What Stress Does (Or, My Steady Descent into Madness)


Hello, internet people! I am presently sitting diligently in the study area of the library in my lovely castle school in England. I have just had two Coke Zeros and an entire bottle of Crystal Light energy water. I also ate half of the mini cake my mom sent me for my birthday and there is an open bag of fish crackers (aka Goldfish as most people call them) on the desk beside me. I am wearing my sweatpants and a t-shirt and my bangs are pinned back because I mean BUSINESS. I ought to be at the height of productivity right now, racing through the outline I’m working on like it’s NOTHING.

Instead, as you can see, I am typing a blog post. The reason for this is that I seem to have completely broken my brain. Never has the stress reached such a level, but apparently the addition of travel and British weather to my normal school regimen has utterly defeated me. The lack of sunlight and warmth has sent me into a state where most of what I do is huddle irritably under the blankets and curse the universe. Also, there is probably not enough Taco Bell, Chinese food, and chocolate in the whole of the UK to satisfy my need to eat in order to alleviate stress.

I had to battle a hoard of old ladies to get my hands on this.

The past few weeks I have sat around moping, sleeping, and eating. I have then gone to the gym in a spiral of guilt hoping to somehow make myself lose 10 pounds while still eating everything that I encounter. My face has erupted into a terrifying mine field of pimples and blackheads that won’t be extinguished no matter how many times I wash my face, avoid wearing make up, and slather up with facial creams. My bowels are in a constant state of utter rage and confusion, refusing to function properly no matter how much Activia I chug (yes, go ahead–laugh and do the jingle, you know you want to). I am constantly tired, yet when I lie down to go to sleep every worry I have ever had attacks me in an army of self-hatred and stress that threatens to strangle me.

And yet I can’t summon the will power to do the one thing that will make all this stress go away–actually DO the work that’s stressing me out. Instead, I spend a lot of time sitting around thinking about how sad it is that I have to write a paper and a short story between now and the end of the semester. I feel as if my ability to be creative has been sucked out by a hoover (that’s what they call vacuums over here, and some of them have FACES. It’s either adorable or terrifying, I’ve not decided). As an extension of that, my ability to write an actual scholarly paper is floating somewhere back in last semester, completely beyond my reach.

While I recognize that I am still a capable and intelligent human being who will at some point write this paper about Chaucer’s treatment of women and will even somewhat enjoy the topic because she did, after all, pick it herself, that seems very far away at times. What seems more present now is my desire to fly to Malaga where there will (presumably) be sun and warm. What seems even more present is my urge to bake something, because that is what I normally do when I am stressed. I daydream about my kitchen constantly. When I’m not doing that, I daydream about what it feels like to be warm, because that has become a virtually foreign concept. But most of all, I daydream of the magical day sometime after April 18th where there will be no papers and no homework and all I will spend nearly two weeks traipsing about Italy with my friends and generally not worrying about things.

Remember this thing? Well, I sure don’t!

Clearly, stress has dissolved me into a being made up mostly of two things: Odd desires for food and warmth, and a slow deterioration of all normal bodily functions. Apparently, THIS is what happens when stress attacks overseas and you can’t cope in the normal ways.

But don’t worry (because I know that you are dissolving into panic mode at the evident decline of my mental and physical capacities.) I’ll be fine. I’ll muddle through. And a long weekend en Espana is bound to refresh me enough to defeat this honors paper ONCE AND FOR ALL!


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