January 25, 2008

Detoxing from stress

It has been a while and I was recently asked why I haven't been posting. In addition, my sibling has been prolific so I naturally feel that slight competitive push to contribute.

Why have I not been posting?
I have been detoxing from stress.

Imagine An Event. This Event has been looming at the forefront of your brain for years. Six years of Angst and Preparation for one Event. This event is stressful because it is an Exam in which you are expected to stand in front of five university professors who are there to grill you on the worthiness of the last six years of your academic career. It is the Defense of your Doctorate.

Some people worry about writing their thesis. Mine just sort of happened while I was worrying about getting it done. Writing comes easy for me. The defense on the other hand is different. For the last six years I have fantasized on a daily basis about questions I might face, criticisms I might encounter, getting completely degraded and being called stupid. Being told I was worthless and should crawl down a hole and die with along with the tragic mice I have had to sacrifice over the years. Anyhow, the paranoid list of problems goes on. You may recall my last post, it was ten days before my defense and I couldn't eat (this is a problem that seems to have been solved considering my thickening girth), seven days before my defense my hard drive crashed and I had to redo my presentation, two days before my defense I would not get out of bed and cried all day (The Man dragged me out or else I might still be there). I would have literally preferred surgery. And surgery terrifies me.

Unless you have gone through it, you cannot understand the stress and sense of expectation. It is like childbirth/parenthood, addiction, religion and marriage. You just don't know unless you've been there, and you can pretend you understand all you want. Sorry about the cattyness (thats what happens when you spend too much time with Bitey).

And now for the Anticlimax. I sucked it up, and went. I was a churned up mess inside, but presented a relatively calm, competent exterior, and did a great job (or so I was told). I have seen several others burst into tears at this event.

But what next? I experienced two months of euphoria (I now have a degree that tells me I can trust my brain - hows that for insecurity?). Then I Took Time Off. What happens when your brain has been manufacturing stress hormones and anxiety for six years and then you suddenly stop? You stop, your brain don't. It is used to being in an adrenalin stew, and thus it manufactures artificial scenarios to maintain that chemical balance. Thus, You collapse into an unmotivated fatty blob who is vaguely agoraphobic for no good reason. No wonder I have belly fat; I've been on a cortisol drip for years.

Why would I want to get out of bed? Thank god (little g) that The Boy had to go to school. It has given me structure.

It was my goal to use my Time Off for marvelous, creative enterprises that involved writing the quintessential Kooteney Hippy novel, or selling The Man's quirky satire. I have done nothing, but yet work keeps finding me. I am succumbing to the inevitability that perhaps I am a decent scientist and actually enjoy doing it (at least I don't enjoy not doing it).

I have arranged my new position. I will be working with Chickens. I am the guy in the white coat with the chicken. It feels right because of parallels with Bugs Bunny (he had a brief career as a lab rabbit), and Robot Chicken. And it is connected to food. Once again gainful employment has snuck up me, inspite of my efforts to prevent it.

I am now going to order pizza, and with that I bid Adieu.
Until next time,
Bock Bock Bock Bock.

1 comment:

Ien in the Kootenays said...

I knew stress was involved. I had never realized how much, for how long! Fortunately I long ago got over the idea that it was my responsibility to look after anyone else's happiness, especially grown daughters with
family of their own. Otherwise I might feel weird about not intuiting HOW awful it was etc. etc. As it is, I shall just bask in reflected triumph. But I do want to read the ultimate Kootenay
hippy novel, some day!