My story wasn’t always very interesting. In fact, I’d say it was uneventful and very boring until I made some interesting choices. Then my life exploded and, in turn, my story became very exciting. I was raised in a stable home by two loving parents and a sister. Our daily routine was very consistent. You could almost set your watch by our daily activities. I went to college, graduate school and a job in my field. The only thing “missing” was a husband and children.
Eventually, I met my special someone. She came with a son and we eventually adopted two more children. That was when my life exploded. I realized there was a purpose to my life. It’s also when the stress really kicked in.
My Top 5 Stresses
1. ADHD, PTSD, LD, but no PHD
My son has been diagnosed with a number of mental health issues. We adopted him when he was 2 years old. He was fetal alcohol exposed and had already been in six foster homes. He had also been neglected and abused physically and emotionally. The result is that he has learning disabilities, behavior and social issues.
Are you wondering what the acronyms stand for and what the behaviors are?
- ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
- Can’t focus on the task at hand
- Overly active
- PTSD – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Caused by a traumatic event
- Your daily activities might be interrupted by reliving the event
- Avoid dealing with the feelings that are brought about by memories
- Constant sense of danger
- Inappropriate reactions to current traumatic events
- LD – Learning Disabilities
- Difficulty learning according to standard methods
- PHD – Doctor of Philosophy
- Highest academic degree one can earn after years of study and research resulting in an original written dissertation in a field of expertise.
2. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
My daughter has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. She has difficulties with:
- Social Interaction
- Communication (verbal and non-verbal)
- Repetitive Behaviors
These symptoms interfere with her daily living activities, making friends, and normal development. People who are diagnosed with autism can have any of the above characteristics in varying degrees of severity,
3. Auto-Immune Disorders
My partner started having severe joint pain many years ago. She was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. She started taking medication to control the symptoms and was able to function and lead a normal life. Over time, things got worse. She needed more medication to control the pain. Other parts of her body started to hurt. There were days that she could barely get out of bed. And then the flood gates opened.
Autoimmune disorders come from your immune system deciding that your healthy cells are foreign and attack different types of body tissue and organs. They are difficult to diagnose, can disappear for a while (go into remission), and re-appear (flare ups). Autoimmune disorders cannot be cured. There are about 80 autoimmune disorders. My partner has the following:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis – severe joint pain
- Fibro Myalgia – musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, memory and mood issues
- Primary Biliary Cirrhosis – destruction of the liver’s bile ducts
- Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis – inflammation of the thyroid gland that can lead to hypothyroidism.
4. Elderly Parents
My father started showing signs of confusion about twenty years ago. Over the next few years, his confusion and ability to communicate got worse. My mother would call me and tell me that my father was showing signs of dementia. She didn’t know what to do. His doctor didn’t see the signs for many years after the symptoms started. About ten years ago he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
My mother had a difficult dealing with “losing” him. She did everything she could to “manage” his life, but refused any outside help. Eventually he wound up in a nursing home. It was as if her life had ended. A half –year later, she had a stroke and died 70 days later. I believe the stress of caring for him all those years killed her. My father survived for more than 4 years after her death.
I live in California and they lived in New York. My mother had relied on me to help her make decisions. I continued to make decisions for my father after she died. I traveled to New York as often as I could during all those years, while worrying about my family in California.
5. Working Full Time
My partner and I had our own business for years. After we adopted our first child, we closed the business, my partner stayed home with the children, and I got a full time job. I work in the tech industry, so my hours are more than 9-5 and working on weekends is normal. I’m expected to keep the systems I’m responsible for available at all times.
Emotional stress can lead to illness.
When we deal with problems, we have to emotionally deal with the situation. Serious problems can be stressful if we don’t have the resources to deal with them. It can lead to psychological and biological changes to our bodies. These are stressors that can lead to illness. You’re more susceptible to colds and other diseases.
A simple example is this: traffic jams. You are trying to get to work/school/home on time, but you’re stuck in traffic. Your nervous system goes on overdrive and your adrenal glands secrete more adrenaline which releases fatty acids. Your digestive system can be affected by your nervous system and hormone activity. Blood sugars increase and your heart speeds up, pumping more blood to your muscles. Getting the picture?
I have had to learn how to deal with the stressful events in my life. This is a daily occurrence for me. In future blogs I will tell you how sharing your story can help you stay healthy.