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Washed Out and Wrung Out: The Effects of Stress

By Ox Drover

Since I have been in the medical profession for many years as a Registered Nurse Practitioner (now retired) I have been interested in the reactions our bodies and our minds have from stress.

Stress is a contributing factor to poor health and decreased immune response. Increases in the frequency of infection for individuals with a high level of stressful events in their lives have been well researched by many researchers. It is also well proven that our thinking and ideal mental responses are also diminished by high levels of stress.

Stress is not just the negative things that happen to us, but according to researchers Holmes and Rahe, stress is the result of “life events.”

I have been aware of this and have “charted” my high stress levels throughout most of my adult life using the “Holmes & Rahe Stress Scale” of “life events.”

Holmes and Rahe studied the effects of stress on humans (both positive stress/change and negative stress/change) and came up with a way to measure the intensity of stress. A score at or above 300 on their scale within a three-year period gave a person a higher than average chance of having illness or an accident happen to them. (Which of course adds even more stress to the person.)

The “take home lesson” from their scale of intensity of stress is that when life is throwing us stressful situations we cannot control, we need to keep the level of changes we voluntarily make at a minimum.

Since my life seems to have been a continual cycle of huge stresses, many of which have not been under my control, I have consciously tried to keep the voluntary contributions to this stress level at a minimum. For years, though, I was actually not doing a very good job, as I was still engaging in interactions with the psychopaths and their dupes. Recently, though, after going NC with the Ps and their dupes, I thought I was doing a pretty good job here lately, and I actually was.

Yesterday, however, after several peaceful, low stress months, I encountered my mother as my son and I were coming out of a checkout line in a store. There was a short “scene” in which I was “triggered” and angered. Wounds were ripped open. I was highly and instantly stressed! Shot full of adrenaline.

I came home, had a pity party, and ranted some and went to sleep. When I woke up this morning, I felt much better emotionally, and was back on a “level road.” Physically, though, I felt wrung out, like I had dug ditches with a shovel all day yesterday and was still so residually tired, even after a good night’s sleep, that I was just needing a day of rest.

This feeling lead me to an “ah ha” moment, when I realized that I hadn’t had a big adrenaline rush in quite some time. I had been living in a peaceful and pretty calm state of mind, fear was low, and my body had not been having to deal with high stress levels either internally or externally.

Though I am entirely convinced that it will take several more years of consistent peace, low anxiety, and little change, for me to completely recover from the effects of the high stress levels for such long periods of time, I do realize I have come a long ways in living a life of peace and calm.

When I was having adrenaline rushes almost on a daily, or even hourly, basis during the “crisis” mode, never coming down from that adrenaline rush, I didn’t know how it felt when I did come down. I saw the way I felt (pretty bad) as “normal.” (Because it was the “usual” state.)

Now that I have lived in peaceful circumstances long enough that I haven’t been under a continual surge of stress hormones for a while (literally enough of them to make my body shape change), I can easily tell what I feel physically and mentally today is a response to what happened yesterday.

My body shuttled the blood to my muscles (in a fight or flight scenario) and used up all the glucose stored in my liver to feed them. So I really AM tired, not just “feeling” tired. So, today I rest, exercise a bit, but not too much, and recover my physical normalcy. I will continue to try to keep changes of any kind at a minimum, and not make any voluntary significant changes in my life. I will keep my environment as calm and peaceful as I possibly can.

The damage done to my immune system and to my body and psyche from years of continual bombardment from stress hormones will take years to resolve (if it ever does completely resolve), but it is important that I do my part to keep stressors at a low level. No Contact is the biggest tool in my “tool belt” to keep stress at a lower level. Avoiding any situations and persons that irritate me or add to my stress level is another good tool.

Doing positive things for myself, pampering myself, are more great tools in my belt. Being aware that I need to rest physically (I acknowledge that I am somewhat a workaholic) is also very important. My dishes are still in the sink—the world has not come to an end! I’ll do them when I feel like doing them—today, tomorrow, who cares?

Today I will focus in the good things in my life—the love of my sons, and the positive aspects of my world.


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Oxy,

I am 48 and in relatively good shape physically. I work out at the gym about 4 days per week and for the most part I eat healthy. For the last few months I have had pain in my joints, almost like a burning sensation which started in my left elbow and forearm. lately, my entire body hurts when I wake up in the morning. I have numbness in my arms and legs/feet, even when I am working out.

I was reading some info on line about fibromyalgia and I know this has been a contraversial diagnosis because it encompasses so many symptoms. I also realize it’s a diagnosis that many health professionals have related to stress. My blood pressure is usually low. I have also read about the affects of stress, causing auto immune deficiency disorders.

All my life I have had more energy than most. My kids are 18 and 16 and I usually have more energy that they do. But lately, I am fatigued but I think i am past the depression of the experience with the S/P (a year later). I feel that this could all be stress related. I am in an Executive level position but ot a job I would call extremely stressful.

Lately, (I think because I have had more info given to me about the S/P regarding his being fired and the stripper and her three kids moving in the house we built), I am having more thoughts and bad memories about him, bad dreams….etc….. as much as it all grosses me out to think aboout who he is today, it does bother me.

I am actually going to bed and falling asleep while i read at 10:00 at night. it’s frustrating. I know you can’t diagnose but please tell me it will feel better. 🙂

Dear Oxy, What a timely and valuable post. Anyone coming from a relationship with a P has been massively stressed on many levels.

My ex manufactured stress for me, presented it as real, and I ate it up. There was always the real and obvious stress ( interupted by manic high periods within the relationship) and then the subliminal stress… the always nagging stress that you know something is off, but can’t quite find the source, or the remedy.. the the shaky feeling inside of being off balance, fearful of the other shoe dropping and so on.

Perhaps you have illuminated a good focus for our healing. To really work on charting the stress ( as you have ) will in time teach us what to avoid or seek for that matter. I would venture that even not knowing about a P interaction, if we just carefully measured our stress and responded by removing ourselves, we would avoid some P’s in our life.

In the film I keep referring to “What the Bleep do we KNow”, the physicists explain how our bodies become addicted to adreniline and stress responses and we seek out the behavior to keep up our “supply”. This is what prbably leads us to the P attraction, and prevents us from leaving. We have to unlearn these very physical responses within our bodies.

In the last few days I have struggled with the decision to put down my beloved, young and otherwise healthy dog, who is one of the first litter I bred. He is a 100 olb animal and came down with a paralysis, which while curable mostly, onvolves what can be months of convalesence, unable to move, needs hoists, therapy, possible complications, bedsores pneumonia etc. My pet had been unable to move his bowels or relieve his bladder for several days.

Sometimes an animal makes a fairly good recovery but relapses are common. ( Coon hound paralysis for the dog lovers out there).

During the days of hoping for signs of improvement while he was at the hospital, it ocurred to me that if I took on his recovery I would be setting myself up, feeding myself, the stress I had been avoiding. Taking on a herculean task, while trying to get my life on track, job seeking, house for sale, don’t know where I will be in the comiing month, in the middle of a brutish divorce, trying to be there for my young adult children etc. All my instincts said do it, go all out to save him, whatever it takes.

It was very difficult to step back and consider what I am capable of, and if I was taking on the “straw that broke the camels back” in terms of emotional mission.

Not to blather, but I tell the story because it was the first time I SAW what I was going for, and actually considered that my addiction to stress and maybe drama, was involved.

My vet had strongly recommended that we let him go, and so finally we did. He was a fine and noble animal. He taught me much about love in his final days. He will be missed.

Thank you Oxy for your insights and sorry to hear that an encounter with your mother caused you grief.
Good to have these tools in our belt to keep us on track.

Peace

Oxy, I like what you said about tracking your stress through the years. It never occurred to me to look at my life story that way. I tend to view it as chapters related to relationships. But if I look at stress, there were only two significantly lower-stress periods in my life. One during a decade-long relationship with a man who was steady but boring. (I’d probably appreciate him a lot more now.) And now, in the post-sociopath period, the only time I’ve ever been alone.

There’s a world of personality analysis that could be done with that last paragraph. But suffice to say that the sociopath cured me of a lot of things. And one of them was imagining that I had an infinite tolerance for stress.

One of the reasons I finally got myself together to finally toss him permanently out of my life was that I felt like I was dying. My heart hurt all the time. The long bones in my legs ached in a way that painkillers didn’t touch. I was constantly dealing with some kind sickness from pneumonia to systemic staph to colitis. My head ached. My eyes hurt.

