One of the problems that comes up for those of us with mental illness, myself included, is the issue of dealing with everyday stress and anxiety. Stress about issues like work, money, taking care of family, community activities, running errands, routine housework and maintenance, etc. can be enough to tax even the most ‘normal’ of people at times. Yet for those of us with mental illness, every day stress can be overwhelming at times, even crippling occasionally.
I have had to made adaptations to my life in order to reduce the amounts of stress in my life. Over the years I have found the stress situations such as fast paced working environments, social environments where I’m expected to interact with many people I may not know well, and driving in fast paced heavy traffic areas have all been triggers for not only high levels of stress and anxiety, but also have triggered symptoms of my particular mental illness. In my case, such instances have triggered paranoid thoughts, high levels of agitation and aggression, and even auditory hallucinations. As a result, I have to be really careful about the jobs I apply for, the social activities I attend, and make it a point to find someone else to drive when I have to go to a major city and just offer to navigate. I would not be any fun at all at a cocktail party with a hundred strangers I didn’t know. Even though I scored really high on intelligence tests as both a kid and an adult, I probably couldn’t handle most office jobs simply due to the stress involved.
Stress is tough for even the most grounded people. But it can be life altering and crippling for the mentally ill. It can drag down even the most stabilized mental health consumers if left unchecked. Sometimes even the stepping back and taking deep breaths isn’t going to be enough. Sometimes a person just has to avoid certain circumstances altogether or even just know when to walk away.