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Long term stress: symptoms... ideas for coping?


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The past few years I’ve been dealing with a mountain of stress, and particularly this past year I’ve dealt with two major traumatic events, and a couple of lesser ones (if you consider euthanizing a dying elderly dog that I loved intensely “lesser”... really, it’s not, I shouldn’t downplay that). Add to that, stress about the near future, as in the next 9 months or so, til my husband’s estate is finally settled. I could lose this house, which I love. Still have two teens at home, they’re good kids, but you know, they’re teens. It’s not always easy. And have a monumental amount of decades of clutter that I have to get rid of... while that’s inspiring, it’s also physically exhausting. 

What I’m worried about is what the constant neverending stress is doing to me physically. I’m battling body aches on what seems like a daily basis now. My blood pressure has been rising; maybe at my age it would happen anyway, but I’m sure I’m making it worse. Allergies this past year have walloped me, and I’m wondering if it’s partly due to a possibly compromised immune system. My sleep is all over the place. Sometimes I get a few solid hours in, but a lot of nights I don’t, and I’m having nightmares (for the past year) which are making it worse. 

Suggestions from tdoc haven’t worked very well. I’m trying to implement small things, like aromatherapy, stretching (I keep forgetting to do it regularly), really immersing myself in eating healthy and well. I feel like they’re all band-aids though, that ultimately they won’t do much good. 

Can anyone relate, or do you have ideas that have worked for you? As in, how do you change a stressful life when the changes you want to make are out of your control basically? Any vitamin/herbal recommendations? Maybe I’m missing something? 

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2 hours ago, Rabbit37 said:

Suggestions from tdoc haven’t worked very well. I’m trying to implement small things, like aromatherapy, stretching (I keep forgetting to do it regularly), really immersing myself in eating healthy and well. I feel like they’re all band-aids though, that ultimately they won’t do much good. 

Can anyone relate, or do you have ideas that have worked for you? As in, how do you change a stressful life when the changes you want to make are out of your control basically? Any vitamin/herbal recommendations? Maybe I’m missing something? 

Chronic long term stress is really a killer. Its tough. The worst is stress about problems way out of your control. Problems that cannot be solved easily or resolved short-term and they hang over your head weighing on you.

I don't have a solution. I try to continue as much daily self-care as possible. Focus on what you can control and things that make YOU feel good or relaxed (different for each individual). Start out small, eventually those small activities accumulate and make impact over time. Sleep is extremely important for me, regular exercise, stretching everyday, eating healthy - your body needs this to rejuvenate and build immune response. Some people dig aromatherapy, some acupuncture, some meditation, focusing on breath....

Maybe make a list of self-care activities to do each day, week and month (put them on calendar!) Make them specific! (like, I want to sleep 7-8 hours per night, eat healthy breakfast every day....walk 10k steps per day, treat myself to a massage every month, have a lunch date with a friend every weekend, go to a concert or film every month, etc. My old therapist gave me a "pleasant activities list" that was like 5 pages of different activities (multi-sensory) to help me be more intentional about scheduling them (even random stuff like "holding hands with my partner" "petting my cat" "taking a bubble bath" "taking myself out to a restaurant" "planning a trip somewhere"  "thinking about a time when I felt good..."

I also recently read  "the Art of Not Giving a F*ck" this book gives a bit of a different (comical) angle about life and stressing over uncontrollable stuff that wont be important when we're 90 years old. Finally, self-compassion. You are doing the best you can now in this moment give yourself some credit for that!

 

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I understand. I hate when people say "just take some time out for yourself." They make is sound so easy. I don't have the time. Why don't they get it? 

I'm going through a lot myself. I'm not even 30 yet but I've found myself in n a position where I'm a full time caregiver for my father (disabled from stroke), partially supporting my sister financially (disabled due to severe gastrointestinal issues and can't work), and I work full time. My dumb ass decided finishing my degree could be worked in. I took over all the responsibilities and finances of the house. 

The last hospitalization my sister was there for a month, lost 25 lbs, and is terrified to eat. Her gastro issues cause her pain and she's developed an aversion to food. I've had to ditch class, leave work, forego other responsibilities to stop and try to calm her down. 

I found an eating disorders clinic that deals with "atypical cases." They gave us lots of info and told her it would be a 9 week inpatient program. Finally some good news! 

Last week they called and said they wanted to do 5 days a week outpatient for 6 hours a day. The place is an hour and a half away. She doesn't have a car anymore. We have so much going on we can't take her. We really wanted her to be in an environment where she's focused on nothing but herself, her food, get better meds, and away from everything else going on.

My father is coping with his stroke terribly. It's been a year. He's convinced he won't get better (left side has severe weakness, he can't walk much). 

