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Massive stress reaction! What does it mean? What can I do?

Discussion in 'Cognition' started by Sasha, Dec 29, 2011.

  1. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    Just after midnight this morning, I was subjected to a barrage of foul-mouthed abuse from a neighbour's guest when I politely asked them to keep the noise down. Lovely! :(

    I went back to bed not feeling emotionally too upset by it (I just thought the guy was a jerk and that I would get advice from friends about what action to take in the morning). However, my body was revved and absolutely would not shut down. It was as though it was flooded with adrenalin but with nothing to clear it away. For the next ten hours, I felt extremely weak, a bit shaky, and had muscle pain that felt like lactic acid. I felt dizzy when I stood up (I normally have OI but not immediately on standing). My heart seemed to be beating faster than normal even while lying down. I kept getting hungry and dehydrated and too hot. My brain also proceeded to go over and over the incident, coming up with paranoid fantasies about what this guy might do, etc. etc. even though I realised this was nuts. I tried to meditate but couldn't concentrate on that, or on the radio, or on reading, or the TV... :eek: I must have had about three hours sleep last night. It took about twelve hours for me to become merely exhausted and sleep-deprived and for the other effects to wear off.

    I've now had helpful advice about the neighbour and am confident I can sort that situation out. However, my questions:

    1. Does my body's reaction tell me anything useful/interesting about my ME? E.g. cortisol (which I don't know anything about)?

    2. If so, are there treatments I should pursue to address those things? I'm already 2 months into Rich's SMP.

    3. If I'm subject to acute stress again, is there anything I can do for immediate relief?
     
  2. justy

    justy Senior Member

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    Hi Sasha, what a nasty experience! i havent seen you around for a while - are you ok?
    I dont have the answers to questions 1-2 but i know what i would do for question 3 - take 1-2 mg tab of valium and go to bed for a nice rest. I don't have to do this often, but keep my valium for travelling, the only other time i have had to take it was when i had bad reactions to supplements and couldnt calm down for days, but it does have its uses and i find that its better to take one occasionally than to suffer the exhaustion from trying to get through the adrenaline solo.
    Take care, Justy.xx
     
  3. sianrecovery

    sianrecovery Senior Member

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    Hi Sasha

    You are not alone, this strong physiological response to a stressful or threatening situation is something I have experienced more than once, most recently when I had to intervene on public transport when two men were hassling a young woman. Its like the 'fight' response switches on and I really struggle to get back to parasympathic functioning rather than sympathetic. This for me is I think both a character tendency and an ME system on alert thing. What helps me is 1) recognising whats happening 2) slowing down and deepening my breathing 3) a carby snack - I know thats not necessarily good in other ways 4) talking out the experience with someone else 5) I'm in recovery, and cant go near benzos, but I do use valerian if I need to. The calmer my system is the more of the time (yoga etc) the less I suffer from this. Hope that is of some use xxxx
     
  4. richvank

    richvank Senior Member

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    Hi, Sasha.

    I'm sorry that you had to endure this difficult episode.

    For what it's worth, I think that in most cases of ME/CFS, the HPA axis is not working very well, so that the normal use of cortisol secretion to respond to stress is not functioning well. I think that the sympathetic nervous system then turns to adrenaline moreso than normal to respond to acute stress, but adrenaline does not do the same things as cortisol, so while this tactic functions to keep a person alive, the things that go along with it are very un-fun. With regard to treatment, I'm hopeful that the methylation treatment will restore your HPA axis function. I think the dysfunction there occurs because of glutathione depletion in the hypothalamus and pituitary, and this should be restored by the methylation treatment, unless there is something stubborn that is holding down the glutathione level.

    Sorry, I don't have advice on treatment for immediate relief, but perhaps others will be able to help, based on their experience.

    Best regards,

    Rich
     
    ahimsa likes this.
  5. sianrecovery

    sianrecovery Senior Member

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    Thanks for that Rich, your insight into the biochemistry of our experiences is invaluable
     
  6. xrunner

    xrunner Senior Member

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  7. Artstu

    Artstu Senior Member

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    I've no advice really sorry, I just wanted to say I get a very similar response.
     
  8. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    Hi all - thanks for the very helpful replies! Good just to know I'm not alone with this experience.

    Hi justy - I'm fine, but thanks very much for asking! I've been off the forum for a while, partly trying to steer clear of some of the flame wars which have now happily died down and also trying to cut my internet use in general - I lurk about once a week to see what's new, though!

    Valium, valerian, andrographis and the others - all worth thinking about, thank you.

