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What Does Stress Look Like?

That is a question that I have been asking myself and others have been asking me. Am I stressed? Am I having an anxiety attack? I am going to say, Yes, I am.

I have come to the conclusion that showing stress and anxiety looks different for everyone. According to what I have seen from my own family, extreme crying fits, freaking out every time something goes wrong, having suicidal thoughts, punching someone in the face, then I would say I do not feel anxiety or stressed. I have a habit of comparing what my family or friends do to what it is I do. Is that reality? I don’t think it is. How I respond to a stressful situation is going to look completely different than how others respond. I cannot or should not compare my reactions to someone else. Stress is stress no matter what it looks like or whose voice it has.

I am stressed trying to adjust and accept this latest leg of my journey of getting the Ritaximab treatment and the side effects and the odd bodily things it is doing and then the emotional aspects of it all. I am not crawling under the bed and yes I have exhibited anger. I actually told God today I wanted to punch him in the face and called Him an asshole. He and I have an intimate relationship and He understands my anger and feelings. I do not feel shame for that emotion outburst at all. After all, He allowed me to feel it and then He gave me some offerings of comfort.
I am learning to express my stress to people. If you are one of the few who I send random text messages then that is what I am doing. I am opening up to my TEAM family and close friends who want to understand and stand up and fight this unnamed beast that is plaguing my body. I am still learning what it is to exactly use my voice, to express my emotions, and not to wear the mask of I’m okay, do not worry about me. The martyr mask is not fun and is heavy to wear. I refuse to wear it anymore.

Here is a snippet of my journal entry. I am explaining what my body is doing with the new chemical assault it is experiencing with the drugs. I want to be understood and I also do not want to be looked at as some kind of psycho either. “While lying down I feel out of sorts. Like my fingers and hands, belly is small and is shrinking and then they are huge, bigger than life and this distortion aspect of my thinking wans back and forth. I know it isn’t truth. I know it isn’t reality, but it feels like it is happening. Is this the result of the Ritaximab and Solumedrol treatments from Tuesday? How can I not feel real, how can I be feeling this way? I do not want to sound psycho to someone, like I am having disassociation experiences that need to send me to a loony bend. Did my dad feel this way while he was going through his treatments?”

I feel like Alice In Wonderland when she was drinking her potions to become smaller or taller and she was in some kind of loop and it was messing with her mind. Didn’t I just read in Joyce Meyer’s book “Battlefield of the Mind” that the mind is the battlefield that is being used by the devil in order to cause us stress and anxiety? She offers some great suggestions, now I just need to put them into practice. Tools, what are my tools? I need to buy some index cards so that I can write out things to keep me calm and in top fighter mode.

My tools:

I am speaking out. I am writing. I am expressing how I am feeling and what my body is doing. Even if it sounds like a psycho rampage to those around me, if anything, this whole journey has taught me to SPEAK my truth. To share who I am fully and not just a masked version of what they want me to be. I am showing all the shit that just happens to come up when those mind monkeys decided to show their ugly heads and I hope to soon show you the trumpet as I and Jesus beat them to a bloody pulp.
I am looking at my wall of HOPE. I put together a wall of HOPE, which has cards, quotes, pictures that give me pause to reflect and remember that this mind madness is only temporary. That anything that is worthy of fighting for is not easy. It is a long, bloody battle and that I have a great many tools to my disposal. Friends, family, action plans, books, music, movies, Nicholas, my voice, and my journal are just a few of the tools that I have. I am blessed by them.

I have also decided that I am going to go back into therapy. I haven’t gone since all these surgeries started happening in August 2012. Spending a week or two in the hospital does not make keeping appointments easy and I like being able to go to someone and tell them my fears and problems too and get more tools for my arsenal. I love my family. I love my friends. I also know they have their own journeys to walk through and they do not need to hold my hand while I am walking down mine. We love and respect each other and sometimes we have to walk alone with God in order to be whole. And I have had some amazing therapist in the past two years and each one has given me amazing tools that I love sharing and using.

I am seeing my primary care physician to get the rest of the Rituximab infusions set up here in Vancouver, so that I do not have to drive three hours to get them in Seattle. I am also going to talk to my doctor about getting good sleep. I need sleep and a whole slew of other things that I need to set up in order stay healthy.
I did enjoy some candy and steak. I allowed myself to enjoy something that I have been craving.

What does being stress look like for you? Do you ever think you are not stressed because you are comparing what stress looks like on someone else and then disregarding it for yourself? What actions do you take to reduce and relax? Breathe and reflect on your answer.

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