17 Jul 2013

The anxiety of choice

I've got a sicky feeling in my stomach today and an anxious knot deep inside my chest.  I've had my regular SRI Citalopram dose this morning, but it doesn't seem to be helping today.  Last night's conversation with my husband is weighing heavily on my mind, body and soul.  This is how it went:


"OK Tess, are you concentrating because I'm going to show you how to use the new smart telly" announces Ben.  Yes we have finally entered the 21st century and bought a 40inch, flat screen, HD smart tv.

"Isn't it just the same as the old one but a bigger picture?" I inquire naively.

"Well that's what I thought" says Ben, "but actually it's much better than that, we've got 4OD, BBC iplayer and loads of apps.  We've got a movie app with thousands of films to watch.  We can almost get rid of Sky Plus now because we've got a giant library of films, tv series, catch up........."  I stop listening and my heart starts to sink as he taps away at the remote control which is bringing up page after page of viewing material.

"But all I need is Sky Plus, so I can continue watching my recordings of Mad Men and One Born Every Minute" I objected.

"Well you can still watch those, but you can also watch whole series of other things like Dexter and 24 Hours in A&E, Come Dine With Me and there's thousands of movies organised by genre." enthused Dan as if all his dreams have come true.  I however began to pale.  Normal people would be delighted by this wealth of choice but I find it over whelming.  I suffer from choice paralysis and have to avoid certain cafes and coffee shops that demand too many decisions.  "Just a normal coffee" I like to order in Starbucks to the bemused glare of the Batista.  Or if I'm in a cafe I find it's quite reasonable to ask for 'A tuna salad please'.  But no, those days of simplicity are gone.  What follows is a long complicated list of choices which leaves me cold.

'Cos, rocket or baby leaves?'
'Uh, leaves'
'Cous cous, pasta, quinoa or Bulgar wheat or rice?'
'Oh, er, the first one'
'And which three things off the board?' says the cafe lady waving her arm towards a blackboard that is literally covered in lists of vegetables, shoots, nuts, dried fruits, egg, capers....  With a blur of white chalk in front of me and a long hungry queue behind me, I read out the first three off the list.
'And which two seeds?' continues the cafe lady.  This is getting unbearable.  I go blank.  I can't think of a single seed.   It's like I'm in the final round of Family Fortunes so to avoid blurting out a random sub conscious object, like 'sperm' I say 'No seeds, thanks'.  But the torture isn't over yet.
'And dressing?'
'Yes please'
'Which?'
'You choose' which is met with an 'How dare you ask me, that's not part of my job' stare.  And finally, thank the Lord,
'Tossed or drizzed?'
'TOSSED!' I cry with relief.  But by now I feel like screaming and what's worse I've ended up with a hideous mish-mash of pig swill.  I'm never going to enjoy it now.

Back in the sitting room .... the truth dawns on me.   TV viewing is one of the very few areas in my life where I can be in control.  I like having a list of shows to 'get through' but even better deleting them off the Sky planner once viewed.  Tick.  Done.  That's another thing dealt with, thank you very much.  Ooh the sweet satisfaction of it all.  My memory planner page is 91% free and I've been working on getting that figure up for a few weeks now.  All that's left are a couple of Modern Families and a Britain's Next Top Model, one day I could be 100% free.  If I can cram those in whilst Ben's at football then I WILL BE IN FULL CONTROL OF MY LIFE.  Imagine the joy, the freedom, the sense of accomplishment.  But not now, thanks to the smart bastard tv.

"We'll never get though the endless lists of stuff, Ben.  There's not enough free time in life to view all that.  By the time the kids are in bed and we've made and eaten dinner, there's only about an hour and half left before bedtime.  And even if we try to get through it all, they'll just keep adding new stuff" I despair.

'But the idea isn't to watch everything.  It's a library.  It's a choice."

"I can't cope with it all.  Yesterday I conditioned my hair twice just so I could finish the bottle off and throw it away.  It gave me a good feeling to throw something out that was used, finished, spent."

'But now you need to buy another bottle of conditioner.  You're not making any sense' retorted Ben frustratedly.  "We can't get the old telly back now.  I've taken it down the tip'.    Ben made it clear taht the conversation was over, so I sloped off to read my book in bed whilst he stayed downstairs with the mean machine.  When he came up to bed an hour later I asked,

'Well, what did you watch?'

'I couldn't decide' confessed Ben, 'It took me all this time to flick through all the apps.'