Stressed to Kill

When I started planning my reinvention into something new and sparkly and amazing, it didn’t occur to me that becoming a calm, stress free goddess should have been my main focus.

Last week I got myself into a right state. At the best of times I am a stress head, worrying about things that don’t need worrying about (and certainly don’t deserve the level of attention I invariably give them); having tantrums that are neither attractive or useful; obsessed with getting things done off my to-do list (a list I have created in the first place).

But generally, the stress is fleeting: a tantrum is done and dusted in a few minutes and the rest of my day is lovely; I can feel overwhelmed, then have a re-focus and be on my way to zenness.

But last week – well last week didn’t really work out like that. I seemed to fall into a black hole of stress. I was going to bed feeling stressed, waking up feeling stressed and feeling tearful all the time. And here is the really scary (and frankly rather embarrassing part), most of the stress was over ridiculous things; things that I KNOW are not important. And the more I watched myself behaving like a crazy woman, the more annoyed I got with myself.

My life ‘should’ be a breeze now that my health has improved, but in reality – well in reality, I don’t always find life easy. And I hate myself for it. I hate myself for not being able to just float through life appreciating how lucky I am and enjoying every second in a cloud of loveliness.

And I think this is part of the trouble – because I feel that I am not entitled to feel stressed, I don’t want to talk about it; I don’t want to bother my husband with how I am feeling as he has a big and stressful job (real, proper, grown up stress) and my worries just seem small and insignificant; I don’t want to talk to my best friend about it – for similar reasons; and I don’t really want to talk about it to other people as platitudes – however well intentioned – are not what I want to hear. (I am already feeling self-conscious about how I’m feeling and hearing other people’s version of ‘pull yourself together’ isn’t overly appealing.)

Last week I had a period from hell (think severe pain not just a few emotional tears here and there), which made me feel off my game and unable to do all the things I wanted to do that week, and it spiralled from there.

I got upset about the progress – or lack of – with our refurbishment plans (I did tell you it was ridiculous); I think part of me is bored with the project now and just wants it finished (so I can get on with my new life, being sparkly and amazing); part of me is feeling frustrated with how long everything takes to get done and part of me gets a weird, irrational – but overwhelming – feeling about time running out: yes my life as grains of sand slipping through an egg timer. And if time is running out (which of course it is) then I do not want to spend it choosing kitchen tiles!

One of the ways I manage my stress usually is by doing hypnotherapy every day, so I thought this would be a sensible way out of the mess I had got myself into. I went on to my favourite hypnotherapy website and perused their offerings (not as exciting as shoe shopping admittedly, but a more literal version of retail therapy). Rapid Stress Relief seemed to clearly be the one for me. I have listened to it every day since my ‘meltdown’ and it seems to have sorted me out, or at least help me put my stress into perspective.

But really I want to find a way to not get into this mess in the first place. My biggest concern about stress is that if I want to nail this recovery lark for the long-term – really truly nail it and sustain the health improvements I have achieved – I need to find a better way to manage my stress; this is not a nice to do, this is a fundamental part of keeping me well. I am not sure what the answer is. Can you really change the way you are? I have made a lot of changes to get to this point in recovery, so maybe you can. Maybe I just need to keep working on it.

Last week was an extreme example of my stress tendencies, but that part of my personality is always there and it worries me (and embarrasses me!) Maybe if we just blame my hormones I will feel less ridiculous – yes, feel better already. *It was JUST my hormones*

Would love to hear your thoughts – please tell me I am not the only crazy woman out there. Or if you have the secret to eradicating stress, it’s time to share…x

25 thoughts on “Stressed to Kill

  1. PMDD??I call it premenstral dilemma disorder..compulsion & obsession r taking control of me..but wait I can practice the 1st step & remind myself that I can accept that I am powerless over this situation & pray 4guidence or I can take a xanax & not face the reality that I am my own problem cuz this is really foolish & tempered like a spoiled child. Whatever..but I’ll never get control so iv come up w/a plan.
    Coping Skillz!! Today I take seroquel & smoke a little weed. I’m not doped, just
    chill’in out & viewing my situation more

    • Love it Genine! This has made me laugh so much.

      It’s all so clear to me now what I need to do if I get in this situation again. I must confess to ‘using’ chocolate and wine last week, but clearly I need to step it up a gear 🙂

      Happy chilling…xx

  2. Iv been feeling similiar to this latley.I think im coping okish and then bam i fall into a hole of stress and depression and cant help but feel iv somehow failed myself but i think in the end the best thing i can do is to just try and accept how im feeling and realise that with what im living and going through,well im bound to feel like this and i need to try and be gentle and kind with myself and realise i cant just push stress completley out of my life,and with accepteance of your feelings,that in itself can help you relax about it.Meditation and chatting to mates i find can lift my spirits too and it dosent have to be always talking about how im feeling that helps but just talking to them about anything 🙂 And looking after yourself and loving yourself

    • Hi Hayley

      I’m sorry to hear you’ve been feeling like this.

