I am stressed out.

There’s no good reason for me to be stressed out. I’m doing well at my job, I’m exercising, and I really shouldn’t be worried about my schoolwork. I’m not making perfect grades, but I’m not making bad ones.

But I’m stressed. I can feel it in my body. I can feel it worming its way into my consciousness as I think about the bills that have to be paid and the papers I have to write and then there’s a group project and an annotated bibliography and we’re about to start a testing cycle at work and the holidays are coming and I know my family wants to see me but that brings it all right back to the money and my head starts to ache.

I’ve stopped wearing contact lenses because I thought they were giving me headaches. After not wearing them for a week, I could hardly use them when I put them back on. My theory is that I’ve been squinting for so long so that I could use them that once I relaxed by going a week without, I’d lost the squint that made them effective. And that frustrates me too. My glasses are old, scratched up and as soon as I start to sweat they like to slide off my face. And I’m one of those people who would be legally blind without vision correction. I’m nearsighted, and by near, I mean pretty damn intimate. I have to be within six inches to see something without blurriness intruding.

So it feels like it was a waste of money to buy a year’s supply of contacts when I had to stop using them and it’s not like you can return these things. I’ll have to wait to get a new pair of glasses, and my husband needs a new pair as well since he hasn’t even been to the eye doctor in like five years.

We’ve got some medical bills to pay off, credit cards to pay off, and I’m pretty sure the only thing keeping my car running is wishful thinking.

And I’m scared. I’m scared because I am now the age my mom was when she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. And every little ache and pain, every time my toes tingle from too tight shoes or my hands fall asleep, every time my vision is blurred from tiredness, I wonder if I’m headed down the same road. 

Everything feels like doom and gloom and the end of the world and I know it’s not. I know my problems are not so bad. I know I’m not getting MS. I can pay my bills and put food on the table and gas in the car and there’s only the two of us. It’s not that bad.

But I hate that. When I was young and dissatisfied with certain things about my home life (dissatisfied to the point of staying at school as late as possible and crying for the whole hour train ride home), I would try to convince myself that I had nothing to cry about, because other people are worse off than I was.

It didn’t help then and it doesn’t help now.

To look at cases where someone went through a situation worse than mine and came out better does nothing but make me feel inadequate.

“Oh, you’re sad because you have a paper due when you’re only taking one class and working 40 hours a week? Well, you shouldn’t be! So-and-so over here is working 80 hours a week, taking a full course load, pre-med of course, and raising three children and a dog with no spousal support, after overcoming the challenges of being homeless as a child and being born with no left foot! Cheer up!”

So I’m stressed. Tight shoulders, headache, tiredness – don’t even get Ambrose started about the stomach aches – and it doesn’t help that the Blackhawks have had two horrible losses in the last week (Come on guys, I need you to win tomorrow!).

But I can’t depend on outside sources for help in getting less stressed. I know that I have to deal with what I can control, and what I can control is my own reactions. I’ve got this well-worn path through my brain of worrying and fretting. It’s such an automatic response that it feels like it is me, when it isn’t me, it’s just a behavior. A behavior I can control.


So I’m trying to recognize the worry and stop it before it starts to hurt. It’s a start.

And writing helps. Okay, this kind of writing helps, it would be nice if writing research papers helped, but no, that’s simply not the case. Winter break can’t come soon enough for me (I’d write Thanksgiving break, but that’s going to be a working vacation).

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