A woman today with a frank quick smile found out I wrote FriendtoYourself.com. She swung open the door to her story. People like her never bore me. In brief, she was sad after many life losses. Then when she made some changes in her life she got better. “I didn’t know how bad I felt!” (And who does?) Now every day has activity she loves. She gets tearful just telling me about all the gratitude that took her by surprise.
In psychiatry, the way she felt when she was sad is called an Adjustment Reaction. An Adjustment Reaction doesn’t last long, it is in response to stress, and it goes away when the stressor is removed.
Stress is dangerous to us. It can affect us for different amounts of time, like measuring cups. During that time, it can affect us to different depths within ourselves, like a scuba diver exploring a coral reef. If the sad time in this woman’s life went longer, and if she had gotten more sick, it might have become a Major Depressive Episode. In that case, medication therapy would be appropriate.
Stress affects different intersecting paradigms that make us into who we are, like storm water over farmland. It crosses over our biology, our genes, what is done to us in life, what we do to ourselves, what is put in our bodies, and how we cope.
Stress can pass over us like a Jewish holiday or it can stay, working, changing, reshaping, adding and taking away bits, always active and busy. Ants in the walls of our house. Most often we don’t know what it is doing, for how long, or where it is at work in us. Stress mutates our cells, turns sleeping genes into loud cancer, depression, anxiety, heart attacks, dementia, old and wasted faces.
But what to do? Do we avoid stress? Do we end it? Do we cure it? All of that, of course. My dad told me, “Everyone has problems. The difference between you and somebody else, is what you do with your problems.” Not the number of them.
No. This woman’s story didn’t bore me at all. The opposite does.
In the film directed by Adam Shankman, “Bedtime Stories,” the character played by Adam Sandler thinks choices have little effect on inevitable negative outcomes. “Life has no happy endings.” He lives consistent with that belief, until love finds him. A happy life story can be chosen. His fantasies are freed to cross the boundary from imagination into the material world where love was waiting, in the shape of family and strangers. Love showed him that his life had been a self-fulfilling prophecy. He hadn’t even realized how unhappy he was. (And who does?)
Self Care Tip #38 – Choose to go towards your fantasies. Be a friend to yourself.
Question: What do you think? What is your story?