Sunday, June 29, 2008

Stress is taking its' toll

Stress. It sucks. It literally sucks life out of you. It does things to your mind and body you'd rather skip. After awhile, it rules your life. Right now, it's running my life.

It's reached the point that I stress over everything - big and small. Do I enjoy worrying about everything? HELL NO! Here's what chronic worry and anxiety get me:

  • headaches

  • digestive issues

  • upset stomach

  • symptoms of an ulcer

  • skin problems

  • profuse sweating

  • blood sugar issues

  • insomnia

  • chronic fatigue

  • panic attacks

  • complete lack of sexual desire

  • heightened PMS symptoms

  • moodiness

  • lethargy

  • relationship issues

  • anger

  • helplessness

Wow. Not a pretty list when put down in black and white.

It's hard to get others to understand. For those who deal with stress differently, it's hard to explain why I just can't "Put it aside and stop worrying". It makes me angry to hear someone say, "Well, I don't know why you would worry about that. It's not important."

Stress is having the worst impact on my relationship with Mike. He's a worrier - and had the bleeding ulcer to attest to his habit. But even he doesn't get it. He worries the big things. The little things don't really impact him. I, on the other hand, deal fairly well with the big things. It's the little things that pile up, grow exponentially, and cause the worst damage.

If the laundry is piled as high as Everest, I stress about getting it all done. If the boys don't get their chores done, I blow up. If they leave a mess behind, I rant and rave. If the phone rings too much at work, I want to throw it out the window.

Now that I'm digging around my own head, I guess I see the big things impact me too. Mike has been working in Oregon for most of the last 4 months. It's hard being here alone, or as the only parent/adult. The day-to-day grind is overwhelming at times. Especially with kids at the age known for constantly testing the limits. Throw in working full-time, going to school full-time, health issues/concerns and I'm a mess. If I only had a couple more hours in every day. But then I'd just have more time to fret and stew.

Back in October, Mike was involved in a fender bender. The accident itself wasn't that bad. In the setting sun, he missed a stop sign and hit another car, right where the door and front fender meet. Had some front-end damage to his pickup and insurance deemed the other car totaled since it was old...really old. Well, old enough to not really be worth anything. The other guy refused medical treatment on-scene, and signed for the paramedics to leave. Now, he's retained a lawyer and claims he has more than $25,000 in medical bills. Huh? The letter from our insurance carrier on that little gem made my stomach twist into knots unknown to the most proficient boy scout.

The lack of sex is the elephant in the corner. It's there, but we're damned unable to talk about it reasonably without arguing, or causing hurt, anger, and disappointment. It's killing both of us. Slowly.

If sex, or the lack thereof, is the elephant in the corner, my schooling is the hippo? Cow? Some other big, yet fairly quiet animal. It takes a lot of my time and energy. It cuts into family time. It's the cause of some significant passive-aggressive tendencies and comments in our personal relationship. It's hailed as a good thing, a positive direction to take for our financial future, but there's a lot of underlying hostility surrounding the time I devote to that rather than personal relationships.

Money is tight and expenses are rising. Same sad story for a great portion of the population right now. We need to do a couple major projects before winter and finding a way to pay for them is worrying. Apparently we aren't the only ones trying to find alternative heating arrangements, because a good used wood stove is impossible to find. We're resigned now to the probability of having to buy a new one.

All Mike's medical bills from December (the bleeding ulcer incident) are now finalized and we've made arrangements on them. To the tune of nearly $400 a month. Those checks hurt, in a major way.

Devan has his driving permit. There are days my nerves just can't handle it. On top of that, he took a bad bounce off a friend's trampoline the other day and nearly broke his wrist. Actually, we still haven't received word if there's a break or not. We had it looked at yesterday and the PA didn't see anything obvious on the x-rays, but the radiologist still needs to review. We'll find out on Monday.

Mike's Dad is dealing with some significant health issues right now. And we're 3000 miles away. Mike talks to his folks daily, getting just enough information to spark worry, without getting any real answers. I know his Mom's motivations are good; she doesn't want him to worry because of his ulcer. But all the unanswered questions and partial snippets of information are often harder to deal with than knowing the full story.

My Grandmother is now deep in the clutches of Alzheimer's. In her mind, she's living, once again, on the old homestead of her youth. She's getting worse. On a daily basis.

My other Grandmother is showing significant signs of dementia. Not the same as Alzheimer's, but equally as hard to deal with. They are having a family meeting next weekend to discuss putting her into a facility.

A dear friend is going through a very tough family issue (and issue is far from the right term to describe this) right now, and there's nothing I can do for her or her family, other than be available over the miles to listen. I know she needs support and friendship right now, and I'm 2500 miles away.

My Mom and her SO were here for a visit earlier in the month. They brought the 5th-wheel, despite the high gas prices, so everyone could have space. We have a guest room of sorts, but that many people in the house 24/7 is a little close at times. My brother and SIL did take care of the grocery shopping for me (all meals are prepared and served at my house since I have a kitchen big enough to manage the crowd), which was really a blessing. However, my SIL did precious little to help with meals and clean-up. I'm talking show up maybe 30 minutes before meal time, kids in tow, maybe stir a pot if asked, eat the meal, then retire to the other room or outside. It's like she was oblivious to the time and energy it takes to cook a full sit-down meal for 10 and then clean up afterwards. Thankfully, my Mom is awesome about jumping in on prep work, and clean-up, too. And the boys jumped right in on dishes with nary an argument. They knew I was stressed. And here it is 3 weeks after the fact, and I'm still bugged by it.

OK, so maybe the big things are a little bigger than I realized. I try not to chew on them continuously, but they are always in the back of my mind. Always. So the little stuff that comes up daily rides on top of all that. And some days, it just feels like the boat is ready to sink. Some days the weight is just so much.

I don't remember what it is to be stress-free. To not be tense. And not just mentally tense, but physically. My entire body is always poised and ready to react.

This entry is way longer than I figured it would be. Maybe I should write more often and get things out in small doses rather than producing a novella.

I just want to be able to relax.

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