I spent the years from 50 to 55 with him. When I met him, I had a white streak in my hair at the top of my forehead. He wanted me to dye my hair, and by the time he left, the roots were bright silver all across the top and sides, and my hairline was receding. I took a picture of myself after he left, and I looked like someone who was dying. My skin was greenish, my cheeks sunken. I was exhausted all the time.

I look back at it now, and wonder how it possibly went that far. A lot of it I’ve recovered from, and what I didn’t recover from, I can blame on aging. But I understand perfectly why his previous relationships include at least one serious and apparently permanent emotional breakdown and one suicide.

Most of my family have chronic anxiety disorders (associated with our ADHD/Aspergers/OCD temperaments). I wonder how many people who get involved with sociopaths have these tendencies. And how many of us imagined we could handle the stress and learned our limits in these relationships.

For me, recovery involved turning my life into my private sanitarium. I stopped working. I stopped trying to date. I stopped pursuing new relationships. I isolated myself, and devoted myself to fixing our what was wrong with me and fixing it.

In retrospect, it was probably a typical (for me) OCD approach. I got a lot of good work done on myself. But it probably took me longer to stop obsessing over it than people who went to work on rebuilding their lives, rather than the insides of their heads.

As I tentatively started re-engaging with life, maybe a year and half after he left, I fought back against situations that threatened my control over my life, now or in the future. I evolved from saying “NO!” to saying “this doesn’t work for me” and then developing communications strategies that gave people reasons to adjust their expectations of me.

Until I read your post, Oxy, I wasn’t really thinking about it in terms of stress. I was just terrified of falling apart again. I viewed these efforts as better care of myself. But as you pointed out so well, that includes managing our internal resources. Being kind to our emotional and physical systems.

There’s a lot I do today to manage stress that I never did before. Beyond the obvious — like journaling, meditation and getting outdoors to enjoy this wonderful place where I live — I take a number of neutraceuticals to help the anxious brain chemistry associated with ADHD/Aspergers/OCD.

One thing I’ve learned through all this is that stress leads to more stress. I make bad decisions. I manage relationships badly. Concentration is harder and work takes longer. I look for ways to feel better that aren’t necessarily good for me — shopping, sugar, zoning out on computer games.

Another thing I’ve learned is my worst times in missing him or turning over the old memories come up when I’m stressed by something else. There is some kind of switch in my brain that goes into the betrayed-and-abandoned fugue state when the external pressure gets too high.

It took me a while to figure this out. I actually used that fugue state to power some of my internal work, while that was so important to me. But now, when I find myself slipping into that rut, I slip on my headphones and give a half hour to a Holosync or Pema Chodron CD. It pulls me up out of the emotional swamp, and I return to my stressful situation with a better perspective.

Dear Keeping Faith,

Fibromyalgia is one of those things I think may be related to both stress and a predisposition to “something.” Years ago when I first started having those symptoms, along with “Chronic Fatigue syndrome” many physicians thought it was a “crock of crap” and it was “neurotic women”who had these symptoms. They couldn’t find any phyisical problem so they thought it was a neurosis.

Medicine and research are catching up on a great deal of these “neurotic” illnesses and finding a basis for them that is physical. I don’t keep up with advances like I used to, and haven’t gone to any continuing education classes like I did before I retired (that was another reason I retired was because I wanted to put my energy toward healing myself rather than the stress of trying to learn new things with me also having short term memory problems from the PTSD, it was too stressful. I even turned in my license which required continuing education hours for a “retired” license. I could go back to school for a short time and get it back, but I made a “healthy choice” FOR ME.

I think what they used to call “chronic fatigue syndrome” may also be very stress related and at one time they thought it might also have a viral component. I remember when I was diagnosed with that I had had a flu episode right before it started in earnest. One physician I worked with called it TATT, “tired all the time.” He more or less poo-poos it, but believe me, I did not poo-poo it when patients reported it to me.

Much of “family medicine” is related as much to psychological aspects and stress detection as to bacteria and viruses.

Being TATT and “pushing on” with your responsibilities, and then taking on the added stresses of children, your job, house hold things, and trying to have some sort of social life, all the time being STRESSED TO THE MAX adds even more stress to the problem and makes you even more TATT.

In the two years before the P attack criis, I had buried my husband, taken care of my terminally ill step father for 18 months, taken care of my bedridden mother (surgical complications) run two households, and had four infections and surgeries related to them, two systemic allergic drug reactions, two hospital stays and one outpatient surgery. Plus, I will dealing with my P son and trying ot take care of his “emergencies”—I was like a hamster on a wheel, going faster and faster and getting no where!

Eyes wide shut, I agree that you did the right thing for your dog and for you. When we are “running on fumes” like a car nearly out of gas, we must lighten the load.

I tend to be an enabler, and a volunteer for taking care of those I love at great expense to myself. It never occured to me to not take care of my step father, and I will say that I marshalled other helps as well, hospice, paid house hold help, my sons’ help, physicians and nurses who were friends were also available for consultation and that was great, but just the physical work, the scheduling all of the conflicting requirements for both their health, and the grieving I did over the impending loss of my much loved stepfather was way over board! Plus, I was working two 12-hour days a week at a job that was very physically and mentally demanding.

I think we can all come up with some really good “excuses” to do what we do—take care of family, jobs, pets, etc. to over load ourselves.

But while we are so stressed and TATT, we are also NOT thinking with our heads, but we listen I think to a lot of the “shoulds’ and “should nots” that are socially driven expectations. We are so “close to the trees we can’t see the forest” of what expectations we are loading on ourselves.

If you had a horse you would not expect it to pull a loaded boxcar all by itself, you would not whip it because it tried and failed. Yet, I think we load ourselves, and harness ourselves to “loaded boxcars” alll the time and then beat the crap out of ourselves because we can’t pull it.

I try now to look at my life like a loaded wagon that I am expected to pull (just like I was the horse in harness.) I try to treat myself (as the draft animal) a little more kindly and with more compassion and empathy–that’s another thing, I think we have empathy for EVERYONE BUT OURSELVES–than I would “myself.”

So for whatever reason I realize my “wagon” is getting too heavy, I stop the wagon, rest the beast of burden (me) and/or lighten the load. For me that meant getting rid of my large herd of cows, but I kept a few pet animals. I quit breeding and raising Border Collies, I cut out some but not all of my social activities and focused on only the ones that meant the most.

I learned to set boundaries that not setting had exposed me to EXTREME EMOTIONAL STRESS. People who were/are negative influences, toxic stressors or just plain irritating, I cut out of my life entirely or kept them at such a distance that I was not stressed out by them. At first, learning to set these boundaries was a stressor in itself because it was scary to do so and risk “offending” them…but now, I realize that if they are offended, TOO BAD or as my sons would say “tough titty, kitty.”

Now that irritations and stressors are not as common and such a daily occurance, I am slowing down, smelling the roses, and not continually TATT. But day before yesterday’s adreniline overload made me realize (finally, I’m a slow learner I think) JUST how negative an impact even ONE episode of the “rush” has on me. So I will renew my efforts to cut out stressors and focus even more on peace, calm and healing.

No matter how strong we are, or think we are, I think that our own “abuse” of ourselves by neglecting our own needs is one of the “biggies” in slowing down our healing. Last night I read several chapters in the Psalms of David and got a good night’s sleep, turned the problem I can’t fix or control over to God and did the dishes this morning! My energy level is back up and I have a new resolve. TOWANDA!!!

Oxy:

Your article was applicable and insightful. As always, I appreciate your words of wisdom, and you write beautifully. I am grateful for your helpfulness and counseling at Lovefraud.

Thank you.
Peggy

Kathy,

I think you and I must be “twins separated at birth” (and by a couple of years as I am 62) In so many ways your thinking and mine run in the same ditch!

I too have created my own sanitarium here, my own little insane asylum as it were. The thing that really broke me down was when that was VIOLATED by the Trojan Horse Psychopath and my sanctuary become UNSAFE. It blew me away as this farm, this dirt has been my “emotional home” even when I lived and worked in Africa. It was the absolute place I felt safe and secure and then it turned out to be UNSAFE. The decision to leave here and go into hiding was a big stress for me because by doing that (and thinking I might not ever be able to return) tore me loose from the ONLY TRUE ROOTS I EVER HAD.

