Jan 22, 2022 in Life Coaching
Stress…a personal story
A personal story regarding my response to stress and how I managed to overcome
Stress is killing you.
Ok maybe that statement is a bit dramatic. Stress doesn’t cause death, but it’s definitely linked to ailments that DO cause death like heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide. To name a few. I could post a whole lot of data that confirms this, but instead I will share a personal story about how stress forced me to change my life.
A few years ago I was living what I thought was a simple life. I went to work, I went to the gym and went home to an empty apartment. Simple. What wasn’t simple was the vehicle I owned that constantly needed repair and was eating all my savings, nor was it the people I had in my life that only wanted me when they needed me, nor was it that I was unhappy despite all my protestations that I wasn’t. But I didn’t really think much of any of this because stress is a part of life. Right? Besides, I was practicing stress management by going to the gym and eating well and through my spiritual practices. Right?
My spiritual practice at the time was Ayahuasca. I had been attending ceremonies almost every month for my mental health. It was after one of these ceremonies that I started to feel like something was wrong with me. Physically I mean. I don’t like visiting the doctor, but the feeling nagged and so after seeing someone and telling them of my symptoms, I was sent for an ultrasound. The results were not what I had expected. The test showed a growth on my pancreas. The doctor was not kind in his delivery of the news or my chances if it was cancer. Which he seemed to think it was. Seven to nine months he offered me. He scheduled me for a CT scan, but that would be months away.
I told one person. One. His advice? Change everything. Change the way you eat, who you talk to, what you read…everything. And I did. From meat eater to vegetarian. No more social media. I zealously cut out people in my world. I stayed away from too much ‘research’ on pancreatic cancer. I listed to healing frequencies. I took the alternative supplements. I courted my blessings and practiced more gratitude. And then I finally told someone else. My shaman.
He offered much the same advice as my friend. And he added…belief and work. He told me that his teachers had taught his this lesson. ‘With absolute belief and determination one can heal from anything.’ I took that into the ceremony with me. The ceremony which happened to be three days before my CAT scan.
It’s difficult to describe what happens during an Ayahuasca ceremony. The medicine, the icaros (healing songs), the mapacho (tobacco), the shaman singing and praying over you. I could feel the medicine at work inside me. I knew the shaman had asked the medicine to help me. I had faith that she would. I believed she would.
Even so I was nervous during the scan and the days afterwards while I waited for the results. And the results were negative! In fact they could find nothing. Whatever was there was not there now. You can call it what you like. I call it a miracle.
You may be asking what does all this have to do with stress. I shared this for two reasons.
Reason one. My life, though simple, was riddled with stress. I had food and a roof over my head and a job, but I worried about money. Spending time on social media had me comparing myself with others. Even though I loved being on my own I was lonely. Fearful of being alone. And when I had bad news I refused to ask for help. I didn’t want to worry or burden anyone with my problems. A trauma response that is unhealthy. My gym sessions were not enough to offset my stress. My stress manifested physically so I would notice it and take action.
If we don’t acknowledge our stress and manage it properly it has the potential to injure us in ways we may not see or feel until it is too late. Which brings me to reason two.
There are many ways to manage stress. My chosen ways may not be for everyone and that's ok. Exercise, meditation, breath work are some of the more popular ways, but it can be anything really. Art, dance, cooking, gardening. How about a Jig Saw puzzle?!
Know your stresses. It’s not easy to admit that you can’t handle everything or that something is bothering you even if others don’t seem affected by it.
Ask for help. At the very least talk about what is stressing you.
Give yourself credit and compassion. We are a work in progress. Always.
Stress is not going away, but we can manage it in a way that is not detrimental to our health or our relationships. I hope you find your ways. If you need some help, let me know.
ps. If you are looking for more information may I suggest the book 'When The Body Says No' by author Gabor Mate. Lots of references to scientific research regarding stress and how it affects us mentally and physically.