wings and things

Stress question

on March 28, 2014

Why is it that some people cope better than others with stress? This has always mystified me. How?

For example: two people can experience the exact same grief, joy, shock etc. and one will take the experience in his/her stride, and the other one will be emotionally overwhelmed. The former person is the one who organizes the funeral, party, and/or contingency plan. The latter person, bathed in grief, joy, shock, may not be able to get out of bed in the morning.

Lately, I have felt a mixture of these two responses to sudden change and I have to admit that, mostly, I am the latter person. No matter how much I want pragmatism to beat the hell out of misery, it doesn’t always work and, when I took Ants for a drive today and his head bent to the left side (Parkinson’s), and he kept forgetting, then remembering again (due to my prompts haha!) that is was our 21st wedding anniversary.

Perhaps the answer to the stress question is this: Accept what is; make the most of every single hour of every single day; and get back on that bicycle!

It has been a difficult few months so thanks to all friends for encouraging comments to me and my extended family. Ming’s court case (adjourned three times now) is happening mid-April and there is a bit of hope that his dangerous driving charge might be downgraded thanks to the letters from my brothers’ families to the police.

Oh to be a duck!


79 responses to “Stress question

  1. Like the bit about the bicycle. My husband is a very steady person, not having highs or lows. I am the opposite, up and down , he copes with stress much better than me. Take care of yourself Julie.

  2. I would guess that those who are practical are grieving no less than those who can’t get out of bed. For me, doing something is a temporary escape.

    And to your second point, I’m reminded of that saying, “If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.”

    Hugs to you Julie!
    Diana xo

  3. I love duck. Your ducks are the luckiest in the world, they have you to take care of them. 🙂 I know that they help you as ell in their own ducky way. 🙂 Big hugs Jules, always here for you. xoxox

  4. Haven’t you heard of ‘duck l’orange’? Ha… not your ducks of course.

    I will continue in prayer for Ming’s case and your poor hands…. The judges really do take into account character witnesses…. Diane

  5. lensgirl53 says:

    Ahhh, my husband and I just had this conversation this morning. We both have high blood pressure and he mentioned yoga.. (I can’t believe I just wrote that)….anyway, I told him I don’t think yoga will help me with my grief. He, on the other hand, does not grieve like I do. I just try to give it to God every day and know that faith helps me through life but there are days that overwhelm me because I am a human mother who lost a child…not a shoe, or my glasses…but a whole life that I loved beyond words. You are right about the two kinds of people and how they deal with stress. Maybe it’s that old battery things…it takes a positive and a negative to make it work. One by itself can not work.

    Just yesterday while visiting the zoo with my husband and two granddaughters, I told them about you and your farm. We were looking at all the peahens and fowls and the lovely peacocks. Maybe we should try to be more like the birds when we are stressed…by just being. 🙂 xoxo

  6. We each have our breaking point. Our stresses build up and build up and eventually you are overwhelmed. At least that’s what I have found. I’d been under a tremendous amount of stress for more than ten years, but I kept going. Eventually though I ran out of resources and came apart at the seams. I figure someone deals better with a given situation, dependent upon how much other stress they are under.

    You, for example, have been under tremendous stress for years dealing with Ants and his illness, and you had Ming and his surgery to worry about. Now you have the issue with the court. Stress is cumulative. If you don’t put something aside when things get tough, it’s just heaped on top of the rest of your problems.

    Please take care of you! Worrying about tomorrow ruins the joy of today.

  7. I’m the former – I go into crisis mode and get what needs to happen done. The downside of this is that people wrongly assume that you’re not hurting, or upset and this crisis somehow doesn’t affect you.
    PS – I think you’re doing awesome, Julie x

  8. mimijk says:

    I think you’re way too hard on yourself Jules – I think you handle stress better than most – and most certainly better than a duck! 🙂

  9. Jules I have pondered the same question many times…how is it some have strength and clarity of thought in situations and the rest of us curl up in bed with covers over our heads? I think most of us have strength to handle the stresses of life but after so many well the flesh is weak as is the mind and the mind breaks along with the heart and then… then we curl up and block out the world while we get our bearings.
    I wish your anniversary had been happier for you and Anthony. I wish happiness for you in every aspect of your life my friend and you know I am here for you whenever you need to share/talk. Love and hugs {{{xx}}}

  10. My husband is naturally calm, and I am the one who always feels on edge. Who knows why. That’s why I love quiet places.

