Stress Addiction

This term has been around my body and percolating for the 12 years whereby I have had no period.  Hypothalamic Amenorrhea: a state I’ve talked about in previous posts is when the body perceives external threats to be such that it preserves life by shutting down peripheral processes.

I believe that parts of me survived by fight/flight/freeze in response to past trauma.  Now, their habitual tendencies latch on whenever they perceive outside experiences as outside their realm of coping.

Bring in addiction.  Addiction to this state of stimulation is what I feel.  And as I’m becoming more aware of this state in my life, I am speaking more about it.  I have come across people on the Squamish Chief, in cafe’s around Cumberland and now Squamish, in the therapy room for sure, in the library.  After chatting, they can relate to the feeling of ease and comfort with being “turned on”.

I believe that addiction is a universal term.  I believe that my own path is this:  the more I live out of automation, haste, anxiety, the more I feel the need to detach myself from the actions and ensuing choices that just don’t seem to align with my subconscious virtues.

Do you understand or relate to this?   I know the “that’s not my hand!” feeling when it’s almost as if you’re watching someone that isn’t you, do things?

night eating

 

This is the act of living outside of the present moment and being disconnected from yourself.  I believe that the more I feel threatened, the more I am living numbed.  The more I live numbed, the more I make choices that don’t make me feel aligned and the more I want to numb.

Vicious cycle.

It’s in details like:

  • when an injury/pain arises (I wasn’t listening to my body, I wasn’t in-tune)
  • when I crave an ice-cold shower (repenting, compensating, punishment)
  • when I CRAVE.  Straight up, just crave.  It could be anything, but it is noticeably charged
  • when I get a migraine (probably from undernourishment)
  • when I feel lonely or a sense of “ennui” (I didn’t seek out the support I needed because I was preoccupied with the insanely energy-consuming task of tending to my anxieties, my anxiety experience in general, busying myself and exhausting myself subconsciously as a way to escape and run away from the pain)
  • Bloat, gas, discomfort in digestion, GERD, IBS: food choices as a source of coping vs intuitive nourishment.
  • Excessive and obsessive skin picking in the bathroom mirror. (hot/cold flashes, sometimes self-inflicted, leaving my insides seeking a release)

This is a big realization for me.  That the remedy as the yogis have always said, the very definition of Yo-Ga (oneness, mind-body, connection), is to tune into myself.

I actually want to have a harmonious relationship with myself, my body-mind.

I want to feel my body.

I’m actually fully writing this in the library bathroom right now because I am having some gut-issues (lingering antibiotics “hangover” of diminished gut flora).  I feel that when my digestion is off, I run around in a hurried state because of the utter confusion that ensues and the choices that I make after it: food choices that make me body more confused, energy fluxes, emotional upheaval.

That’s it: confusion.

Confusion from the disconnect from my body, mind and soul.  Uncertainty is a state that can be peaceful if I am present with it, present fully in my body with it.  But the honest and imperative remedy is to be connected with myself.

(Breath is huge in this journey.  HUGE)

Namaste. Or something.

Stress-addiction

When do you experience these?

  • high heart rate
  • thinking about the next thing to do
  • frenzied rushing
  • furrowed brow
  • night sweats
  • “stuck” breathing
  • overwhelm
  • frequent peeing
  • immobilization, feeling like you’re moving through a barricade of peanut butter
  • indigestion
  • picking your nails, skin, scalp, toes, body
  • indecision

I feel these things daily.  I have become normalized to them.  Habituated to the extent that I seek them out, and feel very uncomfortable if I am comfortable.

This brings comfortably numb to a whole new level.

I honestly believe that along the lines of survival coping through trauma, my mind has created and implemented ways to disconnect from presence (from myself) so that I could continue surviving.  Past-trauma-shit.

These states listed above serve to disconnect me further, keep me numb.  When last week my body said “NO” in halting me with an ingrown toenail so painful that I had been taking advil nightly and resorted to antibiotics due to infection after a month of sleepless cold-sweats and throbbing, I was so full of feelings that I didn’t know what to do.  I still don’t know what to do, and so I am still waking up to do a bike ride then a hike after breakfast every single day.

