People, this is it. We’ve now hit finals week, and the work continues to pile up. Being both student and teacher has taken a heavy toll on my mental status. While I thought I was doing fine, recent events have proven otherwise. I’m calling this “end-of-semester stress disorder,” and it’s serious business. So here are some warning signs for EOSSD that you might want to look out for, from one who has experienced them. All of them. I’m not kidding. This is a record of my recent life. I can’t make this stuff up. As I continue to slide down the slope toward insanity, I’ll continue to add warning signs at the top of the list. And you should let me in on your EOSSD insanity via comments. Because if we’re not laughing hysterically, we’re sobbing on the shoulders of strangers, so let’s laugh, people.
You may be experiencing “end-of-semester stress disorder” if…
–You consider riding your bike to the farmer’s market but decide not to because you might get hit by a car and break your arms. Now is not the time to take risks, my friends.
–You leave binders of papers open in the middle of your living room floor in the hopes that someone else will put them away. You have somehow forgotten that you live alone and thus you will be the one to trip over them repeatedly. And the one to put them away.
–You bring chocolate chips as a “sharable snack” to a study party. Granted, you bring three different kinds of chocolate chips, but they’re still chocolate chips.
–You stop everything, and I mean everything, to text a friend about it being Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson’s birthday. To be fair, you’re both really big fans of the Rock.
–You start researching academic articles on the rhetoric of “A Prairie Home Companion,” because you think you might want to do a dissertation on Garrison Keillor. By that, you mean just listen to “A Prairie Home Companion” instead of doing real work.
–You take a walk to clear your head. While walking, you come upon a huge branch in the street. You think, “There’s a big branch. Don’t trip on it.” You trip on the branch.
–You get really teary watching Planet Earth, because the baby elephant walks the wrong way, away from the herd, and you realize that baby elephant is you, and you’re going to be eaten by a lion called academia.
–You leave a coffee shop because “the air is bad” and you can’t possibly work there if the air is bad.
–You look in the mirror right before you leave the house, and you can’t remember if you put on makeup. Like any makeup. Also, you can’t figure out a way to tell if you put on makeup because you can’t remember what your face looks like with–or without–makeup. For all you know, you’re looking at a stranger.
–You forget the name of the new wine you had with a friend approximately six times over the course of 24 hours. Each time you forget, you ask that friend to repeat the name of the wine. She does so the first five times. The sixth time you ask, she tells you and then threatens violence if you ask again. At which point you have already forgotten the name of the wine. You don’t tell her.
–You stress-eat turkey pepperoni, which is probably the least sexy food to stress-eat. Slightly better is the stress-eating of the chocolate chips, of which you have three kinds (milk, semi-sweet, and dark, obviously).
–You stress-wash dishes, both yours and a friend’s. The friend is grateful. You pretend to have done your friend a favor. You did not.
–You stress-bake cookies that are actually so good that you forget that you baked them in order to avoid work, and instead you think you did something for the good of humanity. You’re welcome, humanity.
–You yell at the dryer. In your defense, the dryer was being unreasonable.
–You see an acquaintance in a place you are not expecting to see anyone you know. This acquaintance asks you what you’re doing at this place, and you suddenly can’t remember. You mumble incoherently. She leaves quickly.
–You buy boxed mac and cheese even though you are a grown-up and that stuff is probably toxic. You also make said mac and cheese with Greek yogurt because you’re out of milk. You pretend that this makes it classier and fine for an adult to eat. You eat the whole box in one sitting.
–You make plans for spending time with friends after the semester ends, but each time you do so, you have to intentionally stop yourself from saying, “If I’m still alive then.” It’s possible you would be making a joke, but no one would be sure, including yourself.
–You are at a friend’s house, alone, presumably working. Suddenly you hear a scratching noise. You distrust your own senses, as you realize you are constantly moments away from emotional collapse, but then you hear it again. It sounds like it is right next to you, scratching at the wall. You text your friend after noise number three, just asking out if he’s ever heard anything like that before you freak out. He hasn’t. You hear it again. The fifth time, it essentially sounds like there is a giant mouse-raccoon monster under the bed you are currently sitting on. At this point, you call this friend, speaking in panicked, incoherent sentences, finishing with “It’s probably fine Bye” and hanging up abruptly. This alarms him enough to come home and check. There is nothing there: not under the bed, not under the couch. The walls make no noises. He gives you a look that is too kind. You realize he is convinced you are crazy. He might be right, but you decide to never step foot in his home ever again.
–In the office, you develop a plan with your colleagues to quit everything and become beach detectives who turn cases into murder mysteries that are performed at your beach theatre. Also, one of you is highly invested in having bees, which another claims he will be able to train to sting the bad guys. This is all highly suspect, but it’s the end of the semester, so it makes perfect sense.
–You edit this blog post for three hours instead of working on your papers and grading. Because you’re an artist.
–You try to remember if you’ve ever been this crazy before, and you remember the last week of spring semester last year when you had a real pacing problem. As in you couldn’t stop pacing. A friend took you to the grocery store (presumably because you shouldn’t have been left alone), and you wandered up and down the aisles, wringing your hands and doing Lamaze breathing. Your friend kept asking if you were okay. The response is not part of the memory. Remembering this, you’re not sure if you’ve gotten better at handling stress or worse.