  11. Rhonda says:

    Jules, there aren’t many people I know that have dealt with the stresses of your life for as long as you have with such grace and honesty. You may get overwhelmed, but you always get back up and face the day. You are the best of both! And I agree…oh to be a duckin’ fuck. (oops)

  12. I think you just have to accept Murphy’s law. Whatever goes wrong will go wrong, and it will keep happening. Once you realize that, you stop questioning or fighting back everything bad that happens and start going with the flow, enjoying whatever happy moments you run into, as short or long as they are. I think I’m doing my best to train my kids for the real world by repeating to them (and showing it when it happens), sh%#t happens, just deal with it and move on. It’s liberating to let go and try to find a reason to explain all of it. That being said, I wouldn’t want what you have on your hands! 😉

  13. ksbeth says:

    it is an interesting question, jules. i have a friend who has 3 daughters, and had a former bad marriage and each daughter has coped with it differently. she has decided to study why different people in the same environment cope differently with stressful situations. so far, it’s come out that some people are more predisposed to have a sense of ‘grit.’ an ability to overcome and accept and move on, while others are taken down by situations. so interesting. when my mother was deep in the throngs of her dementia, they told me not to take anything personally, (easy to say,) but remember it is the disease not her, and to roll with what she wants to talk about and does. not have expectations for her that you had in the past or you will end up sad, mad or disappointed over and over again. so hard to deal with i know. hugs ) beth

  14. A crisis situation requires a grief period (shock, anger, yearning, depression, acceptance), THEN getting back on the bicycle and moving on. While it is true some people SEEM to cope in the immediacy of the crisis, it is the “shock” phase they are coping better with, not grief in its entirety. We are all different and move through grief stages at different paces.
    In chronic situations, you may have had the shock of your life yet are not able to fully mourn. You HAVE to get back on the bicycle (because you have to cope with the chronic situation), without having had the grief phases to help teach you how to ride. It is like being in a state of ‘chronic sorrow’ punctuated by feelings of ‘episodic loss’ with intense periods of grief at critical junctures (such as wedding anniversary) that you then have to quickly bury again to keep coping with the chronic situation This is ‘big’ stuff to cope with. Yet you have other ‘big stuff’ you are coping with at the same time – your health issue, Ming’s surgery, the car accident, court case, the passing of your aunt. That all adds up.
    Despite all that I see you still riding that bicycle with a spirit of determination, love and care.

  15. I am just very happy we are so different:)

  16. This is funny. I will now leave my reply for the 3rd time:) i am just happy we are so different:)

  17. And how was that bicycle ride?

    Good news for Ming!!! I hope and hope it goes well.

    And in reading through your love story with Anthony and Ming (they are both love stories!) I am amazed at your reaction to stress. Of course some moments are better than others. But from where I sit reading….I’m amazed. Happy Anniversary!!! And I hope today was a little less stressful.

  18. Good question. No glib answers from me on what I inherently don’t understand. Fingers crossed April bring good news for Mind.

  19. elizabeth says:

    I’m one who does not handle stress well Julie. So, I try not to get myself into stressful situations. Ha! That usually does not work too well. 🙂 praying those charges are all dropped.

    Happy anniversary!!! 🙂

  20. Trisha says:

    I’ve often wondered about the stress question too. I am generally one of those people that feels overwhelmed by everything and I wonder how to get to be the other kind of person, the kind that keeps it together and carries on. Although with you, I think with all the things you’re going through right now you have every right to fall apart once in awhile.

