Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Physiology Creates Writer's Block

I used to hear a joke a lot back in the day. It went something like this:

I once thought I had mono, but it turns out that I was just bored.

Something similar has happened to me the past couple Sundays, which made it somewhat difficult to get out of bed. I would wake up in the morning, feeling like crap, weak and just in a horrible, downtrodden mood. Church would be out of the question, even though I resolved to go the night before, and even worse, I would ignore my resolution to write and study for the whole day because I needed to figure out what made me feel like crap. A problem had cropped itself up on a regular basis, and I couldn't let it stop me from doing what I needed to do.

This past Sunday, I did something about it. The wife and I went to a yoga class at the gym just around the block. I had decided to do it because I thought that the stress of work and the frustration of my current quarter-life crisis was getting in the way. After all, cortisol, my out of whack autonomic nervous system and old age would all defeat me if I just kept on pushing, pushing and pushing without any relent.

The yoga class certainly did help, leaving me much happier and peppier than earlier in the day. . .even if I still felt a little cranky. Maybe it still took time for the stress to flow away from the body.

But destressing wasn't the problem. Yeah, I still need to make sure to destress and plan on taking yoga classes once or twice a week (having a free community class about 1/2 or 3/4 of a mile away from home makes it that much more enticing), but yesterday, I figured out a more benign, if more annoying, reason for my case of Sunday depression.

Turns out the air pressure screws with my head, and if I just balance out the pressure inside my head with the pressure elsewhere, everything's just fine. I just need to pop my ears, chew gum, swallow, yawn and other silly things. Apparently, there's a little flippy door in the back of our throats in the sinus area that opens and closes to balance the air pressure in there. Sinuses affect the whole process, too, and that's why it's important to get those sinuses drained if they aren't angled correctly.

This is really one of those moments that I slap my head because it's all so obvious. I'm 29 years old, and I think I've faced this issue before. Sinus issues have caused me problems in the past, too, including giving me spontaneous bloody noses.

Chicago's a different world from Boston, though. Last year around this time, I became nearly incapacitated by a severe allergy attack that I've never faced before, even though I've displayed minor symptoms of allergies. Loratadine helped to clear that issue up.

And now I've got this air pressure headache thing. It's aggravating yet amusing sometimes how we learn these new things about our body after maybe forgetting them or because our bodies have decided to change.

The lesson re-learned from this experience: don't ever take anything for granted or stop keeping your eyes and ears open. . .and at the same time, don't hyperfocus on a problem after seemingly finding a solution or after reaching an apparent dead end. Deep, hard thought created the stress hypothesis, which certainly has helped but wasn't the "final solution."

Realizing that air pressure was the culprit came as a near complete random conclusion. I was brooding over my headache, brooding over the weather, brooding over being listless in the morning and just brooding over whatever had frustrated and annoyed me my life. Then all the sudden, it hit me: air pressure! I have the feeling that hearing one of my co-workers complaining about hers and one of our boss's headaches from air pressure didn't hurt either.

So with this information and data that I've gathered and observed about the air pressure and dealing with stress, I think I'm that much more equipped to ready myself for entering the flow and motivating myself to do the things that are important to me, like writing and going to church.

It's also nice to realize that I'm not psychologically depressed.

Interesting how small things combined with a chain of events and thoughts can cause all types of problems. . .so don't ever discount them!


Jose said...

The one thing that I've learned from MacGyver parodies is that chewing gum can solve anything.

The_Lex said...

I wonder if duct tape could help me to any extent with the headaches. . .. =D