Dysautonomia Blog Series: TICCTHMFNS - Stress & Thought Management (cont.)

Hello friends! And welcome to another Dysautonomia edition of Things I Can Control That Help Me Feel Not-Sucky (or TICCTHMFNS)!

In our very exciting Vol 1.1 we talked about why it's important to manage stress/thoughts (#1 on my list of TICCTHMFNS), especially if you have a chronic illness. The post was nice and jumbled (like my brain) because talking about thoughts and thinking, and talking about changing thoughts and thinking, is hard to think about.

Right. Ok. Good start.

Since that post dealt with the "why", I thought I could use this post try to explain how I've worked on trying to handle my stress and change my thought patterns. And, here it is! The secret of it all! *drum roll*


I'm not entirely sure HOW to go about doing it but hear me out.

Everyone is so different. Although (like I've said) I believe there are a lot of commonalities among people with POTS, it's never certain that something that works for one person will work for another. Especially something as subjective and unique and individual as our minds and how they operate.

With that said, I'll do my best to explain what has worked for me, even though the whole concept of "changing how you think/approach stress/etc." is turning into one of the most difficult topics of discussion EVAR and it's honestly been hurting my brain a little bit.

Actual photo of my brain trying to figure out how to explain all of this.

Actual photo of my brain trying to figure out how to explain all of this.

I worry and stress a lot. A lot. I'm saying the word "a lot" a lot, here. And I always worry and stress about things out of my control or things that are going to happen in 2 months (or maybe they won't happen, who knows!). In fact, I'd say the majority of things I worry about happening never, ever do.

There is a quote I really like that I think about often:

If you can solve your problem, then what is the need of worrying?
If you cannot solve it, then what is the use of worrying?

Sometimes, I think my mind just NEEDS to buzz. I've always been like that and I think it's something I'll always have to battle against. Is almost like worrying gives me something to do. It makes me feel like I might have some control or some handle over what is going on/what might happen/etc. But when I step back and look at everything, I don't have control at all. I really don't. The only thing I have control over is myself and what is happening right this very second right now.

Now, that can be a really tough concept to believe, let alone accept. But, if I think about all the time and days and months and years I spent worrying and stressing about something, how often did it really come to pass like I had been worried it would? More importantly, how often was the worry and stress really warranted? For 29 years I've worried and stressed about SO FREAKING MUCH but, you know what? I'm here! I made it through all those things I lost sleep over and freaked out about and stressedworriedobsessedskdfjsldkjga. Worry is interest paid in advance for a debt you may never owe.

I have to remind myself "I was able to get through/handle ________, I can get through/handle this now." And then I do my best just to let it go. Rarely (if ever) does my worrying and stress serves any real purpose, or benefits anyone or anything. It's difficult. It is SO difficult to let it go (yes, I'm singing the song from Frozen, too); that's a tough concept on its own, but add in that this type of thinking is a pattern I have created for myself over the course of 29 years? Additionally, a lot of other conditions coexist with POTS, like depression and anxiety disorders (both of which I struggle(d) with).

So, I guess my answer to "how can I change these thought patterns//stresses that might not be good for me" is this:

Find what works for you and then --
Practice practice practice.

In case you couldn't tell, quotes and sayings help me. For instance, if I am super stressed or worried or heightened about something, and can feel my energy draining, I try to stop myself and say,

Is there a better way I could use this energy?

And, let me tell you, there ALWAYS is. So I choose not to worry about the dirty dishes I'm too tired to clean right now (or whatever it is) and, instead, I choose to focus my energy on snuggling with my puppy dog or reading next to my husband... Or I choose not to worry about my interview tomorrow. I've done what I can to prepare for it. Continuing to stress will only damage my energy reserves and I will need that FOR my interview.

Ideals from Buddhism with which I really identify help me as well. These suit me and resonate with me and have helped me a lot.

Like I said earlier, none of this may work for you. Perhaps what helps you is praying or meditating or talking to God or whatever deity you believe in. Maybe what works for you is some, or all, or none of the above. What matters most is 1) becoming aware of what thoughts/feelings/stressors are not good for/do not help you and your body, 2) learning how to recognize these thoughts/feelings/stressors, and 3) then finding a way to change your approach to these things so they can benefit you and your body.

It has seriously made an absolutely, incredibly huge difference with my POTS. So much that when I come across a particularly stressful situation which takes me a while to work out with my "new thoughts", I always have a POTS flair. Always. That is how sensitive my (our) systems are. Stress is poisonous to us, but it is something we have control over.

Ok, now that my brain is a little brain-puddle (Not Pictured), I'm believe I'm going to go take a nap. :) I hope this helped or, at least, made sense. Whatever you take away from any of these posts, let it be this: you are strong and awesome in fighting this battle, and although it might be a battle you always face, you have the tools to make it one you can come out on top of more often than not.

- S