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#LifeandChronicIllness

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“Dare to dream! If you did not have the capability to make your wildest wishes come true, your mind would not have the capacity to conjure such ideas in the first place. There is no limitation on what you can potentially achieve, except for the limitation you choose to impose on your own imagination. What you believe to be possible will always come to pass – to the extent that you deem it possible. It really is as simple as that.”
― Anthon St. Maarten

It seems like a tired old story, doesn’t it? I mean, really, how many people are blogging about their illness or how they are managing it? Is it some, a lot, or too many? Hmm. Perhaps that means there are a lot of sick people out there and they need to be heard in one way or another.

Each person has some kind of tether attached to them, whether it be an abusive relationship, family problems or stress. Whether that stress is overwork or the actual job causing the stress, or simply the pressure of being the penultimate person in life, can find themselves in a situation where their body shouts ENOUGH! If that happens, when that happens, they may find themselves with a Chronic Illness.

Our bodies are incredible organisms which can do remarkable things. We have sent our bodies to the moon and back. We have climbed the highest mountain on Earth, Mount Everest (8,848m) in the Himalayas. We have sent them down into the deepest parts of the ocean. The Challenger Deep in the Marianna Trench was first explored by Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh in the Trieste bathyscaphe in 1960. They reached a depth of 10,916 meters. We can train to become incredible athletes and we can bring life into the world. We can, unfortunately take life out of the world also in too many wars.

#Life #ChronicIllness

image from http://www.petera.se The inimitable Mount Everest

We ask our bodies each and every day to do things they may not yet have evolved enough to do, but the pace of technological advancement means we need to force our bodies to do more to keep up. We have even “beaten” to a smaller or lesser degree most of the illnesses which have killed us in the past. The problem is, we have also created a host of new ones to take their place, some by accident and some by design.

Each and every action we ask our bodies and our minds to do can lead to the organism’s failure. It may lead to our body yelling ENOUGH! If this happens, or when this happens, it may be a minor or major catastrophe.

It may be as simple as an overwhelming fatigue which can be put to rights by a good long vacation.

It may be a ‘breakdown’ which requires much longer away from work to address the issues.

It may also be an insidious invader which slowly sucks the life out of you until it is impossible to ignore. At that point you have your “Chronic Illness”.

Unfortunately there are far too many people who, when faced with a spouse, family member, friend or co-worker with a chronic illness cannot cope with even acknowledging human frailty. The only way I can describe it is that they cannot face their own possible frailty, or their own possible mortality.

#Life #ChronicIllness

image from halsamt.wordpress.com

I have seen and worked with people who have turned and walked away from loved ones because they cannot deal with illness. Ultimately, their inability to deal with the situation is reduced to one thing – fear. Fear of becoming ill themselves, of dealing with the illness, fear of being tied down because of someone else’s illness. Whatever the final key element is, it is based on fear.

I saw it many times. Saw the illnesses, saw the injured, infirm, the helpless and counseled both sides of the equation. So one would think that when faced with the same situation I would have been prepared for whatever life had to throw at me. I know I did and I was wrong. I was so wrong that it took a decade of things slowly falling apart, one illness after another, one trauma after another and down some deep well inside I kept pushing all the pain and hurt, the fear and anger deep inside and capped that well.

My mother and my children kept me anchored to my life. They provided me with the lifeline I needed to convince myself that I had everything under control. That was when my husband learned we had been told that my mother was terminally ill. Then my personal volcano started to rumble. When I stepped up to the plate to look after Mum, he decided he’d had enough and left. My volcano really started to rumble and smoke.

#Life #ChronicIllness

image from nevsepic.com.ua

Her passing was a body blow and things escalated. No-one seemed to know. They didn’t appear to see the signs of strain, or stress, or perhaps they didn’t care. They may have been too caught up in their own dramas at that point. So I tried to cap my well once more but the cracks were already there. As the saying goes, “I soldiered on” but I could feel my hold on everything slowly slipping.

I even made an escape run by going to the Middle East. I’m still not sure if I intended being able to return from that trip. Nothing fazed me at that point. No careless act was beyond the devil may care attitude I portrayed. Yet my turn had not yet arrived and I did return and for a short time it appeared as if I had managed to shore up the weakened foundations of my well and life progressed.

That was until the dramas began again, different ones but with the same stress load. I struggled to hide it. I tried to deny it. It was no use. The volcano was not going to be denied this time. Slowly and then more quickly the volcano erupted as I morphed from fit and healthy to something akin to a helpless worm. My self-esteem plummeted and my desire to fight all but eliminated. I had a small flicker of light burning far in the distance, my children and my new husband.

