The Mind and Mental Health: How Stress Affects the Brain

https://www.tuw.edu/health/how-stress-affects-the-brain/

Recently, a friend reminded me how much stress is affecting me. For the umpteenth time, I will have to talk to my doctor about a full neurological workup because I am not myself at all. Dizzy, anxious, burnt out, exhausted to the point where I can barely keep my eyes open, yet I am not getting the right amount of sleep. Last night, I broke down and took the prescription I had previously mentioned. I slept under seven hours, but was mentally awake for most of that time (which means I was not hitting a real REM cycle); I just couldn’t move, and when I did, I would drink some iced hibiscus tea, which I keep in a big Starbucks cold cup, and go right back into finding a comfortable spot, especially since I woke up a little before midnight with a cat firmly attached to my feet. She doesn’t usually spend her nights with me, so I knew she was worried about me. That’s when she becomes maternal. I then woke up from a headache and an anxiety attack which piggy-banked into a full blown panic attack. At 1:30 in the morning. For no obvious reason, and by then, she had wandered off.

Stress can break you down. I should be calm and a little more laid back as certain things in my life are going really well, but for some reason, my mind is not on board. I hope there’s a way to find out what’s wrong and get the help I need before I am hospitalized and having to relearn how to do things. It is scary, but this has happened in my family, so I am well within my rights to be concerned.

I am trying to take it easy, limit stress, and hopefully I can manage this without lashing out at my doctor later this month. I feel he has been hesitant and irresponsible when I’ve presented all the lead up symptoms to what I m currently experiencing. If he blows me off again, I will schedule an appointment with someone new, and fire him by year’s end. Unfortunately, I feel this is is something I need to do if he refuses to take it seriously. I can’t exactly go to Urgent Care with something I’m deeply unsure of. Yet, I know my body and I know something is wrong. I’m praying it is something that lifestyle adjustments will fix, but part of me feels it’s worse.

Praying for less stress and better days.

Forks In The Road

Welcome to all the new readers, and those who’ve been with me for years or months. 🙂 I’m happy to greet you all.

I’ve been working on a piece about racism and my personal experiences with different forms of it, but mostly, I have started to notice just how worn out I am, which lends to me feeling completely useless. I am not sleeping well; and I am trying not to rely on prescription sleep medication because it either doesn’t work or it leaves me with sleep paralysis. I am burnt out, stressed about life and the future, thinking about all of my relationships, etc. I’ve been trying to allow myself the honesty of all of my feelings privately, which hasn’t been helpful, though perhaps I am too close to say if it’s helping or not. I do know there are abysmal highs and lows these days.

I will be taking some brief breaks for the next month or so. I don’t know if they will be obvious or not, but I think it’s necessary and needed. I think it’s time to get my head into some sense of normalcy and keep pushing for betterment. I hope you will all understand the reasoning. I will still be present, but there will be days when I’m not. I hope it’ll be fine, no matter what.

For the month of March, I will be focusing on a few charities in support of Colorectal Cancer and Women’s History Month. I also have my Goddaughter’s tenth birthday approaching. People always say, “You’re way too young to be a Godmother.” I don’t think they understand what an honor it is to be asked to be a part of a child’s life in such a deeply personal way. There is no age requirement or limit involved. It’s an honor and a privilege, and yes, it is also a responsibility. It says something about me, as a person, that people fully trust me with their child.

I will do my best not to be too “out of it” here, but will also do my best to rally. For now, though, this picture near a local trail says it all. I’m walking towards the color, because everything else feels too harming and bleak.

Wishing you all a peaceful week. Bright Blessings.

The Most Important Reason

“The most important reason for your “no” is that you need your downtime so you won’t behave like a jerk because you’re depleted. And you don’t want to battle an appetite spiked by the stress of over-commitment. But that’s your secret; others don’t need that information. So just smile, say no, thank you, and keep moving.”
―Holly Mosier

Stressors and Triggers

I intended to write something specific today, but my mood is bringing me deep down. That’s when I know I need a break, a distraction, and perhaps a six month long vacation away from daily stressors and triggers. Alas, I settled for a stack of good books.

When you’re writing about certain topics, it is often good to stay away from reading books on said topics. Instead, I find stepping back, and reading the topic for a while, is far more encouraging regarding how you will finish it, and what the quality of the writing will be.

