When you are constantly under a huge amount of stress, it really messes you up physically. I'm not going to type out all of what others have said so eloquently in their own articles and videos. I'll just include some links and videos here.
It truly is amazing, in a very devastating way, what continued stress being applied to you can do. It's even more devastating when you know it is happening and you try to sound the alarm over and over, but nothing is done about it on your behalf. When you aren't taken care of by the people who are supposed to care for you...and instead even more stress is applied, completely out of your control (barring cutting all ties with the people applying the stress...which most often produces even more stress, so it's not seen as a valid option).
I had hoped for a time of healing to start around the first of June 2012. Didn't happen. Around August 2012, after a full year of pretty heightened external stressors (more than ever before), when I noticed things like brain fog, rapid weight gain, exhaustion, and hair thinning...I knew what was going on. I knew that my adrenal glands were experiencing some major changes...that the stress of the year, that didn't show any signs of ceasing by the way, was already doing major damage physically. I had known it would start if I wasn't afforded time to rest...and here it was. I begged for time to rest and heal. It was denied. But, your adrenals are very important...and keeping them healthy is very important. Therefore I knew just how serious this was. From this article...
Adrenal fatigue is a condition that has far reaching effects when it comes to our health.
It’s not just feeling tired, but all the other things that start to become compromised as a result of high cortisol (our stress hormone).
Another thing to be aware of is that if you have thyroid issues, your adrenals have usually become compromised first. So in order to effectively address thyroid problems you have to heal the adrenals as well.I knew that if I didn't get this adrenal/stress hormone issue under control, it would lead to other things.
I knew that swimming in a constant sea of stress hormones was horribly bad for you. That's why I had always made sure I was not affected by stressful situations, even when everyone around me was. I knew how to keep myself 'chill.' And if it got too bad and I wasn't able to have any control over the effects, I would just get myself out of that situation, therefore blocking the stress altogether.
Along with adrenal problems, look at all of the other things that can happen...
From the above video: "Your life will always be filled with stressful situations. But what matters to your brain and entire body is how you respond to that stress. If you can view those situations as challenges you can control and master rather than as threats that are insurmountable, you will perform better in the short run, and stay healthy in the long run."
That's what I had always done before...the stressors, after marriage, were always things that were super stressful, but I could see them as a relative temporary challenge. Packing up and moving, setting up house in a new location, packing up and moving again, setting up house again, things like language school, uncertainty about the immediate future (always), travel, adding onto our family, loss, etc. These were all things that filled our lives always.
And...I handled it. Through the grace that I had for these things (from God) and the tools that I had always been able to use to just 'remain chill'...I handled it.
But, there came a time when I knew that none of those things could come at me for a time...that I needed a significant time of rest and a break from all of that. 2012 was that time. Again, the ones who should have cared for me most during that time in order to heed my warnings that were based on my own body's warnings...they did not listen. And their counsel from others was, in fact, not to listen to me. I was in sin, they said...I was not submitting, I was trying to control and manipulate, etc. I was the problem, they said.
So, it continued.
All of these videos and all of the research says that in order to not succumb to stress in your life, you have to manage it. I'm smart. That is exactly what I was trying to do. I'm in tune with my surroundings and my body...I had recognized what this lifestyle, and what the added stressors of 2011/2012, was doing...and I was trying to manage that stress by retreating from those things in order to heal. Again...denied.
They say that there are a few things that help in decreasing the effects of stress in your life:
3. oxytocin - what's called 'the love hormone'
1. I was literally just trying to survive at this point, with the person who was supposed to be my strongest ally coming against me...and nobody else at all coming to my rescue. When you are in survival mode, you literally have to conserve your energy stores. While I didn't stop exercising completely at that time, because I knew it was important and health was a huge passion of mine (and I'd always loved exercise)...everything changed. And it definitely didn't serve to alleviate stress in my life...it was harder to exercise and therefore actually created more stress for me.
2. I prayed, I watched wonderful spiritual teachers, I listened to music that helped me, and I researched what could possibly be happening all around me...these are the only things that got me through.
3. See #1...I had no one. I promise that is not me having a pity party. I'm just telling you the truth. And it's a very common story. Very common.
Unrelenting stress is a killer...literally.
I had been so careful to stay healthy and do all of the things that would combat sickness and disease in my life. Right before all of this, I was actually in the best shape of my life. You can read about that here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.
But through all of this, my own personal health has declined drastically. I'll explain next time.