“There’s a lot of stress out there, and to handle it, you just need to believe in yourself; always go back to the person that you know you are, and don’t let anybody tell you any different, because everyone’s special and everyone’s awesome.” – McKayla Maroney
Sleep deprivation, anxiety, overthinking, anger and frustration, can lead to over producing the hormone called Cortisol. These factors elevate stress hormones and can have negative impacts on the brain, including the hippocampus. When I slept 3-4 hours per night, due to chronic stress and trauma, my nervous system short-circuited. In bed, before falling asleep, my legs used to shimmer, not like normally would when you are shy, or cold, for example, but more like convulsions. Until 1 am.
The same, at work, once a guest lost his bag from airport, and asked for help, in tears, getting angry cos I didn’t show very proactive or empathic ( airports procedures can be very slow and frustrating on the phone ), but real fact is that I was so fed up that I had my hands shimmering without any control. Simply, I couldn’t stand complaining about minor matters than a terrorist attack any more. That means I was overreacting to any stressful situation. I couldn’t put any distance at all. Anytime I felt in danger, my body started shaking. It could be an unhappy guest, or a couple quarrelling on the street, or police cars with blue lights … my body put me in fight or flight protection’s system.
Adrenalin and cortisol, when produced in overdose, stimulate your body so much that the memory of the traumatic event keeps this process of shaking. Then your body is releasing the massive energy slowly anytime it is possible, in order to calm down and relax. So trauma manifests him self by this loop of neurobiological response that keeps you blocked in a physical and mental prison. Until the signal of « danger is over » comes to your body. And your plus energy flows away, naturally.
It’s like we have to say to our body : « Ok, now you can let go, danger is over! »
Imagine a gazelle escaping from a lion, that is so-called « fight or flight » scheme, when adrenaline and cortisol are at theur top production. Now, can you figure out the same gazelle after one year and more holding on escaping ?
It scents blood.
“It has long been established that stress-related illnesses, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) trigger changes in brain structure, including differences in the volume of gray matter versus white matter, as well as the and size and connectivity of the amygdala,” says endurance athlete, coach and author, Christopher Bergland.
Theferore, if you are interested in taking care of your brain, I invite you to learn more about chronic stress effects on your amigdala.
Of course, I am a caffein addicted. And sometimes I try to change my habit into a healthier one, like green tea or chai, ginger and so on. But it’s really heavy for me that I am Italian. Bad habits, bad heritage.
Stress can kill you, you have to be aware of it. If you have a chance, it might as well save your life. It depends if you have the chance to recognize it, and say STOP. Or someone else will do it for you.
That’s fine. Except it might be quite late for your brain’s damage. Neurons gone; and you lost. Preferably, left alone. Nobody holding your hand. Can you figure it out?
Burn out is called “strong disease”. I am a case study. And following are real facts.
In 2016, at work, right after november 2015 Paris attacks, in four months, I lost three camerades. Age 27, 38, and 43. The last one had four children, and had an argument with the manager, at 7 am. He fell for a stroke. They waited for help, and he was brought to hospital by helicopter. When you have a stroke timing is essential. You get 4 hours time before it’s too late. Also brain functions damages can be relevant. While director called all teams in a room, to announce us that our english colleague was lying in be at hospital, his parents were on their way to decide to unplug his machine. They said it was not related to work, or stress disease, nobody could prove it, anyway. In three days afer his unlucky accident, we were collecting money to burn his body. Three days and your own truth is blowing in the wind.
The others two, stroke again ( bad feeding habits, obesity realated? ), and infarctus, this one, after a ride on a bycicle, early in the morning. He was 27, and worked in the restaurant’s kitchen. He also had an argument, with managament, before going home. I could notice, the higher rate of casualties happen in food&beverage environments, where the talk and hierarchy are much alike army.
A few other colleagues from reception had health issues during summer 2015. The time of my panic attack. « It is personal ». « She is anorexic. » « She takes heavy treatments for breast cancer. » « She is just tired. » And me, I was – obviously – too sensitive.
Researchers who conducted a study on the effects of stress and stroke measured chronic stress in 5 major areas:
- Personal health problems
- Health problems in others close to the patient
- Job or ability to work
Use this list to assess where your chronic stress is coming from.
Nobody could mesure Stress Conditions, because there is no way to put a code for stress. Stress is defined a personal and individual response to danger conditions. We are unique individuals with different responses.You can’t put responsability to bad behaviour of someone or bad management. That’s also why it is so much important that you take responsability for Your Self. And Self Love starts with learning to say “NO”, or “ENOUGH”. Didn’t you have enough yet? Did you learn to put your borders?
