As it turns out, there are at least 6 (probably many more) famous quotes about how life is like a merry-go-round. If you haven’t heard any of them before, I bet you still could guess why that analogy is a popular one. Things about going around and around, or being on a ride, or reaching for the brass ring often figure into these metaphors. I am clearly a pessimist, but still, until yesterday, I always thought that a merry-go-round was not at all like life.
Merry-go-rounds are boring and predictable. All you do is sit there and watch the world going by, while you pretty much stay in the same spot. And even if you are motivated to reach for that brass ring, all you get is a brass ring. (I don’t know about you, but I have spent zero time coveting those.) Given my lack of respect for the merry-go-round comparison, I was a little annoyed yesterday when I pictured myself as a frozen animal pinned in place by a rotating post.
In my defense, I was not actually comparing life to a carousel. Rather, I was trying to come up with a way to describe the physical sensations that I was experiencing after posting something on my blog. Immediately after hitting the publish button earlier that morning, I was overtaken by another bout of Public Posting Disorder, PPD for short (not in the DSM IV or V yet). I wanted to be able to convey how it feels physically, and this carousel-post image came to mind.
Whenever I post anything online in any way (including clicking the like button on Facebook), I instantly feel like my chest is collapsing in on itself and I am going to vomit. Luckily, the duration and severity of these episodes is usually directly proportional to the degree of my personal exposure. I believe PPD falls under the category of what research professor Brene Brown calls a “vulnerability hangover.”
My physical symptoms don’t really worry me though. I can understand why my rib cage might be pressing down, trying to break away from my sternum. It is simply attempting to restrain my racing heart, which seems to be bursting to get out. I don’t totally understand where my heart wants to go, but if it were to escape, I’m honestly ok with that.
Normal people who experience a variety of abnormal physical changes in a very short period of time might begin to worry that whatever is happening is fatal. However, I can assure you I am not concerned about that outcome. PPD is a problem for me mostly because it makes me feel like I am a crazy person. When I analyze what causes my acute symptoms in these instances, there is nothing rational to explain my body’s disproportionate response.
Here is the chain of events that pretty much precedes every incident: 1. I notice thoughts and feelings in my mind; 2. I question, criticize, and sometimes accept said thoughts and feelings, still only in my mind; 3. I decide to type one or more of the acceptable ideas into one of those blank rectangles available online; 4. I open up my computer, get online, and pick a rectangle on the site of my choice; 5. I drag my cursor into the chosen rectangle and then try to type words in complete and coherent sentences; 6. I read over and edit my writing (multiple times); and finally 7. I click the blue and white publish button or hit return, depending on the website.
That’s it. There is no blood involved. There are no guns or knives or explosives. There are no booby traps, claustrophobic spaces, or torture devices of any kind. There are also no officials or guards policing my actions—just waiting for the chance to punish and humiliate me. And if you were wondering about vicious aliens or mythical, menacing monsters, there are none of those either.
When I look at the steps that have triggered all of my episodes of PPD, I can only conclude that I am insane. I mean—what the fuck?
And now, since I came up with my carousel-post image, I have to worry not only that my subconscious is totally screwed up, it might be horribly cliche as well! My only consolation is the analogy may have less to do with the merry-go-round part and more to do with the twirling post part. Perhaps the connection in my mind came from the triple meaning of the word “post.”
Regardless of my excuse for my “post analogy”, which does happen to occur post posting (sorry), the image does illustrate my PPD sensations fairly well. So here it is…when I am in the midst of a PPD event, it feels like an internal post—running from the bottom of my throat to just under my belly—is rapidly spinning around, trying to suck in everything around it. It seems that whenever I risk exposing myself, I disturb my core being (my post).
I thought about the posts you sometimes see at the barber shop with the swirling red and white as an alternative image, but they’re kind of rare now and they’re missing the impaled creature surrounding them. I do apologize for the double entendres and the sort-of-cliche image. That said, I would like to suggest that someone in the throes of PPD should not be held responsible for her limited brain function.