With humiliation. Not an actual human baby.
You see, I have Tourette’s syndrome and my least favorite of all Tourette’s related quirks is the habit of uttering a random, often profane but sometimes just incredibly awkward phrase or string of words compulsively when under extreme duress.
Unfortunately, I also have what I will one day officially term as Acute e-Social Anxiety Disorder. Otherwise known as, I have A SAD. I will not rest until it makes its way into the DSM-IV, because my ASAD is every bit as debilitating as all my other mental illnesses.
Actually, considering that I work entirely off the computer, I would make the argument that my ASA is even more serious than my OCD,ADD, SID, NPD and all the other acronyms I’m forgetting because of my… something.
It begins a little something like this. I sit down at the laptop, all giddy from the serene blue glow of the screen, a conditioned stimulus for the promise of internet to come. I click on the Facebook icon in my bookmarks bar and, after a quick glance at my barren news feed, accept the realization that I don’t have a life anew. I turn to email for comfort, because even if there is only one notification in my news feed, and it’s from the Meta Picture, I can count on at least five e-mails at any given time.
Granted, two out of the five are work e-mails and the rest are offers to enlarge my non-existent prostate or offer me 20% off home goods, but still. I feel loved. Those two work emails, though, pose a problem. My elation turns into mild panic as I realize that I have a response to something I’ve written and, in spite of obsessively checking every email at least six times before it’s sent I remain sure that THIS is the time I typed RAISIN MONKEY BALL HYMENS instead of “Have a nice day, Jim!” This reminds me that opening email is, in fact, a terrifying prospect.
First I spend at least five minutes staring at the screen in horror, convinced that one email has totaled my entire reputation. Then, I go into denial. Youtube time! Time to watch videos on tight lining your eyes and the perfect smoky look. Asian cosmetics reviews are the perfect distraction from the inevitable demise of a once sterling reputation.
This blissful stage can and often does extend for hours and even days on end. By the time I slip from denial into grief, genuine damage is done since I haven’t replied to what is often a time-sensitive email. All at once I realize this faux pas and return to my email where, if I’m lucky, only the one harbinger of humiliation is still waiting.
I don’t click yet, though. My mouse pointer hovers and I start to blink hard. At first it’s just a mumble. Then, as my newfound awareness of the time that has lapsed between when the person sent the email and now snowballs, I mutter just loud enough to make out, “I’m pregnant.” Usually, if Dom is in the room, this shameful admission is met with gales of laughter and an offer to check the email for me.
I’m not entirely sure when or why I started using this phrase to convey my humiliation. To put my psych major cap on, my best analysis is as follows: The situation in front of me is just too extremely awkward to cope with so my brain formulates a “much worse case scenario” to remind me that things aren’t really all that bad and distract me from my current predicament.
When I was younger, the single worst thing that could happen in my mind was getting pregnant. In fact, I was so horrified by this prospect that I considered becoming an atheist out of fear that the Lord’s second coming would involve yet another immaculate conception and, as a thirteen year old Christian girl at the time, I was surely a prime target for heavenly insemination.
I do remember that before “I’m pregnant,” my go-to verbal tick was “crunchy clitoris.” Fortunately, I never said it out loud, but the phrase would assault my poor brain every time a socially awkward situation arose. It was a that awkward period in my life where I was extremely repressed and went to any lengths to avoid anything, well, awkward. If two people kissed on a television show, and someone else was in the room, I would literally lunge across the room to change it.
So, I’m not really sure where such a… unique phrase came from. I have a theory that my disordered brain just has a habit of pulling out random words that disturb me and spitting them back out at me, like some kind of vengeful, grotesque generator.
Anyway, back to the email. Once I’ve satisfactorily announced my imaginary pregnancy, I finally read the email only to discover that, not only did I not sign off with “I love you, sugar butt,” instead of “Best Regards,” but my originally sent email was quite socially appropriate and not incriminating in the least. On top of that, I discover that the reply wasn’t even laced with horror at my brutish email ways, CC’d to the Ministry of Civilized Society with a direct order to have me excommunicated Bora Bora.
Unfortunately, by then it’s usually been a day or two and I need an excuse as to why I haven’t replied yet. At that point, I have two options:
1. Make up a half-baked excuse about how I couldn’t reply because my computer was down for the 500th time. Even my grandmother stopped believing my emails were getting “lost in the tubes” about the third time I used that one.
I choose option two about 90% of the time, which leads to days, weeks, sometimes even months of self-loathing. So tell me, do I suffer alone? Or am I simply one of millions of Americans suffering from ASAD? Should we form a group? Make t-shirts? Start an email newsletter?
Wait, no, that last one is a bad idea. Maybe we can communicate group news through homing pigeons instead. I have a feeling, though, that ASAD is not limited to the confines of email, and that said homing pigeon would starve to death while I held it in procrastination of sending a response.
Now I’m not really sure how to end this blog post, so here’s a picture of a dead homing pigeon.