Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Fight or Flight

Stress is a weird thing. It can be so good, or so so horribly bad. It can help you kick ass, or kick you so hard in the behind that you end up flat on your back and wondering who you are.

I got my ass kicked this week. I spent much of Saturday in bed because of an intense physical reaction to some news, and had Leigh not come over like the rock star she is, I might not have made it to babysit Molly. Who, it turns out, was exactly what I needed, as always. Had I not been able to spend most of Sunday with some pretty fucking amazing people, I'd still be a mess. They allowed me to flee from the situation, into the laughter, love, and support of their friendship. I have never been more thankful for the small gestures of love that they give me every day. They were my refuge, and helped me get ready to fight for myself.

Stress can be great. It can release endorphins after a great workout, give you an adrenaline high after you do something exciting, make you feel like you accomplished a lot at work. Stress can save your life, quite literally, by taking over your muscles, nerves, and brain function to help you give you the physical ability to face or escape a threat. Stress can give you a healthy jolt, keep the ol' ticker in check.

But it can also be debilitating. Especially when it's emotional stress. Weight loss, weight gain, migraines, sleeplessness, nausea, the list goes on. Stress can affect your longterm health, your mood, your relationships. It's incredible to me that people somehow function with fairly high levels of stress every day, as if that's normal.

It's not. We're not meant to deal with this constant bombardment of light and sound and communication and never unplugging. We're not meant to work so hard that we barely remember the day when we get home or that we can't separate between work and personal life.

It's about a balance. Sometimes, you put up your dukes and you fight like hell to get what you want. And sometimes the best way to protect yourself is to run far, far away. The tricky part is knowing which response is going to save your life. Or maybe just your day.