Tag Archives: Overwhelm

When the Stress of Disability overwhelms you, what do you do?

Life can be stressful before the additional stress of a Disability. When many forms of stress exist in your life it can be overwhelming. How might you overcome these stresses?

What is Stress anyway?

In simple terms Stress is an imbalance of forces. The forces we face in life are many. I like to think of them in four categories; physical, emotional, social and spiritual.

The physical forces in our lives are those things that keep our bodies functioning. Food, water, rest and exercise are key among them.

The emotional stresses in our lives can result from the physical aspect of who we are. Emotions result from the release of hormones by our brains. The impulses our brains receive from our bodies and the environment determine which parts of the brain get triggered and which hormones are released.

Social stresses are those rules of conduct that come into play as we engage with others. We learn and re-learn them. They change as our social roles change.

Spiritual stress occurs when we are afraid we are out of alignment with the Universe. Religion taught us this system and our society reinforces it. Our life experiences reinforce our beliefs even further.

The presence of a disability adds more stress in all these areas of our lives.

We name Disabilities by the limitations they add to our lives. A broken leg impedes our ability to move. Thus the major stress it causes is physical. Yet, the pain and inflammation of the injury changes the hormones our brains release and then our emotions are affected.

These physical and emotional changes impact our interactions with others. If we are a parent, lifting a child and caring for them has new limitations which can cause stress. You can respond to your stress by teaching your child new skills or getting outside help.

We might ask the spiritual question, “Why did this happen to me?” One immediate answer a simple injury provides usually suffices. “This too will pass.”

The combination of normal stresses with those added by a broken leg will require changes. Since we know that the leg will mend in a few weeks or months, we allow ourselves to accept those changes. We rest and use crutches. Others around us step forward to ease our personal and social loads. We expect that we will return to our pre – injury life. There will be memories that will need integration into our brains. Those memories will not take over our brains or our identity.

A stroke or brain injury may give us a similar physical disability, but could create more stress. Recovery will take longer and may not be complete. We will always see ourselves as vulnerable. This episode will haunt us the rest of our lives. We may ask ourselves, “Did God play a role in this?”

If our leg was amputated as a result of the injury, even more stress enters our lives. We can’t hope to return to our pre-injury selves.

How do we handle the stress of Disability and life together?

First, we need to pause. The more overwhelmed we find ourselves the longer this takes. When we try to avoid this simple step we compound the problem. A parent worries their broken leg might cause them to drop their child.

If we as parents feel this way it is important to pause for a moment and let ourselves settle down. Taking time to be still allows our bodies to proceed thru several phases. First, our brains released stress or threat hormones. The stress hormones allow us to deal with the acute situation. They need about 30 minutes to get out of our systems. During this time we tend to pace and not think clearly.

Minor injuries recover during this phase. With a broken leg or stroke we are headed to the hospital. This will force us to take the next step.

Meditation and similar practices can help us transition to the next phase – focus and assessment.

We need to focus and assess our situation. Wearing a cast on our leg and walking with crutches will limit our mobility. A stroke usually means a stay in the hospital. Both interrupt our normal daily patterns. Our natural desire to return to our previous life activities will make us aware of the differences.

During these pauses we assess our situation and make plans. In the emergency room most of us can plan our lives with the broken leg. Strokes require more complicated assessments and plans.

The pain of a broken leg seems mostly physical. The pain responds to pain killers. Rarely do these medications cause serious changes although some of us become habituated or even addicted.

The consequences of a stroke or amputation seem more emotional, social and spiritual. Doctors and nurses have learned to address these “pains.” Clergy (inside and outside of the hospital) can help with the spiritual “pains.” All these professionals have a ways to go before they achieve the same quality of relief provided by the “pain meds.”

So, have we dealt with the Stresses of Disability and Life?

Only to the extent that we have been forced to do so do we deal with the Stresses of Life and Disability. The Stresses of Disability and Life can cause us to pause in other ways.

