Happiness II: happiness under duress

I’m trying to restrain myself from doing a Miltonesque Happiness Lost, Happiness Regained stunt, but I knew this was coming- the failure of the dam of habit, structure, and support; the inundation of stress.  I know that Happiness Recovered is coming too, thankfully, on the other side of Lost.

Due to reduced hours, awareness, and deliberate care, I’m hitting the wall in the last week of April instead of the first, but still, the wall is here.

It feels like I got a hoof in the chest, or I’m under water, with my rib cage squeezed so I can’t draw a full breath, which gets tedious day after day.   At work I fight vomiting half the day, and my inability to do simple math or focus on words on a page spawns horror at the mistakes I might be making and puts my last energy into concentration.  My woodpile scratches are not healing, and sometimes my throat gets sore and feels like it’s shutting, in a matter of seconds.  Kinda weird, how something that’s all emotional can play out so physical.

I swear, my stress-coping machinery has been savaged, god knows how or when, exactly, so I’m just not equipped to manage stress, real or imagined.  Knowing it’s imagined doesn’t help. I have trouble sleeping, get cold with sweat at sudden movements or sounds, have foggy patches in my vision, chunks of time blacked out of my memory, shaking hands.  I curl up in my driver’s seat and bawl voluminously for no reason, hoping it’s true that tears are full of stress hormones; better out than in. I’m hungry all day and snack constantly, while as soon as I leave work I have no appetite and eat nothing outside the office.  Even the screaming inside my head, drowning out rational thought, has lost its vigor, like the screamer is falling asleep in the cold.  Oddly, I feel like the enamel on my teeth is thinning, that my joints are”getting dry” on the inside.

I’m so afraid in this place that I will have some accident or blackout, and just pray that nothing irreversible will happen before I get my health back.  It’s all a fog that just has to be endured.

In the middle of that I get told that I’m calm, precise and quick-thinking; that I hide it well, when I feel like I’m using my last strength to get the numbers on the right line and praying that I won’t get asked a question that involves lesser-used synaptic pathways (a past-service pension adjustment can hollow me out with panic).

Strangely, it seems easier to be nicer to others once I’m totally at sea (clinging to a chip of wood called “four more days, three more days…”), whereas when I’m still fighting it, I fear that I’m snippy and harsh, especially to my co-workers, which is the worst because we’re all in the same boat, and I sincerely love, respect, and care for the women I work with.  They’re all battling stress and fatigue in their own ways, too, and the last thing any one of us wants right now is to unfold a new pile of papers on our desk.  Despite that, I overhear the others greeting each next client with a smile, because the person walking in deserves to be met without baggage.  Every time, I sigh with praise.  Most of them work longer hours than I do, anyways, I can’t believe they survive.

Such drama, and all for an illusory deadline imposed by the government. Without a deadline, we’d never do our taxes.  Imagine the horror!

It’s actually embarrassing to put this in perspective and think about real suffering that people endure, next to overreacting to a desk job that doesn’t suit me, but this is the view from where I am at the moment.

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