#Life #ChronicIllness

image from tinyhappyfarm.blogspot.com

My guilt knew no bounds. I was caught on the horns of a giant dilemma, succumb or keep struggling with this “Chronic Illness” rubbish I was bombarded with each time I saw my doctor. (Primary Care Physician for my US friends). Me, a medical research sponge, needing to know all the ins and outs of everything, prognosis, treatment, end results, could not find the damned answer.

When I was finally told I had Lyme disease I was unsure if I was relieved or not. It did not feel right and after 12 months of the most putrid antibiotics I have ever had, it was decided I didn’t have it after all. I dread to think what it has done to my body. One simple test, always done at the beginning of Lyme testing had not been done. If it had I could have saved those 12 months and perhaps started to feel better.

But wishes are only granted in fairy tales and life moves on. The results when they arrived back have turned my life upside down. Yes, it’s still a Chronic Illness, but one with far reaching ramifications, and not just for me. At the moment the volcano is still running hot, the lava is destroying thoughts and ideas and new ones have yet to be made to replace them. I need to get a handle on this monster and beard the dragon in his lair.
I need time and yet time is not a resource I have in abundance. Decisions to be made and plans to make and I’m swimming against the tide, no small feat when I can’t swim.

#Life #ChronicIllness

image from cybershamans.blogspot.com

So I ask you, the ill and infirm, those with Chronic Illnesses, the fit and healthy, I ask everyone, to be aware of the little acts you do, be aware of how much difference a small gesture can make to someone who is ill. If you are ill, learn to take pride in the fact that you CAN ask for help. If it is turned down, it is their failing; not yours. If we want our world free from illness, we need to start by understanding its ways. We need to want to beat the monster at its own game. We can, but not alone. We all need to care and work together.

Those who don’t care, do they deserve our sympathy when they crash and burn? I have no answer yet. I try each day to send love and healing, gratitude and thankfulness out into the world, even now. Perhaps it is more important now. I know there is a question within this tale and in time I will be able to answer it, but only after I have accepted it fully.

#Life #ChronicIllness

image from chronicillnessmemes.tumblr.com

Chronic Illness is not catching, but it is lonely and isolating. Please, if you remember nothing else, I ask that you remember this.

 

Blessings, Susan ♥

© Susan Jamieson 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Every once in a while a strange thing happens, you have an odd idea. Here is mine…. I asked a ghost blogger to do a post for me. I hope it is less stressful than mine.

image from intranet.tdmu.edu.te.ua

“One thought I think every person eventually thinks is, “Holy shit, I’m going to die!” Sorry, I just turned thirty yesterday, so my mortality is on my mind.
”
Jarod Kintz, This Book Has No Title

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Stress comes to each of us every day and in many forms, sometimes we hardly know it is present and at others it is right “in your face”. Here is a story of the humorous as well as the possibly tragic possibilities which surround stress in our lives. It is also how not to prepare for a stress test.

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The Scene is Set

Our story begins with an unfortunate and traumatic divorce which has left one party severely depressed and struggling to cope. As part of an ongoing counseling program, suggested during the separation, he attended stress management sessions on a fortnightly basis. Most of these sessions were fairly mundane, focusing on bringing his stress under control, offering a variety of brochures and lectures, however, one turned out to be very interesting. We’ll call him Joe.

This particular session, the counselor brought out a galvanometer muscle tester, to perform a stress test.  This little gadget clips onto any particular muscle, one small clip at either end of the selected muscle, in this case the forearm was chosen. The testing process. After the clips are attached and the subjects arm is at rest, the counselor would turn the control knob slowly from 1 to a maximum of 10. As soon as the machine begins to emit a steady click, click, click,a needle on a meter would indicate the stress the person is under whilst at rest. After this the subject would then be asked to clench their fist and when the muscle is tensed the machine would register the increase in frequency of the clicks by the needle rising.  This would indicate the stress load on the person tested.The higher the number reached indicates the higher the stress the subject is under at that time.  As luck would  have it, it was a fortuitous day for this test to be scheduled.

The first volunteer held out his hand and had the clips attached. On setting 4 of a possible 10, the machine made a slow buzzing noise until he clenched his fist and the buzzing increased a little, as did the needle.  The counselor asked the subject what he did  for a living to which he responded that he had a very highly stressed job. He was on the complaints counter at the Shire Council and the only people he saw were always angry at him.

