Stress

I don’t know about the rest of you, but it feels to me like the first half of 2015 has gone by in about five minutes, and in all those six months, there have only been a few days when I haven’t felt like I’ve been on a treadmill that’s going slightly too fast. It seems to have been one thing after another keeping me insanely busy, which all the time feels odd because most of my life I haven’t been a very busy person at all. I always assume I’m not busy so then when I have no free time I don’t understand what’s happened.

On top of all my very lovely but apparently non-stop plans I have various things going on which are causing low to high level stress: I’m finding a new flatmate, which I’m discovering is almost as stressful as looking for a new flat – in London, that is, in other places it probably isn’t as mind-blowingly awful. The last time I looked for a new flat, I got so stressed and panicked I went for a calming walk (on Pentonville Road – ha) in a bit of a daze and walked across a busy road at King’s Cross looking the wrong way. I nearly got hit by a cyclist but was extremely lucky not to be hit by a car. Although looking for someone to move in with you isn’t half as bad, as you don’t have your own impending homelessness staring you in the face, you still have the prospect of, in this case, paying for two rooms until you can find someone to move in. Which definitely Isn’t Funny when you’re talking about London-sized rents.

I’m trying to write a Masters dissertation, which is proceeding at the pace of a lame snail and which confuses me intensely because I panic about it, and then remember I’ve got three months so I don’t need to panic yet. But at the same time, I don’t know exactly how to do it, so maybe I should be a bit more panicky about it than I am. But if I panic then that won’t help me work. But if I don’t panic then I’ll just sit around. But, But, But. On top of the worry about getting it done is the far larger, vaguer worry about what I will do when I’ve handed it in. My life will be thrown wide open come September and I’m fucking terrified about it.

Unfortunately for me, my body does not cope well with stress. When I’m stressed, I get exceedingly bad at two things: 1) eating, and 2) sleeping. These are both, we can all agree, pretty fundamental. If I’m anxious, I get sort of hungry a lot but don’t want to eat, but if I don’t eat, I’ll get over hungry and then eating makes me throw up. It’s GREAT. And with sleep, I may do any or all of the following: I won’t fall asleep for ages, I’ll wake up several times in the night, or I won’t be able to sleep past six or seven. All of which mean I never feel fully rested. The worst thing is that most of these problems are a) not so serious that I don’t feel stupid moaning about them, and b) ongoing, not-instantly-remediable issues that will probably hang around for a while longer so I should really learn to cope with them better.

It’s sad and irritating to me that I’m feeling stressed a lot of the time at the moment, because several things have happened lately which I’ve loved and which have not been stressful at all. I went on holiday for a week with my parents to one of my favourite places in the world, and it was blissful. I had a weekend of very chilled blues dancing with some great friends, I learnt a hell of a lot and I enjoyed every minute. I’ve had little pockets of time with my boyfriend when I worry about nothing at all. But stress, especially when it’s making you hungry, nauseous, and tired, has a way of amplifying issues and make you feel like you should be almost guilty about time spent not worrying, as if you could have made it all better or come up with a magic solution if you’d kept worrying constantly. When I’m tired, there isn’t so much space in my head for me to keep lots of thoughts going at once, so I won’t think about the dissertation, or looking for a flatmate, for an evening or so and then I’ll panic when I remember and forget what’s going on. I guess the key is not to worry about not having all these things in my mind all the time. Think about them for a while, do what I can at that moment, and then walk away and not worry about taking ten minutes to pick the pieces up when I get back. Keep eating, because if I lose weight I’ll slip through the cracks in the pavement. And keep going to bed, even if sleep is elusive, because the more tired I am the bigger all the bad shit is in my own head, and the more stressed I’ll get. It’s a very vicious circle.

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