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Jacket: New Look, old. (Similar here)
This year’s Mental Health Awareness Month theme is Stress. The Mental Health Foundation did a free report on it. They are a charity that have goals to help people understand, protect and sustain their mental health. I’m reading it now and is very intriguing. . .
The beginning of the report defines stress and it is very interesting. I have never read about the official definition of stress before but growing up I know long term exposure to stress can lead to physically ailments; insomnia, lack of appetite and migraines. This is through personal experience and observation.
My own personal definition of stress is the feeling of a thousand worries, to do lists, helplessness building up in my mind until the pressure is too much and becomes a pounding headache. OR if I have too much to do and don’t have time to have a headache my type of stress manifests itself into lack of appetite/sleep and I just keep going until I look ill or gaunt. That is when my family/friends step in and remind me to sleep or eat something. (And that time is specifically when I did my dissertation for my postgrad! My god was such a stressful time for me, never ate so much crap in my life yet managed to loose weight – which was not a good thing. The power of overwhelming stress is a massive detriment not only to your mental health but physical as well!).
However, the official definition is;
“Stress is our body’s response to pressures from a situation or life event.”
Or what The Mental Health Foundation calls ‘stressors’ everyone has different stressors or a word I commonly use in place of stressors are triggers. I think that is a different definition altogether though… wait let me look that up… aaaand it is! Ahaha whoops! The official definition is taken from the urban dictionary;
“a strong emotional reaction set off by a set of words or image that reminds a person of a traumatic event.”
For me these two words, although have different definitions seem to go hand in hand. I have my own personal triggers that lead to stressors.
For example I severely dislike the word ‘chinky’. And when I lived in Dundee it was a word used often as noun for getting a chinese takeaway. Every time I hear that word I get super uncomfortable as it just takes me back to when I was in Primary 7 and severely bullied.
I remember a particular traumatising time when I was walking home from school, alone, and a group of kids would throw rocks at me and yell obscenities; one of them being ‘chinky’. It was, in general, one of the most frequent words used to put me down.
And it would stress me out whenever someone said it because I knew they weren’t saying it from a bad place! I would never know whether or not to let them know its an awful word or how to bring that subject up without offending them. Unless I am drunk I am awful at confrontation. I get sweaty and nervous and then just end up waffling away and my point gets lost in the waffle of it all. My ex’s family used that word a lot and it made me feel so uncomfortable because they are genuinely lovely people and I didn’t want to make them feel bad or awkward but I just really, really don’t like that word! Thankfully my ex tried to make them stop.
When you have constant exposure to stress, with no rest periods from whatever your ‘stressor’ is the physiological effects results in wear and tear on your body. Basically your constantly ‘on’. Your body has a natural response to stress; which is fight or flight. Having this activated consistently makes the feelings of being overwhelmed or unable to cope more likely to occur.
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I didn’t realise this… but in all honesty it makes so much sense. When you’ve had a rollercoaster ride of a childhood/teenage-hood and then adulthood your either gonna be cold and unfeeling or feeling too much and overwhelmed easily!
The biggest indicator I had in my life that I was under a lot of stress that was not necessary ‘normal’ for a teenager was when I was… I think 12/13? Maybe? Ahaha I have a VERY bad memory so bear with me. I had my first ever migraine. Now anyone that has had a migraine will understand how much pain I was in… it is awful!
I remember my first one very vividly because there was a massive panic over it. I was in the shower, stepped out, looked in the bathroom mirror and suddenly got a flashing light in my eyes that lead to little neon white circles in my vision. I wasn’t sure what was going on but I thought I was getting a head rush or a headache? I had been getting them a lot recently; probably because of the bullying combined with a stressful family dynamic. I told mum about it, she said I should go to bed and read my book or get some sleep.
I couldn’t sleep.
I kept feeling the pressure building up in the back of my left eye and making it throb. I started to get tunnel vision and I couldn’t read my book properly… so I had to hold it to right of me and slowly move it so I could see it.
Mum came through to check on me and asked me what I was doing. I said I couldn’t really see the book.
Thats when she started to get worried. I don’t remember much after that because it felt like an explosion went off in my head. My brain felt like it was being stabbed by hot knives and that it wasn’t attached to anything therefore it was bumping against the inside of my skull, making it worse.
Mum got me to the hospital and I kept being asked the same annoying question over and over again by her and the nurses/doctors..
“does your neck hurt?!”
I kept saying NO it was my head! My head was the thing that was hurting not my neck and I could not for the life of me figure out why they kept asking me about my neck. And tbh I didn’t care cause I just wanted the pain to stop.
Later on, my mum told me she and they were worried that I had meningitis, because the migraine came upon me so quickly and they figured it must’ve been meningitis rather than a migraine. ..
I didn’t fully comprehend how uncommon this was until I had to see a doctors from my fathers private practice. This wasn’t long after my mum and dad had divorced and I was sitting in a room with both of them, which made me extremely uncomfortable, and I remember the doctor asking me if I was under any extreme stress.
It was apparently very uncommon for teenagers to get one so quickly and out of the blue. They can be triggered by certain foods or stressors… I couldn’t say what is was… but it was because of the stressful family dynamic.
Everyone has either a stressors that can be so out-with their control that they have no choice but to face it on a daily basis. If something is affecting you this negatively I would highly recommend to cut it out, but life is never that easy and sometimes you can’t run away from stressors. Therefore it is important to realise why it is causing your problems and the physical warnings that come with it such as tense muscles, over-tiredness, headaches or migraines.
If you can not get away from the stressors then handle the physical causes; tense muscles, then try and book monthly massages or if you can not afford it then look at youtube tutorials on self massage – make time for you.
Over-tiredness – try and get at least 8 hours sleep.
Headaches or migraines; remember to slow down and have some ‘you’ time with some strong ibuprofen and a nap! (Not sure if thats for everyone but I know when I am feeling a migraine coming on thats what I do!).
I have personally found that a healthier lifestyle, exercising daily and reduced my drinking dramatically has drastically helped me reduce my stressor reflex; which is too be over tired, drawn in and migraines. I haven’t had a migraine in a while so -touch wood- it stays that way!
Thanks for reading my lovelies and remember always make time for yourself!