Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The vicious cycle of stress and illness

Most people who meet me would say I'm a relaxed, laid back person. In fact when I started my current job the receptionist thought I was a pot head because I was "too laid back". I laughed when she told me this and assured her I don't smoke pot. Apparently I'm very good at masking my anxieties.

I'm the type of person who will take one small thing and obsess over it and worry myself sick. My mother and Derek (and blog readers!) have told me to stay off web MD and message boards regarding my stomach issues. You are all completely right.

The two main medical conditions I have are worsened by stress. That was one of the first questions my doctor asked my when my GERD flared up out of nowhere. I wasn't stressed but I certainly am NOW. And that is the vicious cycle of stress and illness. You fall ill and then when that illness does not get better right away you stress. The last thing you need when you're sick is added stress.

I've been reminding myself of the following to help cope with my stress and anxiety.

Healing takes time. If you cut your finger it's not going to be healed the next day especially if you don't take care of it.

Go back to basics. Before you go trying all these new "treatments" that the internet suggests try and find what has worked in the past and what people still turn to today. With GERD eating smaller meals, following a diet without known triggers and losing weight can work. 

You have a great support network. My family and boyfriend and friends have all been so supportive and let me whine and complain and check in on me to see how I'm doing. If I did not have that I would be feeling much worse. I need that positive energy and support.

Let it go. Yes I'm stealing a song title from Frozen but it fits. LET IT GO. I want to my body to act how I want it to act and my body is all "bitch please! You can't eat microwave popcorn at 9 p.m. and then expect to go to bed and be fine!" As much as I wish I could do that, I can't and I need to let go of my dreams of late night popcorn snacking. I can control what I put in my mouth but I can't control how my body reacts to it.

As of right now I'm still waiting for the results from my endoscopy but I'm feeling better physically and mentally. I want to thank every one who commented on my last post. I really appreciate your support.


  1. Your post definitely applies to me in many ways. I broke 5 ribs a year and a half ago without knowing it. I went undiagnosed for about 10 months. While they are still healing I am still in a lot of pain. The doctor thinks that my nerves were damaged when the ribs broke and at this point it seems like it is permanent damage. This means I am on a lot of medication (gabapentin at its maximum 3x a day and tramadol twice a day) and I am still in pain when it gets to be time to take the next dose. I know there are triggers for my pain - carrying heavy things or moving things - although I can *do it* I pay for it later. IT's hard because sometimes it's simple things like picking up my nephew for a hug (he's 5), I can do it and he doesn't feel heavy for me to lift for a moment, but later I suffer. Anyway, I'll blog about it ( - my point is that your suggestions all work for me! I hope your test results are positive!

    1. I've known a few people that have had broken ribs and did not know it. 5 ribs!! That must have been painful! I hope that over time the pain gets better.

    2. Thanks. I hope so too. The doctor's don't seem too optimistic about it, but you never know. :0

    3. have they tried an anti-depressant like elavil? It works well on nerve damage pain. I took it many years ago for a short period of time because of nerve pain. I'm sorry you have to deal with this!

  2. Dear Ginny,

    What great advice. Just like we are not growing our fingernails--fingernails grow by themselves--our job is not to heal ourselves. As you rightly point out, our job is not to make things worse. Patience, self-care, social support and living life enable the mind-body network to heal itself.

    Blessings to you on your healing journey,

    Mark Pirtle