Monday, September 6, 2010

Stress of Living on the Edge Promotes Mental Illness

The more dire my financial situation becomes, the fewer choices I have, and the less room I've to manoeuvre, the more stress I feel. This has a direct affect on my brain's ability to maintain its own health.

The brain manages the best way it can. We present our brains with impossible situations, they create improbable and seemingly impossible ways of coping.

My brain has learned to cope with unbearable stress in a way that most people would consider unhealthy.

Since my rapid slide into the purported 'unemployable', which began late 2000, whenever my choices reduced to zero and the stress became so overwhelming my brain could no longer bear the pressure, I'd unintentionally and without conscious thought enter a dissociative state.

It happened for the first time in February 2001, when I was at home alone; another time when I was standing at the counter of the local mental health unit waiting to make an appointment. Twice it happened while I sat in a WAVAW counsellor's office, waiting for her to say something.

On each occasion, whether I was standing, sitting, talking, or walking, the motion slowly ceased until I became immobile, even my breathing having slowed. It was like my brain wound me down, shut off all sensory input and left only the basic organ and motor functions running, albeit more slowly.

The reality of my immovable body then matched the reality of my immovable situation.

In the times this has happened, it has been the one relieving state in which I've felt the pressures ease on my mind. It feels so damn good, so peaceful, so quiet; no sounds and no smells; there's nothing felt or tasted; nothing touches my skin. It's a place that's almost colourless and has the look of a whitish fog. All senses have been turned off and I am inside my own mind; nothing outside my inner world demands my attention, not even my own skin.

Because this state feels so good, it's difficult to break out of. It feels like a drug and there's a strong compulsion to fall deeper into it, as though the brain is trying to lure itself toward something. Unconsciousness perhaps?

While in that place, a lazy thought sometimes arises that if I give way to the temptation to stay, I could lose my mind permanently. I fuzzily wonder why I should care about losing my mind.

Psychologically speaking, my reaction to severe stress due to living financially on the edge makes sense. There are no more options, no other places to turn. One is in fact on a precipice. The only way left is to jump.

I don't want to jump, not anymore, not having finally turned 60 and become eligible - but still not approved - for some financial help.

But waiting for help and waiting for approval by some Other can be as damaging as getting no help at all.