Chain Reaction of…EVIL!

And of course, I had some acid reflux stuff on Monday. Still following the diet. Still not drinking. Still watching portion size. What could be different? What? What?

Oh. My job. Right. Spring break was over. 🙂

When I was a kid, I’m talking in my 20s, I set up some impossible expectations for myself, and I often met them. I graduated undergrad in 3 years, and had my MA by the time I was 23. I won’t go on. My achievement record sounds like I’m boasting, and while I am proud of my accomplishments, in many ways it is a sad litany of doing all sorts of whacky, hard-to-do things to validate my existence in the universe. I am SO over that part of my life.

The point? In the past, I could run myself ragged, stay up late, overcaffienate, and abuse myself in some sort of homage to stubbornness and workaholic-ism, and the stress and anxiety, while it would bubble up, would bubble back down.

Flash forward to age 47, and my current life, and ta-da! my body attacks me because of stress. Read more if you like. I promise you it’s not a litany of woe. It’s sort of an understanding of the phenomena. And again, what seems to be happening is that I’m not getting any younger.

A few years ago I discovered I was depressed and angry. I started meds, did some counseling, separated from my family, and got a little more mentally healthy. I also looked seriously at my workaholic tendencies and began to conscientiously grapple with them. And of course, I began to come to terms with the idea that there was no way that I would ever get enough done on my job to get ahead. That I could finish projects, but there would always be more than those projects to do.

Intellectually, I am good to go. The sad thing is that no one has told my body to stop having the stress reaction.

As near as I can tell, here’s what happens. I get overwhelmed with what I’m not getting done by a self-imposed deadline. And then I can feel the heart start to race and the acid start to churn. And then I do the all important self-talk which intellectually talks me down. But the moment I leave the office at the end of the day….


Stress attacks! Something akin to panic makes my chest hurt, and the reflux flares up, and in general I feel like a lame, weak human being who has somehow failed because she is no longer invulnerable and cannot stubborn her way through. Not that she ever could, really, but she had lies and illusions to keep her warm. It’s a cold, cold world. 🙂

Something has to give. You see, as someone who is an adult in the adult world with an adult job (which she really likes in spite of this), I have to figure out this whole solution thing. I won’t blame this on the job, actually. I am the broken piece, the way I look at the world and the way I set myself up to move through it. I have not been taught healthy strategies for setting parameters, or realistic expectations for what a human being can actually do, yadda, yadda, yadda. I keep working on that, and I’m thinking about more counseling, and maybe pursuing some more meditative techniques would be helpful. I’ll keep fighting that fight.

And in addition to cleaning up my diet, watching my portion sizes, and exercising more, I’ve decided that I’ll take the xanax regularly for a bit. Because hey, my body is obviously not keeping its cool without assist. And the last two days at work have been really busy, and no stress attack at the end of the day, so maybe that’s smart. God bless you, little wonder drug!

Writing about this not only to clear out the cobwebs, but to suggest that the battle goes on. I regret being a broken person, but nothing’s going to get better unless I work on mending the broken bits. And that’ll be all my life. On my tombstone it’ll say something like, “She spent her life sweeping up.”

Next time, I promise something topical. It’s probably time to write about Hathor, Osiris, or Set(h). I’m sure you’re waiting on the edge of your chairs.

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

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