Stress Overload pt 2

Did you know it was entirely possible to have a panic attack with no mental panic.

Did you know that said panic attack can last for days, even weeks, in varying degrees.

I wonder if the difference between the typical panic attacks and one that only seems to affect your body are related to how afraid you are to die. Usually the feeling that your heart is beating so hard it could go into arrest, all your muscles contracting and the weight on your chest keeping you from being able to breath causes your brain to be flooded with chemicals usually associated with fear. The fear that you’re dying causes mental stress, racing thoughts, possibly a shut down in cognitive functions. Unpleasant. But what if that mental part is critical for the cycle to end. I know it is a mental trigger to the physical body to start the attack, but what if it needs that mental overload to shut it down as well?

So what happens when the thought that you might be dying doesn’t cause fear…when you’re so desensitized that there’s no real incentive to tell your body to shut it down. You keep on having constant dull aches in your chest, you have to constantly remind your body to breath, because it’s hard to do and sometimes your auto program just stops working and you realize you haven’t taken a breath for over a minute or two, your muscles all start to ache because they are so tight for so long and joints sometimes start to swell up, you become so tired that all you want to do is sleep. Even after you sleep tho, you’re still tired because within minutes of waking up the tightness is back, and everything hurts and you have to make an effort to breath, and your heart always feels like it’s working too hard to pump blood.

I’ve been asked, are you sure you’re having a panic attack tho, can you have one without the mental aspect? Well, I have no fever, no infection, blood pressure is within normal range, lungs are clear, heart rate isn’t elevated, EKG looked fine, cholesterol levels are excellent, lipids are good, liver function is good, and yet continue to have that pain in my chest, continue to struggle for breath, continue to battle constant fatigue now that it’s been going on for a week. It was the best guess of the last doctor I saw. I present as perfectly healthy and all my symptoms would be explained by stress. FUCKING STRESS!

I hope this cycle ends soon, getting real tired of feeling like this.

 

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Stress Overload

What happens when, after years of seemingly neverending stress, you encounter a situation that ends up being that proverbial last straw?

Well, it can go one of many ways.

If you have the resources and support system to take time off to rest, have other people step in and actually assist in solutioning the problems that have occurred, and you have enough general good health you tend to be able to pull yourself back up out of the prison that you got trapped in when your mind shut itself off because it just didn’t have any capacity to process anything due to the dangerously high stress levels that has reduced you to a barely functioning shadow of yourself.

However, if you happen to be limited on resources, and your support system is also limited in resources, and you don’t have general good health and your mind was already taxed due to unstable chemical production, and you had just started a new job so you couldn’t take time off and suddenly the health and well-being of your children were also in danger and you were finding it difficult to obtain the necessary medical help needed to attend to them, nevermind your own questionable health issues, well…if that your situation the results might look a little different.

If you’ve ever had to deal with real prolonged stress, like keep you awake at night, cortisol levels through the roof, body systems overly taxed with no chance to rest, coming from all sides, not caused by you making poor life choices so add anxiety to the mix stress, you know how hard it gets to function after awhile.

Much like a computer when too much memory is used and suddenly everything becomes slow and even closing a browser window can take several minutes, finding yourself in prolonged periods of excessive stress will eventually cause your brain to just shut down. The flood of chemicals that are produced from the stress dampen your cognitive functions. You can’t even sleep because your brain is still slowly trying to sort through the backlog and it interprets it as a suffocating mass trying to end your life (not a very restful experience as it literally translates into feeling like you’re being suffocated) so you wake up constantly, most times in a panic.

When this happens, generally, unless you have those resources (money, PTO, support system of other people who have the knowledge and resources to actually provide problem solving assistance, appropriate timely medical care) you’re fucking screwed. You don’t have the money to get immediate actual medical help, you don’t have any vacation time to take from work so if you miss too many days it’s goodbye job, your support system can try to help but if the issues are mostly external and requires money and the ability to be able to take time away from work and retain your job that isn’t something they can help you with. Our societal system isn’t set up to help with this. Immediate mental health resources are lackluster, unless you have money to burn, and often cause more problems instead of helping. Employers aren’t going to wait around for you to get your shit together (which takes awhile when you don’t have the ability to reduce your stress immediately) so that just adds to your overwhelming burden. It impacts your immediate family and everyone who wasn’t already stressed becomes stressed and that reduces their ability to help you and then you feel guilty which adds to your stress and around and around it goes.

