Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Losing your mind in adoption - STRESS

It had been a long week, and since the Dinner Fairy still had not shown up at our house (after years of waiting and waiting),  we decided to treat the kids to their favorite restaurant in town - Indian food. As we sat, enjoying our butter chicken, rice and naan, I asked Dan, 'Aren't cows sacred in India?'
"Yes." He said. 
"Well then what's up with the Butter Chicken?"
"Uh...", as he furrowed his brow, trying to decipher if I had lost my mind "... it's chicken, not beef!"
"Oh,... ya." duh

This is a very good example of the cognitive impairment I am suffering from. My mind feels like it is in a foggy haze. 

Remember my episode in September, when I lost my ability to speak? Months of tests, and specialists to discover I am suffering from stress. 

-Upset stomach
-Tip of the tongue syndrome (lack of vocabulary)
-Memory loss, or foggy memory
-Light headedness
-Difficulty making decisions
-Difficulty concentrating
-No motivation
-Weight gain
-Compromised immune system
-Skin break outs

There are many stress symptoms, but the above describe me pretty well. 

If your mind and body are constantly on edge because of excessive stress in your life, you may face serious health problems. That's because your body's "fight-or-flight reaction" — its natural alarm system — is constantly on.
When you encounter perceived threats — a large dog barks at you during your morning walk, for instance — your hypothalamus, a tiny region at the base of your brain, sets off an alarm system in your body. Through a combination of nerve and hormonal signals, this system prompts your adrenal glands, located atop your kidneys, to release a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol.
Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain's use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues.
Cortisol also curbs functions that would be nonessential or detrimental in a fight-or-flight situation. It alters immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes. This complex natural alarm system also communicates with regions of your brain that control mood, motivation and fear.
Physical side of stress.

 I don't consider myself a sensitive person. I have a pretty high tolerance for stress and can manage very well under high stress situations. However, I have come to realize that perhaps I have been under too much stress for too long, and my cup has overflown.

Sparing you from too many details, we have a particular stressful business situation (going on for 3 yrs now), we have been caring for parents with fatal illnesses for 3 yrs, the death of Dan's Mom in December, as well as our beloved dog, without a vacation for 17 months, and on top of this - an adoption. Now, everyone has their fair share of stress just as we do... and we learn how to balance it. However, I think that in many cases, adoption causes our stress cups to overflow.

Adoption is more stressful than I ever imagined. Again, sparing you from details - as other adoptive parents will also tell you, it is indeed the most stressful thing they have endured. The ups and downs of emotions, waiting by the phones, obsessing over your email, waiting, praying, hoping, waiting, worrying, and having to work within the parameters of a system that doesn't always make sense, a system full of unknowns, speed bumps and road blocks and more waiting. It's pure torture. People like to compare it to being 'overdue'. Nope. Nothing like it. That's uncomfortable and tiring... not agonizingly stressful. Seriously, they only let you go 2 weeks overdue before they put you out of your misery. Anyone can endure that. We are talking months and years here... there is no 2 week deadline in adoption.

So what happens, is that many of us adopting parents are sleep deprived, super sensitive, emotional, and quite frankly, WE HAVE LOST OUR MINDS!

Yes, I am not alone in this! You are not alone in this! Yet, no one talks about it.


Well, would you let crazy people with a myriad of physical symptoms (surely signifying some awful, foreign, fatal disease) adopt a child?

(Obviously - the fact that I am talking about, is a testament to my state of mental health! )

We are left alone, to suffer in our misery.

Be wary about consulting your Doctor.

Don't even think about letting them tempt you with sleeping pills or anti depressants. There are some programs that will not accept anyone who has every touched an anti-depressant!!
In many instances or countries, seeking out a therapist or psychologist 'marks' you as unstable and may cause conflict with your adoption.

So we just get crazier, lose more sleep, and more of our minds.
We gain weight, break out in acne... and hardly ever have good hair days any more. We lose our keys, miss appointments and put the milk away in the pantry. We lack energy, and work hard to just make ends meet every day. The laundry piles up, the dust bunnies multiply, bills go unpaid and we are lucky to get around to shaving our legs.

We are a mess and we are tired of it.

We need Kenya right now more than it needs us. We need to decompress, exhale, and remember what life is all about again. Let's start with some positive news about our approvals shall we?

Wishing you all positive news or at the very least - some movement in the upcoming weeks.


Denise said...

Yup, Yes and Absolutely. It is a crazy ride... but somehow I also think that the craziness can become a little bit addicting (the adoption part, not the rest of your crazy life)! I'm starting to wonder what I would think about if I didn't have another adoption on the go or at least wonder if I shouldn't have another adoption on the go :) You'll get through it! Butter Beef and all ;)

Candice said...

Oh honey. :( If I lived anywhere near you, I'd be on your doorstep with a cake right now.

'Jo' said...

SO true Denise!!! What will I do?! lol.
Aww... thank you Candice. ;)

Kelly L said...

Thank you for putting this out there!! :) this is exactly how I've felt lately!

Janna said...

I hear you - it's like you can read my mind. I often wonder what I'll do with myself, should this adoption ever happen.....

Tracy said...

I could have written this too ... As you know! Except my cortisol levels are so high I couldnt manage it lol .... It better be magically less stressful in 3 days ... When we arrive in Kenya :)
I wish we were closer too but someday we will be in Kenya together! I have our house on the coast picked out for November :) vacation for all of us!
Big hugs to you my sweet friend!