I was looking through a book given to me in Spring of 2009 when I had my first flare-up of lupus, or something “lupus-like,” called New Hope for People with Lupus by Theresa Foy DiGeronimo, M.Ed. I’m particularly interested in a passage about stress: “STRESS ALERT.” Especially coming out of the holiday season when stress is running at a high, this passage seems useful, but also unrealistic.
“While you’re learning to recognize and release the body’s negative physical responses to stress, you should also help your body avoid this tension to begin with by learning to reduce the amount of stress you expose yourself to each day. No one can eliminate stress completely (and who would want to live such a boring life!), but you can be on the alert for situations and people who tend to fill you with stress. If you know that trip to the amusement park with your kids and their four friends will push you over the edge, don’t go! If you know that a coworker’s constant complaining and negative attitude make you feel tense, avoid her! If your job is so hectic and pressured that you feel you’re about to explore every day of your life, think seriously about finding a new job.
As someone with lupus, the quality of your daily life can be severely affected by the amount of stress with which you have to contend. So take an inventory of where excessive stress may be coming from and do something to change the situation. This is one area of your treatment plan that you have the power to control. Take a deep breath right now and promise yourself that you are going to do yourself the favor of avoiding stressful people and places.” (187-188)
The letter from my last rheumatologist visit describes my “increasing anxiety and depression, a lot of pressures since she is applying for a PhD program.” Should I not be doing this for my education and career because I have an autoimmune disease and “shouldn’t” put myself this stress? Am I choosing to do something that is bad for me?
Image found at http://www.michaellank.co.uk/esr.html.