What Stress Feels Like For Me

What does stress feel like for me? How is this feeling any different than what “normal” people experience? Does stress really affect me more than the average, mentally healthy person? What do I do to mitigate and recover from the effects of stress?

To answer the first question, I think it’s important to note what it feels like for me when my bad stress levels are low…even to the point of being near nil. Obviously, the answer to this question is: It feels great! And, it really is that simple. I am much more creative during these times, and my interactions with others tend to be happy ones.

Then, oftentimes without notice, some bad stressor occurs, triggering a cascade of thoughts and feelings that at the very least throw me into a depressive state and at the very most brings back my psychotic symptoms (paranoia, for sure, and even auditory hallucinations at times). To say the least, this ain’t no fun. My brain goes on lockdown. I have trouble discerning what is real and what is not real. It is as if my brain has been overtaken by an icy fog. I feel encroached upon by people. Any slight from anyone feels like a personal attack, the magnitude of which is akin to a wrecking ball slamming into a skyscraper.

I feel everyone encroaching upon me, and I struggle to keep my personal boundaries afloat. Keeping my personal boundaries intact, something that most people take for granted is a mighty and tiresome struggle for me…not unlike a paraplegic relearning how to walk after a tragic car accident. The struggles of my unseen disability are that great. And, to compound matters, I feel as though I must hide those struggles because some people will take advantage of my weaknesses.

I don’t know how “normal” people experience stress…at least not on a “gut” level. I do know on a cerebral level that some people thrive on stress. It’s good that there are people in the world who are like that. I’m not one of those people. There are a couple of old sayings that I think are appropriate:

“What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.”

“No pain, no gain.”

While these sayings may sound good and may even pertain to a section of the population, they definitely have no place in my world, and I am pretty sure not in most people’s who suffer from my disorder. While some thrive on stress and while it does create a sense of personal growth for some, it has no growth factor in my world. I do not get stronger from stress; I gain nothing from its pain.

Does stress really affect me more than the average, mentally healthy person? Yes. I think I’ve outlined that well enough not to go into it any further.

What do I do to mitigate and recover from the effects of stress? Mitigating stress is difficult. Since I am continuously trying to keep my personal boundaries intact. It is a 24/7 job. I’m not so sure I do a great job of mitigating stress; more often than not, stress gets to me, and instead of mitigating it, I have to devise ways of recovering from it. More often than not, I physically try to separate myself from the stress. Hopefully, this gives me time to recover and allows me to gain a better perspective on my stressors. If this doesn’t work, let’s say because I can’t physically get away from my stress or the stress continues or gets worse, I will eventually shut down. My brain will cease to problem-solve. During these times, I spend quite a bit of time in bed. On rare occasions, I will get angry. I try not to do this since anger isn’t the best option. In fact, anger usually backfires and causes my stress levels to skyrocket. If I feel myself getting to this point, I try with all of my might to suppress my anger and separate myself from the situation until I have gained a better perspective on things.

In closing, I would like to iterate that, even though I can write a fairly coherent post, even though I can hold a decent conversation (sometimes), and even though I may seem “okay” on the outside, I still have a severe mental disorder, one that affects me daily. To put things bluntly, this disorder sucks. There are silver linings, however, for the most part, I would rather not have it.

A final note: A quick “Thank you!” to Dr. Nancy Merbitz, Ph.D. for encouraging me to write this post. Her guidance and encouragement have helped me tremendously.

14 thoughts on “What Stress Feels Like For Me

  1. Jeff March 12, 2010 at 3:17 pm Reply

    >Edwin -Thank You for Sharing. Your Reference to 'Nietzsche' helped to Drive Home your Point to me.Keep 'Em Comin' and Thank You.jas

  2. eb March 12, 2010 at 4:31 pm Reply

    >Jeff:You're welcome. I didn't know that I referenced Nietzsche ("What doesn't kill me makes me stronger"), but that definitely sounds like something he would say! :o) Guess that shows my ignorance of 19th Century philosophers. I try to post every Mondays and Thursdays, but that doesn't always work out. Sometimes stress gets the best of me.Best wishes…eb

  3. Poppy March 12, 2010 at 7:34 pm Reply

    >Each post helps me to know you better. Thanks. Stress is hard. Believe me. I'm looking forward to getting rid of some of mine. It's hard to realize that I don't really have to "feel" the stress because our lives will be changing soon. But as you so correctly point out, it's tough to unload stress just by saying it ain't so.