My Mom and my sister are getting kicked out of their house "for the greater good of the public." They want to put up affordable housing. The irony being she couldn't afford to live there. She doesn't make enough from disability. 

My sister lost her job because she was in and out of the hospital. She lost her insurance. She has no income. Her doctor dropped her and her former employer is dragging their feet with paperwork. She can't get disability until it's all finished. 

My parents had a messy divorce and haven't spoken in 19 years. Dad jointly owns part of the property the town wants to build on. They have to talk. Mom won't drop the restraining order,  but she will have to. I get to mediate that talk...

She also tried to get me to sign over his part to her. We never finished POA with him and I'm glad we didn't. 

Oh, and my fridge is dying, my truck has a flat, and my Mom accidentally totaled my sister's car on the way to the hospital. 

The majority of this is beyond my control,  but it all affects me.

My heartrate has been over 100bpm for the past 3 months. I'm technically in tachycardia, but it's all stress. I used to be in high 70s, low 80s. I can't do beta blockers because I have low blood pressure. 

Like you, sleep is completely fucked. 

I have no idea how to cope. Just keep going.

I wish I knew how to help. I just want to let you know you aren't alone. You have a lot on your plate, and I'm hoping you'll be able to get some of it sorted out soon. 

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@Rabbit37 how are things going? <3

I had an awful time in my life when my younger brother died and a while later my husband got cancer. I’m not entirely sure of the timeline as I block most of it out but I know my brother died first. I remember a lot of crying. Hell, I still cry. Especially on anniversaries like my brother’s birthday or Christmas time. It’s very sad.  

When husband went to go in for surgery one of his good buddies and also someone I knew quite well took the day off and spent the surgery time just talking lightly to me. I later told him he saved me from losing my mind that day. 

I guess my point is, do you have anyone to lean on for support or help in your life? To help you go through things is that’s too big of a challenge? I know you have teenagers, but like you said teens will be teens (which is perfectly understandable), If you don’t have anyone don’t feel bad, I don’t have any friends either. That was a one time deal where his friend was waiting in the waiting room for husband during surgery. 

I wanted to also suggest workbooks if you like workbooks. There are tons for free available from the library either via download or actual physical copies from the library. I did one and it was helpful. I can’t find it anymore. I wanted to give you the link but I can’t find the darn thing. If I do I’ll update. 

Lastly, mindfulness things? Have you done any of these tricks? Guided meditation to ground yourself? 3 thing you see, hear, touch with your hand, and smell...to ground yourself? Carry around a stone in your pocket and describe it in your head when overwhelmed, again to ground yourself?

Progressive muscle relaxation is popular too. YouTube has a wealth of videos if you are interested of this and the guided meditations.

Some of these have helped me. Some not so much. But I figured I’d mention them in case they’d help you out. I’m sorry you are under such horrible awful beyond awful stress. Thinking of you. 

Edited by Wonderful.Cheese
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@Persona_Is_Life, oh damn, so sorry to hear your situation. God that’s rough. I hope you get a break at some point soon.

@Wonderful.Cheese, thank you, excellent suggestions. I do have a support IRL, my neighbor comes over every evening, and we sit outside chatting and laughing while our tremendously goofy large dogs play. It does help tremendously, even if it’s only a short while. I’ve never used workbooks, I might look into them.

@notloki, my pdoc does prescribe me Ativan, but he doesn’t want me taking it on a regular basis. My BP does tend toward depression, and he firmly believes that benzo use could contribute to it. I try to save the Ativan for when it’s all just too much, or when I bolt awake from nightmares. 

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On 11/16/2018 at 1:21 AM, Rabbit37 said:

@Persona_Is_Life, oh damn, so sorry to hear your situation. God that’s rough. I hope you get a break at some point soon.

@Wonderful.Cheese, thank you, excellent suggestions. I do have a support IRL, my neighbor comes over every evening, and we sit outside chatting and laughing while our tremendously goofy large dogs play. It does help tremendously, even if it’s only a short while. I’ve never used workbooks, I might look into them.

@notloki, my pdoc does prescribe me Ativan, but he doesn’t want me taking it on a regular basis. My BP does tend toward depression, and he firmly believes that benzo use could contribute to it. I try to save the Ativan for when it’s all just too much, or when I bolt awake from nightmares. 

Thanks. I do hope things get better for you. You aren't alone. 

I have a dog too. He's the best. His presence is really helpful when everything seems to hit the wall. 

Any thoughts on therapy? 

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@BrianOCD, I have a pdoc appt soon, I’ll be asking for something like that, at least short term. Thanks. 