I realized though after that, that a place, a piece of dirt, even a community is not what we can depend on, we can’t depend on anything outside of our self for our safety.

I have read, and I think I need to reread Dr. Viktor Frankl’s book “Man’s search for Meaning.” He talks about what happens to people when they lose everything except their bodies. He was in a Nazi prison camp for I think 4 years, and he lost everything in his life except his life, and yet, he FOUND MEANING in his suffering. I realize I “volunteered” for much of my suffering, which he did not do of course, it was thrust on him by a violent and horrible mind set at that time. One of the things I had to do that he probably didn’t have to face, was to FORGIVE MYSELF for being a volunteer in the suffering, for remaining in the suffering when I could have “broken free” and yet I didn’t. That was a big turning point in my life.

I suggest you go to the link and look at the Holmes and Rahe stress scale, it is sort of a mind opener for sure.

It sounds like a lot of your body and medical problems were exacerbated by the stress you lived under and I know mine was too. I am actually a pretty healthy individual with good medical genetics or I think with my stress levels I would have died a long time ago of one infection or another. I could go on with an “organ recital” of the ills I have suffered that I think were DIRECTLY related to stress depressing the immune system, and the debilitating effects of chronic adrenaline overload.

BTW I am very hyperactive, more hyperactive than attention deficit before the trauma, (actually I am VERY attention deficit NOW after the airplane crash which killed my husband and have a bad case of CRS) For those of you who may not know what that means it means “can’t remember chit.”

After my husband’s death I spent the first six months taking care of my step dad and my mother until my step dad’s death, and then the next year I got involved with the P, and the next year I too veged out on the computer with mindless games. It kept me from thinking. Then when I started to try to heal, to set boundaries, all hell broke loose! I was at my lowest ebb in a decade or two, I guess since my son had first been arrested in 1991 for the murder.

Then as one shoe after another “fell” and I kept waiting for the “next shoe to fall” it came to the crisis where I had to “take action or die.” I chose to live and I guess my real healing started then, when I bought the RV and went to live on the lake in hiding. I finally had the solitude and the safety to start examining myself. I spent a great deal of that year crying and doing introspective things to assess what I needed to do for myself I made some false starts, but made some good decisions that were positive too, so I am now trying to keep a level keel, keep the stress low and ACTIVELY working on ME…and meeting my needs rather than someone or even at times my OWN expectations of what I SHOULD be doing. It actually took a long time for me to go to bed with dishes in the sink and not feel the STRESS OF GUILT for doing so. Silly,huh? But I think a lot of the stresses we place on ourselves or allow others to place on us are just as silly. The EXXENTIAL THINGS we need to do to keep our “boats afloat” are really very few.

I am fortunate that like you, I could NOT WORK at a job, and I thank God every day for giving me that option, and myself for realizing that I had that option, because I’ve always been a “work a holic” working long hours at stressful jobs where I had to be in top form because people’s lives depended on it. I got most of my self satisfaction from doing that. (to my own detriment).

It is difficult to overcome a lifetime of programming when you are nearing your sixth decade, and to hit the “mute button” on the implanted parental tapes of “you should…” and “You must….” I am now more free to make my own decisions and decide what truly NEEDS to be done, and keeping my own welfare at the top of the priority list.

Especially when your tapes mostly come from a dysfunctional family and all the teachers and guides you followed because they seemed like exact opposite (but were only the flip side of the same coin).

Nice to meet another denizen of the self-created sanitarium. I could only afford it because my parents had died and left me a little money. But since it was my father who started this whole mess with me, it seemed only appropriate to spend his money to try to fix myself.

BTW, thinking about your mother. The therapist who helped me work through my incest memories told me that, if I had been incested today, the likelihood is that I would have been identified by a teacher or someone else, and been able to get immediate help. I don’t know if that’s true, but if so, I’m glad things have improved. It happened in the 60s, when there were no resources at all and no public awareness.

I wonder how different your mother might be today, how much more willing to believe and protect you, if there had been someone around to believe and protect her. They call incest the gift that keeps on giving. But now I think that the incest is just a symptom of the generational effects of sociopathy in the family. My father’s father was a monster. He was a monster. And all of the kids lived with the fallout.

One’s dead from complications from drug addiction. My beloved sister, whose still alive, had a life of relationship disappointments and her son died at 16, in a situation that was clearly an outgrowth of this family mess. And me…well, I keep trying to undo the effects in myself and become a better parent to my son.

Sometimes I wish I could get a shotgun and point it back through the generations to the first one that went bad.

Oxy and everyone,

It’s nice to be in a place where people “get it”. You know until I started reading your post to me OXY, I didn’t realize just how much stress I have gone through in the last few years, particularly this past year with being stalked by the XS/P. You know, the day to day stuff we do as mothers and employees is stress enough, let alone ill parents, friends or relatives dying, trying to “have a life” and force yourself to get out and do other things….. when I did an emventory after reading your post, I realized most other women would have probably been institutionalized or worse.

I do think I need to weedout those people who exhaust me and do the things that are good for me and not expect so much from myself. Maybe then, I’ll feel better physically too.

Kathleen,

My mother’s brother was 7 when she was born, he later is definitely a psychopath, and I believe as well bi-polar, but he was jealous of the new baby and tried to SMOTHER her. His mother knew of his attacks on the baby but kept silent (peace keeper) because if she told his father “he would get a spanking and he might run away from home.” She did her best to keep my mother out of his way, BUT the smotherings until she would pass out continued until she was 7, at which time my grandfather caught him and thashed his butt, and the smotherings stopped—but I feel certain that my mother has a trauma bond to my uncle (I refer to him as Uncle Monster) only at the time of his death did I realize the EXTENT of the emotional and physical abuse he heaped on his x-wife and kids, holding them at gun point for days in a violent drunken manic episode. I did know he did that once to my grandmother for three days and he finally fell asleep and she could get to a phone. She called, and I took a pistol and went to get her, before I got there (a 2 hour drive) he woke up and I guess she warned him I was on the way and he was not there when I got there. When my grandfather who was in the hospital at that time got out, they rented an apartment near us because they were afraid to go home.

For years after that every holiday at thanksgiving and Christas was a scene with her demanding that I spend it at her house WITH HIM THERE, and I refused. It was always the same screaming, guilting, crying, etc from her about how I was “ruining” her christmas by refusing to “forgive him” etc etc. So I would take my sons and go elsewhere for Christmas or Thanksgiving. It got to the point I hated to see a holiday come up and by the time he actually died, the holidays had a negative connotation for me. I am getting out of that a bit now, and actually decorated with atree etc for the first time in almost a decade.

When my uncle’s cancer diagnosis was announced, my mother who was his POA and executor became so anxious about “doing a good job” of taking care of him and his affairs, arranging for live in help, cleaning his house (guess who did the actual work of cleaning his house—yep, ME!!!)

Though his old dog was suffering terribly and had been for months, he refused to let her be put down, but after his stroke when he knew nothing, she finally let me put that poor animal out of her misery. She even obscessed about using his money to buy canned dog food for the poor animal which had NO TEETH instead of the cheapest hard dry food that he had purchased for the dog. She was under such emotional turmoil and stress that she was indecissive about every small detail. Talk about OCD. LOL Anyway, I finally heard from his children the horrible things he did to them and their mother and realized what a true MONSTER he was. A criminal who should have been incarcerated for his life without parole.

I realize mom has a “trauma bond” to him that made her have to learn to survive in a hostile environment with a mother who refused to protect her and it goes back to the days she was pre-verbal. She has little if any memory of that, but plenty of memory for the smothering. But, she excuses it on all levels.

When my grandmother who was a passive enabler by secret keeping—keep the peace at any price, but YOU pay the price–mother assumed her role of peace keeping, but with a swift and horrific punishment if you did not go along with it. She is in her prime now. I can look back and see the dysfunction now, but growing up I would have said I had a “good life” and even for decades after I left home I would have told you my mother and I had a “good relationship” because I DID PRETEND NONE OF THIS HAPPENED, or I trivalized it like I had been taught to do. But I can no longer play that game, and I won’t. She can’t quit playing the game she doens’t have the strength or insight to quit, and to quit would be so painful she would jump off a bridge if she was hit with that much pain at age 79. It would be intolerable for her. Doesn’t make her behavior acceptable, but does make it understandable.

