05 April 2011

There's nothing like anxiety in the spring

I'm not sure why, but every spring my anxiety kicks up a few notches. I've been trying to figure out what might cause this sudden upswing. I've come up with a calendar of theories, but they may not stand up to the test of applicability:

1) January: New Year's resolutions

Everyone seems to make this list of things that they're going to do in the New Year that they didn't do before. This is one of those cultural rituals that is an expression of our continuous search for perfection and designed to make those with high blood pressure or anxiety worsen their conditions. Instead of relaxing and doing small things to help ourselves change, like adding a 15 minute walk to our day, we feel the need to set a goal of hitting the gym an hour everyday when we don't believe we have enough time anyway. What's worse is when we've done well for the first week of January, we think "I'm getting the hang of this" and then promptly stop going to the gym and/or start eating more calories (because we worked it all off, right?). When we suddenly notice that we're not meeting the completely unreasonable goals, we start worrying - which only stops us in our tracks to good health more. 

2) February: Valentine's Day

Another holiday for those who are exceedingly happy in their romantic relationships. It tends to make everyone else just feel worse that they're 30 and not married, or remind them that their mother wants to know when they're going to produce come grandchildren and also worry about how there are too many curves in their silhouette.  Luckily, I don't have either of those problems, but then I don't really celebrate Valentine's Day either. 

3) March Madness

This is usually a term that is reserved for those of our country that are already diagnosed with a serious disease (Basketball Fanaticism), but it doesn't make it untrue for the rest of us. There's something about March that it's just the time when things start picking up and you feel even busier than usual. When you're a student, your midterms are coming around and the papers are due. If you watch television, then all of your normal relaxing me-time shows are being cancelled for someone's basketball obsession. Maybe you share the basketball obsession and have decided that gambling money is a good way to exercise that obsession. This means that you'll spend an entire month worrying about something that is in no way dependent upon your behavior that you're most likely going to lose your hard earned money on. It also seems to be a month for evaluation. You have to start doing the self-assessments that are required for ...

4) April: Tax Season

Everyone that has spent the last two months ignoring the W-2s that reside in the growing pile of mail at the end of the table, on the kitchen counter or in that corner of the office starts to sweat. It's time. You've got to pay your taxes. But to do that you have to go through the most confusing and often unintelligibly meaningless jargon of tax law. If you have any idea what most of that junk they ask you about in your tax forms means, then you're ahead of the game. I usually look for keywords like GI, military, train, miner and disability to help me decide whether or not I am required to fill in one of the boxes. At any rate, you've got the first two weeks to get all of your finances straightened out and make sure that you're accurately representing (and certainly not over-representing) yourself on paper to people in the government who won't think twice about rubber stamping your tax return, unless they see something fishy. And something fishy can be as complicated as not paying taxes on all of the money that you're taking off the top of your multi-million dollar corporate income or as simple as not understanding the language in which your accumulation of assets (otherwise known as your bank account) in being described to you. After the taxes have finally been filed, envelope licked, stamp attached and placed in your local letter carrier's trusty bag - you have two more miserable weeks (at least) to wait to see if they have been received, accepted and (if you're lucky) you'll actually get the return your state owes you or (if you're not lucky) they've removed the funds from your account. 

5) May: Light at the end of the tunnel

Perhaps I've been a student too long, but this seems to be the point at which spring just can't be spring anymore - it has got to start heading toward summer. All that worrying you did in April led to binge eating that is now starting to show around your thighs and the bathing suit season is creeping up faster than you'd like. Everyone's back in workout mode a little too late to get into the shape they want to be in on the beaches, but hey - at least it's almost time for a little vacation - a little R&R time right? 

In my family, all the birthdays have come around and by mine (mid-month) the anxiety has started to break up and leave me again until January.

So here's the thing... none of these things really apply to me. I didn't set New Year's resolutions this year - I was adjusting to being newly married and living in Hong Kong. I didn't celebrate Valentine's Day other than to eat some chocolate sent to us by my father-in-law and to say to my husband "Happy Valentine's Day" once. Also - not sad and alone, so no worries there. I don't care about basketball, nor do I own a television, nor did I gamble any money in the month of March. As I am abroad, I didn't even do my own taxes this year and they're already filed and I've already received my return (yay!). As for May, I'm just looking forward to going home for the summer. So how is it that all the things that usually give people anxiety don't apply to me and yet, here I am feeling it?

Sometimes life doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I am currently trying to apply Daoism liberally to the affected area to see if I get any results. Thus far there has been no increased inflammation, but no reduction of what's already there either. 

Advice welcome. 

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