General Question

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

How much stress is too much?

Asked by ANef_is_Enuf (25475points) 1 month ago

In the past few years I’ve had multiple surgeries (one of which was pretty significant), have experienced infertility and failed treatments, a minor housefire, had several losses of close loved ones (including both of my beloved dogs), am going through a divorce under pretty horrible circumstances which has put me in a difficult situation financially, all while experiencing a PTSD relapse.

I have had a lot of therapy in my life and I still regularly see a therapist. I take care of myself and I prioritize healthy habits. I practice deep breathing and mindfulness, I’m generally a positive person, I exercise consistently and regularly spend time outdoors, I eat a nutritious diet, I’m mindful of the media content I consume… etc. I take steps to counter the stress in my life proactively.

I still feel like I can’t handle this. My hair is falling out, I feel like I’ve aged 10 years, I am barely able to will myself to get out of bed in the morning let alone muster up the energy to rebuild my life from the bottom up. It’s just been a barrage of hardships one right after the other and I am trying to keep my chin up, but it feels like there’s not a whole lot of opportunity to find my bearings before something else major is happening… which leads me to wonder if all stress is meant to be managed.

At what point is it “too much” stress and what are the negative effects of that? Is it always possible to counter the impact of stress on the body or does that require exceptional discipline as we see in meditating monks? How plausible is it to reduce chronic stress in this current culture? How much is it impacted by social and income factors?

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19 Answers

Jonsblond's avatar

Been there and all I can say is I’m sorry you are going through it as well. It cost me my health and several relationships that were important to me.

Focus on positive life changes as best as you can. Prioritize what makes you happy. Seek therapy if you can. There is light on the other side.

I’m sorry, I see I repeated what you are already doing. Keep it up. Hugs.

JLeslie's avatar

If your hair is falling out check your thyroid. I know you’ve checked it in the past, so I’m guessing you still do.

You ave been through the wringer. It’s no surprise it’s hard to deal with all of it. I think the anxiety and stress I have endured has shortened my life. It’s basically been proven stress shortens lifespan.

When I look back I think sometimes I could have handled the stress much better. Worry less about crap that was out of my control. However, some of the worry was necessary. It helped me do what I needed to do.

I might have told you this before, but reframing situations really helps me. It usually involves trying to understand other people who are upsetting me. I really feel this helped rewrite my brain so I’m much less anxious. My sister says my expectations are too low, but people not meeting expectations causes a lot of people a lot of stress.

Compartmentalizing helps me. Being able to enjoy the moment I’m in and push the garbage out of my head at least temporarily.

I think I employ some denial also, that’s probably not good. I kind of sent something matters, or accept we don’t get everything we want in life. That backfired in a way also, because it’s basically giving up on some things that might be important to you.

Jonsblond's avatar

If I can also add that reaching out for support is very important, as well as venting, which you are doing. You may lose some friends but they aren’t really friends if they can’t support you during this difficult time. This is when you find your pack. The people who will never leave your side. Remember who these people are and don’t let them go.

I wouldn’t have survived without my pack. I suffered months of tests and biopsies, being told I had lung cancer. My husband was near death at a point. My mother suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm and suffered 10 months before her death. My son suffered with gender identity for two years unbeknownst to me. He had panic attacks and couldn’t attend school and I had no idea why. I didn’t know how to deal with it and became embroiled with the current election to take my mind off things. I lost friends because they didn’t understand. I’m grateful for those who noticed and reached out when I vented.

cookieman's avatar

That is a lot, but thankfully you are taking steps to treat yourself well. You absolutely have to or really bad just gets much worse.

As trite as it sounds, this will all pass eventually and those good habits toward yourself will have helped immensely.

I wish I had more magical advice, but I can say that you are amazing. I’m inspired by that long list of what you do for yourself. Me, I’d likely be curled up in a ball eating cookies.


ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

There have been lots of cookies, too, I think I’ve gained 20lbs over the course of the past few years. lol. Thanks @cookieman.

@Jonsblond thank you, yeah social support is a really big deal. I have a habit of wanting to isolate under stress and especially lately. Plus I hate the toll the negativity takes on my relationships, but I’m thankful to have friends who listen. I’m glad those things are behind you, that’s a lot.

@JLeslie you know, I actually haven’t been on thyroid meds or had it tested in a few years now. I do lose my hair from stress, I always experienced hair loss after surgery or other major events, but the way I’ve been feeling lately I know I need bloodwork done. You’re right about that. I keep telling myself I’m going to go because I’m pretty sure I’ll lose my health insurance in this divorce and I should get things out of the way, I’ve just been putting it off because I’m so overwhelmed otherwise. Not that I haven’t been checked by a doctor at all, I mean I had surgery this year so I’ve at least been through little check ups, but I haven’t seen my GP in a while. I definitely need to. I agree with you on expectations and other people tell me the same, that my expectations are too low, but I find it works for me. I also lean a lot into compartmentalizing, I don’t think I could function without that.

KNOWITALL's avatar

That kind of constant stress is really hard on people. Recently I’ve had a similar experience of snowballing stressors, too.
I spend a lot of time alone, processing but I also get up and start knocking out items causing the stress.
For me, trying to control the chaos is my coping mechanism. Best of luck, we have all survived 100% of our worst days thus far.

