This past week, I’ve been thinking a lot about stress and chronic illness. With all of the distressing news that keeps pouring in, it is difficult not to be stressed. Stress has long been studied for its role and effect in chronic illness. I know for me, it has a large impact on how I manage both PsA and PCOS.
As far as I can remember, I’ve had anxiety. I was around 10 years old when I went to my PCP with severe stomach upset. I couldn’t keep much down, no appetite and what I was eating was not staying for long. I remember the doctor telling my mom to just give me Tums and I should get back on track. I had a difficult time in school, my dad was working 80+ hour weeks and my mom was supporting our family business and was being both mom and dad to my sister and me. My maternal grandparents were ill and were in a nursing home. To say my life at that point was stressful, is an understatement.
I did okay, until I was around 19, when my PCP discovered that I had a stomach ulcer. I was tested for h pylori but it was not caused by that. The culprit? Stress. I was put on protonix and told to learn to stress less. Around this time, I began what I could describe as attacks. My breathing would become rapid, heart palpitations, narrowing vision and nearly passing out. At 23, I finally went for an EKG and they told me that my heart was perfect. They diagnosed me with panic attacks.
In the years since, I have tried to manage my anxiety and come to terms with how it affects my life. Cutting out stress is such an easy thing to tell patients but, executing that is much more difficult than one might imagine. With the constant barrage of news, I’m beginning to feel the anxiety knocking on the back door of my mind. It’s like the neighbor you avoid.
How does everyone manage their anxiety? What tips do you have for others? How difficult was it to acknowledge your anxiety and explain it to others? If you would like to share your thoughts tweet me @PsAMermaid.
Lots of health and love.