When you overreact to events, like crying before other people, and can’t avoid sadness overwhelm you after catching up with media news, then you are probably a so-called « highly sensitive person ». The earlier you get it, the better. Before my burn out and fake alert trauma, I knew that I was a sensitive person, and sometimes acting like a « little girl », but I wasn’t aware of it like a gift. Being sensitive more than 80 per cent of world population? What a present, I was thinking. Acceptation came actually like thunder’s lighting, after a long time of struggling and fighting against my own personality. When, finally, I met this penpal whose story was much stronger than mine, since he is serving a sentence in a californian jail, for 16 years now, and 7 are left. My penfriend was HSP him self and he had the chance to get a good lady doctor as psychotherapist.
If you allow me, I’ll share this article with you, it is from the magazine « Shambala : The Sacred Path of Warrior » :
« Basic goodness is very closely connected to the idea of bodhicitta in the Buddhist tradition. Bodhi means « awake » or « wakeful » and citta means « heart », so bodhicitta is « awakend heart ». Such awakened heart comes from being willing to face your state of mind. That may seem like a great demand, but it is necessary. You should examine yourself and ask how many times you have tried to connect with your heart, fully and truely. How often have you turned away, because you feared you might discover something terrible about yourself ? How often have you be willing to look at your face in the mirror without being embarrassed ? How many times have you tried to shield yourself by reading the newspaper, watching television, or just spacing out ? That is the sixty-four-thousand dollar question : How much have you connecteted with yourself at all in your whole life ? » The sitting practice of meditation … is the means to rediscover basic goodness, and, beyond that, it is the means to awaken this genuine heart within yourself. When you sit in the posture of meditation, you are exactly the naked man or woman that we describerd earlier, sitting between heaven and earth. When you slouch, you are trying to hide your heart, trying to protect it by slumping over. But when you sit upright but relaxed in the posture of meditation, your heart is naked. Your entire being is exposed – to yourself, first of all, but to others as well. So, through practice of sitting still and following your breath as it goes out and dissolves, you are connecting with your heart. By simply letting yourself be as you are, you develop genuine sympathy toward yourself. Conventionally, being fearless means that you are not afraid or that, if someone hits, you will hit him back. However, we are not talking about that street-fighter level of fearlessness. Real fearlessness is the product of tenderness. It comes from letting the world tickle your heart, your raw and beautiful heart. You are willing to open up, without resistance or shyness, and face the world. You are willing to share your heart with others. »
In order to better understand if you are an HSP I’ll put this article from this blogger, who seems very HSP like. You’ll see that feeling weird, quiet and out of place is absolutely normal and a good sign that you are being your true Self.
You also find a podcast from Alanis Morissette with Elaine Aron, author of « Highly Sensitive Person : How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You”.
First Paris attack came in january 2015. The whole week, unhappily, I’ve been watching videos on the web. Every day we got striking news about actions of terrorists around the parisian area. They said that they were stealing cars and hiding in the woods, so I was in alert. Police forces were hunting them, streets to airports were blocked, everybody was on his nerves. Since our company is american, it was on the target of terrorism, after 2001, and still is, so we felt like something could strike soon or later.
And as low of attraction demonstrates, when you FEEL something, it happens … this point is worth to be stressed enough, concentrate on positive, means sending good vibes into the universe ….and cosmo will send you back ! Viceversa, live in fears, and your vibes won’t have the same effect. You see what I mean? This time I was quite nervous because these two men were around, and there had been already a shooting in Paris, a police woman was killed the day before, following a car accident where one of the terrorists (the one from casher supermarket) was involved. He was wearing bulletproof vest and had a kalashnikov rifle. Another policeman was shot in Paris, a few days before, he was lying down the ground begging the killer to spare his life. He had no pity. And shot his head blood cold to finish with him. On You Tube you could find this video supporting the theory that, the fact I just told you, was a fake. It was meant to put people in chaos. And nobody knew exactly what was really trustworthy. Except people who knew that man, like a guy I was dating on line, yes, his father was a jobmate of that poor guy.
That week “Je suis Charlie” went on a massive world movement, and suddenly turned all pictures on Facebook, into french colors. Mine, too. But I was angry, angry with Italians who hadn’t any idea of what was going on here, and with my peers, nobody showed up to say « hello ». Only a few posting on Facebook to show off at which point « everybody was french ». But no calls on my phone.
