I’ve been trying to figure out if my stress levels have passed an acceptable level.

There are some unfortunate signs they have.

In case you are unaware, here are the top ten stress-creating situations:

1. Divorce/Breakup.
2. Bereavement.
3. Losing a job.
4. Wedding planning.
5. Work.
6. Kids/Family.
7. Debt.
8. Commuting.
9. Studying for exams.
10. Pregnancy.

I’m trying to find a source for order of most to least stressful, and how that’s determined. For example, with kids/family, I imagine that being the parent of a special needs child trumps my family/kids-related stress. If you’re not getting divorced, bereaved, unemployed, or married, does work automatically jump to number 1?

Not that it’s a competition, but you know what I mean. I hope. I haven’t been sleeping well. I’m not even sure I know what I mean.

On this list, I “suffer” from — if you will — numbers 5 through 8. Again, I find myself wondering how the scale differs from person to person, from occupation to occupation. Is work stressful regardless? I mean, if I’m not free to lay about all day long on a nice sandy beach being brought cocktails by Sven the cabana boy, then am I by default stressed? (Is Sven, the transplant from Sweden to Hawaii stressed in his role as cabana boy for that matter? Is it legal to be stressed out in Hawaii?)

Mmmm, cocktails. Beach. Cabana boy. Hawaii.

*closes eyes for long moment*

*blink blink*

Where was I?


A certain amount of stress is beneficial, I get that. It’s the extended-type of stress that starts tipping the scales. That’s what I’m trying to suss out: where and when do the scales tip? How do I stop them from tipping? Or, if they have tipped, how do I get them to balance a little better?

Here are some physical things that make me think I’m over-stressed: canker sores (I’ve had four in the past eight months); tension headaches; back aches (I’ve been seeing a chiropractor, which is helping); exhaustion; insomnia (it is not fair to not be able to sleep when I am so tired).

I’ve also been having some emotional struggles. I am tending toward depression (rather than anxiety, which is my usual MO), I lose my temper WAY too easily, and I feel like bursting into tears much of the time too. And, no, I’m pretty sure given the consistency of these feelings that I can’t put them down to hormones.

And mental lapses. Pure forgetfulness, dropping the ball, utter disorganization. I have to put reminders on my phone (or my work computer) for nearly everything.

I’m sure I’m a pleasure to live with right now.

Of course, I have some ideas of how to reduce my stress, but nothing immediately available. Plus I wonder if changing one thing simply mean another thing will become more stressful? My usual coping stratagems are being overwhelmed, primarily because my schedule (between work, house, and children) simply leaves me no breathing room.

*sigh* I’m just Susie Sunshine around here lately aren’t I?

What do you do when you’re overwhelmed — not just stressed, but over-stressed?

14 thoughts on “Breach

  1. Shoot. WordPress hates me, so I’ll try again…

    I can’t say much publicly, but I’m three years into a crisis that would bring most to their knees. I deal with it via loud music, exercise, and good friends who let me forget my life and smile. Who value me.

    I’m here if you need anything, babe.

    • Thank you! It’s been too long since I’ve seen your face.

      I, too, find music helpful, the louder the better. I’m just working to breathe deeply and explore my options. Also: I pray a lot!

  2. First, it’s your blog and if you don’t want to be Susy Sunshine than so be it. Second, you know this already, but it is the whole of your job causing the stress. The commuting, the actual working, the debt, etc. I know its not easy to find something else, but keep at it. You WILL find something else. This stress will be temporary- keep telling yourself that. Remember your friends are here for you- even if its only for a dinner in the middle of the week. That’s one night you don’t have to cook & clean up!

    Please let me know if you need anything. Dinner, a walk with the kids, park, etc.

  3. Oh stress. I’m glad to know that wedding planning AND exams are both higher than pregnancy. What the hell do I have to worry about there? I had one of the hardest semesters of my entire education the same time as I got married. So if pregnancy is less stressful than that, I can handle it. I was not a pleasure to live with then. At all. I didn’t even like myself. So much crying, you can’t even imagine.