Instead of overwhelming us physically, it may take an emotional or social form. We have all gone thru emotional outbursts. We yelled at others when we did not mean to. We failed to meet social obligations. Sometimes others forced us to look at our situation. A boss might reprimand or fire us. A friend or partner may avoid us.

In all these situations we can use the same process: pause, focus, assess, plan and work with it.

When overwhelmed by Stress, Pause, let your self cry or get drunk. Then you will be focused.

You will ask yourself “What happened?” Usually we only focus upon the immediate situation, but to really heal we need to look deeper.

Why did that situation upset us? Did it upset everyone we know? Why not? What differences exist between you and the others who were not upset by the event?

These are the assessment questions that allow us to make plans.

Living out the new plans we made is hard work. Most of us need help. Family, friends and life Coaches can help with the process of assessing, planning and living the plans.

The Process of Overcoming the Stress of Life and Disability is this:
Pause and let the acute situation settle,
Focus your attention on what happened, (The more traumatic the more issues the focus needs to encompass),
Assess the cause and options,
Plan to go forward, and then live out your plan.

When you keep getting overwhelmed, get Help.

As All Ways, Seek Joy,

Paralyzed by feelings of being Overwhelmed, Hopelessness and Uselessness (recognizing your Depression)

 Feeling Overwhelmed, Hopeless or Useless is common. When any of these feelings paralyze you then depression exists. Often such feelings bring us up short and keep us from focusing on the matters at hand.

As we sit down to begin a new week there are many things we will need to accomplish. Feeling overwhelmed can affect how we think about the number and complexity of the tasks life forces us to plan. What should I do first? Will I overlook something important?

Tip: to get a handle on feeling overwhelm by your life tasks; list them in a word document. This will allow you to see all that you face. Then you can rearrange them. What are the components of each task? Are there subcomponents of different tasks that can be done together?

When I had to manage several patients in the hospital, I would keep a list. Then I would go to the various labs and x-ray and review all the studies of all the patients in one pass. Then when I went to each patient I did not have to run back to the lab many times. How might you resort and perform parts of the different tasks?

Hopelessness can really paralyze us. We feel there is no way to approach the problems we face. Frankly, some are truly beyond our control. The weather will be as it will be. We will have to adapt. Here in Minnesota, we expect snow all winter long. We buy cars and clothes in response to that fact. Soon, I will get out the long johns. They allow me to stand at the bus stop without freezing my legs off.

Tip: if you have made a list of the things facing you, now you can look for opportunities to address the underlying problems.

We can’t stop global warming, but we can travel with the least release of greenhouse gasses. In general ground transportation is better than air, and mass transit is better than solo. You have done something, even if it is not all that is needed to be done.

If you still feel overwhelmed by hopelessness then a mindset change may be in order. Ask yourself such questions as: Whose problem is it anyway? Will it really matter what I do? Then try to set it aside.

Years ago, I decided that in the case of nuclear war, I would enjoy the view from the roof. The chances of survival were small; I might as well experience the process and not hide.

Uselessness often confronts us. The major events swirling around us will happen with or without us. We are spectators or “collateral Damage) in the scheme of things. This is where the spiritual comes in.

Are you part of nature? If so, what does nature expect of you? The antelope grows big and strong only to become food for the lion. The lion will become food for the vulture. Our daily struggles prepare us for a role beyond ourselves. In the moment the struggle becomes primary, but in the overall scheme it serves only to prepare for another role. When the antelope loses its struggle with the lion, it assumes its’ ultimate role. How will your struggle today contribute to the world of tomorrow?

When these feelings of Overwhelm, Hopelessness and uselessness stop us for weeks, it is time to get outside help. You probably are clinically depressed and there are many things others can do to help you. You should usually feel like dancing, and not crying.

What ways have you found to dance in the face of overwhelm and hopelessness?

What resources do you have to dance? As All Ways, Seek Joy,7