Under Pressure

After a long day at work last week, I picked up my purse, shut down my computer, and turned the lights out in my office. When I say it had been a long day, I mean it had been one tiny fragment of a streak of long days in bunch of long weeks that have made up the many long months of one long year.

I patted my pockets down in the hallway and realized I’d left my phone on my desk. So I turned back to the office and immediately panicked. I could not see anything. I had gone completely blind.

As soon as it happened, I knew there was no coming back from this. I was instantly, permanently without sight and I knew exactly why. I once read that while Terry Gilliam was directing Brazil, he got so stressed out that one morning he just couldn’t move from his bed, and that must have been what happened to me, too. Stress had taken my vision. I tried not to scream while I flailed around. No need to increase anyone else’s stress by causing a scene over my sudden and irrevocable blindness, I thought.

I'll just feel my way on home now. Don't mind me.

I’ll just feel my way home now. Don’t mind me.

I was coming around to my new, blind lifestyle (maybe my sense of smell would improve!), when something occurred to me.

I opened my eyes.

It made the difference. Good thing I hadn’t made a fuss.

I’ve never claimed to be the sharpest knife in the box, crayon in the shed, or tool in the drawer, but I used to be the kind of woman who could tell when her eyes were closed. Not anymore. I’ve been so worked up over stuff at work, home improvement issues, work, meth-y neighbors, work, this season of True Detective, and work that I’m very literally tense all the time. I only get a break when I’m asleep, and since I keep having dreams like the one where my cousin is murdered and I have to take over her paperclip-selling booth at a gym while my high school crush laughs at me, things aren’t exactly peaceful then, either.

I’m not just sitting around, though. I’m actively trying to de-stress.

Stress-busters Suggested by the Internet

  1. Exercise. I’ve been running a lot lately. I don’t really like running, but it’s the only thing I can do at the gym without looking like a total goon. It works for about an hour or so while I’m high on endorphins. Then I get stressed out about how I smell.
  2. Massage. This might work, except that being touched by other humans fills me with horror.
  3. Journaling. I’m reading “The Artist’s Way” right now, and it suggests writing three pages each morning. I feel a little bit better since I started, so the pages might be working, but it might also be a coincidence. My money’s on the latter. (This week I’m supposed to be trying to be less skeptical!)
  4. Taking a break. Experts say this will help. I say if I had time for a break, I wouldn’t be this stressed, would I? Dummies.
  5. Meditation. I’m not really a sit-and-think-of-nothing person. I’d describe myself as more of a sit-and-panic-about-everything-and-then-get-up-and-clean-sinks-until-you-feel-better kind of gal.
  6. Cleaning. This one worked for a while because (surprise!) I’m super anal. But then I got too into it and was thinking about cleaning and organizing all the time. I took an anxiety screening test that asked if I had any compulsive behaviors. Hmm, I thought. Not really, no. Then I cleaned my already-clean house for six hours.
I'm getting better, but my new vacuum arrived today and I can feel the crazy creeping back in.

I’m getting better, but my new vacuum arrived today and we’re in love.

Some of these solutions really do work, but they work slowly and I don’t have time for that. I want to be less stressed, like, yesterday. Or last month. Or at birth. So I took it upon myself to think of some new, hardcore stress-relieving strategies that guarantee instant results.

Extreme Stress-busting!

  1. Commit a crime and go to prison, where you’ll have a job, food, clothing, and shelter. Disclaimer: There will be new kinds of stress. Shanking, for example.
  2. Fall into a coma and sleep it off.
  3. Become a monk or a nun. Take a vow of silence so you never have to talk about your stressful past.
  4. Come down with a bad case of amnesia, forget all your troubles, and come on, get happy.
  5. Move away from your old life in the night. Don’t tell anyone where you’re going. Don’t tell anyone where you came from. Run! Run and never stop running.
  6. Renounce society, hitchhike to the Alaskan wilderness and starve to death in a bus. They’ll write books and make movies about you!

This is not the first time I’ve found myself in a stressful situation. For example, I found this list in an old notebook a couple of years ago:

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 10.17.59 PM

I’m here on the other side of those dark days with hardly an arson charge to my name, so I must have done something right. Maybe I’ll write a self-help book about dealing with stress once I get out of this rough patch. It might be nice to help others.