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JLeslie's avatar

I was just wondering if you can relieve your financial situation. Worrying about paying bills is incredibly stressful. Do you rent or own? I assume you’re not getting manicures every week and buying Starbuck’s lattes, but rather your big bills are a little too big. If you own, maybe you can recast your mortgage. I’m sure you’ve considered other things like moving, trading in your car, I’m just pulling out of the air, I have no idea what your specific situation is.

Are you working full-time? I don’t remember what you do.

Would it help if jellies brainstorm about what might help financially? One thing that promotes anxiety is a loss of control, so I thought if you can get this under control it might really help. Also, looking forward to things helps depression and anxiety, so try to plan some things to look forward to. It can be little like a dance class every week, or bigger like seeing a friend or relative you haven’t seen in a long time. Loneliness is very depressing too. Do you get to be with people you enjoy?

Do not hang out with chronically depressed people. You need people who have empathy and are supportive, but also who have the formula for being happy and moving forward. We are our environment, you should seek a happy environment.

Loss takes a long time. I always say minimum 4 months get out of the acute crash, and start to feel normal again. I think I’d say divorce is often more like death, which typically is 2 years, or at least a year anyway, to really be ok, but there can still be waves of emotion that mess with you. Of course the loss of your dogs is very upsetting too, your fertility, it all counts.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Additionally, to the good advice above.
I would say that it depends on the person.

When I worked in high stress jobs, I judged people by how they reacted to the worst of scenarios. That’s when you know, if they can do the job. There are some highly capable individuals who are great, when everything is going right. Then. There are those same people who don’t do well, under duress.
You only truly know someone, when everything goes sideways.

Someone could be great, under normal circumstances. But, they fall apart, when things spin out of control.

It’s not a bad thing. It’s human.

Personally, I do good in the moment, but may break down afterwards. But. I can remain calm, during the event, and break down later.

It has multiple variables…

I suffer greatly, from such experiences. But. I remain calm during the event.

When I worked as an EMT, for the Emergency Animal Hospital, I was a stone. But, when I left, I often cried my eyes out. I had a special place to stop, and cry, after I left.

Similarly, when I was a LEO, I kept it together. When I was off the clock, I would drive a few miles away, and just cry and shake…

My Mother was badly injured once. I kept myself together, while talking to her, in the ICU. When I got to my car, I cried, for a long time.

She was badly injured. And I knew it. But. I held it together, to make her feel better. She hasn’t been the same since. As I thought.
But, my being calm, helped her.

Stress, is absorbed better by some, worse by others…

Life, is stressful.

I now suffer panic attacks, and anxiety. I wonder, if it’s because I bottled it up so often….

Life is hard.

But. We’re here for each other. That helps…

Peace n love.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@JLeslie well, honestly the financial situation is the absolute worst stressor of them all. I work roughly full time right now, but I don’t make much money and I’m very limited in what I can do because of my health issues so changing jobs isn’t a good option at this time. I also historically have not been able to hold full time work long term, so that’s a huge concern and I do feel like I’m burning the candle at both ends. My bills are low, my budget is tight and I’m a very frugal person but my income is… it’s low. My most “frilly” monthly expenses are a $9 Netflix account and $50 home security system. Like a lot of people with mental health concerns, I think if I could supplement my income from home it would be a lot easier. I used to be able to do that with my art, but at this time I really don’t get much opportunity to work on that.

As to the support system, I have been leaning on some friends. But, the truth is that most people have a limited capacity to be supportive to someone long term. That’s just human, no blame in that, but after a while I start to dread people asking me “how are you?” I’m just venting at this point, I suppose. I was sincere in asking this question in the first place, sometimes I wonder if it’s even possible to offset the biological impact of this type of chronic stress. I definitely get why people drink.

@MrGrimm888 I think there’s a fine line between compartmentalizing and repressing. Sometimes these experiences make me wonder about that, in just this way, is it really being coped with or is it just being repressed to come up in some other way in the future? It’s an interesting thing. We all know that “coping” makes it smoother, sure, but is it still causing an impact? Makes me curious. Thanks for your insight.

JLeslie's avatar

^^I completely understand.

Your art is so fabulous. I was wondering if you sell it as a side gig maybe.

Are you below the poverty line? Can you maybe get assistance that you haven’t tapped into yet?

Would you want a roommate temporarily? Or, can you move in with family to get above water? Just throwing out ideas.

I do believe in fake till you make it. If someone asks how you are doing, I’d say the majority of the time answer back, “great, how are you?” With a smile on your face. People like to be around happy people, and you are more likely to get opportunities handed to you if people feel good in your presence.

Inspired_2write's avatar

Imagine a person going across a suspension bridge and mid way across a violent wind happens swaying the bridge making it more difficult to hang on and cross it.

However knowing that one had already passed the mid point then the only thing left is to hang on and continue to the safe ground.

This is a metaphor of life moments, things happen of which we don’t fathom, but knowing that getting through this would mean getting to a better place.

Know that what you are going through ( and you will) is a transition stage to something better and that gives hope of a better future.
Hang on knowing that.

Inspired_2write's avatar

Just my opinion thanks, I hope it helped somewhat?

JLeslie's avatar

That is a good metaphor. I always think of tunnels with a light at the end, but maybe the bridge is better.

MrGrimm888's avatar

The suspension bridge, was a great analogy.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Thanks for the analogy. It’s great.

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