Until saturday morning, 10th of january. The day I had a date with Death for a chess game. Things hurried up at about 10h30 am, when the hall was full of kids with their families. First, I saw a security man walking speed in front of the reception, and directed to the floors. Second, two others, right after. Our screens on pc were on news all the time. The two killers, at the printing house, were shot the evening before, in Dammarie-les-Lys. Two persons held hostage were still alive. The man in the casher supermarket, who killed other persons, caught and dead, too, by the GIGN commando. What else could happen ?
Suddenly, someone shouted at the bottom of the hall, « SORTEZ ! ». « Go out ! » Damn, I swear, in first seconds I had no time to realize what was going to happen, I was just scared to death, and only knew that I had to go out from there. No matter what. My Brazzaville’s jobmate said something, and I replied « « Dear, pray, that we can tell this story, some day». We were all expecting something terrible to happen. Our energy vibration was tuned on those videos on You Tube, so in a certain way, we were waiting on a bomb strike or kalashnikov rifles fire.
Two seconds, and your life suddenly stops. Someone pushed « stand by » button. One, you hear « sortez », two, what the f*** …and in between, it stands your life until today. « What did you do until now ? » « How did you spend your life ? » »Did you explore your potential ? » »Did you do what really counted for you ? » »Did you try harder ? »
Questioning your life in two seconds, and third, last question, …where’s EXIT ?
Before I had time for longer self reflection, I hold the first little girl’s hand, and slowly, hurry up to the door and to the parking area. The man who was entering was a policeman, and I won’t ever forget that eyes look. Thank you french cops. Never enough. As soon as I stepped out of the building, my full body nerves coulndn’t stop shimmering, and seeked for other colleagues. Crowd was in panic, one close jobmate was crying, evenutally calling her sons, while I realized my phone was left inside, and I couldn’t reach my mother…. That was better, I supposed, cos what would I tell her ? « I love you Mum » like in 9/11 ? That was the feeling.
As team, we were used to test evacuations on a regular basis, more for fire prevention. But this one was supposed to be not a fake, and it was the worst and worse organised I ever experienced. Not only we weren’t informed on what was happening, but we were held in the parking area, at zero degrees, me in short sleeves, without the possibility to leave. The gate were kept closed. I mean, … Thousands of people in a parking as hostage ? Yes, police call it « freezing ». They keep control on the situation by avoiding people to go away, just in case, there is anybody involved in terrorism. Someone was jumping the gate, but eventually also the closer train station was blocked. So, I spent one hour and a half with this couple of spanish army, with their two little girls, and I admit, we were quite sure that something important was going on. A german jobmate, tried to calm down guests, and dancing salsa in the handicap parking space. No much results. So, it came naturally to me to leave my team apart, and stay with the little girls. The younger showed me pictures of her cartoons heros. We tchit tchat for a while until we were told to move. We did. And after this endless snake line we could go back to our work. Danger was over. Was it ?
So, we all were asked to go back to our job locations. That is very bad for provoking anxious state, and strange enough, we didn’t get any psychological support. First, after I entered the building, I went to toilet, of course, and stood a little, thinking to what I just experienced. Was it real ?
Nop, it was a fake.
Yes, a fake alert. What the f*** ! That meant that I won my match against Death, yes, I was given some more time, and from now on…. from now on, what?
In respect of the victims, and highly sensitive people, just like me, I won’t put any videos on Paris Attacks. Anyway, I might suggest you this one: “Three days of terror” on You Tube.
Today I was reading this blog page, talking about suicidal survivor, and I found my self wondering what kept me safe from going down, in last two years. I mean, I’ve been depressive, and bipolar, when younger, and at age of 43, I admit that I am, proudly, NO MORE. During my journey, I’ve been told that bipolar was for life, that you can’t sort it out without medical treatments, or psychological support.
Of course, I have been in psychothearapy, and self discovery. Talking to someone neutral and stranger to you is a good key. Not judgemental. Not involved. That’s a perfect therapy. While you’re talking about your issues, and thoughts, to someone who is listening is magical. Psychotherapy is just THIS. The person in front of you acts like a mirror, she or he allows you to listen to your own words. You finally have a witness to your suffering and that is a good start for healing. Or, at least, understanding. Therefore, UNDERSTANDING, is the beginning of healing. When you become conscious of your triggers, perhaps, you also realize that overthinking leads to paranoia. Ollalla’. Not easy to recognize at which point you became a « paranoid ». But it all starts from you. Forget that a stranger will tell you what’s wrong with you. Or your childhood. You do the job. Most often you just need a guide, a coach or a good listener.
