08/06/2012 02:58 pm ET Updated Oct 06, 2012

Midlife Stress: The Cure for Five Kinds of Crazy


One day last week, I took the 11:50am train to Chicago for an 11:45am lunch. No, that's not a typographical error, nor are there any time-zone adjustments or wormholes in space involved. This clear case of mental meltdown is a symptom of an affliction I call five kinds of crazy. The irrefutable proof that life has spun out of control, or at least become blurred around the edges, is when you are:

1. Overcommitted and over-scheduled. While related, they are not entirely the same. The first is a state of mind that says "I can do it all." The second is the wildly insane attempt to bring the first into fruition.

2. Under-slept. Maybe you need eight hours, maybe you need six. My number is seven. When that turns into four, the circuits get a little frazzled.

3. Over-tasked. When the busy need to get going, they multitask. When the über-busy go crazy, they over-task. Think of an octopus jugging flaming soccer balls on a skateboard, backwards. Something is bound to slip and it's going to get messy.

4. Under-happy. Not unhappy, just not happy enough -- think periodically cranky, with intermittent periods of ennui.

5. Over-worried. The economy, world peace, that funny clicking noise in your car dashboard ... pick a topic and it's a reason to worry (especially if you are also showing signs of 1-4).

If you have at least three of these symptoms, you're probably feeling a little tense right now. If you scored a four or five, you are, well, me. I find it oddly comforting to know I'm not alone with my five kinds of crazy, but honestly, I don't want this to define my permanent state of being.

It does occur to me that five kinds of crazy may be endemic at mid-life. Perhaps being in the second half, we're trying to make up for all the goofing off we did in the previous four decades. Or, another euphemism for maturity may be having even more reasons to worry. Whatever the rationale, here are some antidotes to five kinds of crazy.

The Cure For Five Kinds Of Crazy