Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Disconnected From Allostatic Load & Stress

This is the continuation in a series on allostatic load.  In part 2, we discussed if you don't deal with stress, it will deal with you.

If you haven't seen Part 2, go there first.

In Part 3, we will be discussing being disconnected from allostatic load and stress.

At first, we find some over the counter meds to take that disconnect us a little more from what is going on.  Our body is trying to get our attention with the pain or physical issue we are experiencing, but we ignore it.  We've got no time for it.  There are work deadlines to meet, travel and meetings to take place, kids to take care of, bills to pay and so on and so forth.  There are a million reasons we come up with, and we say that tomorrow we will take a few hours and stop to rest.  Tomorrow comes and goes, but we keep pushing on so that we can get caught up.  Unfortunately we never catch up.

The body tires to hang on.  It tries hard not to adjust the set point of allostatic load, but it has no choice.  We keep pushing and pushing.  The body continues to degrade and wear down.  Our mind becomes more disconnected to what reality is and our perception becomes our new reality.

We then turn to doctors and their procedures, demanding they find the label for the condition we have.  We demand that the doctor cure us and we ignore and fail to listen to what the doctor is trying to tell us.  Often, doctors and other health practitioners don't have a good handle on how to deal with allostatic load, so in frustration and despair in between seeing many patients, they give us a prescription and a diagnosis.

We get our prescription filled and we exclaim to our friends, this label is what we have.  Our friends show sympathy and gasp at the difficulty we face.  We feel supported, and we temporarily feel like we've found help and we'll get better.  The prescription, of course, reinforces that it is best to disconnect from reality, and it reinforces what our perception is, even if it is misguided.

The body however has still not won.  It has tried to get our attention and tell us that our set point is way out of the range of normal.  It begs us to take a good hard look at our life, but we're too busy for that.  We've got too much to do.  There is just no time for self evaluation and besides, doing something like that is for those new age people, not for serious people.  That's what we tell ourselves and that's what we make ourselves believe, but there is no truth to it.

Our body continues to stay on alert because we've never allowed it to come to any other conclusion.  We've revved up the motor and kept it in neutral.  Our allostatic load continues to increase into further degradation of the mind and body, taking us dangerously close to the point of no return.  We continue to ignore it, knowing that we've got the diagnosis and prescription.  What else do we need, we ask ourselves amusingly.  There is nothing.  We've got this, we exclaim.

We interject some happy memes and positive thoughts.  We say some extra prayers.  We project to the world around us that all is okay and we're managing this.  To be strong is what this life requires us to be, we are taught.  We can't show weakness.  We must show we're strong and in control.  Again, we are feeding ourselves a false perception in life, not the reality that actually exists.

At some point, our body will get our attention.  It may be pain that is so great we can not take it any longer.  It may be some physical ailment that demands emergency care.  It may be anxiety and depression that disorients our life to the point of not being sure which way is up or down.  If we continue to ignore it, our body and our mind will keep throwing up the flares in the hope that we listen.

Picture it like a spring getting wound up more and more, tighter and tighter.  At some point, there is no more winding left.  The only thing remaining is that the spring has to unwind.  It has so much kinetic energy locked in waiting to bombard its way out.

When you get to this point, the only hope is that you'll not be past the point of no return.  Unfortunately with the health issues we are facing today, it is more common for people to push allostatic load to the outer edge of possible limits.

Most doctor visits are related to stress and studies have been done to prove that.  Doctors know it, but patients demand they help feed the disconnect between reality and perception.

There is so much more that interconnects with allostatic load, and while I'm trying to simplify it into something that's easy to understand, I know that it is more complex than this.  Yet, I know it can be as simple as what I describe.  I've been there.  I've pushed my own body past its limits and you can read more about that in my book, Hope and Possibility Through Trauma.

Make sure you check out the next part in this 5 part series.  

 Part 4 is "Stress Setpoint In The Emergency Danger Zone"

Blog Post And Images (c) 2017 by Don Shetterly
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