“… It feels like I’m a tea kettle that’s about to boil.”

I’ve been noticing something over the last couple of weeks. And it’s a feeling in my body. And the best way I know how to explain it, is it feels like I’m a tea kettle that’s about to boil. Like, this anxious feeling that’s like building up, and it hasn’t spilled over yet, but it feels like at any moment it could. And I remember feeling that way all the time in grad school, and at other times in my life, but that was kind of when it was the most consistent, I guess. And at that time, you know, after two years of being in school. Well, six years really ’cause undergrad. I didn’t really know how to relax, like, there are a couple examples that spring to mind.

The first was I was in Newport, Rhode Island, which is kind of a nice vacation spot, sort of. Or scenic spot, I guess, in Rhode Island. So there’s like a cliff walk you can do and there’s big mansions you can tour. And it must have been at the end of one of my semesters. I don’t think it was my final semester. But we went on a walk, that cliff walk, and we got to the end and my friend was like, “Oh, let’s sit down and like watch the water.” And I kind of couldn’t. Like I sat and I just kept – I just felt very jittery, like “Why are we doing this? There’s no point to this, like we need to go back.” And I just kind of recognized that I wasn’t able to relax, and I wasn’t able to do something that wasn’t – that didn’t have like a “purpose”.

And then around that same time I guess. Well, this would’ve been maybe like the semester before. I was at home and I was working on a paper. It was over Christmas break, and my dad had just gotten an oximeter which it tells you your blood oxygen levels and it also tells you your heart rate. And my dad’s not a fit person. He doesn’t eat well, he doesn’t exercise. And his resting heart rate was like seventy, maybe, so he’s showing me how it works. And he put it on my finger. And it told me that my resting heart rate was like a hundred or something, or my heart rate. I shouldn’t say resting. My heart rate was a hundred. And I was like, “Oh my gosh, what is going on?” Because you know, I’d worn like a Fitbit or a Garmin or some kinda watch for most of my life. I don’t think I was during that exact period, but I knew that generally my resting heart rate was like 50 to 60, and so I was like “That’s really crazy,” ’cause I was just sitting at the table working on a paper and I wasn’t overtly feeling stressed. If you had asked me how I was doing, I would’ve been like, “Oh it’s fine.”

So it was just really interesting to like kind of register, and I realized afterwards like, “Oh, I wonder if I’m just like pretty wound, and like feeling pretty anxious and if that’s just a product of that.” So I don’t really have a point to this other than it’s just an – it’s a unpleasant feeling for sure. It’s weird ’cause I don’t really know what causes it, like, biologically, like is it a spike in whatever, is it a dip in something else? What can I do if the things that are kind of making me feel anxious aren’t things that I can remove from my life right now? And in some ways, I feel like I have so many more tools than I did when I was in grad school to kind of manage some of those things, and in other ways I’m very much still beholden to it, whenever it rears its head, that awful feeling of just buzzing. And so yeah, that’s really it. Just noticing that feeling in my body and wondering if I have the tools somewhere to sort of alleviate that, or do I just have to wait until the thing I’m feeling kind of anxious about passes?

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