I have a great sadness for anyone or anything that suffers that much. My old horse had to be put down last year because she grass-foundered and was so sore she couldn’t put her feet to the ground wihtout horrible pain, and I hated doing it, but I had to put her out of pain. I couldn’t have lived with myself if I hadn’t had the courage to do that….but I can’t stop my mother’s pain or delusions, or her denial. Her suffering doesn’t have a remedy except her death.

I can fix my own suffering, and get my hand out of the emotional meat grinder and quit TURNING THE HANDLE. LOL

Funny this being the theme…high stres strated with the car last nght when he opened all the windows in the rain and then telephoned me so I looked out the window.
woke up this morning to a volley of emails…cutting, nasty character assasination ones…telling me i old and dried up and how everyone thinks I am evil and a joke..he emailed my fiend again and told her to stop laughing at him with me…telephoned earlier but I wasnt answering the phone…left two messages, calculated with ill hidden threats but nothing you could put your finger on…..all innuendo and what ifs…
I have a terrible headache, feel sick and cold to my bones…its like it has made me ill over night…I cant stop thinking of it and now the night is here I am waiting, wondering..I have smoked so many fags i am all smoked out and nicotine sick..I also feel flat and brow beaten….Lat week i had a boil…you get them when you are run down..I have another one coming or maybe it is the same one I dont know. Feel weak as as kitten. He has definately stepped up the campaign, he isnt asking to come home, he wants the kids.

Thanks for the informative article on stress effects, Oxy.

I’ve never mentioned this on LF before, as it’s my problem/my situation and I deal with it in a practical, personal care taking way.

I’m positive that my 20+ years of general anxiety and panic attack disorders caused me to be afflicted with 2 life long auto immune disorders.

I am now on medication that alleviates most of the pain, burning and inflammation but it never completely goes away.

Please don’t be concerned for me; on a pain scale of 1-10, it’s pretty much a 1 1/2 on most days.

I’m also of the firm opinion that it’s made me immensely stronger on all levels, physically, emotionally, psychologically and most especially…..spiritually.

See, I simply had no other choice but to surrender my cares, my worries, my irrational fears to the Creator in an effort to end my nightmare of debilitating anxiety/depression.

Not to sound too melodramatic, but I was slowly and inexorably….perishing.

Little pieces of myself sluffing off day in and day out over the years until I no longer knew who the hell I was, where I was going, what I was doing, why I even existed.

But, it’s been written far too many times on this fundamentally life saving/life preserving website to foolishly dismiss, (I love you, Donna!!) that we unfortunately must be straddling that seductive, alluring abyss, gazing into the fathomless darkness where the only 2 choices are too plunge into it or to take a monumental leap away.

I chose the latter.

And, I’m most joyful to say I’ve been anxiety/panic attacks/depression free for 4 years now! YaY!

Thank you, Jesus!!! xxoo

“The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself”

Dear Muldoon,

It isn’t the kids he wants, if you had a cat you loved he would want THAT even if he hated cats, it is because YOU want them that he is doing what he is dong. Yes, he will STEP UP THE TERROR, and what you must do in the middle of all of this is to NOT LET THE TERROR GET TO YOU. I know that is a difficult thing to do, darling, I was in your shoes, but at the time I didn’t have lovefraud people to support me and to advise me.

First, back to the document, document,1) SAVE ALL E MAILS, SAVE ALL VOICE MAILS AND MESSAGES They will show a PATTERN of nastiness if nothing else, and quite frankly nastiness usually doesn’t fly in the courts, most judges take a dim view of this.

So, let him do this, IT IS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE. Secondly, do NOT let this chit upset you darling, YOU know what and who you are (or at least you are learning) and YOU know what and who he is—a piece of bottom feeding trash! You don’t want to live in TERROR, and you MUST NOT live in terror, but that doesn’t mean you are not cautious—CAUTIOUS!!!

You need to take action and get a recorder, keep it with you, get a nanny cam and put it so it will “watch” your car and record what happens. A cheap one is okay. DOCUMENT DOCUMENT.

Next is to take care of YOU. Be safe. I know you are tired, physically and mentally, but you must REST and be good to yourself. This whole mess will not last forever (though it seems it will)

When you are worried, stressed, sit yourelf down and pretend you are a little child who is scared of the storm and you are trying to calm the child. TALK TO YOURSELF LIKE YOU WOULD THAT CHILD.

Sometimes God calms the storm, and sometimes He calms the CHILD. You can’t control the storm, but you can comfort that little girlie inside of you, YOU.

I am going to keep myself safe. He is not going to get the kids. I will collect evidence. I will keep myself safe. I will not respond like he wants me to. I will not let him control me. I am strong and I will take care of myself. I will keep my head no matter what he does. I am growing in strength each day. And so on. Say whatever it is that you would want someone else to tellyou, or that yo would say to your scared little girl.

YOU CAN DO IT, MULDOON!!!!! (((((HUGS))))) and all my best wishes and prayers!!! Oxy

Dear dear sweet Janie,

I’ve only had one panic attack in my life and I can tell you it was terrible. I have had many patients who suffered with these attacks though, and the best treatment I have found for them is that the patient must accept that these are not going to kill them, that it is uncomfortable and scary, but not fatal and they are not having a heart attack etc. and that they must self calm. Those that will accept that are usually totally free of the panic attacks or if they do get one it lasts only a little while. I do remember lying there when I had mine though, telling myself all those things and how difficult it was to believe them.

Unfortunately about 2/3 of the patients I had would not ever believe me that they weren’t dying. Time after time after time. I referred them to another higher level of caregiver for further treatment and psychological counseling.

I am glad you are doing well and taking care of these problems. It is amazing to me that considering the level of stress we have all had that we have not died in the effort to continue in that stressful situations or that we didn’t learn enough the first time or two (me for example) to not get into another situation just like the first, or second etc.

Denial of reality and truth, which is a big part of my problem in the past, didn’t take away the pain, but it did keep me from facing it and even having an idea that it needed fixing.

I know that at least now I am ON the road to healing, and have an idea of what directions I need to go in accomplishing peace and harmony within myself. At my age too, I am having to readjust my thinking and my goals, and enter the age range where I am no longer worried about career, etc. and must find new goals, new pleasures, new pursuits. That, ALONE in itself, is a complete mind set change.

I am also divesting myself of many of my possessions that were quite precious to me in the past, family heirlooms that I felt were “sacred” I have given away to my cousins, they no longer have any sentimental value to me. I have decimated my personal possessions in clothing, jewelry, etc. and the only thing I have held on to (but wouldn’t be loath to get rid of) are my wood working tools, and art supplies, a few pet cows and my donkeys and wagon, and my favorite dogs.

Last year when I left here I took boxes of old letters (to and from my grandmother when I was in Africa and South America working) and other family heirlooms (except for furniture) but those things hold little sentimental attachment for me now. Don’t know why exactly, but somehow I have changed my way of thinking about “stuff” and “things” and the importance of “things” has gone wayyyyyy down on my list of “important items.” Useful items I cherish for their uses, but just sentimental items are no longer important, if that makes any sense. My sons and my friends are the only essential items in my heart, and I realize that even if they all betrayed me or died, I would grieve, but I WOULD BE OK. I would survive, like Dr. Viktor Frankl, and somehow find meaning in it.

I used to also think I was “faking” my strengths, but now I realize they are REAL. I AM STRONG. Not invincible, but strong. I may not win every fight, but I will survive and prosper within my self.

I don’t know what it is in me, but I manage to soldier on through the stress. It’s after it’s over that I buckle.

I was going through the following all at once: (a) getting a divorce; (b) getting sued right and left because of I had guaranteed debts of my conman brother; (c) in debt up to my eyeballs because my soon-to-be ex and I tried to buy happiness on my credit cards; and (d) managed to get out of Tower Two with it coming down behind me.

All I remember as I was stumbling through the smoke pouring from the doomed Towers and trying to find safety, was thinking “If you survive this you are so going to make some changes in your life.”

Obviously, I survived. I also developed a whopping case of PTSD after that. Dropped 60 pounds in 6 weeks. Yet, I tried, to quote my mother, “function in disaster and finish in style.” I shut down mentally, and worked my way through my list of immediate problems, problem-by-problem.

And then came that magical day when the last lawsuit was put to bed, the last creditor was paid off. And my health gave out.

I got my health back. Problem was, I didn’t focus on my mental health. I was still operating on the same emotional band-width as before — basically pretending that as long as I got up, put on a nice suit and tie, managed to perform at work and pretended that life was perfect, I’d be fine. Which made me ripe for the picking when S came along.

