I’m not talking about being stressed, which I do feel a lot. I grew up to be a Negative Nancy. I’m trying not to be. Mostly my efforts are just lying about feeling stressed or angry instead of actually becoming happy and positive. Baby steps. Anyway, I’m talking about those huge stressful moments when everything in my chest is sort of vibrating, threatening to make all of my particles fall apart. This is not a scary as it sounds. It’s just this moment of change and development with neither a good or bad connotation. It simply is happening. It is stressful. It will end. I know these moments are happening though because I have telltale signs.
1. I dye my hair. I’ve dyed my hair since I was in seventh grade, so this might be confusing for anyone who’s known me since then. I’ve dyed my have every shade of auburn from copper to auburn black, especially from seventh grade to senior year of high school. I stopped though, for the most part, in college. With the exception of when my mom paid for me to get a blue streak in my hair, I mostly dyed my hair an ash color, transitioning into growing out the dyed hair together and living with my natural hair color. I like my natural hair color. Until, of course, I’m stressed out and my brain’s screaming, “Something has to change or tables will be flipped and mouths will foam!”
2. I buy new makeup. The only makeup I wear is concealer and eyeliner. I’m not a make up person. I don’t really know how to wear it, what colors to choose, or what looks good on my face. Contouring is sorcery as far as I’m concerned. But if I’m freaking out, guess who has a new shade of purple-ish lipstick? This girl. Guess who will look like an ass for wearing it for a week straight regardless of the outfit she’s wearing? This girl.
3. I stress cry. I think about all of the change and the things I have to accomplish. Mostly my brain is whipping through topics, scenarios, and emotions at the rate of a hummingbird’s heartbeat. But, occasionally, I stop long enough to cry. It’s not sad crying. I’m not sad. II just have to release the energy build up. I also don’t need you to ask me if you can do anything for me or try to help me solve the problems. I don’t need your solutions unless I ask directly for them. I’ve got this. I just need you to pray for me. Pray I don’t stay crazy. I mean, I’ve gone crazy, but hopefully it’s more of a vacation than a permanent move.
4. I eat out all of the time. Who has time to cook when you’re sitting on the couch so far in your brain that you should register it as an independent country? I hate cooking to begin with. So, yeah, this is my fifth burrito this week. The Taco Bell employee knows me by name. What are you going to do about it, huh?
5. I’m also super productive. All of my anxiety is amped up and I need to stick a tap in my brain and let all of the thoughts and energy gush out so that it’s not overwhelming. Say no to panic attacks is my motto. Obviously, you can’t stop a panic attack. That is not what I’m saying. I’m actually saying that having thoughts whip around your brain like NASCAR 24/7 for days is exhausting and gives you a perma-headache. So, I channel it into doing stuff.
6. I try new things that poke at my anxiety. It’s like the bear has already been poked awake, but just to make sure that the hot breath on your face and the ropes of drool hanging from his eat are real, I poke him again. It’s as if I get to this surreal level of consciousness where I start to question just how much I can handle. I’m freaking out already, why not send my writing to my best friend to read and critique? I’m halfway to hyperventilating in the corner anyway.
7. And then things get to be too much so I just sit in dark rooms doing nothing. This isn’t like when I people to much and I lay in my bed like I’m taking a nap, but really I’m just silently recharging. This is my not turning on the light in the living room and staring at a spot on the carpet while sitting on the edge of the couch. My brain shut’s off as if to say, “Nope.”
8. After I recognize that I’m exhibiting more than two of these traits, I usually think, “Oh crap.” I start to plan for the fall out, that moment when it starts effecting my relationships with other humans. I turn into an angry bitch-monster that’s awful to be around. The Marissa my family talks about behind my back in their worry for my psychological state. It’s my Nihilist state.
9. The final stage: become dead inside and struggle to be human because by this time I’ve laid waste to all of my stores of money, resources, and emotions. I’m so done I could be a famous British poet. I wake up. I go to work. I exist. I can do no other. That’s where I am, so you’ll just have to accept it. I’ve given all I can.
10. But, eventually, I level out. I adjust to the change. I accept it as the new normal, and strive to be awesome at that. My emotional mobile finds its new balance and I can go back to being the person I am.