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Not being able to handle stress.

DonnabeDDonnabe Posts: 597
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:57 AM in Depression and Coping
Lets start with a little background. I am currently 24 years old. I had a severely ruptured disc in my neck that caused severe pain and ended up having an ACDF a little over 3 months ago. I had re occuring flare ups that happened more and more often over the last 5 years, until this January when a flare up came and never left.

I used to be able to handle stress very well. From the time I was 18-22 I went to school full time and worked 38-40 hours a week as a restaurant manager. I graduated with a 3.7 gpa and a 3.86 major gpa. I was also treasurer of the honor society. During this time I had flare ups of severe neck pain, but they were maybe 3-5 times a year.

I graduated and took a higher up position for the same restaurant. The only difference is I now work 50-55 hours a week, averaging about 52. I currently have the same management tasks that I had while going to school. I am going to physical therapy 2x a week, and I clean my grandparents house with my sister 1x a week, but those are the only other activities that I have.

I feel like my body can no longer handle stress. I used to be able to do so much, but now I can't handle stress. Its to a point where I get physically sick if I am very stressed out, and I feel like I am ALWAYS stressed out. It also causes my muscle spasms to go crazy.

Why would this happen? How would I get worse at handling stress? Does anyone have any tips? What can I do?

Thanks for your help.
ACDF C4-5 June 23rd, 2011

Another surgery in the near future. I am 26 years old.

Current Meds- Norco 7.5/325, Cymbalta 60mg, Gabapentin, Adderall 20mg


  • can you possibly take a vacation ? or just some home time .??its not uncommon for long term pain sufferers to have problems handling stress and feeling overwhelmed by ;normal; situations.i was an out going person befor all y back pain problems and now just the thought of going somewhere like shopping starts me sweating ! i would rather be at home in my comfort zone .the fact that you are still able to work is a good thing .i would ...if you can hang on to that for as long as you can .i have not been able to work for many years now...maybe you could reduce your hours? i also find that swimming helps reduce stress if all else fails then i would see your doctor
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,364
    At 52 hours per week you are working 6+ days a week and though your not a construction worker, you have a rather physical on your feet - 3 people needing you at the same time kinda job.

    My concern (because I did this myself) is did you really have enough time to physically (and mentally) reCOUPerate (not a chicken joke) before returning to work.

    Have you ever had any "stress management" management training?? Fight or flight - free floating anxiety type stuff?? If not you may want to read up on how mental stress and physical demands - can potentiate our pain and general stress levels.

    Stay tough - maybe try to give yourself mini breaks
    throughout your day and ....... as always ..... discuss this with your treating physician(s) and get feedback from the guys/gals in a higher paygrade than me!!

    Spine-health Moderator
    Welcome to Spine-Health  Please read the linked guidelines!!

  • I am working 5 days a week, 10-11 hour days. There is no way I can take a vacation, we are short staffed, plus I just took 4 days off in the end of September. My remaining 7 vacation days are going to be early November when my mom has a Lumbar Fusion. I can't reduce my hours because it is a salaried position.

    I used to be able to handle this job- and school- like nothing!! Now I am stressed out about being stressed out!

    I haven't had any stess management training. Thanks for the link Dave, I am off to work (of course)so I'll look at it when I get home (whenever that will be).

    I am really not sure how to bring it up to my doctor, in fact, I'm embarrassed about it. I do see my Psysitrist (however that's spelled) on Tuesday. What would I say? Would that be an ok doctor to bring it up to?

    Thanks for your help!
    ACDF C4-5 June 23rd, 2011

    Another surgery in the near future. I am 26 years old.

    Current Meds- Norco 7.5/325, Cymbalta 60mg, Gabapentin, Adderall 20mg
  • How I wish I could be able to work like that! I too was 3.7 in my BA, I am 4.00 in my masters that still have not finish :-( and don't know what will happen there, I was a teacher that never stop and worked with communities and always on the go... is a longer story but after surgery I have been so down, that going out of the house is a mission. Not working stress me out and the fact of going back to work stress me. Soon I will not have money so hoping to win the lottery. Yes hoping... I offer myself to do voluntary work as a teacher one to one to see if I can handle the pain and the fear. I will check that site too. I think my body feels that is being attack by a foreign body and its always in alert, ok but this are my issues.

    What do you specifically mean that you can handle stress? Is it that you get tired? Can not tolerate pain? Are constantly thinking how you felt better? What do you feel?

    One thing that have help this nostalgic head of mine is to breath in situations I feel my heart wanting to come out, or my chest... I remember that I have to breath... as subtle as it sounds it can work. I guess that there are breathing exercises you can do even in your job. I am taking Tai chi and it helps. Listen to some relax music at your house, or when going to sleep, meditation when you wake up or go to sleep... this site have some tips about it.

    Wow you are strong not that we aren't and every body is different and you are younger but it amazes me how much you are working, you are even cleaning. Breath. And if you can take a vacation make the best of those free days.

    Hope you feel better, and better!

    I wish I can feel soon able to work!
  • Hi Donna,
    I am so sorry to hear that you are struggling. You have shared and supported so many of us in the chat that I personally count you as one of my friends and a person I could reach out to if I was in need.
    You have gone thru very serious surgery and difficult rehab after it. You have already shown great strength!

    From what you have shared about your job, it sounds like a very high stress and demanding job. But it does seem that you have excelled there and that you did enjoy it.

    The job probably relies and leans on you quite a bit, knowing that you will do what ever is necessary to get the job done. That can be a great feeling and also a burden. All of that was probably easier to manage while you were feeling better.

    Donna, I wish I had the perfect advice for you, all I can do is to share with you some of the things I did to try to relax and refresh myself while working in a very high stress environment.
    Spend some down time with my friends outside work
    exercise, this was big for me when I was able to do it
    play with my grandkids and pets
    go and sit by the water, it always heals me!

    Donna, I hope you find what helps you, sending gentle hugs!
  • Donna, I have so much to say and share with you on this topic, but have a pounding headache and am exhausted at the moment. Just wanted to let you know that I'm here and am thinking of you and hopefully we'll catch up with each other and can have a chat in real time about it! In the meantime, just remember to breathe!! And check out Dave's link :) Take care!
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
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