Thursday, May 01, 2014

Stress Can Make You Crazy

My mother used to warn me about getting "stressed out". Stress, she'd say, will either kill you or make you crazy. I don't know if my stress will kill me, but it sure is making me crazy.

When I get stressed, I do goofy things.

A few days ago, I was on my way to have coffee with a close friend I hadn't seen for a while. We have a favorite meeting spot called The House of Bread. (If you live near one, go there. It's great - unless you're on a diet. You can gain weight just from inhaling the delicious smells.) It's a straight shot from where I live to The House of Bread. I can get there in three minutes, if I hit the one stoplight just right. Or if I actually get to the stoplight. I didn't make it that day because my brain went on autopilot and I ended up sitting in the parking lot at Walmart, trying to figure out what I needed from the store. I was actually sitting in my car, trying to remember whether or not I'd made a list and forgotten it at the apartment.

That was funny, but scary. I sat there at Walmart for about five minutes before my friend called to check on me. When I told her what happened, she drove to Walmart and we ended up getting coffee at the McDonald's inside. Happy ending to that weirdness:  I was able to pick up some groceries while we were there. Downer to that weirdness: my friend has been calling me every few hours to make sure I'm not sitting somewhere in a parking lot when I'm supposed to be somewhere else.

It's just stress, right?

My friend advised me that the best way to deal with stress is to acknowledge it. Until she reminded me, I had not thought of the reasons I'm struggling to cope right now:

The months of April, May, June and July don't hold a lot of great memories for me. My mother passed in April (2001); my father was born in the month of May and died in July (of 1991); June is the month when I walked away from the best man I have ever loved; my oldest brother died in July of last year; July of 2011 is when I was hit was sarcoidosis. This April, my sister was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer.

So, I am trying to acknowledge my stressors, but even doing that is adding stress. The goofy, crazy weirdness continues.

While I'm normally an easily distracted person, this emotional chaos is not helping. Writing is usually an escape for me, but I can't concentrate long enough to get any writing done. After last night, I'm considering taking a break from doing anything that requires my full attention.

When I write, I don't like to wander far from my laptop in my bedroom because I'll get sidetracked. Normally, "getting sidetracked" means I will end up chatting on the phone with someone or taking a walk to clear my head. Little things like that only take me off course for about half and hour. Last night, in the middle of a writing session, I took a quick bathroom break. I ended up rearranging the towels and soaps, then I realized I needed to clean out the makeup drawer. I don't like throwing things away so I put the makeup in a bag to giveaway to friends. And why stop at makeup? I have plenty of clothes and accessories I don't wear or use anymore....

When I finished, I had a gallon-sized freezer bags of cosmetics and medium-sized packing box of clothing to tote to my car. Apparently, that was thirsty work because, before I knew it, I was in the kitchen and blending up a some lemon, ginger and mango smoothies.

Life doesn't play fair and, every now and then, I need a reminder that I am no match for what it's going to throw at me. Okay, I am reminded, but I am also reassured:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27)

--Free

Psalm 23

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