I think about how much money is wasted on researching ED and regrowing hair and other superfluous medical issues, or on creating weapons, or all the money people donated to build a damn wall and I think about how it could be going towards creating resources to help people pull themselves out of situations like this. Stress is a much bigger issue than a dude who can’t get his dick hard (probably more mental issues than physical in the men who use those drugs) and affects way more people. Yet we just tell people to breath and meditate and exercise and create life plans to combat stress. If it was as easy as breathing more or going for a run no one would end up in stress overload.

When it comes to prolonged, excessive, stress we need to find better solutions. We also need more options for immediate care for mental health issues in people who are not suicidal. The ER isn’t well equipped for mental health support and if you try to get yourself therapy it can take weeks to get in to see someone and by then your brain has shut down and every issue causing the stresss has been compounded. It’s just a fail all around and it’s frustrating to watch these situations happen to people you love and know there’s not much you can do to help them and apparently not much they can do to help themselves.

I am grateful that despite all of the excessive stress in my life I’ve managed to keep from having my brain hit its absolute limit (though I’ve come dangerously close) but if that day does come I hope I’ll be able navigate through it with what resources I have because right now it doesn’t appear that there’s any other options available.

Has anyone else hit that limit, or know someone who has? What was your experience like?

Blue Splash It Is

Not exactly the blue wave one could have hoped for across the country, but there was a blue splash and the congressional house will now allow for the faintest hint of checking upon the current government.

My current local district flipped from red to blue and we flipped the state house as well, so that we’re now the only state in the country with a divided house/senate. Blue, blue, blue across the major seats open so I can take my anxiety level down a tiny notch, even if I don’t think the battle is close to being over. I wish I didn’t have to use words like “battle” and I wish we could go back to being able to support third party candidates without worrying that by doing so we were helping other candidates that openly support hate and fear and divisiveness.

Also, can I say how pleased I am to have 2 awesome ladies as my state senators and to have my near future district being repped by a passionate and engaging Somali woman. Our country, our states, our districts, our cities…they are made up of more than old straight white christian men and to see more and more diversity in government is AMAZING.

Let’s keep the momentum going. Can we stop fear mongering and start problem solving? Can we stop focusing on profits and start focusing on people? Maybe if we started really addressing the global climate crisis and reversing all the damage we’re doing to the planet people wouldn’t have this underlying fear and anxiety that is being tapped into for exploitation by rich assholes. When there is enough to go around, people don’t feel the need to hate their neighbors, or start wars, or rally against anyone seeking asylum. The hate, the wars, the sense of scarcity…those are all tools used by people that want to profit from and control others. Don’t give them that power.

 

Last Vestiges of Hope

Tomorrow, November 6th, 2018, America has the opportunity to try and halt the growing divide of hatred that has permeated the country. One of three things will happen.

Voting percentages remain as low as usual and result in things continuing on as they are.

Almost everyone votes and we get the blue wave that restores a bit of check and balance to the government.

Almost everyone votes and there isn’t a blue wave, maybe only a blue splash that doesn’t quite restore any checks or balances and shows that the problem of hatred and greed extends far deeper than anyone was willing to admit.

Right now we can still have hope. I just hope my hope isn’t dashed the same way it was back in November of 2016.

VOTE, no matter who you’re voting for, because I either want to see the majority accurately represented in government or I want to know without a doubt that I am surrounded by assholes.

What Will It Take?

What will it take to decide enough is enough? What will it take to inspire people to collaborate for the benefit of all, not just themselves? What will it take to show the dangers of desensitization? What will it take to stop the excessive hypocrisy?

I really want to know.

I want to know how to have a meaningful conversation with people so full of fear and hate that they have lost their compassion, their decency, their empathy.

I want to know what drives a person to look past cruel and vicious natures and legitimize actions that purposely hurt others.

How insecure must our nation be, to allow this circus to thrive?

Unacceptable

Trump denying the high death toll of Puerto Ricans after the hurricanes just further reminds me of Hitler initially denying the climbing death toll of Jews during the war.

For anyone who hadn’t experienced Nazi Germany and wondered how Hitler ever came to power, they need only look to what has and continues to happen in the United States right now.

I’ve had people vehemently deny that Trump is anything like Hitler but at this point there’s enough evidence that I think it’s safe to say there’s far too many similarities to refute the comparison.