I suffer from a wide and exciting range of nervous symptoms, which come and go in cycles. For a few months, I’ll know I’m too stressed out when I find myself clasping my hands and touching my forehead with them. Then one day, thinking about American fiscal policy, it will occur to me that I have covered my right eye with my left hand – never my right hand, even when I’ve got a cup in the left – three times in the past ten minutes, and have not done the head-ducky thing at all for a week, maybe two. These twitches helpfully alert me to the need to read a book about misunderstood teenagers and the telepathic animals who love them in ways suffering from massive and ambiguously Freudian power imbalances.
Generally, I have a cluster of two or three symptoms at once. I know I’m feeling really bad when I go past the nervous habits, the things people are supposed to have some control over, to the things we theoretically don’t – the phantom pains, the patches of skin that feel cold for no reason, and the nausea. The chest pains are a strong contender for my longest-running nervous symptom, though fortunately they don’t happen very often. I’ve had episodes of them once a year or so since I was about thirteen, I assume because I had a blood test around then that said I had high cholesterol, and I tend to take blood test results very, very seriously, being as they involve blood.
Over the last couple of years I’ve developed what I feel to be my most hilarious stress indicator yet, that being: sometimes, I forget to breathe. This symptom naturally makes me fear that I may be the secondary female character in Georgette Heyer novel. I may at any moment acquire an unsuitable love interest with an interest in a) poetry b) alternative medicine c) pursuits that are in my mind permanently coded as gay, like cock-fighting, scientific wrestling, and a fascination for iconic male figures of the time period/setting. I must be on my guard against pretentiously tied cravats.
For reasons inexplicable, today seems to have been a terrible day. I didn’t have anything to do, and so read a lot of manga and ate junk food. Nonetheless, all day I was irritable and doing my latest twitch – taking of my glasses and scraping the edges of the nosepieces – with regularity, periodically finding myself light-headed due to lack of oxygen. Maybe the earthquake disturbed some kind of important magnetic line and screwed up my chi. I don’t know.
For earthquake-related reasons, this afternoon I decided to rearrange my shelf. Before, I had my dishes on the top two shelves, which is a bad idea because heavy/sharp/breakable things shouldn’t be kept on high shelves. So, I moved them down and moved the books up to the top.
Having done this, I abruptly and again for no reason whatsoever began to feel better.
After about an hour, I realized why – the books were where I could see them.
Apparently, it is extremely beneficial to my emotional state to set up my room so that I can’t walk across it without seeing Moomins and Patricia McKillip. Considering the five different dorm rooms I stayed in during college, I think this has always been the case – the two I think of as the “best” were the ones where I had a bookshelf right in the middle of the room, where I couldn’t help seeing it.
This is a very important discovery. I need to test if putting my BPAL somewhere visible has a similar effect. Possibly also the bag of hot chocolate mix.
I do not yet have shell access to my brain, but it may be that I am getting closer.