This is a question worth asking since nearly all of us have some kind of stress in our lives at any given time. As a kid my way of Dealing was by using sweets as a band-aid. Looking back I still wonder how I made it through my adolescent years without being labeled as obese. I was by no means skinny; I think the words ‘slightly pudgy’ and ‘a little chunky’ were used to describe my frame, but I never crossed over into obese, then morbidly obese until I hit college.
I have such sympathy for my 18 year old self. She was so terribly insecure, scared half out of her wits at the thought of venturing into the unfamiliar, and desperate for a sense of direction. If I could go back to one moment in time it would be then, so I could step in and get that girl the help she desperately needed.
Some twenty odd years have passed and I feel like I’ve fought and clawed my way to a place in my life where I feel happy, settled, and on track. But then these curve balls come hurling from out of nowhere and I’m left realizing that I’ve learned nothing about how to deal with stress. If I had, I’d still be taking time for Yoga – something that I haven’t done in ages. Honestly speaking though, at this point I doubt if Yoga would work for me right now. I don’t think I could slow down enough to even attempt it. Guess I haven’t really changed much over the years after all.
Stress is still a factor in my life that I avoid at all costs. I’m an extremist in some ways because at times I avoid those good stressors which isn’t healthy, either. Finding a happy medium is still a challenge.
I’ve come to realize that I am a lot like my father. While he tended to neglect his physical health, I neglect my mental health.
My dad was a man who never, ever complained about anything health-related. Ever. I remember one night when he showed up from work over two hours late. He didn’t provide any explanation nor did I see any indication of what could have caused his tardiness other than the smudge of dirt on his shoulder as his only giveaway. It wasn’t until nearly an hour later that he decided to tell my mother that he was late because he’d been mugged. Mugged, and he recounted the story as though he were recounting what he’d had for lunch.
If my Dad were suffering from the terrible side effects of Diabetes, sometimes seeing double or triple, we might stumble across this information at the dinner table while watching him spear his napkin with his fork instead of the carrot that sat mere inches away. Only upon bringing this to his attention would he offer any information that he was having trouble.
Although I am opposite my father in that I am dedicated to my physical health, my mental health has always pretty much taken a beating. Instead of being proactive about stress and safeguarding myself against risks associated with it, I tend to do the opposite: I hunker down, drag my body through disasters and ignore the heart palpitations, the sleepless nights, the extreme fatigue – until my body decides that if I’m not going to do something to reduce that stress it will. Drudging through the muck no longer becomes an option; if I don’t release some of that stress by relying on my old stand-by (food) then I’ll either become physically sick or severely depressed. That’s generally when I find myself in bed with the shades drawn and sleep for hours upon hours at a time, unable to talk to anyone or do anything but submerge myself in silence.
Sometimes I wonder what will happen to me before I truly learn how to properly deal with stress.
On the 15th it will be exactly two months since Craig woke up with pain and nausea. Several doctors appointments, countless vials of drawn blood, numerous tests and one surgery later and we’re still no closer to finding an answer than we were when this whole thing started. We have doctors appointments scheduled for the rest of the week and he’ll likely be scheduled for a colonoscopy next – something he really should have had already, in my opinion – but hindsight is, after all, 20/20.
Dealing with stress is something that I need to learn how to do now, not later.
So, this brings me back to my original question. How do you Deal?