There are times when I feel like I need an Anonymously Stressed Support (ASS) Group to survive. If there was one, I would go to a meeting today. My introduction would be something like this:
Hi, my name is Kelly. I have severe Endometriosis and I have stress issues–a wonderful combination. I have been in therapy for three years now, working on my stress management techniques. My stress levels, when elevated, trigger my Endometriosis and send me into a dark, emotional, vortex of madness.
I used to take birth control to help maintain my Endo hormone levels but back in July, we realized that I was having a reaction to the progesterone in birth control. So my options became surgical or holistic. I decided on the holistic route. I thought eating right, exercise, physical therapy and stress management therapy would suffice in maintaining my Endo. And it did, during the summer when I was stress-free. I was back to being my happy goofy self until school started. For teachers, the beginning of the school year is extremely stressful. This was my first year without the birth control helping me maintain some form of sanity. Without it, I took a dive off the deep end into a pit of darkness in early September.
This was my Awakening. I knew I had to change my life around or I was going to end up in a mental institution, bouncing around in a padded cell, enjoying that lovely white jacket that lets me hug myself all day. So in addition to my therapist, physical therapist, a psychic and Endo doctor, I decided to add a psychiatrist and Buddhist monk to my Team Kelly survival crew. Our goal: stop my stressful job and the Endo from defining my life. I needed to reclaim my life and myself again. I needed to find a sense of peace and calmness. I needed to survive.
My first step was to move. I was living in an apartment I hated with extremely horrific neighbors. I hated going home. I liked the rental price, the size of the apartment, and the location to work but it was slowly driving me insane. I had to wear headphones just to hear my own television. So I moved into a co-workers house. Which turned out to be another bad situation. Not as bad as the apartment but still it was not what I needed. Luckily, I realized it at the right time and immediately found a house that belonged to my California sister’s friend. Now I am in my dream house. It used to scare me but now it is my real home. It is a place of peace and serenity.
The next step was to work on my stress management. With the help of my therapist and psychiatrist, I finally discovered my real stress triggers and what to do to overcome them. This has been the hardest journey for me to take. I really had to look within, at all of my faults, and learn to let go. You can’t be a perfectionist and be stress-free. The two contradict each other. So enter Buddhist Meditation classes. I admit that it felt really weird at first, and I do still prefer to do it in the comfort of my own home, but it helps to have someone instruct you on the proper techniques and guide you. I have a rambling mind that will wander through all the crazy rooms that reside in my brain when forced to sit in a quiet room. I really have to work on my focus. But the breathing techniques have really helped me get through the day-to-day. When something upsets me, I focus on my breathing to calm myself down.
For me, though, the best stress relief has been to help my students. I have been teaching them my stress relief strategies. Their favorite saying of mine is “forget one day at a time, focus on getting through ten minutes at a time. Then reward yourself with a Skittle. By the end of the day, you can enjoy a whole bag of Skittles.” One of my girls was having a really tough time and I brought her a bag of Skittles. Putting that smile on her face and giving her a bright moment in her day actually made me feel better about myself. Helping others really does help you as well. So when the Endo hormones bring on depression, I do something for someone else to give myself a purpose. Gandhi was right when he said that the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.
My other stress relief technique is to dance it out. Sometimes I make my kids dance with me at the end of the day. Or I go home and play some of my dancing games on Wii. Or I will just dance around the house. Hot Dog used to tease me about my “dancing defense mechanism”. I used to do it in front of him when we would fight. I would put on my iPod and just start dancing to relieve the tension. I know there are probably some scientific studies out there that prove that any type of exercise is good stress relief, a good way to relieve depression. I just like to dance. It calms me down.
I think we all go through moments/stages where life sucks. We have our good days and our bad days. We get depressed, we are sick, we are in pain, our heart is broken, and the grey clouds stroll in, hanging over our heads. I feel that way today. I have been sick for weeks and that has caused my Endo to act up. Being in pain and getting Endo headaches and cramps makes being around loud teenagers unbearable. I love my kids but when you have 40 of them in a room, it can get way too loud. Plus I am also dealing with some financial stress.
So being sick and worrying about money means I need to kick in some of my stress management strategies. I have my iPod and a bag of Skittles in my purse waiting for me. I am taking it 10 minutes at a time and when I make it through the day, I get to enjoy a nice bag of Skittles. Then I will dance around my classroom in triumph for making it through another day.