One step forward, two steps OW OW OW.

Exam process speeds up as doomsday nears.  I take my written exams the weekend of March 9-12, only five weeks away.  Then I visit the family, and when I return, I have a short window of prep time before my oral defense on April 3.  I turn 30 four days after that: plans include hiding in my house curled in a fetal ball around a bottle of wine.

I feel like a frog in a pot, and the water’s been boiling for a while now.

I don’t generally acknowledge stress.  Like, I say the words “I’m stressed,” but it’s more of a “oh hey we are doing the commiseration thing!  Yes yes clearly I am mad with anxiety, just mad.”  But then, when a deadline nears, I buckle down and get stuff done (spent eight solid hours, almost nonstop, revising my paper yesterday, for example), and then why would I be anxious?  Because, stuff, it got done, and I appear to be in good shape in terms of prep work for getting through this nightmare.  Wherefore the crazed hairpulling and railing at the gods?

Except that my brain and body think they know better.  My brain is like, “You think you are not stressed, but wait!  Now you will snap at people you care about and start crying for no reason!  MuHAH!”  And my body’s like, “You seem too serene.  Perhaps I should break.  All of me.  At once.”

So, witness this week of my life, wherein I accomplished much (advisor says at this rate I should be able to turn in a draft of paper to my second reader within two weeks, yay!), but also went on random crying jags and fell apart.

See, I starting running again, for stress reduction, aka to keep myself sane during this pressure-cooker exam process.  Then on Friday I realized my running shoes (less than a year old, a present from my mom) were hurting my feet; it was as if I was walking on a thick metal bar every time I took a step.  I figured, “eh, time to get new shoes” and that it’d go away in a day or two.  Jim and I went for a walk in the neighborhood on Sunday (it’s been 60 degrees here in Chicago, WTF gorgeous) and halfway through my left foot hurt so bad I had to sit down.  I limped home and stayed off it all day Monday and Tues. Did the ice/heat thing, took painkillers, massaged it, etc.; there’s no sign of swelling or strain, and it doesn’t hurt unless I put weight on it.

But I barely made it through work today, and I was in tears multiple times, even on many painkillers.  Got X-rays taken, and there’s no fracture, so basically it’s just a “your feet are awful (fallen arches, hammertoes, the works); take a bunch of Motrin and good luck.”  Thanks for nothing, body.  Amazing that I can incapacitate myself completely while walking at a leisurely pace in comfortable sneakers.  Sigh.

So, from here on out, I’m going to TRY to be stressed, because keeping my cool is just not working; body and brain conspire to make sure I feel the anxiety I’m repressing.  This shouldn’t be too difficult, because without exercise, I turn into a raging maniac in 2.2 days, and I can’t walk like this, let alone run.  Oh, and the best part?  I have a hard-to-snag meeting (which I just can’t reschedule, not this close to exam day) with one of my committee members tomorrow, so I get to hobble onto public transportation and hoof it up to my office and back AGAIN tomorrow morning.

I do believe I may hie myself to a Walgreens and purchase one of these:

I can’t wait to shoo children off my nonexistent lawn like a proper thirty-something.

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