit an entire bottle of wine in my purse. I'd like to see a kindle do that.