  21. Hoping for sunny moments even in the darkest days.

  22. tootlepedal says:

    I really do like the getting back on the bicycle as a plan. If my experience is anything to go by, cycling brings peace of mind.

  23. Vicki (from Victoria A Photography) says:

    I think one’s upbringing and way their parents behave and show emotion can have a profound effect on the way their children show emotion. Those that have no experience of tactile expression or loving, may become those adults that show no visible degree of emotion.

    And in turn, those whose parents have shown remarkable strength and little outward emotion in times of tragedy pass on some of this strength to their offspring.

    I didn’t blink an eye when my Mother passed away 2 years ago. She was almost a complete stranger – I felt no more emotion than I would for a stranger who was in considerable pain in the last couple of hours of their life. I never felt close to my Mother. (although I always admired her skill in the garden). All I was concerned about was my Father’s inconsolable grief. It seemed like all the repressed emotion of 60 years of marriage was released in a Tsunami. Today, I am more openly disturbed by tragedies around me and on the other side of world (than my own family).

    I am stressed easily, but inwardly, until it builds up to the point of breakdown – both mentally and physically.

    My own health collapsed this past week (and my neighbour felt I was taking on all the stress of the breakup of my brother and his partner), I felt guilty that I had spoken so strongly to my brother’s partner (who is/was a very dear friend) in refusing to take sides. I felt for each of them in different ways. I love them both but could not separate my feelings and loyalty). I felt torn between the two people just as my stomach and whole torso was wracked in excruciating pain necessitating an emergency ambulance trip to the local ER and a day in hospital. My whole digestive tract was inflamed and infected. Some might say I was torn in two – emotionally and health wise.

    Then there are those who keep their grief and distress on the inside. They feel just as traumatised and devastated as those who show their grief outwardly. They manage to work their way through their tragedies on their own and come out the other side looking for all the world like it never happened. But they do feel the same (as those who show outward grief, joy and/or shock).

    Then there are people like you Julie – who have been brought up in an open and loving environment. You family love deeply and grieve openly. Your whole world is torn apart by the loss of your former self and close knit family. You grieve continually through the deterioration of your dear Anthony – your soulmate and best friend.

    There’s nothing to be gained by wondering why (we each respond the way we do). The only way through it all, is to live it and move on.

    • jmgoyder says:

      Oh Vicki I am so sorry about what you have just been through – horrific. Thank you so much for your friendship and wisdom.

      • Vicki (from Victoria A Photography) says:

        Stress is one of the most damaging health problems of all time, Julie.

        People just don’t realise it. I’m more concerned about your hands at the moment. Are they any better yet? I’m sure there is a ‘stress’ element in their condition.

      • jmgoyder says:

        They are finally healing – yes definitely stress.

  24. Yes I get this everyone handles stress differently, I sometimes wonder how I will handle it when I am faced with a really stressful situation

  25. Ingrid says:

    I agree with Diana that those who are practical and organised are still grieving just as much a the person who is a blubbering mess … they just deal with it differently. And mind you I reckon the ducks and birds all have their problems too – there’s no free ride!

  26. Your post reminds me of the saying, “Keep calm and carry on,” that I’m seeing everywhere these days. Most times, it’s easier said than done. Hoping for the best outcome for Ming. Hugs to you. xx

  27. Judy says:

    I see you have so many wonderful friends offering support. I think you are amazing. If you didn’t have to deal with itchy hands, it would be easier! (For me it’s my dry eyes). Okay, now I will give you some puns to bring out a smile. Regarding ducks – they do get “down.” They also have “bills” to contend with. I think we just have to learn from them how to “wing it.”

  28. I’ve wondered this too Julie – when an emotional heap and others seem so strong. I wish for that…

    I’ve read others comments that ‘they’ are probably just as fallen inside…my sister is always reminding me the happy lives I see around me are ‘smoke and mirrors’ often.