    Sian, I'm sorry you also had an unpleasant experience - you were brave to help that woman. That's a good list of things to try. Stupidly, I tried to meditate by observing my breathing but I didn't think to take deep breaths! That would have been a good one. I kept eating oatcakes so accidentally was carbing up. That's a very good point about getting calmer generally. I think I should take up meditation again so that my baseline is lower and I'm more practised at it if I get a sudden stressor again. I certainly felt a lot better after being listened to and supported by my friend and I feel even better now that you've all sympathised with me!

    Thanks, Rich, that's encouraging! I'm halfway through the ninth week on the SMP with no obvious benefit yet except possibly not catching millions of colds like I normally would in the winter - fingers crossed my HPA axis is on the way to getting fixed!

    Thanks again, everyone, I really appreciate the moral support and helpful suggestions! :thumbsup:
     
  9. Ocean

    Ocean Senior Member

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    For me what I've found to help with stresses is just talking it over with someone (even writing about it here maybe could do the trick). Also, just time. Distracting myself can help too. Or, I go over a scenario in my mind and if I feel I need to do something to correct the situation in the future, I come up with what I plan to do and that makes me feel better.
     
  10. hurtingallthetimet

    hurtingallthetimet Senior Member

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    that is horrible how they treated you...and something like that sounds very stressful...i have anxiety panic attacks so i react to every kind of stress....
    i know it may be hard but maybe just try to relax if you can...and try not to be around the people that acted like that and hopefully they will appoligize to you
     
  11. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    Hi Ocean - that's good advice about talking. I certainly felt better after talking to my friend. I remember, many years ago, I had a horrible experience with a dismissive and unpleasant doctor and phoned about six friends in succession to talk about it! By the last one, it had cleansed the experience from my system. It's unfortunate that this one happened so late at night because I had all night to be alone with it without being able to share it and these days, I don't have enough energy to be in contact with that many people (and it's quite a long backstory about the incident which is tiring to relate!). I'm seeing another friend today, though, so will get some more sympathy!

    I was so stunned by sleeplessness and fatigue yesterday that I couldn't concentrate well enough to distract myself with much but things are better today so I'll try to do a bit of work on a project that interests me enough to pull my attention to it. That's more good advice, thanks!
     
  12. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    Thanks, HATT - fortunately the people are easily avoided and I expect my neighbour will apologise!
     
  13. Calathea

    Calathea Darkness therapy

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    Ach, that sounds horrible. I've had it, and my partner (doesn't have ME but does have far too much stress in his life, mainly his job) sometimes gets it. The last time he was lying awake with his mind on a hamster wheel due to his boss being horrendous yet again, we decided that we would give it 10 or 20 min to see if he was going to get sleepy, and then we were going to sit up, give him a sleeping tablet and watch an episode of Star Trek (our current brand of mind candy - it really doesn't matter if you fall asleep during it, and it's usually fairly bland and undisturbing) until he dozed off. With me it tends to occur when I'm getting PMDD, though most often it's a combination of that and something unpleasant happening, and depending on the time of day, I will go for 2mg valium or a sleeping tablet, often together with watching something silly on the computer to take my mind off whatever is whirring around in my head.

    There are often crisis telephone lines you can ring if you're feeling horribly distressed about something. They can be patchy but they are an excellent resource, they're doing this professionally, and you don't have to worry about putting too much stress on a friendship.
     
  14. ukxmrv

    ukxmrv Senior Member

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    Maybe something like like Seriphos would help straight after an altercation? I don't get this particular problem so can't confirm.

    People with ME who had high cortisol at night sometimes reported relief by taking the supplement Seriphios in the evenings. The theory was that this was reducing the higher cortisol. Maybe it would also work in the aftermath of stressful situations?
     
  15. sianrecovery

    sianrecovery Senior Member

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    I have low cortisol, which fits with Rich's theory. Now I'm thinking about his comment that adrenaline takes the place of cortisol, it all makes sense, my limited understanding of the by products of adrenaline and how it breaks down would explain a lengthy and unpleasant come down, following that brief wonderful sense of being energised.
     
  16. November Girl

    November Girl Senior Member

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    I'm glad you got some suggestions to try for future episodes. I find that I'm less susceptible to these reactions if I'm not overstressed before the trigger event. The way I removed most of the stress was to quit expecting more of myself than is possible.
     
  17. Nielk

    Nielk

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    I have had similar over-reactions to stress which I didn't have before i became ill. I think that it's part of the nerves feeling overstimulated - like I can't take noise, smells or bright lights. My nervous system is like on overdrive to begin with so anything that tilts the balance, is very hard to handle. In addition, I am in the midst of trying to wean off the Klonopin which i have been taking for the past 5 years. As slow as I try to do it, I cn't handle it. I become so edgy - I act like a monster. Even I am scared of myself. I had to go back to full dose because I just couldn't handle it.
     

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