Not All Stress is the Same

Good stress, bad stress, controlled stress, out of control stress, a little stress, a lot of stress, big stress, small stress, etc.

We decided what kind of stress it is.

Today’s discussion is about a fence that I ran over while helping my son and his wife move:

Moving TruckMy children bought a house and moved out of my basement.  They had a 26 foot moving truck.  My son was terrified to drive it.  My daughter-in-law wouldn’t drive it.  They asked me to because I have done it before.

Upon leaving the storage unit where most of their possessions had been stored for about a year I turned right and hit a bump.  I though it was a curb and drove away.

It turns out it wasn’t a curb.  It was a fence that I had hit with my back wheel.  The police were called.  They called my daughter-in-law because her name was on the storage.

She came and dropped of Son-in-law to drive the truck and picked me up to go take care of the fence.  I am calm and she is in a panic.

Good or Bad Stress

This is completely a matter of interpretation.  Stress is stress.  It is the circumstances surrounding it and the way we react to them that makes it good or bad.  Case in point:  The Fence

when-stressDaughter-in-law was told that I had run over the fence and then left the scene of an accident.  She is picturing me in handcuffs being hauled off to jail.

She is wondering how she will explain to everyone why I got arrested helping them move.  To her, this is bad stress.

I am wondering how it is that I did not know that I ran over a fence with the back wheel of that great big truck.  No, I did not crash through a fence.  To me it was just a bump under the back wheel on the passenger side.

I was trying to turn wide in a fairly narrow space and accidentally hit the fence with a back wheel.  I’m laughing and making jokes.

It is just something that happened.  Its my fault so I will pay to repair the fence.

Stress In or Out of Control

Stress factors that you have no control over can be devastating.  Feelings of helplessness only make it worse.

How can you take control over this kind of stress?  With help.

blue-police-woman-mdDaughter-in-law sees only the incident and has already relinquished control to the police and the person who filed the complaint.

I begin to explain to her how much control of the situation we have.

I ran over the fence.  I am taking responsibility for my actions and should be able to work something out with the owner of the fence.  I will be paying for the repairs.

We spoke with the police officer who was very kind and understanding.

The fence was sticking way out into the parking lot and even though I had tried to get around it, I had not given myself enough space and my back wheel took out the very last panel of the fence.

The owner of the fence was willing to work with me.  No charges were filed, I was not arrested.

A Little or A Lot

Daughter-in-law pictured this situation as huge.  Something that could potentially screw up lives.  She was wondering how they would pay for the fence since they had no money.  They had just bought a house.

I saw it for what it was.  A fence that got knocked down.  An inconvenience of course, but not a big deal.  I have the money tucked away in my retirement.  I’ll just make an early withdrawal.  Situation taken care of.

Big or Small

So often we make mountains out of mole hills.  We imagine that it is so much worse that it actually is.

brown mountain under blue and white sky

Photo by John Horrock on

I didn’t run over a person or an animal.

Only the fence was harmed.   It wasn’t a security fence, just a straight fence dividing property lines in a parking lot.

The truck was unscathed.


Here is where things get challenging.  There are times when, no matter what we do, the stress ignites a physiological reaction.

I have this problem a lot.  Pots (my post-traumatic stress dragon) has situations, smells and sounds that trigger a physiological reaction.

I have no control over the reaction itself only on my response to it.  Depending on the severity of the reaction, I have developed a coping mechanism.

  • Mild Reaction:  This is the easiest to handle.  Usually all it takes is a minute to get Pots to quiet down.  Close my eyes and breathe deeply for a minute or so.
  • Medium Reaction:  Usually about 5-10 minutes to myself to breath and say reassuring words to Pots (and myself).  A quiet place is best, but not necessarily required.
  • Serious Reaction:  This is where I have trouble with Pots refusing to settle down and be quiet.  Sometimes deep yoga-type breathing and force of will puts him on a leash temporarily.  Kinda like when a big dog walks you.  If it is something simple that can be dealt with immediately I will do so.  If it needs confrontation it is not going to be pretty. The best thing here is to make an appointment to deal with the situation after I’ve had a chance to tranquilize Pots.  This, fortunately, no longer requires serious drugs, just Eleviv, dark chocolate and a good sleep.
  • The Dragon is Loose!  This doesn’t happen very often anymore.  Thank goodness.  When it does my chest begins to hurt and I start to shake and cry.  Pots begins to look for someone to eat.  My only option here is several days in seclusion while Pots runs rampant through my brain.  When Pots finally passes out from exhaustion I am able to reenter the world.  Someone is then needed to help me deal with the situation.

We All Have Stress

We all have stress in our lives.  The levels are in constant fluctuation and always affected by life going on around us.

When all else fails remember this:  stressed is just desserts spelled backwards.

Pass the chocolate and take a nap.


What does your dragon think?

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