Friday, May 23, 2014

Just when things were going well...

I come from a long line of "tense" people. My dad suffered from depression and anxiety and my mother was a professional "worrier". Combine those genes and you get some pretty tense kids! Five of us, to be exact.

My dad had to leave his job because of his mental illness when he was in his early 50's - he was lucky to receive a pension from where he worked but money was tight. I'm sure our budget was a constant worry for my mother. The fact that she worried for over 40 years that the maple tree next to our house was going to fall on the house during a storm, and THEN IT DID!!, solidified for her that her worries were real. At that point her Parkinsons-related dementia worsened to the nth degree.

All of us kids, me being the youngest, have been affected by this heritage but to respect their privacy I'll only talk about myself. There have been a few occasions when I've had to take anti-depressants or have found myself overwhelmed by LIFE. I had to drop out of university for one semester due to anxiety but then was readmitted during the 2nd semester. In 1993 I hurt my back and sought help through a pain psychologist. Who knew there was such a person?? It helped tremendously though I had to take pain medication for a long time. (more on that in a future post)

My work is extremely stressful, especially when I have students who are physically aggressive. It's a fine balancing act providing them with a good program while also trying to protect other vulnerable students and also keeping staff safe. Opinions on the best approach varies widely within our staff and we are also required to follow Health and Safety practises and union guidelines. Yet people still get hurt and I take that as a personal failure as it's my classroom. No, I'm not leading up to any recent incidents - things have been going fairly well this week but I internalize all incidents, dream about them, meet about them, analyze them and live with them - it's not fun and the stress finds its own ways of letting itself be known.

Physically there are many ways that stress has affected me over the years (hence my plan for early retirement) - pain in the neck, shoulders and back, migraine headaches, stupid accidents which have resulted in a pinched nerve (off for a month with that one) and of course actual physical injuries caused by aggressive acts in the classroom - 2 years ago I was put in a headlock twice over the course of one week which resulted in another month off, physical therapy, pain meds etc.

Another way stress lets itself be known is through skin disorders. Right now I have TWO because as we know TWO is twice as much fun! A few months ago I noticed a strange rash on the back of my leg: runs from my ankle up to the back of my knee and the verdict is still out on this one. Right now it's being treated as if it were psoriasis and the prediction is it will take months to go away, if ever. There is no cure for psoriasis and it can spontaneously come and go. I've seen the doctor twice about this, as recently as Tuesday. Then Tuesday evening my right hand became insanely itchy.

I was in bed and wasn't able to sleep - I rubbed in some hand lotion and spent a restless night. The red bumps didn't become visible until Wednesday. I went to school but had a tough day trying to deal with the itchiness and pain. Wed. night I slept NOT A WINK!! So Thursday off I go to see the doctor again and he confirmed what I had self-diagnosed - shingles. How did I know??? Because it's the 3rd time I've had shingles somewhere on my right arm. Since I got on the anti-viral medication before 72 hours had gone by since eruption I am hoping it goes away quickly.

Truthfully, the shingles virus never goes away. If you've had chickenpox you carry the shingles virus. It doesn't usually make an appearance until you are in your 50's and I believe women are more susceptible than men. I consider myself fortunate because my outbreaks have been relatively minor - I've never had them on my torso or head - just on my arm.

Of course it's that monster - STRESS - that causes the outbreaks, and also is a cause of psoriasis.

The message here?? The less stress in your life the better off you will be. Try to have a career that you love and that doesn't stress you out too badly. A small amount of stress is good for you but everyone needs to find the right balance for them. Get lots of exercise - stay positive. Obviously I didn't learn about the effects of stress until it was too late to change my career. Once I retire (in 37 days) I will devote myself to living a more, if not completely, stress-free life!! 

If you have an interest in this topic here is a great article.


  1. livingrichonthecheapMay 23, 2014 at 10:22 AM

    Well, that sucks, but you definitely have had a lot of stress this Spring. Even though you are retiring from your job the last 60 days of any job can be very stressful. Take care of yourself, maybe take lots of baths with candles and wine, read lots, perhaps take up something fun. Bellydancing? Just something to get your mind off whatever is brewing :)

  2. Indeed, stress tends to be just as negative for the health as other illnesses. Relax and BREATHE! It's almost SUMMER! And you're only 37 days away... you can do it!