I’m telling you, though — this box of matches is starting to look pretty good.

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19 comments

  1. jenniferaldron

    I loved this haha! Extreme stress busting, go to prison. New stress; spanking hahaha this made me laugh and relieved me of a little stress haha well done :)

  2. davidprosser

    Some great suggestions but I think we’ve forgotten the positive side of stress.
    1. Lack of sleep means you have more time awake to do the jobs that cause stress.
    2. More time means you can ensure you never have a build up of mail on the internet and can visit more blogs. Of course this
    may be a two edged sword as now maybe this creates more mail that gets you stressed.
    3. Sleep even less to ensure you can catch up and de-stress.
    As I’m on about 3 hours a night I’m keeping my stress and mail levels down- except when the internet was down for a week
    because my modem broke- then I decided not to sleep at all and was visited in the night by internet goblins to taunt me, I
    didn’t like that.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

  3. meredithsims23

    Great post! It was funny to read, but it definitely shows how stressed people are in the world.
    My stress-relievers are reading the bible, drawing, singing really loud in the car by myself, and taking a walk in nature. The tip for the walking thing is to go somewhere beautiful and whenever a stressful thought comes up or you think of something that you need to do, you only have to do two things. First, you acknowledge the thought: “Yes, I do have to do that.” “Yes, it was a hard day at work.” Second, push the thought away and focus back on your walk and nature: “I will do that later after my walk.” “It was a hard day, but right now I want to enjoy this walk.” (or whatever works for you). It’s kind of like practicing mindfulness. It takes practice, though.
    Hopefully you can find something that works for you before committing that crime ;)
    Good luck & thanks for sharing,
    Meredith

  4. Susannah Ailene Martin

    I don’t actually recommend the the whole amnesia thing. I bashed my head on the sidewalk a few months ago and I don’t remember anything for a year before the concussion. It adds a whole extra layer of stress. On the upside, I can rewatch any tv show I watched in the last year from the beginning, and I don’t remember it at all.

    • lorithenaz

      I didn’t suffer a head trauma, but I can always watch any rerun of Law & Order SVU and not remember the outcome, so I feel you on that!

  5. lostteach2013

    You and I must be having the same week. Sadly, I will be adding college courses to the list that start at the end of the month as well. And I was suppose to have a vacation this month. But that was canceled due to my employer blocking out the month of August for anyone wanting vacation time.

  6. jennmartha

    Oh god a minute there I thought you really were blind! Love your solutions for stress though haha keep us posted on how it turns out. I could recommend travelling, might be a good addition to your idea of leaving everything behind at night and not telling anyone where you go! :D worked for me!

  7. BunKaryudo

    Glad to hear you got through your previous stressful periods with only the occasional public building burned to the ground. Have you thought about becoming a counsellor of some kind?

  8. Bea dM

    Take a break! it just requires a bit of planning ahead and extra stress to cover whatever you need to do ahead of your break to cover what you’d have to do during your break. Simple. Then ask your local monastery to let you join them (3) for a temporary renunciation of society (6) …

  9. lorithenaz

    At a point in my life I felt the way you did, I hated my job and felt like I was a pressure cooker about to explode. I was searching for something…anything….and it came! For some reason, I decided to have all my wisdom teeth pulled. My dentist didn’t recommend it but I insisted. It didn’t go well and I ended up in the hospital for 3 days. No one knew I was there for the first day and a half. They made me take my contact lenses out. I was semi-alone and semi-blind for 3 glorious days on morphine. It was like being on vacation. Hospital orderlies were like cabana boys bringing me hot packs and jello instead of frozen cocktails and tanning oil. I had nothing to read, couldn’t see the TV. I had Nothing to do except nap, rest and relax. I got to shut off my brain and hide from responsibilities while getting paid (sick days)! Perhaps you could get hospitalized for something benign like and appendectomy? Tonsils?

  10. sophisticatedsonya

    Great post!
    And i can totally relate to this.
    In the end of every school year i get so stressed i can’t even get out of bed.
    I guess i just need to commit a crime and go to prison next time that happens)

  11. Pingback: Getting Better all the Time | Listful Thinking

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