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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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Akitameg,

Working with the spinal cord and head injured patients and their families was an eye opening experience for me in many ways. Interestingly enough, the nurses there bonded with each other, and even when we went our separate ways (due to a P taking over the director of nurses’ position and destroying the hospital and the nursing staff) we kept in contact (I guess in a way we were trauma bonded to each other) and though that has been 25+ yrs ago, many of us still keep in contact, even across the continent. We also keep in contact with may of the former patients (those that are still alive) and my best friend in the world is the mother of one of my former patients who is a quad, who is quite successful in life in spite of his disabilities.

I guess it is funny that my straight-forward sense of humor (and my “skillet” humor) worked well with the patients because while our empathy made us want to “pity” the poor paralyzed patient, our job was to make them independent in spite of their physical disabilities so we took sometimes a “tough love” approach. My friend’s son still jokingly calls me the “nurse from hell” because one night he was being a typical teenager and wouldn’t cooperate, after 30 minutes of explaining why it was VERY important that he drink his prune juice (constipatient can actually KILL a quad) and he refused, I finally said, “Look I have 2 other floors I am charge nurse on, and 12 patients all my own, you either drink the stuff and think of it as medicine, or I will put a tube down your nose and pour it down. You have 5 seconds to make up your mind, 5, 4….” he looked at me and smiled and said, “Would you really do that?” I looked back and him and nodded my head and said, “And’ I’d enjoy it too!” He drank the prune juice and we became friends after that night….

He learned how to take care of himself and how to avoid the simple things that frequently lead to death in quadrapalegics. Almost all of the cohort of young men in the hospital at the same time as he was are long ago dead. I’m not sure that my tough love approach with him was the “thing” or among the things that made him (as a definant teenager) realize that some small things like a glass ofprune juice could save his life and that there are some things in life we just have to (excuse the pun) SUCK UP and do them, or not. His parents also treated him like a “regular” kid, who just happened to be in a wheel chair, rather than giving in to his every whim because “my poor baby is handicapped.” Those kids are dead. My friend’s son is alive. Though I had and HAVE tremendous empathy for my friend’s son, I also have a great deal of respect for the man he has become. He is happy and productive and lives a good life even in the physical condition that he is in. He makes the best of reasonable dreams and has acheived most of them.

Though at one time I was HIS teacher, now, in a way, he is MY teacher by example. I hope I can be half as good a student as he was.

Oxy: What a good example you bring. I guess we’re trying to bring sympathy and tough love to each other here in LF. I wish we had a “hospital” to go to, where we could learn about “prune juice,” and other vital tips to keep us alive and help us move back into productive lives, regardless of what we’ve been through.

Rune, I agree with you, sometimes “tough love”–telling the truth even if one of us doesn’t want to hear it–is necessary for healing. Otherwise, we end up enabling someone to stay stuck in a “rut”–keeping in mind always that it must contain LOVE and not anger, rage, demeaning comments, etc.

Sometimes people come here, and I can think of one in particular, who was RABID about “none of this was my fault” and several of us agreed that the P did not have a right to do what they did, he was responsible for what HE did, but SHE was responsible for allowing it. She became VERY angry and abusive to me and one other blogger. At the time, I was really in a raw state and it hurt me quite badly, because I felt like I had been “too tough” on this woman.

She ended up leaving the blog and taking another blogger with her (that fell into the the “it’s all his fault so let’s blame him and acquit ourselves of any responsibility for allowing it.”

When I first heard the concept of me having responsibility for allowing the abuse, it was difficult to accept, I really didn’t want to hear it and I would rather have played a rousing game of “gosh ain’t it awful what he did?” without taking ANY responsibility on myself that I ALLOWED this to go on and on and on. But fortunately at the time, my therapist pounded the concept into my head and I finally GOT it. Didn’t always USE it after that, but I did GET IT. LOL

Maybe later this poster will finally accept responsibility for her part in the drama, but I sincerely doubt it. I have a suspicion that she was a BPD looking for justification for the things she did in revenge toward her abuser, she seemed on the verge of changing seats in the VICTIM, RESCUER, PERSECUTOR triangle.

That triangle was another difficult concept for me to accept, but without accepting that, any further healing was impossible.

There are many concepts of interactions between people, and how we act and react, that I think we must examine and possibly make some changes in our behaviors and thinking.

I do from time to time try to lovingly confront a few posters here (the “skillet”) but in a way that is not angry or demeaning and only then with posters with whom I have had some sort of “relationship” with for a while. So that my “boinking” is not misinterpreted as either “holier-than-thou” or hateful. Sometimes I use the “skillet” on myself when I do something I know I shouldn’t do, but do it anyway. LOL

I think in some ways I am still too “afraid” of hurting someone’s feelings. I’m getting better in real life with setting boundaries and not having anxiety about it, or fear, or guilty feelings, but I do know that on a blog where facial expression, tone of voice and other signs are not visible, it is easier to be misinterpreted with plain words on a paper. (screen) I think something like 90% of communication is non verbal, so I try to be aware of that in posting any disagreements or comments. I also try not to strike back if someone comes back and flames me.