After S I’m now focusing on both my mental and physical health. The stress is piling up at work. They’re firing right and left at my firm.

But, now I no longer pretend that everything’s okay. I’ve learned that denying reality ultimately leads to more stress. What I do, to reduce the stress, is remind myself that I’ve survived far worse, and I’ll find a solution to whatever life throws at me.

I’m also trying to simplify my life. I could so relate to OxDrover’s divesting herself of her possessions.

In my case, I was forced to do so when I came home from a vacation to a smoke-damaged apartment caused by a neighbor’s XMAS tree fire. After I got my wardrobe to the dry-cleaners, I had to triage my closets and other things.

Purging my apartment of things the S gave me was therpeutic. But, then I started tossing out things which I had held onto for sentimental value because I realized they not only no longer had sentiment, but they a part of the past that no longer fit who I was today.

Moreover, what is one man’s sentiment is his heirs’ mystery photos. How many of us have had to go through the belongings of a deceased relative and looked at fading photographs of people who nobody has a clue who they are? My memories are in my head and heart. I don’t need some knick-knack to remind me of where I’ve been.

Getting rid of that stuff was liberating. And as strange as it sounds, I actually feel I can breathe easier without all that clutter.

I think, OxDrover, that you might relate to the view I adopted from a former colleague: if you’re not careful, you end up defined by your possessions.

Good evening folks. This afternoon I watched Oprah’s show. Another great Spiritual Awakening show. Fantastic show to say the least. Anyway, the Omega Founder and Oprah agreed …. take 1 minute, 1 minute out of your day and go silent. Oprah suggested the easiest way to go silent is to pay attention to your breathing. Pay attention to your inhaling and exhaling. Do this one minute, each day (after you shower, brush your teeth, get dressed for work … sit on your bed for 1 minute) for the month of January. Then in February … go silent for 2 minutes. 2 minutes of listening to your breath coming in and out of your lungs. March, give yourself 3 minutes/day to go silent and reflect … by December, you will be up to 12 minutes per day reflecting and going silent.

I’m sure she posted the show on her site if anyone besides me is willing to get in touch with your spiritual self. I love her dedication, as well as her guests dedication to making us more spiritual aware.

Peace.

Matt, so many people seem to be “defined by their possessions” and to seem to think that what they have is what they are. There was a time in my young years when I would have bought into that, my P-bio-father sure did. Not now, though.

It has been a long time though since I have felt defined by what I have, and it has been a long long loooong time since I have envied anyone else’s possessions. Though I have admired other’s homes, lands, etc. I have not envied them in the least.

I quit worrying about what I wore and started to wear what was comfortable. At work I had to “dress” approprately and I did, but in what I chose rather than the “dress for success” type of thing.

It is comforting to me to be able to say I am in the RICHEST 2% of the population of the US—my house and cars are paid for and I am debt free. Therefore I have a positve net worth! It may be only $50 but it is in the BLACK! LOL (I don’t know where I read that 2% statistic, but I latched on to how “rich” it made me feel! LOL)

Of course my monthly income is in the “poverty level” right now, but it meets my needs, as I don’t have any “bills” or expenses, plus MY NEEDS ARE SIMPLE AND EASILY MET. I live within my means and enjoy the simple pleasures that don’t cost much, if anything. Food, utilities, and car insurance and gas are my only expenses. I barter for a considerable amount of goods and services, and fortunately (or unfortunately) my husband left me a large store of “things” that are desirable by others so I am divesting myself of those things of his my sons don’t want, or using them here in the case of building materials etc. Selling others, giving away some, and putting a great deal of it into the dump. It has kind of become a “game” to see just how cheaply I can live and still manage on my income, and still “live well,” having every thing I need, and most of what I want.

About the only thing I have had to curtail with the economic down turn is the travel I used to do before the prices of fuel went up so high. They are back down lower now (at least for now, but I assume since the election is over the prirces will creep back up.)

Whether you are “poor” or “rich” doesn’t depend on how much money you have, or what kind of vehicle you drive—I have a “red neck’s used car lot” with multiple vehicles, all old but in sound condition, and PAID FOR—(none up on blocks, BTW! LOL) Your attitude determines whether you are poor or rich. If you think that someone else is “better” or “better off” than you are because you envy their possessions or “financial freedom” you are off track completely.

Look at many of the very rich business and media “stars” who have what most of us would consider “barrels” of money. Are they happy? Read the tabloids about their most recent divorce (number 3 or 4) and their arrests for DUI, their drug rehab stays, their child custody cases, etc. and you tell me, does the money make them happy? Satisfied? Heck, look at OJ!!!

Back when my husband was flying charters for Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Glen Campbell, Johnny Carson, Richard and Pat Nixon on campaign etc. he got to be privy to some of the “not so public” things about these people and some of their twisted lives, and neither fame nor money brought some of these people satisfaction and contentment.

Some dear friends of mine are in the process of building a giant, probably half million dollar house, and I don’t envy them at all. It is beautiful, but I am more than satisfied with my own house—I wouldn’t want theirs as a gift. About the only thing they have I would like to have is their great wonderful barn cat and they want to keep her! LOL

The Apostle Paul advised his disciples to “be content” in “whatever state you are in…even in slavery if you can’t get free.” (paraphrased) Unfulfilled expectations or strong desires is what causes dissatisfaction. We should all know that the UNFULFILLED EXPECTATIONS AND PROMISES we had from the Ps is what was the BIGGEST PAIN for us. I think any thing we think is “ours” or “about to be ours” and really believe we have or will soon have it, and then LOSE IT or don’t get it, is the big LET DOWN, the big betrayal.

I don’t EXPECT to win the lotto even if I buy a ticket. So I am never disapponted when I don’t win. But if I EXPECT to get the promotion, and instead get a salary cut and a demotion, I FEEL ROBBED. Betrayed. Expectations vs reality is where we get hung up.

I feel content with what I have, I have what I need, use and enjoy. I’ve still got “too much” stuff, but am weeding it out in to great piles and heaps of: TO KEEP, DUMPSTER, GARAGE SALE, E BAY, CRAIG’S LIST, AUCTION, BARTER and GIVE AWAY. That activity is also keeping me active, focused with something productive to do (another important point)

Matt, I applaud you for looking to your mental health as well. I suggest that you also click on the Holmes and Rahe link, and check out their check list and tally up your points. The point scale is arbitrary so if you have something that fits on the list but isn’t listed, look at the other point values and assign it a value. That might keep it fro being valid for research purposes but it will give you and idea of how far “off the scale” you are in terms of stress. I also had to look at WHAT was stressing me that I didn’t even realize was a stress.

The encounter with my mother gave me a good “ah ha” moment and I am actually glad now that it happened. The “ah ha” moment was worth it and underscored the need to continue to be vigilant in keeping the stress level LOW. As low as possible.

Henry, hang tough, sweetheart, I think you are starting to get “over the hump” and to see that you ARE a good person. You just grew up in a screwed up family (I sure did) but that somehow you managed to become an honest and a good person who cares about others deeply and genuinely. I say that YOU ARE ONE OF THE RICHEST PEOPLE ON EARTH!!! You have a good heart and a kind soul and a wonderful giving spirit. To me that is what makes you WEALTHY in the kind of coin that is important. In the end, none of us take a U-Haul to the graveyard, we only leave behind what we were, and you will leave behind a great wealth in your sons and grand kids. (((hugs))))

Pain& Depression – The relationship between pain and depression is complex and it’s really a two way street. For starters, suffering from unrelenting pain can take a toll on your mood or lead to anxiety or fears on how it will affect your life or wether it will get worse. “But the effect’s also go much deeper.”Six of the nine areas of the brain that regulate pain are also emotional processing areas, wich affect mood. Pain changes the activity in these areas, and that can knock you emotionally off balance. They can also alter the way your mind works. Chroinc back pain can lead to changes in thinking ability. The ripple effet can continue from there. ” when pain has depleted your body and disrupted your ability to function, depression, insomnia and other problems occur’ “and that can amplify the pain even more.

ABsolutely right, Henry. In family medical practice we frequently saw what we called “chronic pain syndrome” in patients and it is very difficult to treat. It is physical AND psychological. They develop a neurosis, an anxiety, and a dependence physically and emotionally on drugs etc. Nothing seems to help the patient and the patient becomes focused on only the pain, feels helpless, depressed, etc.

