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Stress and anxiety. Don't underestimate it!

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Mad as a sack of ferrets!
So now I thought I'd tackle stress/ anxiety. See previous posts on depression and body dysmorphia. A lot of people might think it's a bit lame - we all get stressed from time to time (ever had a fight with a best friend?) and anxious (how many of us have nearly missed that flight?!). But when it's often unjustified, largely uncontrollable and utterly crippling, that's on quite another level and hugely debilitating. I liken myself to the cartoon character Stressed Eric (google it) and joke that I taught him all he knows, if that gives some perspective.

I'm not as stressed or anxious as many people and I'm not exposed to half the stress that some people endure, but a point I've made before - mental health doesn't really care too much about you as a person. It's subjective. If it's gonna have an adverse impact upon your life, it will do so regardless of who you are or what your life circumstances might be.

I know what my triggers are. There are things that would disable many, but I can take in my stride. Conversely, the really small, stupid stuff that most think nothing of... that's my demon. But I only get stressed about it when there is lots of other big, legitimately stressful things going on. You end up burnt out, where the smallest catalyst can result in a mental explosion - you drop a pen, stub your toe, over cook the rice, get locked out of your computer, find a stain on a shirt you're ironing etc. Really small, petty stuff that shouldn't bother you but it seems huge at the time. In most instances, it can be quickly and easily remedied and has no lasting impact, but you can feel your blood boil, fists clench and teeth grind. It can result in chest pain through anxiety and throbbing headaches. All down to getting stressed over nothing. But knowing how unreasonable you are being doesn't suddenly enable you to switch it off.

Some things do help. Breathing exercises. Calming music (I seem to live with headphones in, listening to classical, chill out or nature sounds). Distractions like a good book, cooking (assuming you enjoy it and don't burn the rice!), computer games (not the violent/high-octane type - they're for when you're sane!!) And occasionally a sedative if it's really bad. Alcohol in moderation can take the edge off. But too much or too frequently (or if you're in a really bad place) is sooooooo not advisable.

Some people find exercise, meditation or yoga helpful. I like long walks. But there are times when I am so stressed, my walk becomes nothing more than a daze. Kid you not, I can be so distressed, I can barely even focus upon my surroundings or the direction I'm heading in. I'll just walk. And walk. Maybe get lost. Then walk some more. Worst case, my head is so pressured, it feels like it's ready to explode. My vision and hearing are compromised and I lose track of time. I just wonder, aimlessly. Numb. Apart from stress. After a couple of hours, it may improve. But on those days, usually going to bed and accepting that "tomorrow is another day" is the only resolution. And tomorrow, I often find I don't remember a great deal of anything. I suppose I'm kinda vulnerable in those circumstances, but I tend not to worry too much. Partly because I don't care, partly because I actually think I'm less inclined to do something reckless. I can't think clearly enough. Ironically, I think the risks escalate when things calm down - like being in the eye of a storm. You're calm enough to think logically about things (even if logical is suicide) and clear minded enough to start planning. That's the danger field for me.

As for anxiety, it's not dissimilar, but from my own experience, I tend to find it springs up from nowhere. At least when I'm stressed, I know what I'm stressed about. With anxiety, I am simply anxious for reasons unknown. Agitated, wound up, nervous, distracted, twitchy, worried. No good reason. I just am. It becomes very difficult to sit still, focus on anything or do much that's constructive. It's like having waaaaay to many energy drinks and feeling slightly sick as a consequence. Palpitations, sweats, panic attacks. Deep joy. As with stress, there are various things you can do to mitigate it, but for me at least, they may or may not work.

The thing with anxiety is that it's relatively new to the list for me. Yes, I've been anxious many times in the past but never with the frequency or intensity as I'm now experiencing. I've been prescribed PRN diazepam to take the edge off when it gets particularly bad and in fairness it does help. I'm not using it often (the last thing I need is a bloody addiction as well, lol) but if popping a pill just brings my pulse rate down by a few notches, then I'm grateful for the intervention.

Anyway, that's a shorter than others. Not much you can really say about it I suppose. But that's my experience and all this reflection is kinda helpful, even if no-one else reads it.
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