I further it with now for the past 3 Squamish Chief hikes, timing myself from the start of the stairs to the metal staircase before the summit (34mins/ 31:45/ 30:34 <– #hadmelike holy fuck.).  It’s a catch-22 because there’s ying and yang to it; after the yang of the hike, I can exhale at the top of the Chief and cry a little as I observe, just observe the world up there.

orendawellness May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you — beyond that next turning of the canyon walls.
– Edward Abbey

And so, it’s tough because I haven’t had my period due to Hypothalamic Amenorrhea for 12 years.  Because my body is protecting itself for life because my stress and cortisol level allostatically is too high such that it attempts to preserve physiological functions to minimize peripheral energy, and the risk of bringing a child into an unsafe and subjectively perceived, threatening environment.

Fuck.

Also fuck: gut-brain connection is reflected in me being 3-days off the high dose of antibiotics now for my toe, and I’m pooping like 10x a day…this is bullshit.  Literally and figuratively.  I’m taking a high dose of probiotics now, but feel the effects of a sad gut microbiome as it depletedly, defeatedly attempts to digest food.   Maybe my life brought me to this to learn to adapt and listen to what my body is actually craving in terms of nourishment; maybe Ho can’t do all those Brussels sprouts anymore….time for Sattvic dal? But aha, the stress addiction cycles because again, part of me doesn’t want calm-inducing foods – it craves the coffee, the acidic, the olives salsa wasabi Sriracha etc.  Whoa.

Where to go from here?
I feel like I’ve been aware for so long, but theory only takes a body so far.  Then to feel, holy shit, to feel, that’s a whole new kind of Next Level Shit.

Anyone feel me?

Comparative Suffering

“Let’s compare scars and see who’s is worse.”

That’s a song lyric I remember.  I’ve been humming on this for some time, especially in this stage of accepting trauma.

A couple of trauma definitions:

Trauma:  any situation that overwhelms a person’s ability to cope.

“Trauma is a breach in the protective barrier against stimulation leading to feelings of overwhelming helplessness.” – Sigmund Freud 

I love the above definition that I heard while watching a podcast from Molly Boeder Harris because it can relate to any barrier; emotional, physical, mental, that makes us feel like we’ve been robbed of our sense of safety within ourselves.  It’s a breach into our sacred space that people shouldn’t be coming into.   This breach affects the brain and leads to a specific set of symptoms: trauma.

These definition encompasses so many things; from sexual abuse (a subjective experience), to surgery, to parents who weren’t able to attend to their child’s needs, to bullying, emotional abuse, emotional neglect, birth trauma (for both baby and parents), loss, a physical injury, natural disaster, witnessing horrific events/violence (often invalidated by the person experiencing, because they justify that it didn’t happen to them), etc.

What is especially important here is that the physiological response is very real, and the experience is subjective.  Molly talks about a book called “The Body Keeps the Score”, and the title in itself is enough to explain how the body keeps in it the trauma, muscle memory is so real (ever get some kind of massage, or move in a certain way, go in a stretch, and have “a case of the feels”?).  The body remembers trauma, deep in our tissues, whether we know it or not, it stores it inside our subconscious.

Did you know that it wasn’t until up until the 80/90’s that babies weren’t administered anaesthesia because it was believed that they didn’t feel pain?  The body remembers that.

One of the questions answered in this podcast was about whether there was a gage of trauma severity: to see if one traumatic experience was worse than another.  (to which Molly applauded and expressed was a passionate topic of hers to discuss).

Trauma is trauma: Molly explains, “We’ve created a hierarchy within our understanding of trauma which has neglected a lot of people’s needs and leads to a lot of self-blame, shame, of  ‘Well, I didn’t go to war…all I did was have a really terrible surgery, so why am I so messed up, it could’ve been so much worse, what happened to me!?'”

Or with sexual abuse, maybe there was only verbal harassment not contact, but the person has all of the symptoms of someone who was raped.

With trauma, it’s not about the event, but how the person experienced the event, what resources were or were not available after the event, what was the relationship to the person or the environment.  All these factors matter, not only the main traumatic event.

One trauma is not comparable to another.  One is not “worse” than another.  It’s so unique to each person’s experience.

This is big for me because I often invalidate my own experience of trauma, and so many other people do too.  This is why we get stuck inside the trauma and this is why I’m having a time moving forward: it’s hard to acknowledge my trauma (I’m having a hard time even writing this.)  But it’s time.

So that’s that.  No trauma is worse than another; the physiological and psychological expressions in the body are the same.  So here’s a cheers to compassion for all.

Myself included.