I quit my job in the 90’s during a heated discussion, my boss burst a blood vessel in his eye. Trust me, seeing one happen is frigging scary. I freaked and went home early and on the way I got a bloody nose. I never get bloody nose. I immediately got off the bus and walked to my doctor’s office. She saw me right away (the blood down my shirt…) and gave me a quick check up. She told me that it takes an impressive spike in blood pressure to burst a blood vessel and that I needed to calm down. No, I thought, I need to quit.
One thing I immediately noticed on quitting was I stopped having migraines, which was a very good thing since I couldn’t afford the auto-injections of my medicine without health insurance. My new life as a freelance graphic designer was by no means without stress; but it was a different kind of stress. My life was completely under my control. If I failed, it was on me. I screwed up, they were my screw ups. I still got an occasional rare migraine because that’s how I react to MSG and aspartame. Avoiding MSG is tough, since I like asian foods and a tiny bit is okay. But aspartame, there is no little tiny amount that won’t give me a blinding three day migraine? And avoiding it is nearly impossible, especially when they change the name! They claim there are no studies proving it causes harm, but then again the very few studies ever done were poorly designed or don’t address the problems. Whatever, I avoid it fine until they sneak it into something I like under a different name, then I learn a new one to avoid.
Last Saturday, I woke under a dark cloud, I felt bad about everything. I should have felt good, since I was meeting a group of creative friends for some Valentine card making community love. But, I was feeling down, what to wear? I feel ugly… then, I stepped on a dinosaur-sized bone my dear dog friend brought inside and left behind my chair -while I managed to not fall, I did twist my ankle. I got out my ankle cold-wrap from the freezer and decided that was all I needed, to bow out of meeting my friends.
So, I sat grumbling in my bad mood wondering why I was in a bad mood. Then, the world got sparkly like glitter was falling from heaven and all the colors got bright and I thought, “oh, shit -this is a big one” ! The nauseau came in waves and then horrible pain followed. I staggered around looking for the thick, black eye pillow and some ibuprophen. I crawled into bed moaning. It was one of the bad migraines, the kind that blinds me and makes me a quivering mass of bed-ridden, jelly-pain. I remember the injector that I used to have twenty years earlier would have stopped it in it’s tracks but leave me feeling weak and woozy… wow, twenty years migraine-free! Okay, maybe two or three during that time but much better than the 2-3 a month I used to have.
I couldn’t help obsessing, why now? What did I do? No MSG, no aspartame or any of its ugly brothers.
Eventually, I had to point the finger of blame on Trump or rather Stress from Trump can we call this StressFromTrumpSyndrome? #SFTS. I didn’t have even one migraine during the campaign and none after the election but a mere three weeks into the day by day and Bam!
Just like twenty years ago, when I encountered a special kind of stress… The stress resulting from Situations Out Of My Control (#SOOMC). I think back at all of the megalomaniacs and ego-driven kooks I have had for bosses. Sadly, there were many. Now, so the oh-so familiar ranting but not from my boss, it’s coming from the pie hole of my President. This will not do! In the years since I stopped taking my migraine meds, which they now say they can damage my heart and cause all kinds of bad juju, I am faced with evil stress again? Because, this man’s behaviour is way out of my control!
The Artist Way class I took talked about the Crazy-Maker, that one person (hopefully only one) in your life who can sabotage you with a look or random comment. That one person who weaponizes every interaction and knocks you off kilter. I suppose you can also call this person the one with the match under the gaslight. Understanding and creating tools to deal with Crazy-Maker removes their power over you. Obviously, I need to find similar tools for Stress-Maker-45.
My natural go-to tool was writing. So, I poured myself back into my writing. I only read the New York Times and the Washington Post. I retweeted and tweeted for ten minutes daily and I wrote at least 2000 words each day. It worked, of course, doing what I love rather than watching doom evolve. I am feeling better, my blood pressure is down and I’m even having a few laughs. I still rant about the CrazyMaker45 but I now have a reliable alert… my dog, Quinn, leaves the room, goes through the doggy door and gets as far away as possible when he’s had enough of listening to me rant. I’m not sure how his doggy brain is translating the word ‘trump’ but it’s definitely not good or healthy to him and therefore to me either!
If I have no control over any of a situation, I need to keep my distance, maintain a dialogue but know in my heart this too shall pass. So, anyone come up with any healthy coping strategies?