    After going through that I realized (finally) that I get stressed out more than I should and started trying to figure out how to manage that. Three things I settled on: 1. Figure out what is absolutely necessary and focus on that. Let the little stuff that I can’t control go (so much easier said than done. I’m working on it.) 2. Figure out what calms me down. For me that is: reading, cooking, gardening. Do those things when possible. (again, so much easier said than done. But you know I’m working something out in my head when I’m holed up in the kitchen chopping stuff up, or digging holes in my garden.) 3. Passionflower supplements. Recommended to me by a friend, and there’s research that shows it can help with stress, tension, and panic. Maybe it was placebo affect, but it worked with me. I stopped waking up at 2AM on the dot for my nightly Fretting Hour.

    Let me know if I can help at all. The job situation isn’t permanent; it will change. In that I have every confidence.

    • I was trying to construct in my head like the most stressed out person ever: pregnant divorcing Ph.D. student planning a wedding to her boyfriend, who also lost a parent and was working part-time would fit the bill. I think. So, ya know, I don’t have that ALL going on!

      Thank you. I, too, work daily on 1. and 2.

  4. schedule time for yourself. and honor it. Any chance you can get just one evening a week covered by the husband or ILs? you need time to recharge your batteries. and you need to have a reliable, regular time to do that, so when those trying times push you to (and over) the edge, you have that light at the end of the tunnel to hold on to. have you tried melatonin for the sleep thing? also, you may want to consider medication…just to get you through. its not a solution in and of itself, but all the things you are struggling with…sleeplessness, mood swings, lack of concentration…I have been there, and I found an SSRI very helpful. It helped me step back from the edge a little bit and I was able to have some room to think and actually address some of the things that were stressing me out. in order to solve a problem, you have to have time to actually THINK about a solution, which is impossible when feeling anxious or ovewhelmed by everything all the time. I feel ya sister…this too shall pass. let me know if there is anything I can do! HUGS ❤

    • I am actually considering therapy to get that thinking time. Does that sound odd? That’s what I need (I think) for that step back. As far as “me time”, it’s highly unreliable. I don’t really have a night I can give over to ILs or Dan, with everything they have going on themselves. I concentrate of some things: a time to read at the end of each night, church once a week. That’s where I am. 🙂

      • DOH! I can’t believe I didn’t mention therapy in that comment! that sounds like a fantastic idea!! I can’t believe I talked about meds and not therapy…maybe I assumed you were already considering??? Therapy is a constant component of my existence… you know how I like to talk. and it is time and space for ME to do whatever I feel like doing with it, and that in itself is very, very important. I can’t fit it in every week, but I try once or twice a month, yes yes yes…good stuff. let me know when you take a trip into Erie…would love to get together!

  5. Let me know when you figure it out, okay? It is so easy for others to tell you that things will work out, that you are stressing over nothing, be glad that you have __, etc. When you are stressed to the point where your mind is constantly racing and you have trouble sleeping (mostly because your mind keeps going), hearing those things do not help. I so know.

    Many people swear by “Let go, let God.” It tends not to work for me when I am in a super-stressed place (which I just got out of but may soon be heading right back into), but for some it seems to provide that calm.

    Re: your list, about five or six years ago a former coworker got married, moved into her husband’s house which they were renovating, had a baby, and quit her job all within a year’s time. I don’t know how she did it. And, on a somewhat-related note, I don’t know why moving is not on the list. I would seriously rather go through childbirth without drugs, as I did with my only, then move. I hate it that much.

  6. I hear ya. I know I’m over-stressed when I cannot focus on anything because I have so many things to think about. Then I start crying at the drop of a hat. And there’s nothing I hate more than my husband telling me to relax. I’m like “NOOOOOO TIMMMMME TO RELAXXXX.”

    I know what you mean about wanting therapy just for time to yourself to think. Have you tried yoga? Since baby #2, I have not kept up with it, but I find I really need to get back to it regularly. It’s 1.5 hours that you basically clear your brain. For me, working out at a gym or something doesn’t work- I’m still thinking of all the things I should be doing instead of this. But at yoga, I have to put my phone away, and really concentrate on breathing and doing the poses. I really do feel happier when I leave.

    Like I said, easier said than done. I always have a million reasons why I can’t leave the house for that. I need to stop being a martyr, because if I’m happier, everyone’s happier.

    • I have never tried yoga. I do find exercise can relieve my stress, but that is on the back burner. I haven’t gotten back to it for good since (shockingly) going back to work full-time. It just doesn’t fit, and I was trying to force it for a bit (5:30 a.m. wake ups! HAHAHAHA!), but for right now, I have to let it go.

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