Coldplay – Don’t Panic

It was a Wednesday. I was invited to a campus minister meeting, which really could have been done over an email, but hey, free meal. I finished, got home, sat in my chair, and, like usual, opened up something to take a break. The diversion of the day: an undo-able version of 2048. 2048 didn’t take long, so why not shoot for 4096. Then 8192. And before I knew it, I was nearing 6 digits and the clock had some frightening numbers on it. I think I ended up sitting there doing nothing but playing 2048 for roughly 12 hours. I don’t remember when the lights started getting dim outside, I don’t remember if I got up to go to the bathroom. All I remember is a feeling of being stuck, almost paralyzed. I knew there were things I had to get done, a lengthy to-do list calling me to finish at least one item, and in some sense I knew I could – if I had to use the bathroom, I knew I could get up and go – but in another sense, I could not get out of my chair or open another tab and get to any one of the things I knew I needed to do. At some point, exhausted, I moved to my bed and fell asleep. The feeling was still present, but numb, enough so I could actually function for a while.

It took a few years, but that feeling crept back after I got back from Asia and New Jersey. Roughly 6 weeks being away from home and knowing that there were people wanting, needing, and constantly poking for my attention. That stupid little rounded square with the pound sign and the red bubble constantly floating on top of it. I didn’t want to answer them. I wanted to run away. I wanted to yell at others for being stupid and selfish. Couldn’t they realize what I’d just come back from? I was frustrated with myself – why couldn’t I just do something simple like reply to a message? There’s an Access message to prepare. Get yourself together, idiot. It’s been how long, and you still haven’t learned anything, have you.

It wasn’t as strong, but it lasted longer this time. I don’t know what got me over the hump. Maybe it’s the fact that deadlines were coming and my fear of disappointing people overwhelmed my anxiety. Maybe it was knowing I’d have to answer to someone in person about some things I had to get done. I know it wasn’t out of a strength of will or an ability to process fully. And I know it’s lingering, that dread, that paralyzing feeling. It’s probably just a matter of when it decides to come back.

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