The past few weeks have been a lot. I won’t go into detail because despite this being a personal blog, the events of the past few weeks are simply a little too personal and too close to home to want to share in their full detail. Needless to say, I have been stressed and likely more so than I have in years. At times, it’s easy to forget that stress is a biological response not just a psychic phantom. The body responds to stress poorly and I think we tend to forget that when we ache and feel rundown while being under constant pressure.
I wanted to explore what was feeling and I hope that in sharing and being vulnerable that you all take a moment to think about the stress in your life and how it’s affecting you. With that being said, here is where I felt my stress the most.
Nausea, loss of appetite, increased appetite, food being unappealing
I won’t go into gruesome details here but when people say that you “trust your gut” part of that is because your stomach is a vital part of the system that stress can impact. The past few weeks have been marred with upset stomachs, wanting to eat everything in sight, wanting to eat nothing at all and just generally not feeling well. I remember feeling similarly when my mother passed away and being shocked because I simply hadn’t correlated the shock and trauma of losing my mother as a contributing factor to my then deteriorating health. I’ve been able to feel better by eating when I’m hungry, drinking water and the occasional ginger candy but I’m still working hard to handle my messed up gut biome.
Headaches, dizziness, vertigo
I’m not usually a headache sufferer, only when my blood pressure is too high. So with the recent swaths of severe light-sensitive headaches that can’t be linked to high blood pressure I had to assume that of course, it was the stress. I would get dizzy if I stood too quickly and had to bury under the blankets to avoid light (a perfect place for a depressed person) and I exhausted almost all of my cold compresses just to keep the feeling of blood rushing in between my ears at bay.
Back pain, stiffness
When I’m stressed out I don’t tend to move. I’ll post up in one place and remain there until a biological function usually forces me to move. I stay in that one uncomfortable place for so long that my already ailing back typically grows sore from having to keep me either hunched over, sitting in some kind of impossible twist or laying down in the most inelegant position humanly possible.
Insomnia, fatigue, racing thoughts, obsessive thoughts, negative self-talk
The brain is a cruel hunk of tissue sometimes. The worst part about having mental health issues is knowing that you’d never let your friends talk to themselves the way you talk to yourself. I’m fortunate that I’ve had a network of friends and family propping me up and motivating me and reminding me that I am not a sad miserable slug who doesn’t deserve happiness and I’d truly be lost without them. It was the fatigue I couldn’t deal with at first then the fact that once I tried to sleep that I just couldn’t. Fortunately, I’m on medicine for that now and my nights can be somewhat restful albeit very artificially but I can sleep even if it is often dreamless and rarely restful.
The last few weeks have been hard. The state of the world is…well, it is, my personal life is not what it was and I am nostalgic for a version of my home, my family and myself that likely truly never existed. But in thinking about all the ways stress impacts me and my choices and my body I’ve been working hard to be more mindful and intentional about the choices I make. And in that mindfulness, I have been able to get much more done: like finishing up this blog post.