Have you ever seen three people suddenly grab a table and look as if they are about to jump under it? That was me and two friends last Monday in Starbucks. Last Monday was weird; just weird. There were fifty earthquakes in the city where I live. Not in the state, not in country, not in the world, but in San Ramon California. They were little earthquakes; the kind that feel like someone bumping into your desk or like an 18 wheeler speeding by. These typically happen in isolation and are barely worth mentioning. But, several of these strung together thought out the day, make you think, the big one is coming, I better get ready to duck and cover as indicated by the hilarious table incident. My friends and I realized with the abnormally high number of small tremors , we’d been in a cycle of alarm and response all day until we reached the point of total exhaustion.

Have you ever had the feeling there is something off and yet you can’t name a particular event, so you think, things must be OK? Discounted stress syndrome is a series of non-pleasant unexpected events that individually are nothing, but, collectively produce total exhaustion because of the cycle of repeated alarm and response. Any one event seems rather inconsequential. However, a series of events in a short period of time is a different matter.

“Discounted stress,” that’s the last two weeks that led to my current state of exhaustion. No one thing would was exceptionally stressful on a scale of 1 to 10. Maybe the highest was a 4. But more than ten unexpected events in a small period of time were unusual. After a barbecue potato chip binge, I listed everything that happened and figured out what actions I needed to take. In doing this, I realized I had to ask for help. Ugh I hate asking for anything. Alas, since my friends are not mind readers, I had to ask for help. These friends, these lifesavers were more than happy to oblige. We even laughed about the general reluctance of any of us to ask for help.

With the earthquakes, I had to adjust all the things that were left slightly askew. With my “discounted stress,” I needed a little more sleep, a little staring mindlessly into space and a little help from my friends.

P.S. The little earthquakes are still occurring as I write, leaving me with exhaustive jitters. Enough of the potato chips, time for sea salt caramel gelato.