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Coping Mechanisms ~ Effective or Destructive? How do you Cope?

Coping mechanisms are behaviors or actions that people either willingly or subconsciously engage in to manage stressors in their lives. When we feel pressure, it is only natural to wiggle and adjust to find a way to release some or all of the things that are exerting force and causing the discomfort of stress. How do you cope? Are you aware of your coping mechanisms? I’ve asked myself these questions through the years and really took some time to evaluate events in my life that have caused pressure and ultimately stress. Did I truly address the forces or just wiggle around to bring temporary relief to regain my comfort for the moment?

There have been countless studies that prove the devastating effects stress can have on a person physically and mentally if not properly addressed. I can personally attest to the physical effects of stress and why I developed a coping mechanism that eventually became counter productive in the long-term for my overall mental health and emotional well being. The early pressures of my strict religious upbringing, having a long distance father, not fitting in at school, feeling alone, without direction, and then being a teenage mother trying to find my way in the major metropolitan of Los Angeles after living my entire life in a smaller city in Washington State, created a scared, introverted, naive young woman who didn’t know how to deal with her feelings or manage change. I was not quick to talk to people about what was happening to me, my emotions, or even speak up for myself when I felt wronged or in disagreement. I just went with the flow and kept so much inside. It wasn’t until I heard the words “Lupus, or MS, or some possible neurological disorder” come from my Doctor’s mouth as he tried to explain the possible causes of these mini strokes I was experiencing visible by lesionic impressions on my brain MRI, that I knew I had truly been doing a disservice to myself. My Doctor explained the importance of reducing and avoiding stress where possible, and documenting behaviors and eating habits that might be triggers. When he said “stress”, I knew I had allowed life’s pressures to build up and it had now manifested itself physically. Overcoming neuropathy and paralysis is no joke, especially when you’re working and trying to keep from sharing and explaining to others what you’re dealing with. I was depressed and unsure of the solution, but I knew something had to give. I was now dealing with health issues, a stressful job, children, and newlywed contentions. All of this and I was only in my twenties. I set out to reduce my stress and steer clear of anything that seemed to display uncomfor