I wish we did have a “support group” that met face to face, but with people on LF scattered all over the world, this would be a bit hard to do.

I do know one thing, though, this site has been a godsend to me and I think to many others.

Oxy: Indeed. Well said.

All of you are wonderful. I think I need to come here more– it is just difficult sometimes.
Rune–I like what you are sayng about taking responsibility.THis gets hard for me b/c for one– he was lying so blantantly– that I had no idea with what I was dealing. Who lies like that? AND — it is almost like he disguised his mistreatment of me. Does anyone know what I mean? If he had ever yelled or lay a finger on me—I would have bailed.

i soooooo wish we had a face to face support group. I am in a horrible place of– and I use to be such an extrovert– I am becoming afraid to go out in public. Esp alone. Old feelings come up. I start to miss him. I no longer feel attractive- in fact I feel ugly– and my gosh– I was modeling when I met him. THat is how I met him actually. He was a photographer and asked me to work with him– my gosh you guys— I should have known, huh? But his work was amazing and his reputation was great.
Maybe it is depression making me not want to go in public? Maybe it is because I had to leave a very warm, southern state and flee here to Chicago?
thanks everyone–

Dear Akitameg,

I can definitely relate to the “old and ugly” feelings, and that is just how I felt after my husband died and I was alone, soooo alone. I felt like no one would ever want me again. When the XBF-P started courting me, it made me feel young and beautiful again! Ahhhhh! But you know, our body image is more than what the mirror shows. I know that oh, so well.

I used to model some too when I was younger and I was a real “hottie”–but now I am 62 yars old and while I don’t look 82 by any means, I do look 62. And, what’ls wrong with THAT? Nothing. My REAL beauty is 100X now what it was when I was 18 or 20—because physical beauty is very fleeting, and very shallow. If all we have is “physical beauty” we are poor indeed. Or if we depend for physical beauty for being “attractive” we are also very poor indeed.

My husband had a secretary once that if you saw a photo of her she was PLAIN with all capitol letters, but when she entered a room EVERY MAN THERE fell in love with her because she had such a personality that she literally LIT UP the room. The most handsome guy that worked for my husband married her (he was quite a bit younger than her) and every guy there that was single felt left out that that guy got her and they didn’t. 20+ years later they are still married and very happy and though I haven’t seen her in years (we do correspond by phone and e mail) I have no doubt she looks every yar of her age and a few more, but I also have no doubt that she still lights up the room when she enters.

KNowing that woman made me have a different outlook on physical beauty. So after I got over my “pity party” about being old and ugly, I just went back to being “me” and quit worrying about my wrinkles and age spots.

Get yer’self gussied up and go out on the town!!! Get a massage or a pedicure and a hair do, pamper yourself and quit’yer whinin’ and WEAR A RED HAT!!!! ((((hug))))) When we have the Love Fraud convention the rest will recognize us by our red hats!!!

thank you Oxy!

Still havent fallen off the wagon, however he texted yesterday morning asking if he could see the baby, I texted back that I thought he had a solicitor to deal with it. Texts were exchanged at the rate of 2 a minute. I thne though to hell with it I will ring him…wish i ahd not hearing his voice took ma aback a bit…he was all look this bad feeling ahs gone on long enough , do you think its right to deprive the kids of a father. I said in your case yes.
He then texted in the evenioing to say he was at the bottom of the street..and that he would like to speak, I ginred it, he was down there a few textts past between us and then he rang..but after only two mins iut was usual shouting me down, not allowing me say but expecting to have his. I put the phone down and texted typical of you when you have no answer, you are accountable for your actions no matter how you shout…He then texted me and said he had tried to be reasonable and I was evil.
Now I keep thinking of him again..I deleetd all his texts earlier and all trace of his number from my mobile so I could not contact him in a moment of weakness. TYhank god too cos earlier I thought of saying to him, I do miss you and I still love you…I miss him. it will pass

Ive had a drink…dont evn know if that readable cos I cant find my glasses…sorry if its not

Dear Muldoon,

I know it is tempting to try to communicate with him, but it is like PISSING IN THE WIND, it will only blow back in your face.

The best thing to do is to COMMUNICATE ONLY THROUGH THE LAWYER. Only trhough the courts.

Save any of his texts that are abusive or nasty, you may need them as evidence. DO NOT SEND HIM ANY NASTY TEXTS cause you may have to EAT THEM IN COURT.

You don’t love “him” you love the person you THOUGHT HE WAS. He is NOT that person You have seen that person that he IS WITH HIS HANDS AROUND YOUR NECK, you know he destroyed your car, opened the doors and windows in the rain and taunted you, masturbated in front of his child with porn on the computer, CHEATED ON YOU, and you love “Him?” Of course not, you know you don’t.

You miss HIM? All the pain and the hateful words and the hateful scary things he did? Of course not. You just want the man he pretended to be, but CAN NEVER BE, will never be.

Hang in there sweet Muldoon! Keep your guard up. ((((hugs))))

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