In 2006, I was super-stressed and my life had reached crisis point. I vividly remember going to bed one night and wondering how I could kill the person I was with.
Seriously! The quality of my thoughts was due to the depths of despair to which I had let my life sink. I was exhausted and I felt all my options were exhausted.
Ending it all
I smile at myself now but I remember recalling episodes of CSI and wondering what would be the best way to bump him off and get away with it and nicotine poisoning was the front runner! It seemed the only solution. Either that or kill myself.
The most important things to me were (and still are) to provide for, look after and protect my family and the murderer inside me seriously thought that death of another was a viable solution. She felt she faced that big a threat. How far would she go for that protection? What wouldn´t she do? I thought about it all endlessly but the only conclusion I came to was that I was trapped and my life was beyond my control...
For the three previous years, I had felt under constant attack. My stress increased every day. I felt the situation was of my making and hopeless. I was too embarrassed and proud to ask for help. It was my entire fault. I felt powerless. I felt guilty. I felt incredible fear. I felt my children were in danger and that I´d put them there. My stomach constantly churned. My heart was in my throat all the time. I wanted to scream but could hardly whisper. I isolated myself. I jumped at the slightest noise. I had no patience. My gums bled and my teeth hurt as I ground them constantly, even in my sleep. I cried all the time. I was not myself. I had lost myself. I felt very small.
A Shit Time
Then my body sent me a message I couldn´t ignore. Diarrhoea. We were in Argentina and it wasn´t just a case of travel tummy. It went on for 40 days in total, only stopping when I was admitted to hospital when I got back to my then home in Spain. Spots, large, like abscesses, appeared all over my legs. I lost weight rapidly. I was diagnosed after a couple of days of the consultants playing House, with Crohn´s Disease.
I spent 10 days in hospital during which time I was out of the firing line that was my life at home. I was looked after. I was cared for. I was distracted by the only book I had whilst I was admitted. I read it four times and it about a guy who entered and completed the extreme race of a life time - The Iditerod. It was inspirational, fantastic and funny and I laughed out loud for the first time in I don´t know how long.
I laughed...what a bloody miracle! I suddenly realised that I wasn´t terminally miserable and doomed to a gloomy life. I remembered something my first husband had told me when I was in my 20´s, something that really surprised me at the time because I´d never heard anything like it before. I could choose my thoughts and therefore the quality of my thoughts and from goodness knows where deep inside myself, I found some strength, comfort and reassurance.
The 10 days I spent in hospital gave me a much needed rest and a chance to get some perspective. My real recovery started when I left though. I knew that extreme stress, constant fear and endless anxiety had triggered the illness. I decided I wasn´t going to be ill and I decided to fix my life. My children needed me and taking someone else´s life and risking going to prison as a result was just plain stupid and in no way "being there" for my kids. There must be a better way and I remember reading something from a book by Adam Jackson called "The 10 Secrets of Abundant Happiness" that if you think you´ve exhausted all the options, one thing is for certain…you haven´t. I also remembered something that a psychologist in Argentina had told me...everything, apart from death, has a solution.
Since then I have largely dragged myself up by my bootstraps. And sometimes, the path has not been at all smooth. There have been obstacles and more poor decisions, I´ve had knock backs and health relapses but less and less frequently and less and less severe every time. What´s kept me going is that, now I´m a single parent again, if I don´t stay healthy, who is going to keep everything going? I have kids, a house and a career, if not me, then who?
The Turning Point
Paul McKenna´s book "Change Your Life in 7 Days" was the catalyst for the sustained change in my way of thinking and my state of mind. I´d read lots of self-help and motivational authors before then and it was all very interesting but my old style of thinking took over the very next time I felt angry, threatened or stressed and what I learned just went straight out the window.
Through Paul, I found Michael Neill [website link removed by moderator] and then Alejandro Cuellar [website links removed by moderator] and then Alexandra Barreto [website link removed by moderator], all of whom have had a massive impact on my thought processes, conquering my stress levels and maintaining my physical and mental health.
There is hope for calm after the torment of stress, anxiety and panic. I know because I´ve been through it and here I am, safely out the other side :-). And now, you can do it too.
Realistically though, I know that if you´re in the depths of anger, despair, depression or fear, just saying, "If you want happiness, be happy!" is not going to cut it. These negative emotions are a severe drain on your energy and strength and what you need is something that you can do right now that takes very little time and effort, you don´t have to go to a specific place to get it or do it and it won´t cost you anything.
Every Breath You Take...
Recently I met Dr John McGregor, a Consultant Radiologist at a hospital in Lancaster, Lancashire, UK and a Shaman. I studied Conscious Medicine with him and just by changing the focus of one simple thing that I do every day, and it´s something that every single one of us do without exception, both my health and my state of mind have changed enormously and improved immensely, again.
That one simple thing is breathing.
Everything starts with the breath.
Dr McGregor says that approximately 90% of the cases he sees daily are as a result of what I call the "stress virus." It´s invaded our hardwired connections in our brains, hearts and minds. We have become programmed for, attuned to and sensitised to high levels of stress and in its extreme form, it can kill, or drive you to it.
Breathing consciously is the first step.
What´s your breathing like right now? Stop for a minute and listen to yourself breathing in...
...and breathing out...
Say to yourself...in 2...3...4...and...out...2...3...4...in...2...3...4....out...2...3...4...in...2...3...4…
Continue for as long as feels comfortable. Breathing slowly helps to stem the release of adrenaline into your system that fast and shallow breathing stimulates. Adrenaline makes you hyper sensitive to your heartbeat and your stomach and this awareness can set your thoughts racing and set you off feeling panicky and you get into a cycle of more adrenaline being released.
Feel Good Naturally
Breathing slowly in... 2...3...4... and out 2...3...4... helps to stimulate the release of serotonin, a feel-good neurotransmitter, naturally released by the brain when you do something good and enjoyable for yourself but is notably, substantially lacking in the prolonged stressed, anxious and panicky.
This is the very first step, there are more to come...
Do you have a story about stress in your life? How has it affected you? How have you overcome it or are you still affected by it? If you could wave a magic wand, what one thing would help you cope right now?
Leave me your comments and let me know.
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