Finding the trigger

4:17 am, an odd time of day to find myself up, but that was what I was, awake yet again exactly at that time. In the last couple of weeks, something has woken me exactly at the time according to my alarm clock, on at least 4 occasions. I nearly didn’t look at the clock today as I had at first woken slowly and had the idea that I could just drift back to sleep. My bladder had a different idea. The odd thing was that I did have my earplugs in and even when I took one out, I could hear no sound of anyone either in our flat or the neighbouring ones moving around. There wasn’t the slightest clue as to what had actually woken me. I know that it is possible that someone has an extraordinarily loud alarm and need to be up at 4:15 am, but it still doesn’t really add up, as if it were that, I would be awake every day at that time. I hate puzzles like this as I know already there is no way other than making sure I am awake ahead of that time, to find out. I am not going to do that, for anyone. I haven’t been up since that time, I did go back to sleep for a couple of hours, but then Adam woke me and sleep just wasn’t happening after that, so I gave up and got up. Still early but not horrendously.

You would think once you were housebound and the worries of the outside world have been removed, that life would become relaxed and without stress of any sort from then on. Sorry, I hate to disappoint you but that just isn’t true. I have come to the conclusion that we as creatures just can’t live without stress of some sort. Even when life is sedate and laid back as possible. When you have managed to transform yourself into this amazingly calm person who doesn’t even get wound up when you can’t breathe. When you have worked alongside your partner to remove anything that might upset you and your life is under control. That, that would be it, life would be an unrippled pool of calm. Yet that perfectly calm life we all strive for, just doesn’t exist. No matter what you do, there is something there in our brains, that takes hold of those unimportant things in life and applies that missing stress to them. I first noticed it over tiny things. Like, my wanting something to eat that had been finished or knowing that I had forgotten to do something I was supposed to. The extent of my reaction towards those tiny things often seemed irrational and overblown. They were things that years ago wouldn’t have stressed me at all. Annoyed me, but not stressed me. Understandably, the only true stressful situations I could name with ease are all the trips out to go to the hospital. Those days are stress from several days before, until a couple of days after they are over. I did actually believe that other than the stress caused by my health, as in getting frustrated with either or both my mind and body, that day to day stress was gone. It hadn’t, I just wasn’t noticing it.

PRMS, like most autoimmune conditions, doesn’t react well to stress, so it’s important to keep it out of our lives as much as possible. Hence the routines. The planned out style of my life so that there are no surprises, nothing that can wind me up. A few months ago, I started to write a post about removing stress and how I had gone about it and succeeded. I had written the first paragraph and realised that I should really test things out and see if I was as stress-free as I thought, as what I was writing didn’t totally ring true. I started by check just how I felt about everything in my day as each part of it came around. I couldn’t believe just how wound up I was getting over the tiniest things. A few minutes slip in my routine and there it was, stress rising in the background. It was actually partly what was behind my changing my routine, which I know some of you will remember me writing about it. Removing those ridged times and letting my day flow more, without so many restrictions has made an incredible difference. It wasn’t as though I had a reason for putting myself under stress, but I was doing it.

My worst daily stress point though was coming from something really stupid, the doorbell. I can’t even find a real reason for the stress. I can find lots of little reasons why it might annoy me, but stress me, nothing at all. All I can come up with is the unpredictable nature of it, you just don’t know when it will ring. Everything else in my life is predictable, mapped out and under my or our control, the doorbell isn’t. At first I thought it was just one of those annoying things. Especially when so many people press all the buzzers in the block at once, if someone else is at home, well by the time I get there, I am greeted by silence. On a normal day, it rings only once for the postman to get in. Should it ring again, well my blood pressure rises and I am wound up and irrationally angry that I am once again on my feet, because of something that probably has nothing to do with me. As I said annoyance. Then I realised that I actually start winding myself up daily from 11 am onwards. It’s mega rare for it to ring before that. What made me notice it more than anything was that I didn’t stress on a Sunday morning at all. Once you are aware of something like this, well for some reason it only gets worse. Adam even noticed a few weeks ago and suggested turning it off, but as I said, “What if it is for us?”

I have made a conscious effort to destress every morning as soon as I feel it rising, just writing this has actually triggered it. Somehow and for some reason I can’t grasp, I have piled not all but a large chunk of the stresses I have worked so hard to get rid of, onto the doorbell. It really does feel as though stress is a required factor in our lives, remove it from one thing and it will appear attached to something else. I have successfully removed all the stress that I had about the growing list of things that I can no longer do. I removed the stress I once felt when although Adam had taken over everything housework, that he didn’t seem to want to keep it as it used to be, pin-perfect. I have learned to live without work, without going out and without mass human interaction, all without stress. Life should be stress-free outside of isolated events like going to the hospital or the odd unavoidable phone call that Adam can’t make for me. I was already slightly aware of the passing on of stress. I had felt it in the past when I cleared one area, another grew slightly in its intensity. I know that it will be partly because I was then more aware of it, but it has often felt worse, but this is a first. Never before has something I felt no stress about at all, suddenly turned into a stressful issue. There should be nothing in my day to day life left to stress me, yet here I am, stressing over the possibility of someone ringing our doorbell. I might not feel so daft if I could pin point why my brain has chosen this exact item to attach stress too. I just know that it’s there.

The good news is this, even if it moves on again, what I know for a fact is that every area of stress that I have dealt with and removed, has reduced the overall levels of stress. These days my stress levels a miles lower than they used to be, but I honestly am beginning to feel as though stress is a required part of our make up. It is probably part of the “fight or flight” mechanism. If you remove everything that uses it, it may will work on finding a new thing to be triggered by. So, can anyone tell me, how do you fight a doorbell?

