Stress is a Bitch
A few weeks ago, I was so stressed out about so many things, and I was having a meltdown about something insignificant because whatever it was, was the last straw. I told Andy I needed a change of scenery, needed to take my mind off all the things pulling at it.
We took a day trip to the not-so-exciting border town of Frankfurt (Oder) (not to be confused with the big Frankfurt) and walked across the bridge to Slubice, Poland where Andy got some tasty beer and I got a couple of ciders. I spent the next two days reading and playing a board game with Andy while drinking our Polish souvenirs and lounging around and not doing anything productive at all.
Stress, for the most part, is not a good thing. Some people are better at handling stress than others, and I envy those people. I wish I could just let go of things and fully accept that almost nothing is worth worrying over.
Things like, how can I make more money? (I’m talking about wanting to earn what I did at my first job out of college, not how to be a millionaire or anything.) Are we going to be able to go away for a few weeks this winter? How do I make new friends in Berlin? How are we going to find curtains to fit the non-standard-sized guest bedroom window?
I’ve been in a nonstop intense stress cycle for quite some time now. I don’t even know what started it or how far back it goes. Months? Years? My whole life and it’s just been building and building? Yeah, maybe it’s that. But now I’m stressing about the stress.
You see, stress is my biggest trigger for my colitis issues. I used to not worry about my colitis; I took my medicine and everything was fine. But that hasn’t been the case over the past few years, and now I feel like my mind is spiraling.
I can only blame food poisoning for part of what landed me in the hospital this summer since my problems really started some time before that due to stress. My body was vulnerable, I could tell, and all it took was a bad batch of chicken to push me over the edge.
I had an appointment with a new doctor a few weeks after I got released from the hospital, and it was not good. After just a few minutes, he started talking about switching my medication to much stronger drugs that I’m not willing to take yet. He reminded me of my increased chance of colon cancer about a dozen unnecessary times, as if to scare me into taking these drugs. Despite my reasonable explanation for my high iron numbers, he started freaking out that I might have a genetic disorder. I also felt like he didn’t want to listen to me and like he was trying to rush me out of his office.
Needless to say, I immediately started looking for a new doctor.
I want to tackle my stress issues in order to improve my health and try to prevent major issues like what happened this summer. I don’t want to just throw a bunch of scary new (to me) pills at the disease and ignore the triggers.
But like I said, now I’m stressing out about stressing out. I’m worried that I’ll get sick again before I can get a better handle on my stress. I feel like I’m racing against my own body. Too much stress can make me sick, and being sick stresses me out, and trying not to stress out stresses me out…it all just spins around and around, chicken or the egg.
Physically I’m doing much better than even a few weeks ago. After two and a half months of taking prescription steroids, I’ve been done with them for a few weeks. I’m eating healthy, still mostly Paleo but not being insane about it. My strength, at least the little bits I had before getting sick, is finally back.
It’s been a rough three months, but I’m finally starting to feel like myself again.
Now I’m focusing on the stress issues. It’s not easy, and there’s no quick fix. Therapy, acupuncture, meditation, forcing myself away from the computer more often and doing things like reading and exploring…hopefully these things will all start working and I’ll be able to calm myself down more, whether the stress is creeping up on me quietly or hitting me over the head with a mallet.
Because really, isn’t having less stress and improving how I deal with stress way better than taking stronger drugs and STILL being stressed out?
October 24, 2015 @ 2:11 PM
I have absolutely no words of wisdom to offer you, but dude that sucks. At the risk of sounding like a hippie, have you tried yoga or meditation? I know they’re temporary solutions but I went hiking this week and I forgot how good physical fitness makes me feel
October 26, 2015 @ 9:35 AM
Thanks Candice! I never could get into yoga. I’ve been trying meditation, and it’s tough to get used to, but I’m going to keep trying. I read nothing but good things about how helpful it is, so I’ll keep at it. Good reminder about physical activity. Andy and I just started back at the gym, so hopefully that’ll help too.
October 25, 2015 @ 4:22 AM
Ali, you’ve made precisely the right decision, IMHO. Doctors always rely too heavily on drugs. I’m convinced my Dad would have lived longer if they hadn’t had him on such a poisonous brew of drugs. Meditation is an incredibly powerful tool, but If you’ve never meditated before it can be difficult to get benefits from it. I suggest you take a Yoga class that has a component of meditation. Not a crazy pretzel-twisting form of Yoga, but something gentle, like restorative Yoga (find a teacher who is certified in restorative Yoga). What most people don’t understand is that the whole point of Yoga is to get them to the meditation stage. It relaxes you, removes the stress, and then meditation is much easier and more effective. Sending love and positive energy that you get through this and return to health.
October 26, 2015 @ 9:38 AM
Thanks Barbara! It’s hard not to listen to what the doctor says, but I’ve done enough research to know that there are other options to try before having to resort to anything stronger than what I’m already taking. I’ve only tried yoga at the gym several years ago when I was still in Atlanta. If I find a class that looks good here, maybe I’ll have to give it another try. Andy and I got an online meditation course that we’re trying, so hopefully I can get more comfortable with that. It is difficult to do right now, but I think I just need to keep trying it.
November 19, 2015 @ 2:37 PM
I don’t have much to suggest that hasn’t already been said by previous commenters, but I empathize with you because of my own experiences with stress. It’s a downhill slide because once you start to carry that stress, you lose the ability to get good amounts of restorative sleep, which in turn makes it harder to get out from under the stress. Lather, rinse, repeat, argh!
I’m glad to hear that you’re starting to feel a bit better, and I hope that trend has continued since you wrote this post last month.
November 19, 2015 @ 4:10 PM
Thanks Steven! It’s been up and down. I haven’t actually slept well in a few weeks, and the stress does keep whirling around in my head. But I’m trying. I’m trying to relax and step away from the laptop and have fun moments. I’m not always successful, but I’m trying.