Antidepressants help with the treatment of chronic pain. Also patients who have had a near death heart attack have personality changes that are quite dramatic sometimes and we use the “technical term” CARDIAC ASSHOLE. I’m not sure if this is minute brain damage from the blood not being circulated well duriing the heart attack, or if it is PTSD from being so near death or both of those things. People who have had surgery using a heart lung machine also have some personality changes as well. I haven’t kept up with the latest medical things in the past 4 1/2 years so there may be more research has shown the whys, but I know that we used to try to treat these patients, and frequently referred them to psychiatrists or psychologists.

I know when my stepdad was dying with the cancer, he had never been sick until thenn in his life, never been in the hospital except for out patient eye surgery, and he had an instance or two of pain. Afterwards he was TERRIFIED of it, and the emotional treatment to avoid his terror was more the treatment of choice for him. We were able to keep him actually pain free, but his DREAD of the possibility of pain was seemingly worse than the actuall pain.

Also I do know that recently the gene for tolerance of pain has been found, and there are three types. The weenie type who gets two weenie genes, the mid type with one weenie gene and one stoic gene, and then there is the person with two stoic genes who is very toleratnt of pain. There is also the social training about how to respond to pain that influences how we behave with pain. So it is both environmental and genetic. (llike many many things)

Our attitude about the “sick” role is also environmental. How is the appropriate way to behave when you are sick. Do you go to bed and rest or do you keep plugging on?

Yes, physical pain has many causes and also causes many emotional changes as well.

The person who injures themselves and has horrible pain for an extended period of time will end up with some emotional issues attached to that pain. Back pain is one of those things that can be debilitating. Phantom pain from an amputated limb is another one. The hand, for instance is gone, but the nerves tell the brain that the hand is still there and is hurting.

Unfortunately, some kinds of back injuries that can be surgically treated to stop the nerve damage do not do diddly for the actual pain. Rehabilitation for these patients can be difficult. Migraine headaches and cluster headaches are also difficult to treat and can be debilitating as well.

I used to have arthritic type pain that was debilitating but I kept plugging away, but it interfeered with my sleep etc. and I felt tired all the time (along with the stress that kept me tired as well) I later found out I had severe sleep apnea, and when I started therapy for that my life improved 99% in the way I felt, and my thinking vastly improved too.

Sleep deprivation with chronic and acute pain is also a big problem and adds to the pain, as sleep deprivation alone will make a person “hurt all over.” Pain management is a speciality that is becoming more and more common and is long over due. New regulations about pain management for physicians are turning around from this insane “fear” of “addicting” the patient. In some areas legal medical marijunna is helping some patients, and the extract of marijuana in pill form is helping. (My dad used that and it helped a great deal)

So in treating pain, the mind and emotions need to be considered. In treating emotions you must consideer what the effects of stress are doing to the body. We are ONE organism, not a “brain + a body” but ONE, and if one part is sick the other one suffers as well. You can’t have good physical health without good mental health and vice versa.

A wholistic view of health along a continuium is the best way I can “visualize” health of both body & mind.

In the summer of 2007 when I was under so much stress and came down with the Rocky MOuntain Spotted Tick fever, even after he saw my blood work, I LOOKED SO SICK (my skin looked like I have seen cancer patient’s skins look) my doctor was convinced I ALSO had some cancer lurking somewhere. He tested me from top to bottom and I had nothing detectable anywhere except the tick fever.

I am sure that because of the stress, PTSD etc., that all of the infections I have had since my husband died have been directly linked to the high level of stress I maintained for so long. It is like “treading water” I think, you do okay and do okay and then BOOM you are out of reserves and SINK. My reserves must have been high and I must have been strong, but when the “bridge gave way” I fell almost to the bottom with multiple life threatening infections, including the RMSF.

It behooves us to take care of our stress levels, our physical health, control pain appropriately etc. and heal both physically and mentally. Oh, BTW high stress and tense muscles make back injury more likely when you are stressed. Anyone relate to that? LOL

OxDrover:

Thanks for the link. I took the test and blew over 300. Clearly something has to give — and I’m determined it ain’t gonna be my health or sanity.

At the moment I’ve got a lot going on: (a) I’m just getting back on solid ground after S; (b) my job is on the line; and (c) I’m still trying to get my home straightened out after my downstair’s neighbors fire and (d) like everybody else, worried about the carnage to my finances caused by the economic meltdown.

I did not think I would have to add my therapist to my list of stressors until after I saw him today. I walked out more stressed tha I went in.

During our session I told him that I didn’t think I was making any progress with him anymore and that I felt we were just meandering along he replied “sometimes that’s what a session is about.” When I persisted and brought up my frustration with him and his approach, his response was “I think we should discuss this in therapy.”

What the f*ck? I’m going to shell out 225 bucks to discuss our relationship?! God, that was almost as insane as him saying we should discuss my decision to leave therapy. Sorry, doc. That’s like asking me to pay you for drafting your bill for me to pay.

My next stop is checking Donna’s list of recommended doctors and see if there’s somebody in my area.

I dream of another world that does’t exist and never will…….

Henry: Hold on to your FORK … the best is yet to come.

Peace.

Dear Matt,

The article about how to interview a therapist is a GREAT resource and even if there is no one on the list (yet) in your area then you can use that. I think that list is AWESOME and you can take a copy in with you on the first visit.

A high level of stress (scoring over 300) means that you need to keep CHANGES (voluntary ones) to a MINIMUM, and also I would suggest that you take up some sort of self relaxation or meditaion therapy as well. A massage also may be cheaper and better for you than a trip to a therapist you can’t relate to or can’t relate to you. Good for you for standing up to that jerk!

BTW I had an attorney bill me once for the time to figure up my bill….what goes round comes round! LOL Wanna hear some attorney jokes? Well, guess not! LOL ROTFLMAO

I a so glad that I was able to retire when all this chaos came up in my life, I can tell you there is NO WAY I could have continued to work, even 2 days a week, and stil kept my head on. Actually I was NOT SAFE to work, my short term memory problems were causing me some serious disability as far as my working was concerned. I lost 3/4 of my income by retiring early but it was worth it. There are lots of things MORE IMPORTANT THAN MONEY. I just thank God that I ahve enough to live frugally on at this time, with the prospect of more later, God willing. But living in a tent, eating out of a dumpster would have been preferable to how I was living in chaos and pain.

You just have to set some priorities and some of them are things you would never have thought about. My “life style” has changed as far as disposable income, but I still have more than enough, ALL of what I need and most of what I want, and the things I “gave up” are not really that important in the big scheme of things.

Just like with the possessions I am divesting myself of, I realize the more you have the more you are responsible for and have to care for. Smaller is better in so many ways. Less is MORE. During the months I lived in the RV with just the BASIC necessities I found that I liked living like that. I didn’t have much in there except what I needed every day. I had a few tubs of off season clothes and nothing else. No brick a brack, just what I USED. Life was good and I had time TIME to contemplate my naval, time to think, heal.

My son C (the one whose wife was PD and tried to kill him) just came home from where he had lived the year and a half after her arrest. He has more serious PTSD than I thought, and though he is making good progress, we’re getting him in for some PTSD therapy and though he has not not had a job since he was 15, and went right to work after he moved to Texas, I have encouraged him NOT to seek employment for some time yet. He heeds “down time” with low stress in which to just contemplate his navel and de-stress and decompress.

Since he has been here 2 months just helping his brother on the farm with chores and organization of the metal shop, I can see that his hypervigilence has decreased. He is sleeping better, lost 15 pounds though still eating like a horse (my cooking had to double what I cooked for his brother and me alone) He is laughing, enjoying being home and with me. We spend half the day talking and joking and hugging. Just being here on the farm and with the animals and a post hole digger has been good for his soul. He’s about gone through the money he had saved, but he’s not worried, we have a roof over our heads, a warm place to sleep, plenty of good home cooking and PEACE AND CALM.

Our county is booming right now with the natural gas drilling going on and jobs are very plentiful andhe could go to work tomorrow but I think it is much more important for him to work on himself than to go to work. He has such a work ethic that I think he feels a bit “lazy” or “guilty” about not going to work right away, but at the same time, he agrees that it is best for him to take some time and I don’t mind feeding him for as long as it takes. He more than “pays” his way around here from washing the dishes and housework to repairs on things, and other stuff, but it is NO STRESS WORK. Done at his pace when he feels like it. No push, no rush, no stress to get a certain amount done by X date or time.

