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.




  1. You might be the funniest crazy person I know. Look at all that love!

  2. BAYLEE!! I am right there with you. I have had panic attacks like these before! Mostly when I was a child, but I can usually expect a bi-annual freak out as well! Mine hits right around April and then again in the middle of October. (Sometimes it takes as long as November, but those are the times...) I get stressed out about arbitrary things and then, in a little while, it does pass and I am left wondering about the triggers (which of course makes me relive everything and --just like you said-- becomes a trigger itself. WOW! The only thing that usually helps calm down is knowing that God is in control and I don't have to fix this myself. Oy! It is a good thing there really is a God and that He's always very near. Thanks for sharing dear!

  3. Thanks for the input =) I have only had a true panic attack once before but they are horrible! Thankfully once it's over I am able to laugh about it. (Maybe because I'm a little bit of a freak lol) But yes, having the spiritual journey of a lifetime within the span of about a minute and a half is very stressful...

  4. In Catholicism we call that a Dark Night of the Soul, which apparently plagued Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta for the better portion of her life. It is the experience that God has abandoned you and is marked by a "dryness" in your prayer life. Anyway, at least yours only lasted a few minutes. And I had that "we're all going to die someday" around this time last year and was depressed for weeks.

  5. This is why I've always thought you really needed this shirt: