I have insomnia and am hijacking Foggy's blog again...sorry Foggy!
Stress is one of my biggest triggers and I know I am not alone in saying that. The symptom Post Exertion Malaise doesn't just mean the after effects of physical exercise, it can also include anything that makes your body move internally. This can include increased heart rate due to stress, breathing issues due to anxiety, etc.
At the current time I am in the middle of a long period of exceptionally high personal/work stress and it is having a severe effect on my M.E. health. It doesn't seem to matter what steps I take to cope with my stress levels, my M.E. is taking a hit every day. Let me assure you, it has absolutely nothing to do with the Foggy campaign; I don't find Foggy stressful. I am a little upset that the timing of the stress is taking the shine off of Foggy's last 20ish days but that can't be helped. I hope I am still managing to do a good job regardless of my own personal pressure.
I am not very good at biology; I will attempt to explain what happens in an M.E. body when it is stressed! I'll talk about reactions to stress in relation to my own experience. So, my body is in hyperdrive all the time...something to do with the adrenal gland always being in the fight or flight response (My body thinks that a big scary tiger is coming after me ALL THE TIME and braces itself to run away!) this adds to my tiredness. So, of course, when stress hits it goes even further into overdrive. In the past week I have had to cope with chest pains, worse than usual extreme fatigue, dead legs, cognitive impairment, hypersensitivity to light, brain fog and slurred speech. In the immediate aftermath of stressors, my face gets exceptionally hot, my throat becomes tight and I get breathless. My body uses all of it's energy reserves trying to control this reaction. I had to leave work early twice this week, because my body had used all of it's energy reserves, battling against my reactions to stress.
This photo shows what I looked like yesterday afternoon AFTER a 3 hour sleep, in a darkened room, when I got home from work. I was sat (very quietly and slowly) chatting to my mum, She said I looked so dreadful she wanted to take a photo to show you all what I look like when my M.E. wipes me out. I don't think it has ever been possible to capture M.E. in a photograph; I/we just look like we have been dragged through a hedge backwards and like we have had a bad night's sleep. I am prepared to upload a really unflattering photo of myself to raise awareness though!
Of course, I am practicing what I preach. I have been using mindfulness to control my stress levels and have been resting a lot in the evenings. However, additional stress is being added daily and so I am struggling. I think non sufferers forget, we aren't just coping with our M.E. we also lead 'normal' lives and have the same day to day stresses that they have. Just because we are ill doesn't mean our worlds have stopped spinning.
Anyway, I hope you are enjoying Foggy's last 20ish days. if you haven't donated yet please do, every penny counts towards funding much needed M.E. research.