Cortisol Hangovers

I sit here under a Magnolia tree amidst a day of disappointments and what seems like a lot of wasted time. Some days, things just don’t pan out.  

It’s a gorgeous day. The pollen has subsided, and we are in that seasonal sweet spot when the humidity is relatively modest and the temps are bearable. There’s a slightly damp breeze, and rain in the not-immediate vicinity. It almost feels like being near the ocean. 

Seems like it should be ideal. However, my central nervous system has other ideas. Since I awoke I have vacillated between dreadful lethargy and amped-up overstimulation and anxiety. At times, barely able to keep my eyes open and formulate coherent sentences. This, interspersed with moments of racing heart, blurry vision, cold, clammy hands and a tight chest. Cortisol floods my body for no particular reason, which then leaves me with a searing headache, sore joints and sour stomach. All on such a beautiful day. 

Life doesn’t make sense like that. It’s an ongoing vacillation of pleasure and pain. Boredom and excitation. It’s uncomfortable when our bodies don’t respond to those stimuli in expected ways. 

Example 1: I get straight A’s in my grad program. My brain and nervous system should  reward me for that behavior and I should feel elated. It doesn’t and I don’t. 

Example 2: I walk into an atrium with only a few people and no one I even must talk to. My nervous system responds like I’m going into hand-to-hand combat with a Nazi juggernaut and I’m probably going to face certain death. 

Uh, hey body…that’s not necessary but thanks for all the adrenaline, I guess.

So, in my constant search for some existential meaning, I’m confounded because the things that cue most people internally are a little bit haywire in me. So, being relatively intelligent, I get to think about everything in great detail while experiencing the world in heightened sensory fashion, and get very little pleasure out of any of it. Hmm…

I can’t cognate my way out of this one. Believe me, I’ve been working diligently on that since I knew I could choose my thoughts. 

I’m going to have to figure out how to change my hardwiring…and that’s no small challenge.

It’s Brave to Be Seen

It is nothing short of an act of bravery to allow yourself to be seen by another.  Whether it is a friendly-confidant, a significant other, or a professional counselor.  Allowing yourself to be at that place where you admit to another human being that “things could be going better”.

We don’t get to that place overnight.  It’s not an Amazon-style, two day jaunt into the clutches of psychological disaster. No, these things take time to develop.  These things take layers of stress, internalization, and pinpricks to our sense of self to get to the point where they emerge into conscious awareness.  Often we won’t be the first to notice how dramatically our life is being affected.  Sometimes it takes that other to give us a nudge toward seeking to be seen, or heard.

Sometimes, all it takes is that unexpected phone call, or that random insensitive text to push our brains past the point of coping, and into the state of self-protection.  Unfortunately, self-protection is often demeaning and unsightly.  It is at this point of self-protective, and often self-destructive behavior and thought patterns that people seek some kind of help.  Help is good.  Help is important.

Seeking help is nothing short of an act of bravery and psychological fortitude.  Need help?  Get help.  It’s not weak.