Yes, I’ve been paranoid, especially when working at night shift. I simply hated not sleeping on a daily bases, and going to bed at 9 in the morning, when most of other people started their day. Or not falling asleep until exhausted. Or waking up after 21 hours, and checking news, just to make sure that you didn’t miss anything important. I was so tuned on negative thinking that I felt like there was a conspiracy against me. Like if all my colleagues disliked me and everybody else ignored me. If I existed or not, it didn’t make any difference. Paranoia, you said it.
When I was 23 I’ve started with Yoga for getting a nicer silhouette, but I already felt like this discipline was more than just physical excercise. Since then, I’ve been keeping practicing once a week. That was pretty fine for me, one hour now and then. Not much effort. Beginner classes suited me well. Until I went though my last peak of stress, last year.
When I started cutting my hair shorter, yes, darling. And decided to do my yoga every single day, once back home from work. Sometimes at 22 pm, now 19 pm. Depends on my time management.
So, I’ve tried a few channels, until I finally found my fave one. Not only my body became slimmer, and stronger, but my mind was more focus and could concentrate on my class in breathing and out breathing. Sometimes 30 minutes, or one hour in my weekend days. Leaving time for rest, at least one day per week. It became a wonderful way to distress my frustration and felt like I wanted more. When I read that yoga helps with depression issues I didn’t catch it. What’s the matter ? How can physical practice be related with being anxious or depressed ? ( mental issues )
Body, and mind, are definitely strictly connected.
Often you feel depressed because you have fear, you are not well in your situation and you knoe that you need a change, but you don’t take risk to move out of your (un)comfort zone. Victim status might also be cosy. It’s not your fault.
Practice in yoga means getting used to unbalance. You can fall, you are allowed, and you can laugh at your falling. And try again. Until you do better.
When you work your balance and breathing, with yoga, your subconscious keep focused and you empty your mind. That’s the useful meditative work done.
Tonight a friend told me, that my fear is the fear of existence of other. Oh my, really ? And I happily realized this, if you are reading this article, you shall consider how much you love your Self. Me too, I had this idea that I hated my Self …
It’s not true. You lost your confidence. Or other people made you loose your precious confidence. Often it’s parents or peers. Sometimes strangers. Most often is self sabotage and your worse enemy lies inside.
Until you meet your dragon, and stare at his fiery eyes. And his face is not a mirror, but it helps you to build up your Ego.
Body, emotion, and mind, align again. You become a whole.
Paranoid ? Yes, so what ?
Since 2015, all in my life went wrong, and so, I had to decide what was really worth going on and what was time to let go. Ego suffered the most. Now, three years later my beautiful trauma, the moment has come to move forward. Taking the responsability of my entire life. If you agree, that we create our own reality, and if you are someone who attracts toxic relationships, or fake alerts, even natural disasters, you shall ask questions about WHO YOU ARE, and WHY YOU.
It takes 10 years now, that I live in this Country – Parisian suburbs, France – where many people are renowned to complain about anything, from weather, to strikes and canteen food. If they are black skinned, they say that there are too asiatic, in town, and they are ready to move into another city. On the opposite, asiatics are quite happy-go-lucky. They inspire me always looking on the bright side of life.
That means that when you open your window, after one month of cloudy and rainy weather, you shall be thankful for Mother Earth. Or saying “hello” when you meet a lady, out of a station, who is begging for money, even though you won’t give her any coins. That is the positive attitude which I have been developing in last ten years. I can’t remember when exactly it happened, but this shapeshift is still transforming my mind and behaviour.
So, welcome to my PTSD world. I hope you will enjoy your visit, take notes, and get well.
Here I am. The first time I’ve heard about PTSD I would never consider – me – being involved, once in a lifetime. Never say never. Usually, PTSD are referred to vets from battlefields. This is not the case. Although, living in parisian region since last years, it’s sometimes recalling Tel Aviv or Libanon tv images. Anyway, I won’t tell you that this is apocalypse, cos to be honest, I am not so fond of biblic books. But I watch tv news once a while. And still live in real world:) Catastrophic events are more and more likely to happen to common people, like your neighbour, or ME, and YOU. And because we are unique, as individuals, we can have unique reactions to the same event, eg. earthquakes, hurricanes, terrorism attacks, fake alerts, war battlefields, but also everyday stress and anger management issues. Times they are a changing. Society evolves fast and speed, as well as enterprises are transforming their structure calling this process of internal reorganisation, « rational ». Their politic is mathematical and algebrical, so no more room for emotional issues, or troublemakers, ….
