Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Stress in all of its manifestations...

I am for sure a high stress person.  There are reasons, and I practice daily to try and let go, but it's hard.  Over the years, my body has exhibited the many manifestations of this anxiety.  I find it truly a fascinating display of the power of the mind.  Worry, regardless of how it presents itself, is all in my head, and I have complete control of it.  Though, and I don't think I am alone here, I forget that, and the anxiety takes over.

I think the very first time that I realized how powerful stress is was during my senior year of high school.  I was brushing my hair, and my friend asked me about the back of my head.  Now the day before, I thought I felt something odd.  Asking my mother if she noticed anything wrong with my hair or head, she tells me no.  Grabbing a second mirror, I strained to investigate what my friend already knew.  I had a bald spot on my scalp near the nape of my neck.  The spot continued to grow.  I spent months and many methods trying to reverse what I came to know as alopecia areata.  It is an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks its own hair follicles.   I tried shampoos and stimulation, but in the end what worked were steroid injections at the site of the hair loss.  That first spot, the biggest they ever got, received about 90 injections per visit.  90 pin pricks on the nape of my neck.  That first time was torture.  After that first time, I checked my scalp religiously.  I suffered with flair ups from AA for many years.  Always around times of extreme or prolonged stress.  They never got bigger than a nickel before I would notice them.  Then one day, the bald spots just never came back.

No sooner had the hairless patches stopped that the bowels began to hurt.  During my twenties, ulcerative colitis was the face of my stress. Again occurring around the most stressful times in my life.  After I gave my Senior Dissertation for my English degree, I was waiting for my ride on the curb outside the doors of the ancient stone building in which I had just poured a year's worth of work, and the pain hit me.  It hurt so much, I balled up in fetal right there on the sidewalk.  I am not going into the details of how UC affected me, but yeah, if it was a symptom, over my time with the disorder, I experienced it.

I still have a sensitive stomach.  Stress and certain foods bother me.  As I am now in my thirties, I think I handle the stress better.  However, I don't always handle it all well.  When I fail to be mindful and it all gets the better of me, I now am privy to one of two side effects.  I now have anxiety attacks.  These began immediately following my breakup with my last boyfriend, and happen less to none now.  However, occasionally that familiar chest tightness comes up and I just try and remember to breathe.  I used to have a prescription for lorazepam, but I don't even need that anymore.  The other manifestation of my stressors is dyshidrotic eczema.  This is a condition where tiny, painful, blisters appear on the fingers.  For me they appear mostly on the side of my fingers at the joint areas.  It is strange and definitely annoying.

I need to treat myself better.  Cleanse.  Meditate.  Stretch.  Breathe.  I know that they key to my healing lies within.  It is easy to forget that. I practice patience and compassion for myself.  Stressing about it is certainly not going to help anything.

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