So, I guess I’m on a bit of a self-imposed break this week. Here’s hoping I’m inspired to do things on my own terms, because forcing it means you’re writing crap. At least from my perspective.

Have a good week.

October

This is my favorite season and favorite time of year, but after an emotional, rage-filled moment yesterday, I am questioning EVERYTHING in my life.

To be fair to myself, I reacted via a triggering comment made to me, and new medication that, without my knowing in advance, causes people to occasionally react in a volatile fashion. I’ve stopped the medication, obviously. I don’t ever want to be the type of person who uses her medication as an excuse not to behave properly. That’s unacceptable to me. It’s going to take a week or so to get it fully out of my system, which isn’t a common issue for others, but apparently, for me, it builds up. For most people, it it out of their system within 12-24 hours. I am feeling is gradually leave, but nowhere near fast enough. 😦

I never ask my doctor about trying new medication unless things are bad. This was “new to me” medication, and I should have done extensive research before taking my first capsule. I openly admit to feeling stupid, but relieved that I quickly found the info and said, “I can’t do this anymore.” I had JUST spoken to him yesterday about the drug and was trying to tough it out past the side effects, but that one moment was one moment too many.

When you’re suffering and working solo on your pain/trauma/harm, anything can resurface and cause you to react. That’s what life has been like for me for the past few years, but I haven’t mentioned it. I’ve tried to cope silently, and in turn, I’ve retraumatized myself in several different ways. It is sad and upsetting, and I wish I had the energy to discuss it at length, but I don’t. I feel empty because this is an exhausting process. It’s made worse by no one asking how you’re doing or reaching out to you out of any kind of genuine concern or love for you, which I find SO insulting.

In times like this, I take a huge step back from people. I stop reaching out to them because, quite frankly, enough is enough. The world doesn’t revolve around others who have zero interest in doing the same for you. At the start of quarantine, I reached out to all of my friends to make sure everyone was doing okay, and I let damn near everyone know I was available if they needed to talk. I was mostly ignored. And then, at the end of July, my cousin passed away from terminal lung cancer. I reached out to two of her children, with whom I have solid relationships with, but I know they will call or text if they are having a rough time. They have their support systems. I do not.

I don’t speak to 96% of my blood relatives, and I have my reasons. If you have to find out that your Aunt passed away by finding her obituary online (after not being able to reach her by phone), that is a testament to how your cousins actually feel about you. My father’s side of the family baffles me. My mother’s side isn’t much better, but at least a few people value me enough to maintain a relationship of some kind. One of my cousins is sending me distantly related cousins via Facebook because she uploaded her DNA onto 23andMe and located people this way. If I wanted to upload my DNA to find family, I would do it myself. The truth is, I have enough distant relatives to last a lifetime and no deep-seeded need to “connect” with people I don’t know at this stage in my life. Especially with people in their 70s, 80s, 90s, etc. Let them live and be well, but I would much prefer a few peers. I don’t want conversations about who died, and when. Hard pass.

So yeah, I am struggling. I am suffering. I’m in a dark place. I am usually on a telehealth appointment once a week with my doctor, and despite writing and doing research for various projects I have in the works, I feel like I am mostly achieving nothing at all.

I am either asleep or not sleeping at all. I am in a lot of pain, so I have extremely limited what I do and where I go. After getting sick last month for a while (and having my symptoms suddenly disappear), I wonder if I need to be tested for Covid. It’s hard to tell if my cough is “just allergies”. I might have a minor cold, but it’s the feverish feeling with no fever and insane chills, that make me worry. Yes, this could be a major Fibromyalgia flare-up, or something valid. Unfortunately, when I did call my doctor’s office about this, they weren’t the least bit concerned. The fact that a persistent cough makes me feel like there’s eucalyptus living inside my chest was of zero concern to them, but they thought they were doing me a favor by letting me know I could go and get tested, and they’d fax a request in wherever I decided to go. Instead, I called a local Urgent Care and they said, “Just come in. We don’t need a note or prescription from your doctor, and it’s covered by your insurance.” There’s also free testing being done in the area, so I’m covered if I do need to go. My insurance has called, texted, and sent letters to let me know any testing or treatment will be 100% covered. If I go, I will verify it over the phone, just to be on the safe side of potentially receiving an astronomical bill.

