The Struggle of Mental Illness and Stress
Stress is part of all of our lives, not just those of us who live with a mental illness, no, everyone with a heartbeat struggles with stress. Stress can be related to a positive experience, a new job, a new relationship or it can be largely negative. Sometimes, we cannot find reason for it and when you struggle with mental illness, these feelings can be frightening. So, let's explore the feelings, the experience, stress can have on our lives.
My Experience With Stress and Mental Illness
Stress has always been a large part of life in varying degrees. Before I was stable, my anxiety level made it difficult for me to leave my home, my heart would start racing, my hands sweating upon walking out the door. Feelings like this are related to agoraphobia, a very serious form of stress, in which the person can become largely confined in their home.
As I gained mental health stability, my anxiety was less, but it still largely defined my life. I made my way through college, my head down, my heart racing. The craving to be home.
Now, twenty-six years old, anxiety does not define my life. It doesn't have to define yours either.
Symptoms of Stress in Mental Illness, or Without Mental Illness
The list of symptoms of stress spans pages, it is detailed in 1,000's of books, but some symptoms are more common than others.
>In more severe cases, a feeling of detachment. When your stress level is high your body release chemicals that make you feel detached. It's a scary feeling.
>A racing heart.
>Sweating without physical exertion.
>A mind that races as fast as your heart, trying to make sense of the uncomfortable feeling.
> Panic attacks. These are considered a separate disorder, but stem from stress.
>An unreasonable fear of a situation that was once comfortable. A heightened sense of fear leading to physical symptoms.
>A feeling that you cannot breathe. This was the worst for me. Trying to work, to speak to people, and hide the feeling I was having trouble breathing.
When Should We Seek Help for Stress in Mental Illness?
Diagnosed with a mental illness, stress is something we need to pay close attention to. Stress is uncomfortable for everyone, yes, but these feelings are more important when you live with a mental illness. Stress can signal relapse. If it seems to creep on you, or attack you quickly, it's crucial to pay attention to it.
Often, these feelings, the experience of stress, is related to normal things, life changes, but it can also be the first symptom of depression.
If I notice my stress level becoming high for no particular reason, I check in with my mental health team--and you should too. It's more stressful wondering if your becoming ill then having your psychiatrist assure that it's normal and you're okay--more often than not, stress is just stress.
Champagne, N. (2012, March 5). The Struggle of Mental Illness and Stress, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 25 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2012/03/mental-illness-and-stress