  3. Shingles for the third time?? That is SO not fair! I am so happy you are 37 days from retirement and your stress will be reduced exponentially. I have to be careful of this as well. I know that extreme stress was to blame for my bout last year with Bell's Palsy ... and I know I am at risk for other stress-induced ailments now that I am in my 50s. Breathe in, breathe out ....

  4. Get yourself a BodyTalk session. Google the International BodyTalk Association and find a practitioner. Barrie has an awesome instructor and she also practices on the side. It so worked for me. After the first session I noticed a difference after the second ....WOW. I am so much more at peace and happier.

  5. I think that society needs a HUGE shake up.Jobs are causing so much stress and illness,usually for the sake of corporate greed.
    Stress is a silent killer that people don't take seriously.
    Jane x

  6. Stress is a HUGE catalyst to many many things. Clearly your body is trying to tell you it's time to learn how to let things go, and breathe. Psoriasis in the form you, can lead to something worse down the road. My mother deal with psoriasis, and psoriatic arthritis - directly caused from not managing stress and the body internalizing the psoriasis. The fact that you are showing the skin presentation shows that your stress levels are beyond what you body is willing to handle now. 37 days to retirement. You must. and I repeat, MUST take every moment you can to find ways to let the stress out of your life. BODYTALk is a good option. Massage therapy, acupuncture (japanese style, not chinese style and YES there is a difference), and yoga are great ways to help you with this. Perhaps a psychologist can help as well. or even reiki. MEDITATE.

    It's time to take care of Jane. For sure it is the hardest thing to do. The world will not end if you start taking time for yourself and you do not need to [fill in the thousand worries about what everyone else with think say and do if you take this time]. You cannot effectively help others if you cannot help yourself. Sending you positive, relaxing vibes, and quiet calming mind practices. Take care of yourself and *hugs*. Psoriasis does go away topically my dear. I've watched it happen with my mom, when we finally found ways for her to let the stress go and medications that worked for her. Also - olive oil is a great thing to help clear up the skin presentation.

  7. Thank you for your great response Pam! I'm going to reread several times and see what I can implement - I've had good success with acupuncture for pain management but not sure whether it was japanese or chinese. I have put everyone else first for most of my life - it's so hard to change old habits. I'm going to try the olive oil right now for starters!!

  8. My dep't head went to get an ultrasound as her doctor thinks she has an ulcer. And yet administrations just wants MORE MORE MORE from us. She's retiring too.

  9. Thanks for your advice. I've done a little research and while there is no one in London there is someone in Lucan which is just a short drive away. I'll look into it!

  10. I tend to try and escape my stress by reading etc instead of facing things head on. Do not like conflict! Right now 37 days seems like a long time. I can do it...what choice do I have?

  11. I'll get there, just don't know what shape I'll be in by the time I get there :)

  12. Yes, the closer I get the more stress there seems to be. So many expectations of getting things in order for the next victim, err, I mean teacher!

  13. Oh no! I had the shingles five years ago, about six months before my 35th birthday. They appeared in two places, on my back and stomach. I took the meds from the doctor (skipped the burning cream and the T3s), and also went to a natural doctor who prescribed a mushroom remedy to boost my immune system, and a cold sore ointment to prevent scarring. I think it was called Super-Lysine, and I found it at the health food store.

    I'm sorry you are stressed. I am a naturally stressed person as well. I hope you feel better soon.

  14. So unfair.....I hope that last day comes faster than 37 days for you!
    Don't worry about how you leave your classroom for the next teacher, you don't need that pressure.
    Dr. Sluggy prescribes more naps, hot baths and wine...not necessarily at the same time. ;-)

  15. shingles for the third time! that is rough. glad you're so close to retirement, that will help tremendously I think. Funny, I saw your 'rash' and immediately thought... that looks familiar. I've had psoriasis since I was a baby. It's a hereditary condition. Stress can cause it and diet is also a factor. I've been avoiding wheat for the past year or so and it's made a big difference for me (this was after a naturopath advised I have a wheat sensitivity which was contributing to my condition). other foods can cause issues as well. I'm sensitive to a long list of things. something you might want to look into.

  16. You are so CLOSE to retirement/less stress! Hang in there!
    I have been listening to guided meditation when I go to bed for stress relief. It has helped more than anything else I have found. YouTube it.
    Take care.


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