EXTRAORDINARY STRESS

Unresolved grief reaction. Is there anything we can do to ease the grief reaction? Not really. In fact grieving is to be encouraged, so that the locked up energy generated from the stress reaction can be expressed and shared. A person can be affected in the future if this locked up energy is allowed to remain inside. This is called unresolved grief reaction and can be damaging. One patient who was referred to me, a young lady, had agoraphobia after the death of her father. She was using up all her time to help her grieving mother and did not grieve for herself. Her mother was depressed and suicidal. The patient was young and just married, she moved in with her mother to comfort her, and was afraid to show her own emotion, as she was afraid this could harm her mother. Her mother got better, but the daughter fell ill and this lasted for many years afterwards.

Acceptance. The next phase of healing is acceptance of what has happened. A homeostatic peaceful rearrangement or a new balance of the psyche is reached. The person may be badly scarred, but may find life has a different meaning or that his feelings and experiences may now be in a different level of existence. Extraordinary stress sometimes changes a person for the better. Things that he used to take for granted are now treasured. Happiness is now more like a spice in life, a gift rather than a necessity.

Insomnia. Sleep may be a problem in the initial phase. But most patients do not want any sleeping medication. They want to feel the pain and want the wound to heal in its natural way. There will always be a scar. But they treasure the experience and look back on it occasionally. Once an equilibrium state is reached, most people are able to continue their normal life. They will never forget this kind of extraordinary stress and the loss they can never replace. Somehow life goes on and the sun is always up the next day.

We normally cope adequately with most stresses, but there are occasions when the coping mechanisms fail. We call this a nervous breakdown, and in such cases professional help is called for, as medications and other forms of treatment are sometimes indicated.

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