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When Things are Difficult

A woman's hand holding a white coffee mug with the words "I can't even" on it.

Keeping on when things are difficult is really tough. Not in the I want to give up on life sense, but in the I don't want to do anything today sense. Today is very similar to that day I described in this post, where I talk about being miserable when there's nothing wrong and what I do about it. Only this time I know one of the major contributing factors is stress.

I've had a full week with work, with some more complex cases lately. I'm trying very hard to stay on track with my studying for the big licensing exam I'm planning to write at the end of May. Recently, Hubby's had a dosage change to his medication and it's been a tougher one for us to adjust to as there are some unexpected side effects with his attention and sleep patterns. I have a new recording project that I'm enjoying posting to YouTube (if you enjoyed the game Myst, from the 90's, you might like this, too). And I've started a bigger collaborative project with a bunch of other small-channel video creators. Which means my writing project has had to take a back seat in a really frustrating way... I just don't have enough bandwidth for it all.

Stress a few particular things to me:

  • I over eat (by a fair amount) which makes me lethargic, makes me gain weight, and makes my clothing uncomfortable

  • I'm exhausted emotionally and mentally, so I struggle with communicating well and it causes extra interpersonal challenges

  • I sleep poorly, so I also have less physical energy and patience with others

  • My moods are more changable, sometimes unpredictibly so, and take a lot of active effort to manage with as little damage to others as possible

And yet there's a part of me that craves stress. It's wild. I've written before about Stress Addiction, and even spent some intentional time "detoxing" from my body's dependency on coritsol (the naturally-produced stress hormone) to function well. Successfully, I'm happy to say. I don't require the stress to function well, but I'm now left craving stimulation and too few healthy options to get it.

I used to unconsciously use caffeine to fill this role, but my disgestive issues mean that coffee is far too acidic for me to enjoy very much anymore, despite it still having a lot of comforting associations for me. I've also detoxed from coffee enough so that I have gotten a caffeine high from one cup of decaf before... so other forms of caffeine are not really viable. This leaves me with either taking on too many projects/responsibilities to create pressure/stress, or causing interpersonal drama in my relationships (or with myself). Thankfully I don't tend to do the second one.

But that first one... that's a doozy. And at the moment it's really kicking my butt. If it were just my own things, I'd be okay. But I have a husband and my life is inextricably connected to his. That means we affect one another.

And this is where the realization that my stress addiction is harming others really shows itself. Because I can't be fully present for him when I'm managing the high levels of stress that my brain prefers (and my body hates). More and more I'm realizing that my unhealthy coping mechanisms are really having a negative impact on my ability to be fully present, fully myself. Fully available for my husband. Available at all for my friends, it seems.

A few weeks ago I decided it was time to book appointments with my own therapist again, and I'm glad I did, although I've been bouncing back and forth between whether or not I can handle things on my own. But here's the thing: Maybe I can. But should I? Handling things on my own might prove to me that I'm capable, but it sure prolongs the distress I'm putting my own body through. And it unneccessarily prolongs the negative effects this is having on my husband and my friends. That's not very considerate of me.

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