Stress is probably one of the most difficult things I deal with, it is twofold. First I try very hard not to let myself get into circumstances that could be stressful. Second, if I do get into a stressful situation which are sometimes unavoidable, it is important that I deal with it calmly and try to end the situation as quickly as I can. Here are a few examples of situations that I can find myself in.
Work. One of the hardest things I had to do was to take early retirement. After talking to my neurologist, one thing was clear, I had to be as close to stress free as possible. There were other reasons for retiring, but from a health standpoint, this was critical. Due to the type of work that I did, stress was present all of time. It might have been as simple as having several meetings in a row and worrying that one would run long and I would be late for the next one. Sometimes getting so nervous about it that I couldn’t sit still. We were starting a huge software upgrade of our main operating system that I would have been responsible for. That alone caused a high degree of anxiety. Worrying I would forget something, not do something right, eventually causing the project to be delayed. Challenges like these were what I thrived on 5 years ago. That was one of the things I loved about my job. I might have had on my HR hat one minute, IT hat the next, and then dealing with an Operational issue 5 minutes later. I would have grabbed onto this IT project with both hands and told people to hang on, we were going for a heck of ride.
Disability Payments. We thought we hit a snag on our disability last week which sent me into a tail spin. The disability company informed us after everything was finalized and the payments started that I needed to file for Social Security. I immediately thought the worst. They did a horrible job explaining what we needed to do. They neglected to tell me that I had to file for Disability through Social Security. Big difference! Of course, I thought the worst. This would have a dramatic impact on what I can draw at 65 when the disability payments stop. Needless to say, Debra and I were both stunned that this hadn’t been mentioned until the phone call. It was very traumatic. It was then we decided that the issues of disability was something I could no longer deal with. It was just too stressful. Debra would have to take over talking to the attorney. We are finding out it is a process that takes months and could be expensive. (Topic for a different blog. ) On days that I am dealing with something like this my BP goes up and I feel myself gritting my teeth, so antsy that I can’t sit still. Double the antsy feeling if issues come up during the evening hours, I know sleep will be difficult for me.
Sports. I noticed when I was watching the World Series or Professional football on TV and there was a bad call (in my opinion), I overreact by getting verbal and loud. I have always been very passionate watching sports, but this is a new emotion for me. Things that do not go according to plan cause me stress and anxiety bad enough that it can take hours to calm down. When watching sports now, if I feel myself getting wound up a little, I either walk away or change channels. I find myself recording the games and watching them later. It is easy to just pause and walk away.
News & Politics. Are the Republicans ever going to thin the herd of candidates? Are the Democrats going to come up with someone I like? I’m not getting political here, I’m trying to explain why I avoid news and politics. I feel overwhelmed by enormity of the media coverage, it is hard for me to overlook things like politics. I want the quick fix and there never seems to be one. The bombings in Paris are another example of how media coverage has me dwelling on the issue for a long time and I get very emotional about it.
How I’ve learned to deal with this is with Debra’s help. We sit together every morning, she reads the paper and then gives me the condensed version and we discuss. I do get some news on the Internet but I have learned to be careful. I am usually with Debra when I am reading the stories and we are discussing it together.
Dad. As of this writing, my dad is in hospice care dealing with brain cancer. After an episode that left him hospitalized, he was moved into a care center last weekend. There were some minor transfer issues moving from the hospital to the care center in another town on a weekend. It was hard for me to deal with this. My expectation was that there shouldn’t be any bumps in the road, the reality is that my role is changing, I am not the “fixit” guy anymore. Dad’s transfer turned out fine but I was very nervous and upset about the prospect he wouldn’t have his medications, meals, and care when needed.
The Alzheimer’s in me tells me that when these things happen I have to become very pessimistic. In my mind the worst possible things will happen even though they usually don’t, but that is where my mind goes. I become edgy, anxiety sets in and my stress level increases. This is difficult to adjust to but with Debra’s help I am learning to adjust. It is always best when I can avoid these times of stress but of course it is not always possible.
This isn’t just about disability, work, or how I deal with external pressures, issues or stressors. This is an internal struggle I deal with. I was the “fixit” guy at work, in my family, in my whole being. This was a role I carried proudly, unfortunately, I can no longer take on that role. I now struggle a great deal with learning this new dynamic of who I am. I am now dependent on others which is completely out of the norm for me.