Stress is a big thing right? Everyone gets stressed, at some point or another.
When Riley died, and still to this day. I get stressed out. The moment the phone rang and a police man on the other end introduced himself, my hair turned grey (that’s why I have to colour it).
Asking with a lump in my throat and tears streaming down my face if he knew where my boyfriend was, I was stressed. Sitting in the hospital awaiting any kind of news, I was stressed. And hearing that the man I loved was no longer with us, I was stressed. I was a whole lot of other things all at once. But stress sits there below it all, just simmering away. Just chilling.
Stress manifests in a lot of ways and does a lot of things to you mentally and physically.
Everything ranging from headaches to hair loss. And you will feel almost all of them.
Common effects of stress
Stress symptoms affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, your behaviour, pretty much every part of your life, ever. And stress that’s left unchecked can contribute to many health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, etc. You just lost a loved one. You don’t need to get heart disease!
Lets start with the signs of stress to do with your body:
- Headaches/migraines (especially after crying too much!)
- Muscle pain
- Chest pain, feeling like someone is stabbing you
- Change in sex drive
- Upset stomach, and vomiting
- All of the sleeping problems ever
These are pretty self-explanatory. But it’s twenty times worse than you would ever think. Chest pains from distress actually feel like your heart is breaking. Fatigue, but not being able to sleep, is an ongoing and evil cycle. And the change in sex drive; can confirm it did change. The thought of sleeping with anyone was daunting, and the last thing on my mind. Physical contact of any kind was stressful for a time.
For the ladies, period changing is a BIG one. Didn’t get one for two months, (thus making me think I was pregnant. Baby Riley with side burns as soon as they are born, while adorable, was not what I needed at that point) and when I finally got my period it lasted three fucking weeks (ew).
Next Behaviour Stress
- Angry outbursts over little things
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Not wanting to be social
- Not exercising
I didn’t eat for 3 months. I remember getting so excited the first time I made toasted sandwiches. The first time I cooked a proper meal was a green curry at the end of November (3 and a half months after the accident). I didn’t see people, and getting out of bed and walking to the bathroom was enough exercise in a day. Also, as you would expect, I got super angry at things. Took on a wall once. I lost.
And finally, and my favourite, mood stress
- Lack of motivation or focus
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Irritability or anger
- Sadness or depression
Oh boy are these ones true. They skyrocketed. I was angry and depressed all at once, I couldn’t do any of the tasks I needed to do because I couldn’t focus, but then felt overwhelmed at how much shit I had to do. Another on-going vicious cycle. You will have so many conflicting emotions that people won’t understand. Talking to people about how many things that you need to do, they suggest a task to start on, telling you to “just get through it” which invokes all of the rage. You lash out at a loved one and cue the depression at treating the people you love badly because you are having a shit time.
So these are the stress related things that you will have to deal with. Next question, how do you deal with them?
I have already mentioned ideas that help you get your life back on track and these are similar:
- Take care of yourself. This includes eating healthy, well-balanced meals. It’s hard to cook, I know, so ask friends and family for their help! Exercise on a regular basis – just to the mailbox and back is a good start. Get plenty of sleep; this one is a lot easier said than done. I have an app that make it sound like it’s raining with mini thunderstorms. Maybe try of those out. You can get café ones, train stations, rain, white noise, etc. and of course give yourself a break if you feel stressed out. The people around you care about you and want what is best. If you need a break. Tell them, otherwise you will get people checking on you 20 million times a day.
- Talking to others. Share your problems and how you are feeling and coping with a parent, friend, counsellor, doctor, or pastor. I know it’s stressful. It just really helps having people to talk to.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol. Drugs and alcohol may seem to help with the stress. In the long run, they create additional problems and increase the stress you are already feeling. Hangover, anyone?
- Try to realise if you need more/professional help. If you start having dark thoughts about joining your loved ones, those are some warning bells to listen to.
- Be willing to give things that people suggest a go. I tried mediating. It was actually very useful for me, the actual mediation. I’m not so sure about actually meditation, but hiding myself away from the busyness of my life for 5 minutes, sitting quietly and saying the same word over and over in my mind made me forget; revamped me. Though once I did fall asleep in one of the spare meeting rooms…. oops.
I know it is a trying time. It will continue to be a trying time for a long time to come, but be patient with yourself, take your time, and treat yourself like you would your best friend. Keep your head up and remember:
“Stress is the trash of modern life-we all generate it but if you don’t dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life.” ― Danzae Pace
Riley would make friends where ever he went x