Enter Joe.  The clips were attached to his arm. At setting 7 the machine began clicking. On clenching his fist the little machine began to scream and the needle on the dial went off the scale.

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“That’s funny,” she said. “Let me check.” A strange look passed across her face and she began to start the test again.

She attached the clips and turned the knob.  At setting 7 the clicks started.

“Clench your fist” she said.

The little machine screamed in protest!  The needle went off the dial.

“Must be something wrong,” she said.  Let me check that,  Relax.”

The noise instantly stopped, just a click, click, click.  She looked at him, confused.

“Let’s try that again.  Clench your fist?”

Instantly the machine screamed again and the needle went off the dial!

“Tell me what you do for a living,” she said.  “You have a very interesting stress test.”

“Let me tell you about this morning,” he said.  “I have a farm and an earth-moving business, and today I was cleaning bush for an electricity company to put power lines through.  We had a tree with a branch that had to be lopped, 5 metres up. .  It was a huge branch, about 10 metres long and almost a metre through it.  The only way we could see to reach it to cut it down was with me in the bucket of the bulldozer loader with a chainsaw.

David, my assistant, maneuvered the machine into place, I climbed into the bucket with the chainsaw and he raised the bucket to 5 metres, level with the branch.  I put a cut under the branch, half way through, and then started to cut down from the top so the branch would fall clear away from me.  I cut deep down into the branch, but it wouldn’t fall!   Perplexed, I asked Davis to reposition the bulldozer so I could reach it better, and started again, a little more cutting underneath, then down from the top again.  The chainsaw was screaming as I pushed down on it but the branch just hung there!  I looked at David, he shook his head and I kept pushing and cutting.  Suddenly, the branch vanished!  It dropped without warning, no sagging, creaking, it just fell, leaving me pushing down hard on a screaming chainsaw into thin air!

I swayed and grabbed for the side of the bucket with one hand, holding the chainsaw away from me with the other, at the end of my outstretched arm.  The branch had fallen and was bouncing on the ground, finally rolling against the front of the bulldozer.  We looked at each other and I think David saw the shock on my face.  I could see it in his.

Stress level: extreme. It’s like she was a jar with the lid screwed on too tight, and inside the jar were pickles, angry pickles, and they were fermenting, and about to explode.”
Fiona Wood, Six Impossible Things

He backed the machine away and lowered the bucket.  I stepped out and put the chainsaw down.  I looked at my watch.

“Somewhere to go?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said.  “I have to go to a stress management session at the hospital, they are doing stress testing today.  Wonder how I’ll go!”

images from sunshinecoastmidwifery.com.au

Stress is good for you …. in moderation. That and an Angel sitting on your shoulder. “The Wisdom of Joe”.

Normal blogging to resume shortly…. perhaps tomorrow.

Ciao, Susan

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Dictators and the horror they cause are not to be belittled, yet there is more than one way a dictatorship can be fostered.  An Oligarchy is defined by Wikipedia as: “a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a small number of people.”

In business such a structure can breach all the rules and regulations the workplace has in place and destroy the lives of these who are not part of the “power structure”. There is a well-known business in Queensland which is run by such a tyrannical Oligarchy, ruining many of the lives of those who work there, simply because they can. To make matters even more putrid, the Union, our esteemed Labor Union, is incapable of effectively doing anything to help these people or stop the dictators. Are we Labor supporters??

How do I know? I have an inside source. Someone who is being systematically torn asunder by underhanded tactics after over a decade of loyal service. They are not protected by any fair or reasonable working regulations since the company will not employ permanent staff, and casuals have no rights. That’s correct, casual staff have no rights in this business. Despite working through a twenty-four hour shift rotation, accepting any ‘shit’ shifts the permanent admin staff don’t want to do, especially at Christmas, if the hierarchy decide they want to ‘get rid of’ a staff member they simply cut their hours or make their working life such a traumatic and unpleasant experience, that eventually they break and leave. No annual leave, or other entitlements to pay, the company can do as they like. When was the last time you went without a family Christmas for ten years?

We’ve come a long way in our working democracy haven’t we?

Here is a scenario. Young worker, employed part-time as they work through University. Slowly working through the quagmire of late shifts, abuse from drunks, rarely enough staff, and let’s not forget the floods in recent years –  management didn’t go to work during the floods, even though the building was partially under water, however, the part-time, junior staff, all on casual pay, were pressured to go to work because…… the cars were running. (That’s a hint). I heard a story of staff being ferried by tinny to the work premises because of the flood water.