Do you knoe the story about canary used for testing carbon monoxide gas in last century ? According to a few sources, canaries are good early detectors of airborne poisons, they simply need more hoxygen, to fly high, than mices. The idea of using this sentinel species is accredited to physiologist John Scott Haldane, the inventor of hoxygen mask against World War I gases employed by Germans. He investigated mine disasters, especially, the toxic gases which killed most miners after firedamp and coal dust explosions. Finally, in 1986, electronic gas detectors replaced those lovely vocalist birds. This use of canary for testing environemental health reminds me of my burn out, at work, in september 2015. Constant stress exposure during a long period of time, or chronic stress, and Paris attacks (january and november 2015) caused me PTSD ( panic attacks, physic, mental and nervous exhaustion, break down, tremors nerves, anxiety, sleepless nights, memory-lost, rage attacks, hypervigilance, paranoia, and various addictions).
To be honest with you, I admit I have been quite workhaolic since 10 years now, since I left my homecountry, and moved to France, parisian suburbs, in december 2007. That means, that all my family network lives in Italy, and although I am quite social, and friendly, it’s been quite hard to build new relationships, and friendships. Especially, considering the crazy turn over of young people in the company I am working for, still an uncertain time (please, accept my discretion on this subject). That means that every two years, I saw my new friends leaving for Uk, Us, Italy and Spain. Some spared money and they are world traveling, right now. Some met a life companion, dating on line, and eventually got married. And moved to Abu Dabi, Emirates, to get a cute tan and a new lifestyle. Since I am not keen on high tech, I have been in and out social networks, several times. I still like penwriting. Or writing emails to keep in touch with old friends. This habit is less common today. It goes all so fast that people can’t find their time to stop, close their eyes to relax a second, and breath ….I don’t blame anybody, coz I have been that person, me too. You just feel compelled to go on marching in.
Circumstances led me to my very personal « battlefield ». And this blog is meant to detail what kept me alive, and still does. How I crossed over the desert, and met wonderful people who helped me getting out of deep quicksand. Step by step. Inch by inch. In Al Pacino words, from the movie Any given Sunday : « I tell you this, in any fight it’s the guy who’s willing to die that who’s gonna win that inch. And I knoe that if I have got a life anymore, it’s because I’m still willing to fight and die for that inch. Cos that’s what living is. The 6 inches in front of your face. Now, I think you gonna see a guy who will go that inch with you. You gonna see a guy who will sacrify him self for this team because he knows that, when it comes down on him, you gonna do the same for him. That’s a team, gentlemen. And either we heal now as a team, or we will die as individuals. That’s football guys. That’s all it is. Now, what you gonna do ? »
At the time of Paris attacks, january and november 2015, I was already struggling with chronic stress due to toxic work and lifestyle. Anger and frustration made me piss off all my dears, lover and best friends. All I needed was a warm and deep hug, listening, caring, and the way I had to call for it was just screaming and exploding in violent raptus of rage.
My boyfriend eventually ran away. He had two children, divorced, so I repeat to my self that I can’t blame him, if he couldn’t stand by me, upright. Btw he didn’t either make any effort to try to understand what was wrong with me. He just found that we quarrelled too much. Raise your hand if you went through low self esteem issues. « Am I worthy ? » « Will I ever find the right person who can stand by me upright ? » « Will I die alone ? ». « Will I ever find a balance in life ? ». It goes without saying, mental health issues made me loose my job, or did I loose mental health because of that job? Serving people, in a multicultural entertainement environement, made me very passionate about it. Let me be honest with you, I was brilliant, and guests really appreciated my concern at their demands. The fact is that I really felt like I had been damaged, someway, because of other’s fault, too massive tourism flow (low cost budget packages), and severe, partly ghostly, management. The lack of staff, and destroying schedules planning, did the rest. Financial results were all that counted. The same week that I’ve got my sick leave, company’s director proudly announced, on a meeting with occupational medicine and unions, that our team was good, perhaps the best in statistiques. Psychological risks were zero.
Sure, I felt alone, powerless and, yes, the weakest link. Me, burnt out, no kidding.
Ok, now, no more excuses. When you put your self in a situation, more times in life, and you repeat the pattern, it’s not just a lack of chance, or others bad will, you shall investigate in depth. C’mon, it’s not your fault, I am not saying this, but it becomes your responsability. “What are you gonna do with that?” There’s some lesson there that waits to be learned by your Self. My first lesson, Self Love. Self care. Self worth. Scary, but true, I admit that at that point of my life, my routine didn’t have any purpose except to soldier on. No sense at all. “Metro, boulot, dodo.” The daily routine of commuting and work was leading me to apathy.
Apathy: when feeling becomes too much.