My body has been playing some nasty tricks on me lately. By lately, I mean all of my life. But, especially lately, it seems to be really amping up the symptoms, making me imagine all sorts of diseases and physical abnormalities. I hurt my back a few weeks ago – a combination of couging, over-extending and just being a bit careless. It really scared me – the pain was horrible and I could barely stand up straight. My doctor told me it was just an acute issue and would resolve itself with rest and all the usual remedies – heat packs, anti-inflammatory gel (I can’t take the tablets) and the use of my beloved TENS machine (seriously – do you have one? They are THE BEST!). The pain did go away and I gingerly went back to my normal day-to-day routine. Until I bent over a bit weirdly and hurt it again. The pain went away much quicker this time and I thought it was all going to be ok. Until, this week, the pins and needles started in my legs and feet. Immediate meltdown from me, imagining everything from Parkinson’s disease to strokes and irreversible nerve damage. I am nothing if not a drama queen.
So, faced with these horrible imaginings, I took my doctor’s advice and went to a physio she had recommended. This morning, anxiety levels high and ability-to-cope-with-bad-news levels low, I spent an hour with said physio. She was awesome. Very thorough and kind, she talked about everything that my body is going through and how much of it is probably related to my overall anxiety and stress, combined with my really ridiculously tight muscles (brought on by stress and anxiety…you get the idea). She didn’t do the whole “it’s all in your head and you just need to relax” speech – she was very sympathetic and explained things. Because I have a history of nerve damage and neurological issues (from my meningitis), this also sets the body up to be hyper-responsive to stress and any physical sensation, especially if that sensation mirrors anything my body went through when I was really ill.
She was happy with my back and spine in general – didn’t find anything there to be concerned about (I was worrying about bulging discs) and my overall movement and range was ok. But I need to fix my breathing. This has always been an issue with me – I am a shallow breather, barely moving at all when I take a breath. The physio said she couldn’t even tell if I was actually breathing or not. So I have to learn how to breathe diaphragmatically. This is really tricky for me – I always hold my tummy in, even when supposedly relaxed – so it will take some time for me to retrain myself. I have had numerous doctors and physios tell me this. Now I HAVE to do something about it and really persevere with it (I am actually trying to do belly breathing right now as I type this). Because I don’t want to keep getting these problems.
Work has been incredibly stressful, with lots of redundancies and overall workplace anxiety. Some days are really miserable and lonely – this does not help my mental wellbeing. I miss my friends and the camaraderie that you get when you work together every day. My workload has tripled and I am not always a happy camper. Basically, I am a grumpy, stressed-out hag most days. Having fuzzy feelings in my legs (and not just because I haven’t shaved them) is another stressor I could do without. But I will take the pins and needles over the horrible back pain. THAT I can live without, thank you.
I need to work on my fitness levels and stop the stress-eating (ie bingeing) that I have been doing. My weight has crept up and that’s making me feel crummy. I’m not exercising at all at the moment and that’s making me feel guilty AND crummy. So I need to improve lots of things, starting with my coping mechanisms and mindfulness and the whole breathing thing. So much work to do!
The Universe keeps telling me, in its own not-so-subtle way, that I need to chill out and calm down, stop worrying and de-stress, otherwise I will get sick or develop weird pains and other annoying bodily issues. Pretty much every illness I’ve ever had has been stress-related, so I need to do something about it. I don’t even know how to begin. I don’t know HOW to stress less. But I am going to have to learn, quick smart.
Do you have a really simple method for de-stressing? For learning how to not worry? All suggestions and advice gratefully received!
Thanks for dropping by – take care of yourselves x