As it begins to dip into the 40s and 50s here, my entire body feels like someone poured -30 degree blood into my veins. Even if it’s 70 degrees outside, I am bundled up like it’s about to snow. I can’t seem to shake the chill. And yet, this could just be my new normal. 😦 I will not know until Spring, pretty much.

Here’s hoping some of this lifts for me and I am able to enjoy the Fall version of October. Realistically, I’m not holding my breath.

copyright © 2020 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Not Quite

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I’m still not doing too great post-treatment. I’m either sleeping too little or too much, and the amount of pain I am in may last another 7-10 days. The plus side of this is that I was approved to start taking Nurtec. I’ll figure this out as I go, but thus far, I haven’t heard a single negative thing about it. Considering all the migraine sufferers in the world and the suddenness of the CGRP drugs being pushed through slightly over two years ago, only hearing positive things is a lot like finding a unicorn. I will know more when the hospital pharmacy delivers it to me in a few days.

Beyond this, I am trying to ease up on myself. As someone who is harder on herself than anyone else could possibly be, I’m trying to take it easy. I am trying to tell myself it’s okay if I can’t do something immediately. I have to tell myself that if I needed to sleep, then that’s what I should be doing. I’m about 20% less stressed since I started this mantra of putting less pressure on myself to get things done, but that doesn’t mean anxiety and stress don’t rear their ugly heads, because THEY DO.

Today was an epic fail. Initially, I couldn’t fall sleep, so I took medication my doctor prescribed, at a higher dose that we’ve talked about over the past month or so. It doesn’t always hit me hard (or at all), but this time, it put me down for the count. I was awake just long enough to drink a lot of water and ended up back in bed for seven hours. This was after getting roughly eight hours of sleep, so clearly, this dose is too high for me right now. I will cut the dose down and see where that takes me, but I’ve already discussed the fact that I detest relying on it every single night. In most cases, it’s a temporary prescription, but I’ve been on and off of it for the better part of eight months. I haven’t taken it consistently because I don’t want to be dependent on any medication. It is frustrating because there doesn’t seem to be an exact science to the dosing (for me). The goal was for me to be sleeping at night and have better days, but I can’t have better days if the medicine is still in my system and putting me back to sleep. In hindsight, I do think I needed that extra rest. The downside? I am worried about when I will, inevitably, fall asleep and wake up. I don’t have to be anywhere, but I do have a considerable amount of work to get done. I know it WILL get done, but for this week, at least, I have to ease up on stressing myself out and making my anxiety worse. It’s so much easier said, than done.

There’s no crystal ball to tell me how the next few weeks will pan out, but I am hoping, and praying, for better days. I’m not quite there, yet.

 

Apparently, We’re Doing Odd Miracles This Week

After folding clothes, tossing things, setting things aside for another time, and searching high and low, I finally locate the missing cord. I didn’t scream, “YES!” like I wanted to because someone else is now doing the whole, “Work from home” thing and I am trying to be quiet, out of the way, and respectful.

After plugging everything in, and trying to prepare myself mentally, I was speechless as I moved the touchpad around a little. Why? Because my computer suddenly decided to unfuck itself, and is now doing all the things it’s supposed to do.

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me?” was my silent reaction. I’ve turned it on so many time hoping it was just a minor glitch. I’ve run scans and diagnostics, and nothing seemed to be wrong. Apparently, G-d is on my side today.

I will not allow this to make me complacent, though. After finding my two previous laptops backed up to the hard drive, I couldn’t figure out how to backup this one, but now that I’ve got the cords, I will let someone walk me through the steps because they ARE different steps with this operating system. I noticed it had updated and turned the computer off while I was asleep, and that might have something to do with it because I saw so many articles where people were livid about bugs in the update. Now more than ever, we should have a greater appreciation for how much technology makes our lives easier

I will be back soon with my plans for Round Two of my quarantine. I went 18 days on Round One and I’m not feeling so great on day 4 this time around. Unfortunately, after my low grade fever went away, I’ve mostly had breathing problems. Some of this is definitely allergy related. But I’ve questioned if something was wrong with my lungs for the past six and a half months, so I will have to call my doctor and pursue matters further. I just have no idea when that will work out since they are currently doing video discussions and phone calls in order to minimize how many people are in the hospital building at a time. I have an appointment the end of next month and another in mid-May. I really hope I will be able to keep both appointments, but I guess I’ll know more in a few weeks.

For now, it’s medication time and rest. Orders from the doctor(ate). 😉

© 2020 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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