      I think you are right – being a compassionate friend to yourself can be really powerful. I am good at this a lot of the time, but clearly not so good last week!

      I love meditation, affirmations, my journal, yoga and exercise for de-stressing too. And of course, chatting with friends about ‘anything’ is always a good distraction. Why is it easy to see the way out after the event? 🙂

      You be good to yourself…xxx

  3. Hey Karen,
    Fab blog as ever!
    Yes, l frequently throw my toys out of the pram. It’s not down to pmt with me. Age thing! You know 😉
    Have to say, l get real mad at daft things. However it is a smoke screen as I’m just frustrated at not being able to get that extra bit of wellness to make a recovery! Somehow I’m lead to believe its somewhat my fault. As you its hard for us once fit people to accept perceived failure. X

    • Hey Rog

      Is this your first time? 😉 I think it is – welcome.

      Is it a smoke screen Rog? Sorry to be a party pooper, but I used to tell myself I wouldn’t feel stressed if I was better because I’d be able to do whatever I wanted. Guess what? As I have got better I have just tried to do more – the problem came with me, which leaves me with the very obvious conclusion that the problem is me!

      Of course, trying to get well is stressful and I really feel for you. And I have definitely moved to a better quality of problem as I have got better – which is progress in itself. But managing stress is a separate issue for me.

      I am not trying to belittle your stress Rog – as I know what you are up against. But I wonder if perhaps it’s not the smokescreen you think it is…

      You can put me back in my box if you think I am way off! xx

      • Hi Karen,
        Yep first visit to your new page, not through choice but been up to my big ears in work of late! and thanks for your reply & NO your not belittling my stress at all. You’ve got me thinking (an achievement in itself :-))
        I used to be happy with small steps, but quite greedily I seek better & quicker! Mad really. So for me frustration boils over with “small things” when it should’nt do! This is why I say smokescreen? I could be wrong?…..I reckon as you return to more normal life, more normal things trouble you too. (the phone is playing up, the postman’s late. etc).
        In general have become more confident (rightly or wrongly). I will now stand up for myself more, thinking “what can you possibly do to me that’s worse than cfs! (better not say M.E.!!!!) :-/ Folk who argue over a name get on my nerves ;-).
        I suppose a deep seated concern is the ticking clock at 53! OMG.
        I think I’m just the sort who wants to do everything & then do it again!! (only better). Told ya you had me thinking! Do I need a shrink? (physically yes) certainly 😀
        I hope you make sense of my rambling & thanks for the platform to do so! 🙂 XX

        • Well, in future if you could not let work get in the way of reading my blog! 😉

          You’re not 53 are you Rog? My oh my. (Did you like that?) There is always a platform for your rambling here.

          I’m going to prod you – gently! – to think a little more. I agree that well people have a better quality of problem, but if we go about dealing with those problems in the same way (as a Stress Head, for example) then I don’t think staying healthy is sustainable.

          So yes, of course, you want a better class of problem but is that the whole story? I think if I remember rightly, you have some Type A in you, so I’m thinking you will not suddenly be all zen like when you are better?


  4. Hey Karen,
    You are definitely not alone, I think a lot of MECFS sufferers have this tendency towards needing everything to be done just this way and putting immense pressure on ourselves to stick to a time-table which is impossible. Inevitably it does lead to a melt down. When I had a recovery period, in a lot of ways that was the hardest time to have perspective, in wanting to get the most out of the new lease of life we can push ourselves too hard and end up more unhappy and stressed than ever. I can remember so many ridiculous tantrums! Even being ill again now though, I still have those moments, it’s only when I give advice to other sufferers I realize how much I need it myself. This was never more obvious to me than 31st December last year when I was talking to a friend with CFS over the phone, her daughter was coming to visit that evening so she was rushing to do some cleaning. I told her that her daughter would way prefer a messy house and being able to spend time with her mum. A few minutes later my boyfriend looked on in shock as I tried to go around cleaning and unpacking from our trip home even though I obviously wasn’t well enough. The next couple of days were full of tantrums because I was too exhausted from our trip home to be sorting out our apartment. I was horrified that my bag was unpacked after 2 days. I’ve gotten used to taking longer to do these things now, to ask for help instead of expecting my partner to read my mind (boys don’t bother unpacking for at least a week apparently) and am trying to get over the need to have everything done MY way. My dad, an ME sufferer too, is exactly the same, every Christmas day he is really ill because he insists on getting the house ready for the holidays by himself. This comment is a bit long but hope it gives you a bit of a cautionary tale and also some proof that you’re not crazy (at least no more than any of us CFS fighters are), but that perhaps you need to be more realistic (and possibly patient) with the time deadlines you give your projects. For me a big part of my journey has been learning to appreciate the journey rather than rushing to the finish (I wrote a blog post along these lines, you can find it here: ) and how great it can be to allow someone to take the reigns, they may not do it exactly how I would but it gets done, most of the time I learn something and create a closer bond with whoever helped me.
    Katie xx

    • Hi Katie

      What a sweetheart you are to share so much – thank you.