@Persona_Is_Life, oh goodness, I’m an animal lover. I have two dogs, three cats and a parrot (and fish and a tarantula, but that’s more eye candy). I can’t imagine ordinary life, much less life filled with stress, without them. 

Yep, therapy, once a week. I’ve been with my tdoc for years, how often varies, but it’s my lifeline. 

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11 hours ago, BrianOCD said:

benzos are very anti-stress

Yes they are. My pdoc does not believe people like myself with multiple chronic conditions should have to deal with stress unaided. The HIV doc in town puts all his patients on Xanax or other benzo as a matter of course.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 11/7/2018 at 2:12 PM, Rabbit37 said:

The past few years I’ve been dealing with a mountain of stress, and particularly this past year I’ve dealt with two major traumatic events, and a couple of lesser ones (if you consider euthanizing a dying elderly dog that I loved intensely “lesser”... really, it’s not, I shouldn’t downplay that). Add to that, stress about the near future, as in the next 9 months or so, til my husband’s estate is finally settled. I could lose this house, which I love. Still have two teens at home, they’re good kids, but you know, they’re teens. It’s not always easy. And have a monumental amount of decades of clutter that I have to get rid of... while that’s inspiring, it’s also physically exhausting. 

What I’m worried about is what the constant neverending stress is doing to me physically. I’m battling body aches on what seems like a daily basis now. My blood pressure has been rising; maybe at my age it would happen anyway, but I’m sure I’m making it worse. Allergies this past year have walloped me, and I’m wondering if it’s partly due to a possibly compromised immune system. My sleep is all over the place. Sometimes I get a few solid hours in, but a lot of nights I don’t, and I’m having nightmares (for the past year) which are making it worse. 

Suggestions from tdoc haven’t worked very well. I’m trying to implement small things, like aromatherapy, stretching (I keep forgetting to do it regularly), really immersing myself in eating healthy and well. I feel like they’re all band-aids though, that ultimately they won’t do much good. 

Can anyone relate, or do you have ideas that have worked for you? As in, how do you change a stressful life when the changes you want to make are out of your control basically? Any vitamin/herbal recommendations? Maybe I’m missing something? 

Just heard this guy on YT, that famous chiropractor, I wish I'd heard before starting going to docs for stress (which turns out to be PTSD... sorta sudden onset back in the day, later Dxed as hyperthyroid but to this day they don't know what came first: the stress, or the thyroid disorder, and there's no real help for it. I'm long-term 4mg/day Xanax and, for the last 5 years, thryoid meds and propanolol).

This YT guy INDEED thinks good diet (many plants, no sugars and processed foods), 20mts day walking, mediation or praying depending on your beliefs/Faith, and most importantly (and what I think would have helped me the most): GOOD SLEEP. Not drug-induced sleep, but he goes to bed at 10p and gets up at 4p, and swears by it. He says it "reprograms" a person's mind to be able to deal with even extreme stress, if it's good sleep.

I'm going to try it (even though I have issues that require meds now that he probably wouldn't recommend). I'm not sure I can link him here "legally" but of all the docs I've heard, this guy really makes good "science" sense. (He also hates the current "psycho/health "management" industry" who benefits from SICK people, and the DSM V which labels everyone "something", if not many things, that a decade ago wouldn't have been labeled as abnormal at all). I'll edit it in if I figure out it's okay to link YTs here or not.

Regarding your teens and the mountains of work to do in your house, a step at a time and put those kids to work! My teens turned into entitled young adults of nightmares (husband indulges them; I will not), but back before my daughter's accident that gave her brain damage and got her diagnosed "BPD" (which I don't believe: brain damage is brain damage, not a personality disorder), I "over-indulged" them as well. MISTAKE! I love them, but they're college and just-graduated college (20/22) and they are ridiculous. I wish I would've made them do more as teens, instead of "trying to be in the mom's club" (ugh — way too much stress I tried to "protect" the kids from). Ask your kids to do some stuff around the house. For your good as well as theirs. My kids once helped me clean out my parents house when it had to sell, and they were "good" back then and respectful of things. If they'd done that more often, I think they'd be less-childish "young adults" now.

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Okay. First of all, this is a pro-med site, I am pro-med, so please don’t bother me with quackery of a chiropractor. 

If you read, I WANT fucking sleep, but god damn, nightmares from my late husband’s mental/emotional abuse while he slowly committed drug/alcohol suicide is keeping me awake. FWIW, I go to bed at 9pm, with an alarm of 4:30am. So thanks, but that’s not exactly helpful. 

Thirdly, I have good kids, and they’re not over-indulged. I was just pointing out that they’re typical teens. They help when I ask, and often when I don’t. They have trauma they’re dealing with too, in addition to their own MI issues. 

Edited by Rabbit37
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