  4. eb March 12, 2010 at 8:09 pm Reply

    >Hello, Dad!I think part of you thrives on stress; I believe (correct me if I'm wrong) that it drives you…and sometimes perhaps you drive it. :o)Anyway, denying that there is stress in one's life, as you alluded to in your post, does nothing to address the stress that really is there. In fact, I believe denying it only makes worse. eb

  5. Tawny March 13, 2010 at 5:27 am Reply

    >Just with the other posts I'm relating my comments back to what I see in my son. The more we keep the stress at a minimum for him the better he does. Since only being consistent with meds for five months we still do every thing we can to take care of the stressful situations for him. I'm hopeful that at some point we'll be able to slow work him into handling everyday situations by himself. Most of his stress comes from dealing with other people and their expectations of him (or his perceived expectations of him).Thank you for the post Eddie.Tonya Kaberna

  6. Anonymous March 13, 2010 at 2:16 pm Reply

    >Stress.Who needs it?I was reading the other day about stress and how it is physically unhealthy for you.I try to do my best to avoid it.If I do start to feel stressed, I try to realize it is only temporary, and soon it starts to lift.Great blog eb.

  7. eb March 13, 2010 at 4:50 pm Reply

    >The above post was meant to be a reply to Tonya's post.eb

  8. eb March 13, 2010 at 4:50 pm Reply

    >Yeah, perception is a tricky thing…especially for us. I still struggle with it. For example, my psychologist recently canceled our appointments two weeks in a row. I began to wonder if he was getting bored with me, didn't like me, or didn't think I had a mental disorder. I was wrong on all three counts. He was sick for our first missed appointment and had to attend a funeral for the second one. I have to admit I tend to take any perceived slights or pressure pretty personally. Guess it is something I have to work on.Best wishes…eb

  9. eb March 13, 2010 at 5:48 pm Reply

    >Thanks, Anonymous! Always good to see you around and read your input. Best wishes…eb

  10. John B March 16, 2010 at 8:22 pm Reply

    >Edwin-Really thought provoking. Thanks for the insight. A lot of real concrete examples and anecdotes to help me understand how your interact with stress. Thanks for the post.JB

  11. Dr. Nancy Merbitz March 16, 2010 at 11:49 pm Reply

    >This post seems to have prompted many responses. (a shout-out to Tonya: hi!)I am just now reading it because i've had some stress too – 2 weeks ago we lost our dog to cancer: Angel, the Australian Shepherd who was an amazing presence in our lives. This week we have a "good stressor" – working with our new dog, Teddy, to acclimate him to our other dog, Sasha, and our home; he has lived in a shelter kennel for the past 6+ years so he has a lot to learn but what a good dog, and so smart and adaptable. Anyway, I really think Ed has said a lot this time in particular, and the research on schizophrenia bears him out: a person with schiz. is simply going to do worse when pressure is applied, even pressure which is meant to be encouraging. And truthfully, most of us, not only those of us with schiz., do better when we find our own way, sometimes with some very tactful, humble and low-key input from those we trust. bye for now -Nancy

  12. eb March 17, 2010 at 12:54 am Reply

    >Thanks, John! Glad you got something out of it. Very nice to see you here!Take care…eb

  13. eb March 17, 2010 at 12:57 am Reply

    >Thank you, Dr. Nancy! Your professional (and in this case personal) insights are much appreciated. Very sorry to hear of the loss of Angel. I know how hard losing a dog is, so my deepest sympathies go out to you.Sounds like Teddy is doing great. I'm sure he'll fit right in (smart and adaptable). Best wishes…eb

  14. eb March 17, 2010 at 1:04 am Reply

    >One more comment on Dr. Nancy's post:She mentioned the phrase: "even pressure which is meant to be encouraging." We all want the best for our loved ones, whether or not they suffer from schizophrenia, but this particular phrase struck me, because I've experienced that kind of pressure and because I correspond with others who would like (some are even adamant about it) to apply encouraging pressure. Like Dr. Nancy mentioned, we (people with this disorder especially) "do better when we find our own way, sometimes with some very tactful, humble and low-key input from those we trust."Best wishes to all…eb

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