      Yes, isn’t it always easier to see what someone else should do rather than put it into practice ourselves!

      You have hit the nail on the head though Katie – I am too much about destination and not enough about journey. Although, in a less mad week I can be good at taking moments and appreciating the small and wonderful things life has to offer, but I can only seem to do that when my ‘projects’ are moving forward at a pace I deem to be acceptable.

      I have made so much progress in recovery but this little bugger is proving difficult to stamp out – I guess I will keep working on it.

      Well done to you for getting to a more relaxed place and being able to accept help. I am off to be patient! xx

  5. Hi,
    You can change the way that you are…..if you really want to. Is your ‘stress’ serving you? probably not. Certain ‘stress’ can be beneficial but too much of a good thing….well. Part of your ‘renewal’ can be changing your perspective on how your stress is affecting you,can it be turned around in your favour?
    be good to yourself

    • Hi David

      This is so spooky – I was having this exact conversation with myself last night. Why can’t I give it up? What is it giving me? And I think I am scared to give up that part of my personality in-case nothing gets done ever again! In a coaching session I had recently, I said that I like the ‘Type A’ part of me as ‘she’ made things happen. I guess I just need a slightly more balanced approach to that part of me.

      I agree with you that you can make big changes to your life. I have made a lot of changes (through NLP, coaching, affirmations, hypnotherapy and so on) to get to this place of recovery. And there is no doubt I have changed the way I look at life. But when it comes to stress, I can’t seem to quite get there. I have got better at managing my stress that’s for sure – but as you have read – I still have some work to do!

      Thank you for reminding me not to give up.


  6. Whatever we do, we all have stress. And we all deserve to get mad about it! Not just people with “important” jobs. I think a lot of people handle stress differently….and maybe cfs folk don’t handle it so well- well at least I don’t! At least you are recognizing it. It’s easy to get lost in yourself-stress. I myself am still learning how to deal with it. I downed a pint of ice cream on Friday! I haven’t done that in months!- there needs to be a better way than eating a pint of ice cream!

    Also, you don’t need to wait till your apartment is done to- start living. You can live now! I am telling myself the same thing- when this crash is done I will start living. I guess we need to remember to live NOW! Whatever we do- the best we can. Maybe if you’re stuck in the apartment you can do more writing, or read something that interests you—-but I’m sure you know all this already 🙂


    • Hey Lovely Sipora

      A pint of ice cream ha? Good going. I certainly lean on Green and Blacks in these desperate times.

      Aah yes, the power of NOW. You are so right – I have already had the conversation with myself about putting life on hold whilst I do the apartment is perhaps not the best strategy, but brain and heart don’t seem to be connected on this one.

      I watched a lovely DVD over the weekend – The Peaceful Warrior – on this exact subject. (Kelly from GYLB recommended it to me.) It really resonated with me; I definitely have some work to do in this area!

      I am so sorry you are still crashing. Would you like another affirmation? How about: I love me as much as I love ice cream! 😉

      Hope you come out of the dip very soon…love and energy.

  7. Hi Karen,
    Sorry to hear things been bit rubbish to say least….but this is the blip before another step forwards, finding these answers to stress and knowing ourselves better i feel is a big part of this complex and frustrating illness to wellness jigsaw. You have come so far and you will get there I know it… At the mo I too feel stress is holding me back can’t seem to get a routine established having cfs and a little one makes me feel like how the hell am I supposed to pace properly and the obsession to try and get every bit of my small routine exactly right….or it equals i wont get better ! on a less stressy day i can see how this doesnt help at all..he he. …and working on the how to go about tasks
    /activities in a calm manner..and how to rest without obsessing about making sure I am absolutely relaxed and resting for the right amount of time (perfectionist huh!).. mainly the stress of when am going to be able to do things I want to do now and how to “fill” the time purposefully when can manage things for such short periods of time. ..but don’t want to sit and think nor just rest the whole time. Blurrghh what a confused mind….in a verboce and waffly manner am tryign to say you are not on your own but YOU WILL GET THERE and so Will I and others ..We just have to believe and learn from every step frustrating as hell as it might be!! he he decided a bit of choc definitely medicinal and currently celebrating return of back fat ………(crazy woman) its a step forwards after looking emaciated for a while. so a bit of flab back yay!! KEEP is so good!!

