Thursday, December 6, 2012

On Stress: Where I'm at

Not so surprisingly, I’ve got stress…and it’s camped out in my neck!  My neck and shoulders are so tight that my head, ears, temples, and eyebrows hurt. (yep, you read that right: my eyebrows are tender to the touch).   The remedy? Plenty of exercise and letting go of tension. That’s easier said than done for me.  I stress easily. I often don’t even realize I’m tensing up until it’s too late.

Practically for me this means letting Isaac bear the brunt of my burden.  Sound mean?  It isn’t, not really.  He wants to take this from me.  Perhaps I should explain: pretty much the only thing that stresses that wonderful man out is me being stressed out.  Bless him, he’s so even-keel!  Few things faze him, and when they do, you know it’s big.  The problem is that I was raised to be self-sufficient.  I made my own lunches, doctor’s appointments, did my own laundry, was out on my own within a year of college, bought my first “new” car at 22… I did things myself.  Don’t get me wrong, I relied on my family for advice and support, but at the end of the day, my life’s burden was on MY shoulders. 

Perhaps you’re reading this and you’ve already sensed something is wrong with this picture.  If not, allow me to enlighten you: I wasn’t giving over my burdens to God.  Jesus says in Matthew 11:29 "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." and again in 1 Peter 5:7, "casting all your anxieties on him for he cares for you." amen! 

The other place I store my stress is in my gut. I went to the doctor for what I thought was a sinus infection and came out with a diagnosis of stress and instructions to exercise more,  and eat wheat, rye, and barley.  Um... okay, YUM!!!  He wanted me to go ahead and take a celiac test, but I think (think!) that I had one about 6 years ago now... With everything that's gone on since then I'd rather forgotten, but I am 99% sure I do not have celiac disease. WOOHOOOOO!  The doctor thinks that, given my variety of symptoms and "red" foods (that I can't eat or I get super sick) that I have developed an aversion to these foods, but am not actually being made sick by the foods themselves.  He explained that an aversion can develop when I had a bad experience with a (coincidental) severe flare in my intestines following consumption of those foods.  If you know my story, you know that I was sick as could be after I got back from living in Guatemala. You might also know that I was pretty healthy, though lactose-intolerant, before I went there.  Conclusion: I was more stressed out there than I ever have been. EVER, and I got a really nasty sickness there from the water. Sooo, it's possible (perhaps even likely) that I just had a conglomeration of things that caused my very real sickness. So at this point I'm two days into eating wheat and so far I feel the same as I always do.  

One last word on stress and my gut:  I get sick, sick, sick when I'm super nervous or upset.  This first became evident when I was only 6 years old and I had tummy aches every day that I went to Springbrook Elementary.  My poor parents didn't have a choice! We couldn't afford private school for all three of us when Boeing was going to strike. Second grade found me back at Seattle Christian with no tummy symptoms!!! 

Sooo, all this comes down to stress.  Seriously, I could write a novel on stress and its effects, but that's not edifying.  Instead I'll tell you what I'm doing about it: praying to give things over to God and trust Isaac to take on what I can't/shouldn't, learning (trying!) to let things go, exercising (holy sore abs, Batman!), and trying to remember to breathe and relax my jaw, neck, and shoulders. 

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