I took these pictures when I felt really stressed about money, so thought I'd take a picture and write a new blog post!
Okay so stress is something we all deal with day in day out. And when your stressed it makes your symptoms worse, and you then get stressed that your symptoms are worse, and then you overthink the whole situation and get stressed whilst trying not to be stressed so then you are a literal BALL OF STRESS. Period.
I’m currently writing this in my car, it’s pouring down with rain, and right now I cannot get myself a job or any income. I’m in the production cast performing on cruise ships, and corona has hit the industry hard, we will recover and be back soon, but right now I don’t know when, and my money has been drained from getting back to the U.K from Australia when the lockdown happened. (I should save more for situations like this. Shouldn’t we all?) I closed my blog when writing it stressed in my car, and came back to writing it later, after a lovely family meal at home and some Netflix with my parents, what’s the point in stress? I am grateful for mine and my family’s health during this time and good things are around the corner.
There’s no easy way to say this but try to work on how you deal with that negative stress. Yeah easier said than done right? I tell myself this constantly, some days small things give me all the heart palpitations, some days I’m totally chilled. Some days I think, am I going to be in so much pain when I’m older because I’m doing so much exercise that my joints will give up? You cant control how you feel sometimes, but you can control how you chose to rectify it.
So when I was 18, I was studying a three year Musical Theatre course. Now the entertainment industry is crazy, don’t get me wrong I LOVE it, it’s been my passion since I was 3 years old but it’s like something I cannot describe. Most of us dancers are constantly under scrutiny to be more flexible, skinnier, better posture, technique, all of the elements, and I think its extremely beneficial to want to better yourself but not when it becomes obsessive. You forget what bits you love about yourself and only focus on the negatives. College was amazing, doing my passion day in day out with a bunch of people I will call my friends forever, but it is SO tiring! Using the brain power all day to learn choreography quickly so you can perfect it, then performing a monologue you had to learn last night, whilst dealing with the normal stresses of a young adult. Looking back now I wonder if I found it more challenging than I should have because my body was attacking itself and I had fatigue from my underlying disease?
I then fell for a girl, and the stress really kicked in then. I had the exciting overwhelming feeling of having a pure connection with someone, like I’d never felt before. But at the same time was trying to focus on what it was, what I was, how/when I would tell people and what the hell was going on! I kept the relationship a secret for a while, this is where I went wrong, I am so close with my family, my mum is my best friend and I tell her everything, probably too much sometimes. I was away from home and wanted to make sure it was for sure before I then went and told my close ones. Okay, this bit is hard for me, I’m not writing this for sympathy, but I believe it is a huge part of my story, the person I am today, a contributor to the stress I built up for so long which then possibly lead to my diagnosis. I came out to my parents drunk (the worst decision, they deserved better) with a naive pre-conception that they’d just already know and be cool with it. It was the biggest shock for them and to put it plainly, it DID NOT GO DOWN WELL! ANYWAY after a good 6 months of building relationships back up, and being lost as to who I was, a relationship under strain, a version of me and my parents that I could never imagine, oh yeah and don’t forget dance college anxiety all on top of this, it did all get better. Time is a healer and my god did I learn that the hard way. A year later our relationship broke down, and it was hard because it was out of our control. It felt like everything we’d been through together was for nothing, and it was a lot for me to accept. That was the end of that crazy year together.
In the 6 months after this breakup I began developing symptoms; joint pain, swelling, my wrists were to the point where I could not even put my hair up, I thought I'd broken some of my knuckles, I kept just thinking they were injuries from dancing. I went to the walk-in clinic where they suggested it could possibly be Juvenile Arthritis, and to speak to a GP. After many appointments, blood tests, X-Rays I was diagnosed with RA. Coincidence that an inflammatory disease came soon after my year of stress? I think not.
What is stress?
My Definition: AHHHHHHH
The real definition: Stress is a normal biological reaction the body has when changes occur. It can respond to these changes physically, mentally, or emotionally.
The human body is made to deal with stress and react to it, whether that be with physical, mental or emotional responses. It can be experienced through any change in your life positive or negative. I personally always forget that stress isn’t always negative, it can be positive too ; keeping us alert in dangerous situations, allowing us to meet deadlines, and avoid accidents, or just getting through your wedding day haha!
The body has an autonomic nervous system (this controls internal body processes) that has a built in stress response to allow your body to prepare and react to stressful situations. Your body releases hormones called cortisol and adrenaline, sending your heart beating faster, and blood to muscles and important organs, this is known as ‘fight or flight response’.
How can stress impact on Arthritis?
Research shows that stress can set off the immune's inflammatory response in your body. When you are stressed, your body releases molecules called cytokines. Cytokines can cause inflammation, leading to pain in joints. The more stressed you are the more you can feel pain, as stress affects your perception of pain.
• Stressful events often precede the onset of RA.
• Higher stress is associated with a less positive outlook of RA.
Individuals with RA are more sensitive to certain sources of stress, called stressors.'
Okay I’m going to be brutally honest here, and tell you all how my disease can stress me out, and what goes on in my head sometimes. I’m sure I'm not alone when I say this…
Will I end up severely disabled?
Will I have a good quality of life when I’m older?
Will getting pregnant be complicated because of my tablets?
Will my liver eventually give up on me because of the amount of tablets I take?
Will there ever be a cure for arthritis?
Will my children get this gene?
Will my career have to end earlier than planned if my body cant keep up anymore?
When am I next going to have a flare up?
Chloe & Arthurs Tips for managing stress-
· Mindfulness Meditation & Yoga
. Never blame yourself for your diagnosis
· To do lists
· Avoid processed sugars and sodium in packaged foods
· Say it out loud, voice record, write it on a bit of paper what is stressing you out and why you think it is. Brain dump your built up anxiety and stress, it wont get better until it is out of your head, a problem seems so much easier when you have let It out
· Count to 10 with a deep breath in-between each number-stressful and angry emotions lead to impulsive behaviour. Counting to ten and deep breathing provides time and distraction to ourselves and offers a soothing sensation focusing our attention on the present.
· Sleep 7-8 hours per night, lack of sleep just makes everything worse
· Exercise every day- it releases endorphins which make you happy
· A worry shared is a worry halved
· Stop smoking- you may think it is stress relieving, but its affecting your health more than you’ll ever realise
· I truly believe in ‘time heals all’ for those smaller issues that will get better soon
. Put your favourite song on really loud and dance on your bed
. Put your phone down- go for a walk and don't check your emails or social media once, take in the views and the fresh air, you'll achieve peace much easier without your phone distracting you
. Smile, it'll make you feel happier and others that see you
If you need professional medical advice, speak to your GP and/or a therapist. Or use these links below:
'Its not stress that kills us, its our reaction to it.'
Thank you for reading
Chloe & Arthur x