I came home today around 4:30 and thought I was just grumpy and out of sorts. I thought, "well, I didn't get enough sleep, and the sink is full of dishes to wash." So I washed the dishes.
And then I thought I felt weird because I hadn't eaten in a while, so I had a snack.
And I still felt bad, so I laid down on the couch.
And then it was time to take the dogs out, so I went to the park.
Then I thought it was the weather that was making me feel odd.
And then I realised what the heck was going on. I was having anxiety. The sort that sits an inch or two below my throat, squeezing hard. I hadn't had serious anxiety for several months, so long that I almost didn't recognize it for what it was. My mind hadn't caught up to my body to figure out that I was anxious.
So what triggered it? Lots of possibilities. The most obvious candidates are the fact that today was the beginning of my "real" summer -- and I spent nearly all of it at the office, trying to get things in order, rather than focusing on my Priority Project. Combined with lunch with two junior colleagues, whose talk about work definitely raised my stress and fostered a bout of imposter syndrome. After all, I have tenure. At some level, it doesn't matter if or when I publish my work. Except, of course, that it does matter -- we are constantly being evaluated, by our colleagues and chairs and deans and so forth. For all that I do seriously believe in the choices I've made, and the path I'm currently treading, I also know that there are things I would do differently if I could go back and change time.
The other plausible scenario is that some schedule changes and other things recently have evoked memories of last summer, when I was wrestling with serious depression, of a scarier sort than I'd ever had before. I'm in a much better place these days -- but I need to figure out a new version of summer to replace the model from last year. Because I certainly don't want to do that again.