What Stress Looks Like – a cautionary tale

in Entertaining nonsense and profound thought

There is no good reason to show you these photos. They certainly aren’t flattering. Downright ugly in fact. But perhaps if you see them you will think twice about running yourself into the ground. Because that is what I’ve done; pushed myself to the point that there is no drive left, and my body is protesting.

What you will see down below are patches of dry, scaly skin around my eyes. They itched in the beginning, but now they only hurt – except when a new patch develops. Then it itches. I look about 20 years older than I am – and if you knew how vain I am you’d know how that bothers me.

I look old. My eyeballs hurt, the skin around my eyes burns and I am oh so tired. How did I get here?

It started last summer. I was working for the museum – I’m not naming names because I don’t want to cast aspersions. The fault is entirely mine.

So to begin again, my work hours at that job were reduced in the summer. Which was all right really. Who wants to work in the summer? But I discovered ghostwriting and started doing that to increase our income. It wasn’t too taxing. And when I heard that a job was opening up at our local school, I applied. Mostly just to see what it paid. I have mixed feelings about working there – mostly because my past experience with the school wasn’t all rosy. And I love the museum. It’s the best place I ever worked.

They offered me the job at the school, and it would pay significantly more than the job at the museum, partially because it’s more hours and partially because it just pays more per hour. My heart dropped into my stomach, and I accepted the job. But then the museum still wanted me, and money is always an issue – so I stayed. 55 hour weeks, plus ghostwriting 10,000 words a week. And raising kids. And writing my books.

I kept saying I was over stressed, but I couldn’t give anything up. Because reasons. Money you know. It was a relief to have some. We needed to get caught up on a few things. And there were the application fees. And then acceptance fees.

That’s the problem with expenses; they are never ending. I could go my entire life working three jobs and never feel the time was right to scale back. And plenty of people work multiple jobs their entire lives; surely I can do it for a few months – right? Why wimp out now?

Here’s why. My body is making me. I developed a repetitive stress injury to my shoulder exacerbated by working on the computer. My hands never recovered from the winter. I have itchy dry and cracking skin across the back of my hands which refused to heal despite multiple applications of moisturizer daily. Both things I would have continued to live with except now, I’m developing scaly itching skin around my eyes. It started in one place and again despite all kinds of treatment, it keeps spreading.

Pretty soon I’m going to look like a Silurian from Dr. Who. Silurian, you know the lizard people. I looked it up. This is my future:

Which might be more attractive than me now:







I look ten years older. My eyes hurt and itch, and besides the prescription my doctor gave me, I think I’m forced to scale back. First the ghostwriting and then we’ll see. I know I should give up one of the jobs, but one helps support my family and the other feeds my soul. I hope you never have to make a choice like this. And perhaps I won’t have to. Maybe the little extra free time I’ll get from giving up ghostwriting for a while, combined with medication will take care of the stress.

I could be that lucky, right?

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