I’ve been a work-a-holic my entire life I think, depriving myself of enough rest and recreation, and I am no longer doing that….we keep calendar time not clock time. Sleep when we are sleepy, eat when we are hungry, and work when we want to. That priviledge of our own time is a great blessing from God.

I also think that the “P-experience” is a good time for us to take stock and inventory of what it really is that we TRULY want in life. Take stock of what of our “dreams” are really possible, or even still desirable. Sometimes I think we have a good opportunity to change directions and focus if we want to.

I’m at that age (62) and retiring, so this has been a good time for me take stock of where I will go with what remains of my life and health. I realize that some of the aspriations I have had are no realistic any longer…I had hoped to make the farm into a sanctuary/shelter for women and children coming out of abusive relationships who needed longer term residence to recover and heal than the traditional shelter offers. With my mother funneling money to my convict son, this won’t be possible as the farm may after her death become unsafe due to my son, and him haviing the money to hire his “convict friends” to come here, so we will have to sell the farm and move elsewhere when my mother passes away (probably not too many months or years) and my P-son inherits significant money from her, which makes him more dangerous than without the money. That was a decision that a couple of years ago would have devestated me. This land was SACRED to me, but now, it isn’t…it is just a piece of real estate. We’ll sell it and move to a place that is safe and then we will be able to move on with our lives. With the land being held in an irrevokable trust, I can’t sell it until she passes on, then I can. So if I live longer than she does those are our plans. If I don’t, the boys can’t sell the land, but they can rent or lease it out and move. (unfortunately, P-son will get half the net rental payments.)

This whole thing though, all the pain and chaos have made me see that WHAT I HAVE is not important, but WHO I AM, and WHO LOVES ME and WHOM I LOVE. That is ALL that matters, the rest is just stuff. FLUFF! Our true heritage is the good that we do in this world to pay rent on the space we occupy. (I can’t remember who said that—CRS)

Take some time to look at your own life, your life style, and what it is that you REALLY want to do if you had every option open in the world—then go for it! Go for the gusto!

I am always on the lookout for ways to deal with my stress level and other emotional issues. I have just recently started reading a book by Daniel G. Amen M.D. The book is called “Change your brain Change your life. The author of this book explain how he become interested in SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) and learning how the brain reacts to the many aspects of our daily life. Because the book deals with studying the brain and it’s many different parts of the brain I am reading it very slowly to get as much information as possible from it to learn to better deal with the inner working of my own brain and how much (lifestyle stress thought processing eating habits etc) I contribute to it and how better to assist it in working even better in a more positive way for me. I am hoping to found new skills and knowledge to better under myself and how much what I do affect this part of me as a person.

Thanks Ox drover for your insight and wisdom on this very important subject..

Ox-D: Thanks for the link to the stress test. I scored 584, but I cheated and didn’t include some things, and there are other highly stressful events that just aren’t on the list: the shock of realizing all 18 months had been a calculated con and this man was dangerous, the loss of all my property, the suspicion and disdain I got from the legal system, betrayal by other so-called friends, etc., etc.

Thank you for reminding me of Viktor Frankl. I’m still alive, and not behind a fence.

But, how to repair the damage? In this lifetime? I’d like some shortcuts.

James: Daniel Amen makes an important statement when he says we can change our brains! He offers some suggestions, but his work also overlaps the area of neurofeedback or “brain training.” He also has his critics. Keep reading! Jim Robbins has written on neurofeedback in “A Symphony in the Brain.”

In “The Open Focus Brain,” Jim Robbins collaborated with Les Fehmi, who is a psychologist and researcher who has worked on helping people find the “alpha” brainwave state which reflects a relaxed state. I found the companion CD (included in the book) to be a very helpful guide to a very relaxing meditation that works even for non-meditators.

It is amazing how much we accustom ourselves to HIGH stress on a daily (hourly?) basis and see it as “normal.” Which, of course it is NOT.

Rune, After my divorce in 1980 I scored 1500 in a 1 yr period! LOL Yep, I got sick. What I do for stresses that are not on the list is to look at a comparative score for any similar BIG thing. Plus, since the scores are only for YOU, you can make your “divorce=200” instead of 100 if it was particularly bad, etc. as a SELF ASSESSMENT tool, I think the test is a great way to “keep score” on how you are doing. If you have a “melt down” that lasts several days, add a few points. That way you kind of have a “running score” on how you are doing.

Rune, I don’t think there are any “short cuts” to repairing the damage. I think it takes CALM, PEACE AND TIME.

The Daniel Amen books sounds very interesting. I am sort of a book-a-holic too! LOL I’ll have to see what Amazon has it for! One day my house will fall down with the weight of my books! I do believe meditation helps in any form as long as it calms you. Good nutrition and rest are very important as well. Laughter and recreation for body, mind and spirit are also important.

The amazing discoveries of medical science now and in the fields of mental health and brain activity, body responses to stress etc. are SOOO interesting. I used to blog with a woman on another blog about scientific stuff concerning the brain. I am not sure what her specialty was, but she was soooo informed and interesting to blog with. I love the stuff Liane does here like on the bonding hormone studies with sheep she did an article on here about. I wish I could be around in 100 years to see what they have discovered about Ps and if there is some chemical control or cure. Wouldn’t it be great!!??!!

In the meantime we have to muddle through as best we can, but I have seen so much optimism and growth in the group here now that I am so excited for everyone in the progress we are making….a few stumbles here and there, like I had the other day, but even from that I LEARNED some things and refreshed some prior learning! You guys are all so intelligent and interesting!! I wish we could have a big convention and all spend a week together! Wouldn’t that be wonderful, talking and hugging and laughing and crying together! EVen sitting around a camp fire at night eating weenies and baked beans and singing Cum-by-ya!

Ox-D: You mean the “Over the Rainbow LF Family gathering”?

Hey, Rune, you are getting up there with Aloha now! That’s a great one. You know I think this is one of the most CREATIVE groups!!! What a wonderful gathering! Yes, the OVER THE RAINBOW LF FAMILY GATHERING!!!! A family reunion for your soul sisters and brothers you’ve never met, but love entirely!!! I’ll be there, in fact, we’ll have it here on the farm!!! We’ll go for wagon rides with the jack asses pulling their weight (for once) an the only jack asses here will have FOUR LEGS EACH!!! We’ll sing around the camp fire and drink cheap wine and tell stories to top each others’ stories, and laugh and laugh and laugh!!!

Oxy,

Be very, very careful to what your offering. I got me a truly generous and unexpected money gift from my beloved Mother this Christmas.

I have repeatedly told her..”I’m fine in the financial dept. I have simple needs and wants.”

My grand luxuries are books (most come from the library but I still order online sometimes), music cds (on sale!), and chocolate. What more could a lass ask for?

She snuck the damn certified check to me in the mail. It would only hurt her feelings if I sent it back to her. Don’t want that to happen.

It’s now in my savings, sitting there all fat and sassy, in case of emergencies.

Or….an impromtu visit to your farm in Arkansas!…haha.

I’ll bring the ambrosia….

😀

Ox-D: I’m laughing already. This is good.

This morning I got a call from a business associate who asked, in the way of common courtesy, “How are you?” My throat filled, tears started to roll, and I couldn’t answer. Yes, the stress overload is getting to me. I got over that. Got some work done, and now . . . thank you . . . I’m laughing.

As long as we can keep going, . . . we never know what good the next hour might bring.

Rune,

I know you didn’t write the above seeking sympathy, but you unintentionally got it from me. Aww…

The times in my life when I was most vulnerable, a simple courteous question like the one you received would release the water works.

And, yes, booming rich laughter is so beneficial to your emotional and psychological welfare. And sanity.

I knew I was on the correct track to healing, recovery and restoration when my sense of humour returned in full force!

I even giggle at my own antics sometimes.

I was at the landromat a couple of weeks ago and I accidentally bumped into a dryer door. I immediately said…”excuse me”. To an inanimate appliance!

When I realized what I’d said, I instantly let loose a full bellied laugh. The few people in there just stared at me as if I was an escaped lunatic from an asylum.

I didn’t even bother to explain. I don’t care what they think. I just continued doing what I was doing regardless of their suspicious looks…haha.

JS: That sounds like courtesy without expectation: how very un-sociopathic of you!

Thank you.

Rune,

LOL….You’re on a roll, woman!! Me likee….

