* I have a definite continuum of stress symptoms
* What stresses me out: being overwhelmed. Whether at work, at home, or a Grand World Problem that I take to heart.
* Ultimately, what stresses me is two-fold: when I procrastinate, and when I feel like too much is out of my control. Coincidence? i think not.
* Stress (the bad kind, because some stress is good and kicks me out of ennui) begins with a generalized anxiety, which I often ignore, which makes it worse, which gnaws at me like a hunger, which I think is hunger, which I literally feed, which covers up my emotions, which gives me a false sense of wellness. Follow me so far?
* I don't often recognize this as stress. When I do, my shame spiral gets triggered. This can last from a nano-second to several days, where I berate myself for not having more insight into my psyche and letting the stress overwhelm me
* I try to turn that frown upside down and do something positive. My house is never cleaner than when I'm in the second stage of stress. My correspondence is updated. My bills are paid. I exercise!
* If that doesn't work and I continue to sublimate, let's just skip to the red flag end of the spectrum: total shut-down. I've mostly learned how to recognize and excise this stage, but sometimes I spend minutes to months just staring at the work that needs to be done, and feeling physically and mentally unable to even begin. Total overwhelm. Then I get embarrassed by that, because I'm a competent and capable human being.
* Case in point: my damned taxes. Never in my life have not filed my taxes either on time or within a month of the deadline. Back in the day, my mom would pull out the pencils, calculators, and coffee, and off we'd go. Thank god for modern tech that does all the calculations for you! Then comes 2014, I move, use my RRSP for the first-time home buyer's loan. Come tax time, I think I figure out how to do that, think I file, then hear nothing else. Not only did I not hear back from the CRA, I don't bother to follow up, don't file in 2016, or 2017, or.... well, you can fill in the rest. WTF is my problem? I either get a refund and the Canadian gov't is earning my interest, or I owe money, and I'm about to owe extra money.
Taxes couldn't be simpler in the internet age. And my couldn't be simpler. A T4, a couple of T-whatevers for some charity donations and union stuff, and an RRSP that I now put towards paying back the homeowner loan. And yet they remain unfiled. I don't even mind throwing money at the problem and taking everything down the street to my local H&R Block. Yet I don't! wtf is my stupid problem?
My visual for this post is the hidden message in my nephew's math homework. It's an important one, and will probably explore this is future posts.