Getting Out from Behind Stress

by Jeanine Adinaro on May 12, 2011

in General Health

stress is an ugly, ugly beast

At various points in my life, I have allowed my emotional torments to get the better of my physical health; I let my stress get out in front of me, as it were. Typically when this happens, there are some subltle, and some not so subtle signs and symptoms. For reasons that don’t need exploring at this juncture, my stress level has been off the charts lately.

I am not ashamed to admit, but maybe I should be, that I missed the early signs that my stress was getting out of hand. To start, last week I was in the car with my two-year-old son in a particularly dangerous and ridiculous intersection when another woman ran a stop sign. I honked and yelled, “You stupid f*cking b*itch! That was a stop sign! It wasn’t a yield sign and the fact that the car ahead of you stopped was not sufficient to cover your stopping requirement!!”

Not that she heard a word of this inside her minivan. But my son certainly did. And he said, “What’s happening, Mommy?” Damn.

But my disproportionate responses to situations, sadly, did not stop there. A few days later my husband very kindly did the grocery shopping for our household and brought home the house-brand of hummus. I read the ingredient list and sure enough, high fructose corn syrup. I completely lost my taco and started ranting, “Are you f*cking kidding me!?! Why is there f*cking high fructose corn syrup in this!?! You know what belongs in hummus?? Do you? Chick peas, olive oil, tahinni, garlic, lemon juice. End of the damn list.”

But as there was no one from the manufacturer there to feel my rage, I turned my hostility on my husband. “Why did you buy this!?” And it just got uglier from there.

Psychological symptoms missed.

Of late, the quality of my sleep had declined. I had been spending most nights restless, busy thinking about this and that. And to compare my shoulders to titanium rods would not be an under statement. I actually was to the point that I could not turn my head to check my blind-spot because my neck muscles are so tense. Sorry to that red minivan on the highway.

Then I developed really painful, white, swollen ulcers on my tongue, mostly on the sides. And the rest of my tongue was looking pretty red too.  In the past, during times of stress, I would occasionally get one of these sores and it would resolve quickly. But this time as soon as one would resolve, two more would develop in its place. And after a few days, it was only getting worse.

The physical symptoms were to obvious not to notice, even for me.

At first I thought I would be able to wing through the situation with a cocktail of our house herbs. But as my symptoms did not improve in 5 days, I came to the conclusion that it was time to switch gears. Thinking about all of my symptoms, not just the tongue thing, like a TCM practitioner, I chose herbs accordingly. I had developed what in TCM terms would be called damp heat symptoms.

Wondering what the hell “damp heat” symptoms are? Well, see the list above. But in general, think of it as emotional symptoms with a lot of angry fire and physical symptoms with a hot, oozing quality to them. The formula best suited for my case is one that we don’t even make because the formula is not particularly effective when extracted the way we make our formulas in concentrated liquid form.

The take-away lesson here is that herbs are not a one-size-fits-all thing. Truly, if you are trying to use an herbal formula and it doesn’t seem to be having any effect, it’s time to get some professional advise.

I also decided to limit my alcohol intake until this all clears up, and too make an effort to incorporate additional physical activity into my days to help with the stress component.

We’ll see.

photo by shawnchin

Update: about 24 hours after I wrote the first draft of this post, the ulcers on my tongue were about 85% resolved. 72 hours later they were completely resolved. Also, and you would have to double check with my husband on this one, I feel like I am probably more pleasant to be around.

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