😛

You are most welcome.

JS: Speaking of washed out and wrung out, I have an appliance story for you. When I was driving north of the Arctic circle I heard about an event in a small village. One of the ancient elders looked out his window and saw a polar bear walking down the street. The school was nearby, so he jumped to the defense and grabbed his shotgun. Before he was finished he had peppered his washing machine.

Talk about a startle reflex!

Janie and Rune,

My CRS (can’t remember chit) is the focus of a lot of our laughs, the guys tease me all the time about it. It used to really worry me that I was “losing it” mentally, and my therapist proved to me I wasn’t with an IQ test, so I just laugh it off now. Both my sons also have some of the CRS so we tease each other and talk about “Drain Bamage” and go on.

We laugh about the dog, we laugh about lots of things and son C is a TERRIBLE PUNSTER, oh, but his puns are awful–AWFULLLLLLLL!!! We play scrabble and other board games for “BLOOD” and have a great time!

I’m trying to BALANCE my life with work, exercise, play, laughs, rest, hugs, etc. and not let one part of it get out of whack! I try to keep my brain active and learn new things.

BTW Rune, I know that feeling of being so tearful anytime anyone says “how are you” cause it triggers those feelings in you that are still not okay, but you don’t want to expose them to that person’s social and polite question cause you know they really don’t want to know your troubles, they are just being polite. Or if they do really care, you still don’t have the strength to talk about it witout melting down for the rest of the day. Hang on, Sweetie, this too shall pass.

Tears are the bathwater of the soul! ((((hugs)))))

Rune,

LOL…ok, I’m really sloooow….I had to read that story 2 times before I got it!

How very tragic for me that my synapses and neurons move at glacier pace. (get it? In reference to the Artic circle, polar bear…….ah, nevermind)

😛

Okay, Janie, I’m glad you get it I still don’t! How was the washing machine going down the street? DUH!!! Inquiring minds want to know!

Oxy,

Hm…well, to my understanding the washing machine was jumping and bumping down the street probably because it was old.

And maybe the load of clothes being washed were unevenly distributed and it was freaking out which confused the myopic ancient elder into thinking it was a polar bear.

At least, that’s my story and I’m stikkin to it!!

Don’t want to embarrass myself any further with my evident propensity for density…..haha!!

There really was a polar bear. He walked in over the ice just before the spring thaw. Our spry but myopic elder was shooting at any large white objects, certainly stunning the washing machine in the process. (Well, for all I know the washing machine was unbalanced and needed a “shot” of vitamin BB to get back on track!) As I recall, the elder certainly got the attention of the rest of the town.

Brainiac humor….Zoom!!…whizzing right over the top of my head. Ain’t it a shame…

I’ll just loiter over here in the “Special Persons” corner tossing nerf balls at the other kids, making crude bodily function noises, and sticking straws up my nose.

XXXOOO!!

😀

Janie, have you been peeking in my window and seen me playing with my (adult) sons? Sounds like any day here on the farm! LOL

Oxy: Watch it with that shotgun!

Hey guys, notice how we’ve been laughing?! What a great antidote to being washed out and wrung out. Just don’t leave me hung out to dry!

Or as we say in Louisiana — ridden hard and hung up wet.

Matt, what in the heck is a Louisiana “coon arse” doing in Naw Yark ? Remember that song a bout the guy who had a friend in NeW York City, “he never called me by my name, just hill billie?” Country boys can survive!

Yea, we have been laughing a great deal and I think that is good for us. Too much time I have felt “too serious” and now I am ready for some fun, plus it has been so blamed cold down here (coldest in 10 yrs) I’m getting cabin fever!

Oxy and All: I think we need an update to Holmes and Rahe. We need to add our own experiences and come up with an agreement on the relative stress of the events of being involved with an S/P/N.

I actually think that might put a light on the unique aspects that we wrestle with. This isn’t just “a bad divorce,” or “death of a spouse.”

Wow, I keep learning so much on this site! I grew up in a pretty dysfunctional family but handled it pretty well I thought because I got out and made my own way. Didn’t need them for anything. Had a good job then I became the “Bank of me” to them and one day out of the blue I thought I was having a stroke! My face twisted, I couldn’t speak, it felt like someone stuck a live 220 in my veins and I thought I was gonna die. Turned out to be one of three panic attacks I would have. I realized then I wasn’t taking care of stress at all. I got myself into therapy and really learned to listen to my body and recognize stressors that were triggers. Thought I was doing pretty good for alot of years. I was a very relaxed person, laid back. My personal life always didnt turn out like I wanted always but it was all okay. Then I met my “S” and it had been so long that I had let stress get to me that I didn’t even correlate the two until it was too late. I was really worried the day I passed out at work for no reason and they told me my sugar was low and sent me back to work. I thought oh crap do I have some kind of diabetes? They sent me for a test where I had to drink a very highly concentrated sugar drink and take blood from my arm every hour on the hour for six hours to see how my body rids the sugar. I came out looking like a heroine addict with all the needle pricks in my arms. The results eventually said I was hypoglycemic. WHAT? I said! I was a healthy person, very in shape! How could this be? I went to my normal doc……Your blood pressure is high. WHAT? What the hell is going on here? Ive never had a problem with my blood pressure. She starts talking to me about stress and maybe I should talk to someone. I said I have been to therapy and think Im doing pretty well with my stress level and have been taught the resources to handle it. But I had NEVER been involved so deep with a sociopath. On top of all my health issues, my back was broken in two places, I was drug down a driveway with her car,and my eye was blacked and her manipulating ways sent me to jail over that one after my health issues. WOW! I was really BLIND to all the lies. What put a big asterisk on me was my failing weight. No matter how much I ate I kept losing. I normally weighed 130 pounds but I was now at 104 with 2000 calories a day. I got so sick of people asking me if I was on drugs or if I was anorexic! Im like I am eating, you wouldn’t believe. I work at a place that employs 7000 people and Ive been there pretty much since the plant opened so I know ALOT of people there and they know me. One day the safety director shows up at my job and says to me….Is everything okay with you? Im like yeah, what did I do? She says nothing, but people came to me and were very concerned about you and I will personally make you a doctors appointment about your weight! I was like OMG! I was so embarrassed but at the same time it was a slap in the face for me to wake up and realize just what my “S” was doing to me! I made my doc appt. She even had a heart to heart since she treated all my previous injuries and finally went outside the realms of the doc/patient relationship and told me herself to get the hell out of this situation. So this is where I am at now. On meds to increase my appetite. Ive gained eight pounds back, in the process of getting rid of my “S” which is a slow process, but things are slowly going in the right direction. SOOOOO this is my moral to my story. Every stress is different and just because you have been taught to alleviate stress in your life at some point, it will never prepare you for an S/P/N whatever the hell you want to call them! They have their own stress related injuries they induce, feed, and nurture in us and it’s something i definitely wasn’t prepared for

Anetsu,
This is one of the many casualties of a sociopath–your health. Health, mental stability, will to live, faith and trust, friends, family, pretty much everything you hold dear. Thank God you got the message and got out. Sounds like you are doing the inner work and it’s going well. Good for you!

Hi Everybody–
I have not written in months I think.
I immersed myself into training as a flight attendant and sadly– after two months of this-after having a grueling schedule/no christmas– and passing the classroom part of the program– well– I went on what is called our test flight– and guess what? My body and health and mind and spirit has gone down hill so much just since October– when my S discarded me– that I HAD TO RESIGN. I am 39, but feel 90. Couldn’t keep warm– when others were– feet hurt- entire body hurt- mind hurt and my test instructor said, “You seem unaware of your surrondings.” Not flight attendant material. I can’t believe what stress/shock has done to me. Yes OxDrover– my body shape has changed. My muscle tone is gone. I am sooo afraid I will never get well you guys. I miss the good guy my psycopath pretended to be-=my old life. In Oct– I had to leave a warm state in the US– for a cold one. Leave my job. Even my dog.
I am so scared. I feel that the evil I endured from the P– is literally eating me alive– and I do not have the energy to fight it.
Any feedback would be appreciated.
My gosh– it just occurred to me that just one year ago=– I was literally taking classes from Billy Blanks– the wonderful TAe Bo guy. How do I ever heal when you cannot call you P and have closure/adult conversation as to put it behind you– you know what I mean??? Thank yOU

Akitameg: Wow, you’ve been through so much so fast. How long were you with the S before October?

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