If the staff show promise they are given extra work, more involved duties, but no extra pay. Oh No, couldn’t do that, and despite a relatively long and very loyal tenure, no permanent position! (Ten years in one position is relatively long these days). Stress and pressure can effect anyone, at any time. Add a couple of deaths in the family, long hours of study and increasing pressure from work…. is it so far-fetched that the strain could become too much?

So, despite doing what is in effect two people’s work, this person is still a casual and is slowly breaking after a decade without a break. (Don’t forget, no holiday pay or sick pay for casual staff). On asking for an assistant, which the Union, (God Bless their cotton socks) has said is required, their hours are cut to ease the stress. They still have to complete the same amount of work in less time. Let’s try a repeat request a few months later…. more hours lost and the same amount of work.

Is this what we’ve come down to? If a company can ignore the Union, and every other Government Department (and I’m not a Union fan) and treat our workers like third world country employees, what the hell was all the struggle for when Unionism was born?

The Oligarchy, in their ultimate bastardry, decide to put on a new staff member, someone who happens to be a friend of one of the permanent Admin staff. This is code for, “it doesn’t matter how bad they are, they have a job for life.” The existing staff have no voice and less respect from management.

Now the scene has changed. The stressed and loyal employee has to train the very person who will eventually force them out of their job, and all with the connivance and approval of the dictator at the top (Mr P.). Is this going to reduce the stress this person is enduring?  No.  They are reduced to surviving on anxiety relievers, until they can find another job… if they can in today’s market.

Is being made a nervous wreck allowed in today’s marketplace? Apparently so, because there is nothing any regulatory body can do to this company.  It’s a private company, a ‘family’ business.

Can this person sue them for discrimination because they are ultimately being replaced, due to unrelieved stress, when they have trained this usurper? NO! They have no rights, at least not until they are unemployed and in a worse position than they are at present. Even at this point there is still no real pathway for redress.

To say I am disgusted with this story is an understatement. This company should have every department related to fair working conditions, Union bloody regulations and Anti Discrimination using hob nailed boots all over their collective heads and tails! Yet at present I am proscribed from going further until the final piece of this bastardry is complete. All  I will say is this. If you have a choice of transport when in need of a relief vehicle, think of two colours and not a cowardly one.

image from australia.shopsafe.com.au

Doing my part for unfair working conditions.

Ciao, Susan

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image from forfunreadinglist.blogspot.com

“There are times to stay put, and what you want will come to you, and there are times to go out into the world and find such a thing for yourself.”
Lemony Snicket, Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can’t Avoid

Everyone has good days and bad, it’s the law of human existence. If we didn’t have to struggle for what we wanted to achieve it would become meaningless. As far as theory goes it is one hundred percent true. My only niggle would be that it doesn’t ALWAYS have to feel as though you are fighting an uphill battle to get somewhere.  Then again I know it’s my attitude which gets in the way.

Tax Time is enough to make most people cringe, unless of course you are fortunate enough to have a large enough business that you can farm out this unpleasant chore to someone else. That must be true because it is usually one of the first tasks we delegate if we can either afford to or are able to get someone who likes to do the work.  I used to believe I did. Perhaps I’ve just become older and a little jaded. Have things become more complicated? Do I need a lighter look at things?

It’s the attitude which has to change. I’m grateful I can see an accountant to get my accounts ready for the tax office. Why would I want to give myself a headache I don’t need? I have everything filed away. In fact I’m a filing fanatic, everything has a place and there is a place for everything. I can find what I need at the drop of a hat. I like it that way. No stress, and today it’s all about no stress. That is, no bad stress.

So I’m supremely grateful there are accountants who I can refer to and hand all my paperwork and books to, duly filled in and accounts sorted into the right categories, marked off in the right columns so they only have to cross check everything to make sure I’ve done it the way the tax office like it.

So why the apparent angst you may ask? It takes time and patience to make sure all the micro mechanisms are in place and working correctly. Well, I suppose I’ve been doing this long enough I should be okay by now. If they would only leave well enough alone and stop changing things.  Although that isn’t really my problem either.

I have all my little black ducks lined up with their reports ready for me. I have another row of little blue ducks with the receipts and accounts ready to roll. Then there is the big Mandarin duck who will pull all these figures and reports together and craft a masterpiece of utter confusion which only the tax office will understand. If only I didn’t have to put my moniker on the dotted line to say I understand everything contained in this epic masterpiece. I suppose we can’t have everything, can we?  (sigh)

Now please, all you tax stressed people, say after me……OM   OM OM – doesn’t that feel better?

“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring–it was peace.”    Milan Kundera

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