Anxiety Issues

I can't believe it's been so long since I posted!

My article turned out actually quite decent. Most physicists are so excited to have someone interested in their work, and (when you can get ahold of them) they talk like there's no tomorrow.

I went over to my friend's house last night for a welcome to fall party. She lives in an old rowhouse, and there's a real working fireplace. So we had s'mores and such, and one of my classmates brought over a chess set and some played. Most people are astonished I've never played chess, but it never quite caught my interest. Instead, yet another classmate (there's 4 of 'em) and I had a long, lovely discussion and enjoyed the company of the hostess' border collie.

As I got home, however, I was struck by this horrific anxiety that left my both my heart and my thoughts racing. I don't know what kind of story to write next. Then I had an idea, but I didn't know if what had been written already meant that I shouldn't do it. If I did decide to go ahead with the story (a re-emerging mosquito-borne virus that strikes in SE Asia but, because of global warming, has spread to Europe), where would I publish it? The indecision had me paralyzed.

I'm realizing that it's the small(er) stuff that really tends to get to me. The larger, life issues I can kind of cope with. I read the book "Why don't zebras get ulcers?" by Robert Sapolsky, and he talked about how these huge stressors tend to engage a sort of psychological immune system. Our brains have evolved to cope with things like being chased by lions and feuding tribes. These little things, like where do I publish my next story, don't engage our defenses, but they can engage a response.

When I was in high school, I baby sat a lot for this one particular family. It was quite nice- the girls treated me like their older sister, and we got to be pretty close. I watched them for about 5 years until I left for college. But the dad once told me how I seem to remain calm under pressure. And it's true- especially on the surface. The pressure clears away the clutter. He said that if a lion got into the house, you'd calmly lure him outside by opening the freezer and tossing out a steak. What I'm realizing now is that I'd get back inside after the lion was captured and then freak out about what to have for dinner. Also, how much the steak cost. Things like that.

At any rate, groceries need buying, bills need sending, and I need napping.

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Jeanne said...

Hey carrie,

OMG - this is SO me. Calm and cool under immense pressure, and then flipping out about the "little" things.

thinking of you,

If a lion ever did get in your house, be sure to toss the frozen steak into the mike for a few minutes - the lion won't smell the frozen meat...

mary said... you are getting tips on how to feed the lion! That info came just in time for me....


em said...

oh boy. i'm like this too. great in a crisis... cool, calm and collected... and yet i spend a lot of time worried and anxious about tiny, little insignificant stuff... like whether i remember to use coupons to save money... because it would be a disaster if i forgot!

carrie said...


I will keep that tip in mind. I never thought about that. Hehe.


/**** back at you


Oh, the coupons. That's how I learned to use scissors- my mom set me to work clipping coupons for her. :)

Sarah said...

hmm . . . both the small things and the big things get to me.

I hope you have a great day!


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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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