Could Stress Be the Cause of your Chronic Pain, Fatigue, Illness, and Skin Issues?

Stress, it’s like a virus. It can slowly invade the body, and cause a full-on attack on our system. We commonly hear to relax, to lower our cortisol, that it can cause an increase belly fat. Stress does so much more than affect our weight. It can affect our skin, adrenal glands, and different organs of the body. Stress can also trigger inflammation and an autoimmune response, causing chronic fatigue, thyroid issues, autoimmune disorders, even rosacea. The impact of stress can take a toll on the body, mind, and spirit. The word “stress” is like a blanket word. Stress can also mean trauma; emotional, mental, or physical. According to the book The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk M.D., traumatic stress can store in the body and get trapped causing chronic pain, inflammation, autoimmune responses, thyroid issues, chronic fatigue, rosacea and other conditions.

This year during one of the most difficult seasons of my life, I developed chronic fatigue, MS like symptoms, and rosacea. The weight of the stress I endured was traumatic. {Tweet This}

Looking back, I am not sure I how I survived. In February 2018 I received a call that my ex-partner was in the ER and sustained life-threatening injuries. Months before this call, I was taking my life back from a very toxic relationship that caused me much anguish. However, when I took this call, all of that went to the way side, and I went to the hospital. From that moment on I stayed by his side for half a year. I advocated for him a month in ICU, never leaving his side unless it was mandatory. When he was less critical, he was transferred to the trauma floor, and I began trying to balance work, kids, home, and hospital visits. When he was discharged, I took him home with me and nursed him back to health with everything in me. I changed his bedside commode and urinal every few hours, changed his IV antibiotic every 24 hours, I administered his meds every day on a precise schedule, changed his dressing on his wounds, bathed him, fed him, changed his clothes, took him appointments with his specialist, sometimes 3 times a week. I didn’t have help. I was trying to care for him, my children, my home, the yard, tried to work, and figure out how to meet my household living expenses. Talk about the weight of the world on your shoulders. It was a lot for me to carry and to carry alone. His family was unhelpful to say the least. During this time my body couldn’t take any more, I was doing too much. My face became red and bumpy, I felt tired all the time, I was worried how to provide for my family. My joints began to ache every day, and it was an effort to show up every day to my life. The stress was taking a toll.

This is where the story gets weird and had me seek out therapy. As he recovered, not needing me anymore, he moved to his mother’s house. (Who didn’t actively help him during his recovery.) After he moved there, he came into some money. Instead of helping cover bills. He fixes up one of his eight cars and left me to have to figure out how to meet the following month’s living expenses. He owns eight cars, a property, and a boat. He refused to sell anything to help me make ends meet. During the time I cared for him I lived off credit cards and the good graces of friends and strangers gifting me funds. As a single mom, it was nearly impossible to care for my young son’s father, but I did. Him leaving me (once again) to figure it all out, was very traumatic. Here I am in debt, and physically, mentally, emotionally exhausted because I cared for someone who if the role was reversed would have left me for dead. My fatigue increased, my skin looked terrible, and my body hurt. To add insult to injury, weeks later he demands I take him back. Because I won’t, he begins to stalk and harass me relentlessly. He called all my friends and family trying to get them against me. I eventually had no choice but the get a protective order and was granted one for 5 years.

The damage had already been done. He caused division in my family & stress beyond my imagination. I felt like I was drowning. My body hurt, my soul hurt, my skin looked irritated. I couldn’t wrap my mind around such cruelty. I sought out help and started seeing a Psychologist. I learned for the past 4 years I was in a covert narcissistic abusive relationship. I know, it’s a mouth full. And what the heck is that?! I have since become an expert learning all about this type of abuse. Ha-ha! Well, maybe not quite an expert, but I have sure learned a lot. Finally, the last four years of my life made sense, and my situation was finally exposed for what it was. I continue to see my therapist, I am in a support group for survivors of covert narcissistic abuse, and I’m beginning to heal, and it feels great.

You may not be able to relate to my version of traumatic stress, but I’m sure you have gone through your own version hell at some point in your life (or will). Whether it is abuse, deaths or illnesses of loved ones, family conflict, parenting a difficult child, financial stress, addiction, or have a family member who has an addiction, physical trauma, emotional or mental trauma. None of us are exempt from life and the twist it can bring. But we can in fact choose to learn from it and heal. As you heal your stress, you heal your body. Dr. Kolk gives exercises to help move trauma out of the body so there can be recovery. Yoga is one of his suggestions as it helps get deep into those areas of our body where stress gets stuck. His book is worth the read if you have been through anything that has left you feeling not yourself or physically ill.

If you suffer from an autoimmune disease, or chronic illness, look into your life, past and present. What stresses have you endured, lived through, suppressed, maybe even deliberately forgotten about because the weight of it is too much? Start there. Working through the trauma and moving it out of the body promotes complete healing. In my healing journey I know that to be true. Key elements of my healing have been removing toxic people from my life, allowing my body the rest it needs, eating nutritiously (that has been hard because I crave comfort foods), exercise (that’s been difficult to because of light depression leaving me unmotivated.), sharing my story, joining a support group, and seeing my therapist regularly. Since putting these healing strategies to work in my life, my rosacea is nearly gone, my joints are far less ache, and my fatigue is significantly less.

Healing is a journey. Take it one-day-at-a-time. Do the things that nourish your body, such as wholesome foods, and plenty of filtered water. Exercise. If you can’t quite get into it (which I completely understand) go for a walk. Exercise doesn’t have to be rigorous or crazy. Just moving your body, from a simple walk for 15 minutes, is a great start!  Get sunshine and fresh air. Take vitamins, especially B vitamins that get depleted by stress. Seek out a therapist. Join a support group. Do things that nourish your soul. Read a good book, watch a funny movie, listen to encouraging talks, take a bubble bath, go out to dinner with your closest friends. Lastly, connect spiritually. No matter your faith or lack of, connecting to source will supply you with the ability to have hope. For you that may be prayer, mediation, or contemplation. I have found that prayer has been the most profound tool of my healing. Even if you feel alone, you’re not. Even if it feels like there’s no hope, there is. Even if you feel no one understand, the universe totally gets you. You’re a spiritual being having a human experience, so connecting spiritually provides comfort and insight beyond comprehension.

No matter what your setback is, you can make a comeback. Practicing self-care, self-love, yoga, healthy eating, getting fresh air & sunlight, and doing things that bring your heart joy, can in fact facilitate your comeback. Difficult seasons in life, are just that, seasons. This too will pass and goodness of life will come again. Take good care of you. If you are feeling the physical, emotional, or mental manifestations from stress, such as joint pain, fatigue, stomach issues, depression, looking beyond the symptoms towards the cause, can facilitate the beginning of healing and clearing out stress and diminish the physical manifestation.

Are you suffering from chronic fatigue, depression, rosacea, chronic illness? Do you relate to the article? Have you experienced traumatic stress? What are you doing to facilitate your healing?

Please take a moment to  Nicole!

Women With Gifts Guest Blogger

Nicole Dionne is a Holistic Aesthetician, Brow Designer, and Makeup Artist. She has been in the beauty industry for nearly 20 years. She is 41 years old, mother of four, a yogi, reiki master, vegetarian, lady boss, and beauty blogger.  Nicole loves to inspire women to look and feel their best. She believes an empowered woman is capable of fulfilling her life’s purpose. Inspiring that empowerment in others, through beauty, is her passion. 

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