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?

7/7/15

I want to curl up in a small little ball with the covers pulled up and hide in the black recesses of sleep. Instead I keep finding myself getting up and putting on clothes, putting some type of sustenance in my body, cleaning up around the house, going for walks…essentially living.

It is weird how much can happen and you just keep going about your day.

However, when I lay down to go to sleep the walls I have up to shield me from my emotions start to slide down. The panic starts in, it takes all my effort to calm my thoughts and I find myself fighting against the stress until the sweet relief of unconsciousness takes over. I don’t know if I want to know just how much is being held back by those walls I’ve erected in my mind.

I wonder what kind of mental stress tests military people are put through. I wonder just how far a mind can go without breaking. What is life preparing me for with all of this stress? I could go crazy if I focus too much on “whys” because there will never be any answers. Life does not promise us any rose gardens and even if it did you’d still have to deal with the thorns.

I find myself getting mad when I hear people bitching about small non-issues and complaining about utterly trivial things. I think to myself that they must not realize how lucky they are if that’s their biggest problem. I wonder how they can’t see how blessed their life is and how sad it is that they would waste any time putting negativity out there for something so small. Then I have to remind myself that it’s all about perspective and since I wouldn’t wish my trials and tribulations on anyone else how would I expect them to see things the same way I do.

Life is hard how do people keep doing this?

Noticed Thursdays night that I was getting a lot of acid building up after eating or drinking anything. I completely forgot about the discomfort of the night before when I made myself a cup of coffee Friday morning. The resulting unpleasant after-effect reminded me that something might be going on. After experiencing even more pain after eating lunch on Friday I realized that my high levels of stress, higher than normal consumption of coffee, round of antibiotics and the several nights of taking a dose of Robitussin to quiet my cough so I could sleep had resulted in some pretty destructive effects to my stomach.

Hello stress ulcer. Haven’t dealt with you since I was still an editor-in-chief of a newspaper. Had to cut out the coffee. Which meant that by Saturday afternoon I was dragging. Barely ate Saturday or Sunday because it was so uncomfortable. By Sunday I was also battling a headache. I slept most of Sunday and rested in a deep couch groove. I wanted so badly to take something for the headache but didn’t want to deal with the pain in my stomach. Woke up today with the headache still firmly throbbing.

Ughhh, my body revolting is just another stressful thing I didn’t need. I am working from home today, which I hadn’t planned on doing. I just need a break from all of this. Wtf life, wtf.

Under Pressure

I am no stranger to stress, or insomnia, pain, loneliness, ridiculous expectations, impossible situations and hard times. The more life throws at me the more weary I get, but I continue to press on and overcome each challenge. Sometimes I have help, often I stupidly choose to try to figure it out on my own. Apparently I like to do things the hard way. Over time I have evolved my perception of what “pressure” really is. When I hear strangers complaining about some big dramatic problem (aka minor social issue they have created themselves) they have, I often laugh to myself and think they have no idea what a real problem is. I see life differently, approach problems differently than the majority of the population because of all I have endured. Under the pressure of my life I have not broken, but instead have hardened and transformed into something stronger and more versatile. I think the difference between breaking and strengthening through trials is your ability to hold onto love. Anger and hate make us bitter(brittle) but love keeps us flexible. Love allows us to mold ourselves into something better and stronger, allows us to take in the attributes of others and to give of ourselves to build another up just as tough. I have to believe that when it comes down to it, love is our greatest weapon against the constant attack from life. Love will allow you to withstand life’s pressure and become a better version of yourself. If you have the right tools, and approach, than being under pressure doesn’t have to be something negative. What doesn’t kill you makes you who you are.

That being said, I leave you with the wise words of David Bowie and the members of Queen.

“Pressure pushing down on me
Pressing down on you no man ask for
Under pressure – that burns a building down
Splits a family in two
Puts people on streets
Ee day da – that’s o.k.
It’s the terror of knowing
What this world is about
Watching some good friends
Screaming ‘Let me out’
Pray tomorrow – gets me higher
Pressure on people – people on streets
O.k.
Chippin’ around – kick my brains around the floor
These are the days it never rains but it pours
People on streets – People on streets – It’s the terror of knowing
What this world is about
Watching some good friends
Screaming ‘Let me out’
Pray tomorrow – gets me higher high high
Pressure on people – people on streets
Turned away from it all like a blind man
Sat on a fence but it don’t work
Keep coming up with love
but it’s so slashed and torn
Why – why – why ?
Love love love love love
Insanity laughs under pressure we’re cracking
Can’t we give ourselves one more chance
Why can’t we give love that one more chance
Why can’t we give love give love give love give love
give love give love give love give love give love
‘Cause love’s such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the Night
And love dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves
Under pressure

Under pressure
Pressure”

Killing Me Faster

Went to the doctor the other day to try to get a handle on my constant fatigue, joint pain and anxiety. Couldn’t find a thing wrong with me, all symptoms were attributed to the stress I’m under. Apparently because I have taken steps to eat healthy, stay physically active and spend time meditating I have reduced the physical damage of the high stress levels on my body. However, if I do not reduce the amount of stress I am under I will start to see even more symptoms and eventually there could be permanent damage. I wonder how many people consider the long-term effects of daily stress on their body. I worry about husband, he is under basically the same stress but he does not eat healthy, work out or use stress reduction techniques like meditation. If we start a family will I be left to raise children alone due to potential health complications with him? How do you convince someone to take care of their health? Good lord, that’s just something else I don’t need to stress about. Ughh can’t wait to meet with a lawyer tomorrow, things have to get better before I am reduced to a dead-eyed zombie self destructing from lack of basic needs.