Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Stress and Healthy Living

All my life I have been extremely sensitive.  Not knowing how to manage it, and living in a world that honours the tough and the cynical has in the past led to me to live with severe, debilitating mental illness.  (Of course there were other issues, but right now I just want to address my innate ultra-sensitivity.)

I've worked for years to get to where I am, and it has been nearly four years since my last hospitalization.  Yes, it was so bad that I was in and out of hospital from 1994 to 2006.  Sometimes I went a couple years between episodes, but I never really felt good until the last few years.  It was a combination of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, Steve's love, and my hard work that finally did the trick.  I may have a relapse in the future (never say never) but at least now I'd have the memory of being completely in remission to motivate my recovery.

Most of my days now are good days, especially now that I am on maternity leave and don't have the pressure of being at a job all day.  I am able to put into practice my DBT skills with great success, and I have learned how to live my life in order to minimize stress.

Once in awhile though, I still experience a shock to my system that is hard to shake off.  Yesterday, for instance, it snowed all day and it was perfect snowman snow.  Bailey made a tall snowman, and both kids made snow angels (though Ocean needed our help).  It was a wonderful time, which made it all the more heartbreaking when half an hour later we heard mischeivous yelling outside... Bailey ran to the window and saw that her snowman had been destroyed. 

I ran outside as fast as I could but didn't catch the culprits.  That's probably a good thing as my formed-in-an-instant plan was to scream obscenities at them and demand they apologize to my daughter.  Oh, and I was going to call their parents, too.  Yes, I'm soooo mature.  Anyway, Bailey had a big long cry.  Sweet Ocean seemed to notice her pain and laid his little head on her.  I was shaking with anger, and close to tears myself, but I managed to hold myself together.

Later that night I still couldn't shake my low mood.  My muscles ached with tension, my thinking was cloudy, and I longed to lay down in a cool, dark room.  I did lay down for a little while with Ocean.  I tend to get frustrated with myself for being so sensitive.  I mean, snowmen get knocked down all the time, and there will always be people doing jerky things.  Why let it bother me to this extent?  Just get out there and rebuild, damn it!

So I was allowing these self-defeating thoughts to get me down when I realized... if I am so sensitive to pain, does that not also mean that I am extra sensitive to joy as well?  It's true.  The first robin in spring, a flower from my husband, seeing someone do a Random Act of Kindness for someone else; all these things have in the past brought tears to my eyes.  So yes, I do "take to my room" more often than other people, but the other side of this is that joy is also that much more intense.

I need to be careful on this self-improvement journey to keep my sensitivity issues in mind.  I have a tendency to indulge myself with sweets when I am feeling low, and I definitely did that yesterday.  I also need to remember that there are no "bad" foods.  If I want the weight to come off and stay off I must make healthier living an easy and fun part of my life.

Apples are healthy, and always happy!


  1. Hi Bevin,
    Have you ever read the book, "The Highly Sensitive Person" by Elaine Aron? It was a lifesaver for me. So validating in a world that compliments less sensitive people so much more than us more sensitive types. It makes you just love yourself for being you. I am enjoying your blog and am cheering for you and Steve.

  2. Hi It is me again! I just clicked on the link and yes you DO know of Elaine Aron! I'm going to go check out her site!