I had a pretty bad meltdown this morning over having to leave my son. He was being extra-snuggly and clingy, and when he started crying so did I.
My job has been really stressful lately. And by lately I mean for months. I didn’t know what to expect starting out new after being in the same place for 17 years, so when things seemed difficult in the beginning, I figured it was just me adjusting. But I’m not adjusting very well. To make a long story short and vague, I am in a situation where it is exacerbating my OCD, and that in turn exacerbates the situation. I’m taking steps to get help, but it seems like a lot of the steps involve appointments which takes more time, and time is the currency where I always come up short.
It’s that time of month where I get walloped by PMS, too (I’m even wondering if it’s the more sinister cousin, PMDD). If circumstances were normal I would be moderately affected by this. But anxiety is a problem of degrees. When I’m at my best, when I feel stable, it takes a lot more to rattle me. The less stable I feel, the less it takes. And for months now I’ve been at the point where it doesn’t take much at all, so when PMS gets added in, practically anything could tip the scales. Like having to get up and leave my cuddly little boy for a place I feel is emanating with hostility.
That brings me to the title of this post. In publishing, the “version of record” is the version you want readers to consider the authoritative one. This came about when people started publishing online and it became commonplace to have more than one version floating around. It could be the print copy, or a final online version that corrected any mistakes in a previous draft.
So when these natural hormonal imbalances hit me, sometimes I have a hard time determining which me is the “version of record.” Is it the stoic monkey-brain me, who says “be grateful you have a paycheck, your family is healthy, your husband is a great dad taking care of the kids”? Or is it lizard-brain me, who wants to run out the door like her hair is on fire?
Of course I realize it’s somewhere in the middle. There are lots of misconceptions about women and our hormones. Like we don’t recognize our own symptoms or we go with whatever our emotions are telling us. Or that our hormones are to blame for every strong emotion we have.
There have been times when I know for a fact my hormones are to blame. Pregnancy, for example; I was at “bitch eating crackers” stage with just about everyone the whole time I was pregnant both times. Dan still laughs at an incident during my first pregnancy where I went into the Dollar Store to buy a test, became enraged that they keep the tests locked up behind the counter, and stormed back out to the car swearing all the way refusing to buy a test there because I wasn’t waiting in line twice because those fucking misogynistic class-ist bastards wanted to lock up the fucking pregnancy tests like somebody was going to fucking steal them. THAT was irrational.
That’s usually an anomaly, though. Sometimes I think I err on the side of stoicism too much. That guilt-inducing inner voice: “Be grateful, be glad, you should just work harder…”
That’s why I feel the need to get help. Shrinks are great at helping you figure out what’s the real “version of record” of your life. Even if my therapist tells me the situation can’t really be improved, I know I am doing what I can, and if that doesn’t work, then maybe lizard-brain was onto something. Lizard-brain isn’t always wrong. Lots of times, lizard-brain is trying to alert me that a situation I’ve come to perceive as normal is in fact a big-ass pot of boiling water and I’m the idiot frog still hoping it’s just a temporary mechanical problem with this nice sauna I found.
Of course, lizard-brain isn’t great with solutions. Most of them are things like “Win the lottery,” “Move to Scandinavia,” or “Start a microbrewery/alpaca farm.” That’s where monkey-brain comes in. Maybe it can stop with the you-should’s and throw that energy into coming up with a viable alternative to winning the lottery, because I don’t even play.
The other way my therapist helps me is to put it into perspective. Even though Monday morning feels like I’m Frodo heading off to Mordor, it’s only one part of my life. It doesn’t define me. She also said to pretend I was surrounded by a big bubble of plexiglass and the negativity just bounces off. So I visualized a dunking booth so covered in bird shit that I couldn’t see out anymore. But I’m working on it; that’s all I can do. That and come up with actual alternate plans that don’t involve alpacas or the lottery.