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Stress Part 6: Managing Your Life

By John McManamy

The other day, I took an online stress test. This one, devised by Richard Rahe MD of the University of Washington, asks interested parties to check off life events that occurred in the previous six months.

I skipped back to early October, 2006.

A rating of a 100 is considered “worrying.” I scored 291 in the space of ten weeks. This involved, in quick order: the publication of my book, my marriage break-up, and my move to the west coast.

I was only getting warmed up: Picking up and starting over, exhausting road trips, higher public profile, financial worries, new business obligations, new relationship, relationship break-up, major business overhaul, forest fires, daughter getting married ...

Not to mention the constant challenge of my illness to contend with.

It never stopped. At least 24 months of unremitting stressful events going back to the final six months of my doomed marriage. Two years of overstimulation of my limbic system - of excess adrenaline and cortisol coursing through my blood, of dopamine jamming my D2 receptors, glutamate swarming across my synapses, calcium invading my neurons and overloading the delicate eco-system within, one brain cell after another going down under the bombardment, taking entire networks off-line, the brain working overtime to manage the crisis, compensating, coping, rallying ...


It can’t go on forever.

Yet, at the same time, I was going through a series of profound healings. I had resettled into a restful rural environment with an ideal climate. I was spiritually reconnecting. I felt way more at ease around people. I was receiving major acclaim for my work ...

In fact, I felt better than I ever felt in my life. So much so that I was able to significantly reduce my meds. But by mid-summer of 2007 I realized I was also contending with debilitating exhaustion. Wisely, between road trips, I took extended breaks. Thankfully, I had already established a number of stress-busting habits  - daily walks, quiet time, recreation, meditation, gourmet cooking ...

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