    • Oh Claire. I am laughing as I read your comment – not in a mean way, I promise, but because I recognise all of those patterns. And what’s encouraging (for me anyway!) is that I have changed some of the patterns you are talking about. So if I can change those, I can change this – and you can find your way through too. Like you say it is trying to learn from everything as we go.

      I am glad to report I am feeling more at peace with the world this week. But I know I still have work to do to truly live the life I want to live and to stay healthy.

      And I can’t believe I am saying this, but yay for back fat! xx

  8. Usually our lives aren’t in danger so what is the stress about?

    This isn’t a rhetorical question.

    When we know the answer we can start doing things.

    There are probably some messages back there in your childhood about your feelings not being important. So if this was the problem the ‘answer’ to stress is standing up to your parents and finding your own values about these things.

    Another approach is to see if the stress offers ‘benefits’. That is, are there things you let yourself do things because you are stressed that you don’t do otherwise. Workaholics tend to only take a break when they get a cold – the ‘benefit’ of the cold is taking a break.

    Hope these thoughts are useful. You are most welcome to contact me if you want me to add some details.

    • Hi Evan

      Thank you for taking the time to give such a considered response. I think the stress is based on the fear of time running out and not having time to do all the things that I want to do. It shows itself when I am restricted in some way and have to take time out – this time, I was not feeling well because of bad period pain and I found it so frustrating to not be able to get on with what I wanted to do, and then it just spiralled from there.

      I like your idea of looking at what the stress gives me. I think it makes sure I get things done – maybe I am worried that without my focus on getting the apartment finished it will end up taking months (and then we are back to time running out!)

      I am glad to report I am back to my more peaceful self this week. But I am taking last week as a nudge to really try and get to the bottom of this as I think managing my stress more effectively is key in me staying well.

      Thank you so much Evan. Hope all is good with you…x

      • Hi Karen,

        Overall things are very good with me.

        Had a mild dose of vertigo (western diagnosis: BPPV – which they can’t do much about except give drugs for the symptoms, which is better than not being able to treat the symptoms of course. If it stays around I’ll have to look at getting some treatment but so far it seems fine.).

  9. Pingback: The Peaceful Warrior | Get Your Life Back From M.E.

  10. Only just seen this post but can really relate to a lot of what you’re talking about. I have reached a general plateau with my health that I’m keen to maintain/build on but the stress and anxiety thing always gets to me at various times and makes me feel like a proper crazy woman. I might give the hypnotherapy a go – I do meditation now and again and thats helpful too. Thanks for sharing this 🙂

    • Hey lovely

      Yay…I am not the only crazy woman! (Not that I am wishing craziness on you…)

      I find hypnotherapy and meditation very helpful. They have become part of my daily life now – I have loads of different ones so I can choose the one I fancy listening too.

      I have also had a small break through with living more in the moment after watching The Peaceful Warrior – (did you see this post?

      I really think its key for me to find some way to manage my stress better. It’s work in progress!

      Good luck on getting rid of the crazy…xx

  11. I’ve read the ‘favorite’ posts on your blog, and this is my absolute favorite. Thanks for sharing in such a heartfelt, intimate, and entertaining way!
    A thought on managing stress:
    I feel pretty sure that your tendency to get stressed won’t change. You’ve been this way for 40 years. Unless you meditate nonstop for the next 40 years of your life to rewire your brain, I think you gonna be an easily stressed person for the rest of your life.
    From my own life’s experience, I’m confident that you will still learn a lot of ways for how to manage your stress better. A lot of times in my life (listen to wise 26 year old me here 🙂 I’ve felt like that’s it, this is how much I’ll learn, my life will not get any better. Then some technique popped into my life, and introduced a new level of awesomeness. Wired on the computer? I knew I wouldn’t be able to change that. Then I began singing and speaking happily out loud every word I type, and the wired-feeling was gone. I’d never liked showers in my life. Then, when I tried jumping into the shower whenever my spouse was already in there, things changed (Yes, even without hanky-panky, just for having a conversation and not getting bored in there alone. I’m serious. Really!)
    It’s like it is with good food. I frequently think I already know every good dish that’s out there (within the realm of my dietary restrictions), and then, when I visit a friend, he blows me away with some awesome dish I could have never imagined existed. I love live for the fantastic surprises it holds for us.

    • Hi Johannes

      Ooh, you have been busy!

      Yes, I suspect you are right – me and my stress head will probably always be friends (frenemies?!) And I am happy to take advice from a 26 year old, to be honest, I’ll take it from anywhere – if it’s good, that is.

      I am taking from this that singing, jumping in the shower with hubby, and trying lots of new food is what I should be doing 🙂

      Oh yes, I love that life is full of surprises and that we learn new things all the time – often when we least expect it.

      Lovely to have you here again.


  12. Hmm it seems like your blog ate my first comment (it was
    extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.

    I as well am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to everything. Do you have any tips and hints for newbie blog writers? I’d certainly
    appreciate it.

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