Please read my blog from 2 years ago – 15/08/2013 – The comical truth

I am starting to find the house cold again, it seems so early in the year for me to have the desire to just close the place up and shift it comfortably into the winter routine. I can’t help wonder if it is down to the fact we had those few unbearably…….

Time to stop

I have just spent half an hour being driven mad by Twitter, there is some sort of problem with their security shut down on accounts, it keeps telling me my account has been hacked and I need to change my password, in seconds it does it again. Of course, that means you have to wait for the email to come through before you can reset it, that means I am checking and checking my email as I have no patience at all with emails. The same thing happened a few weeks ago and they eventually admitted it was an error on their side, but now it is doing it again! So I am taking a break from it and the only way I can stop myself just trying and trying again, I am just hoping if I wait ten minutes or so, it will work as it should and let me get on with my daily routine. There is nothing more annoying than password issues with any on line site, if there is one thing in this modern world that is going to get you wound up and heading for a heart attack, it will be passwords, in fact I am surprised that we don’t hear that people expire just trying to use a cash machine as there you just know it is going to eat your card and then you will face the hassle with the bank.

I have always loved the ways that both doctors and MS Nurses keep telling us that the worst thing for our health is stress and that we should avoid it, I have never worked out what world they live in as it sure isn’t the same one that I do. Avoid stress, who are they kidding, it has to be the most unavoidable thing there is. It really did used to take major work issues to get me stressed, but once triggered everything that followed stressed me much quicker for the rest of the day. Outside of work I was generally not easily stressed, yes like anyone else when something major went wrong I got uptight about it, but small things well I really didn’t think that I did get stressed note the word didn’t. It wasn’t until the last year or so that I realised just how much of the stress I lived with was caused by me, not outside forces, in fact, I would go as far as to say that all of us are behind our own stress and that includes much of the stress that we have at work as well. Stress starts from when we are young and the first time someone told us we could do better, we just had to try harder, young children really hate letting their parents down and they take it to heart and push themselves to not disappoint again. The more we want to please, the higher our scale on the perfectionist ladder we go, as we grow up we learn that the world isn’t actually perfect, in this simple explanation I will say we go one of two ways, those who learn not to worry about it, if the world isn’t perfect why should they try to be, or those who see it as no excuse at all and they will still strive to be perfect regardless. If you have chosen perfection as I did, you simply won’t accept anything less of yourself and you land up spinning so many perfection plates, that it’s almost impossible to keep them all spinning and the stress just grows and grows until it feels normal. It wasn’t until I was forced to stop, to let all those plates crash to the ground and not even being able to pick up a single piece, that I realised there had been an excessive amount of stress in my life and in everyone else’s, without them knowing it was there either.

I have learned to ignore dust, mess and everything else, I have grown this bubble that means none of them even touch me any longer, something if you had said I would be able to live with 10 years ago, I just wouldn’t have even entertained the idea far less the possibility. Yes, I did have a stressful job, that is a fact not my assessment of it, as the role of Operations Manager for any call centre is living in stress, my job had an added role and added stress, supplying the statistics for the entire company. Add into it that I worked with rampant PRMS for 6 years and it clear to anyone that my stress levels just kept rising and rising with every new hurdle my health throw in its way. Within a month of working purely from home, which meant no meeting or stupid questions from those who knew better, I started to be able to eat and removed my gastric tube never to use it again. 3 years later I was made redundant, it took a year for the stress to start leaving me, but now well I am a different person. There are and always will be small things like passwords or things being moved or changed that bring on instant stress, but day to day life is so calm, so laid back that I actually notice any form of stress instantly. It took 5 password changes this morning before I started to stress and the fact that Twitter is now saying that I have tried to change my password too often in a short period of time hasn’t made me explode even though it is all their doing not mine.

In normal life stress is everywhere and no matter how well you believe you deal with it, trust me you don’t. My doctors were right, my life ran on stress and I was in many ways addicted to it, if I wasn’t stressed I didn’t know what to do with myself, I started looking for something, anything that could replace it, I am reasonably sure that was why I had a total inability to just sit still and do nothing. Doctors may tell you, you have to reduce the stress you live under, well the only way that happened for me was for it to be forced on me, I suspect the truth is the same for most of us, as modern life is stress, stress, and more stress. Everyone wants more down time, more time to relax, but we throw that away years ago when we demanded equality with men, hand in hand with women working, stress started to build on both sexes, you can’t have a perfect home, perfect children, and a perfect job, without perfect stress. The stupid thing is we all want better jobs, so that we can afford all the time-saving devices, send our kids to all the clubs and activities we don’t have the time to do with them ourselves and as our earnings rise we have to earn more and more, so we can pay for a cleaner, a childminder, better holidays, more gizmo’s and so it just goes on, we do it to ourselves.

I may have lost my health, my income and a hell of a lot more, but the best thing I lost was stress. No one would choose to be in my position, but it does have a few good things about it and being calm and unhassled by life is a huge plus. I never thought that being able to do so little would actually make me feel so much more alive, as back to front as that is, it’s the truth, I just wish I had learned that a long long time ago. I honestly wish that I could make all those out there who are trying right now to be the perfect everything, just what they are missing, if they would just set their sights that little bit lower, their lives would be so much better. If you didn’t have to earn that £3000 per year needed to pay for a fancy holiday abroad, that actually will just keep the stress going and instead worked less, not earning that £3000 in the first place, your life would benefit so much more, than it does with 12 days on a beach and 2 days in maddening airports, ever could.

 

Please read my blog from 2 years ago today – 19/10/12 – Stop picking

At last, it is Friday, the days of the week don’t often bother me what day of the week it is or what is happening outside of my home, to be honest. I look forward to the weekends, to having Adam at home and to having some company if that company always spends half the day asleep, he is still here. It is not just…..