    Guess there’s no answer – we just have to carry on 🙂 xx

  29. Lynda says:

    Perhaps those who ‘cope better’ are like me. They do a wonderful job of getting the job done and carry on for the sake of everyone else, then later when they think no one is looking they just fall completely apart. (True confession)

    xo, Julie

  30. janeslog says:

    It’s to do with having a coping mechanism. For example, I changed jobs in August last year within the same company, but to a much more senior position.I had to learn the commodities market and spend a lot of time studying financial information.

    The first few weeks were tough – then I developed ways of doing things and I was able to relax. It takes time to develop a coping mechanism, but once you have, everythjing just falls into place.


  31. Judith says:

    I think people are strong and wonderful in different ways. People who cope are pretty darned practical (like me). My husband swears that there’s not a romantic bone in my body–and he might be right. People who puddle only puddle for a minute or two before they pick themselves up and jump back into the fray, but they strike me as more emotional. And that has some real advantages. They’re so much more in touch with their feelings. My friend teases me that she doesn’t know how I ever became a writer because I don’t show that many of my feelings…so how do I write about them? We all come at things differently. You’re pretty damned wonderful. So is Ming. Embrace your own specialness.

  32. Back in August 1992, a friend, Nick, and I were going to drive from College Station, Texas, to Miami, Florida, with stops in Houston, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Pensacola, and Tamp to and from.

    We only made it as far as Pensacola.

    On the day we were to leave, the car’s alternator and battery gave out. Leave was delayed by eight hours.

    In Baton Rouge, we had a flat tire. On a Sunday. Blue laws were still in effect, so no tire store was open on Sunday. Finally found a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend who got us a new tire. Trip delayed another 12 hours.

    We got to New Orleans and Hurricane Andrew was destroying Miami.

    We got to Pensacola, and Hurricane Andrew had recovered and was heading straight to New Orleans. If we didn’t get back to Texas, we’d be stranded somewhere in the Southeast.

    We rushed home. Ha! “Rushed” is not the correct term. All of Louisiana was evacuating, so what should have been an 8-hour drive home took 23 hours!

    Nick and I still laugh that trip, and he’s always been amazed at how happy go lucky I was on that trip. I’ve always been like that. No reason to get stressed over things I cannot control. Now I do get stressed if I have a home inspection and realize that I have not washed the clothes from crawling under the house at the last inspection. Can’t do an inspection naked!

  33. Denise says:

    Sort of shows that situations in and of themselves aren’t stressful – it’s the way we think about them, much of which is colored by the past. And unless we pay real close attention, we don’t even know what’s driving us.

  34. FlaHam says:

    Julie, This is one of the single most difficult questions that have been poised on a blog in a long long time. It is also amazing how great minds think alike. I am using the word “stress” as my word of the week for my “How I Feel This Week” post. I really think it is in the makeup of the individual, their soul for a lack of a better term, in how an individual deals with stress. Taking your example a touch further if those same two individual encountered 10 identical “stressful” situations, that there is a good chance that you could get completely different reactions from the individual depending on which situation occurred. In some cases neither of the individuals would be affected at all, while in others both could react the same way.

    To further muddy up the water, I feel that in addition to an individual soul an individual’s environment plays a significant role in how they react to a “stressful” situation. Life experiences, age, sometimes their sex may have an influence, but these are all just contributing factors.

    In the past year you have been pulled in so many directions, you have had so many outside influences impacting you and your world. It is easy to see you stress can impact you. It is easy to see how some influences impact you more than others. And for all of these reasons it is easy to see how you could react differently. But your own answer is clearly one of the keys “Perhaps the answer to the stress question is this: Accept what is; make the most of every single hour of every single day; and get back on that bicycle!” As I continue to ponder this I will use your answer.

    Take care, Bill

  35. viveka says:

    Julie, chocolate is good against stress … and I think we get stressed at times, but some are better to cover it up. Nobody feels good about being stressed. But as you say here .. we are all different and our stress level are also different – we get stressed over total different things.
    When I was working I loved to work under pressure – but not stressed.
    I really hope that the court case will happen this time – feel sorry for you both in all this waiting.

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