Sleepless in Mississippi

It is near 0300, here in the backwoods of North Mississippi. Sleep has evaded me once again. Why? There is no reason that I should not be able to sleep. Tired? Check. Regular sleep pattern? Check. So, what exactly is the problem? Friday, I got stressed out. As an epileptic who’s seizures are triggered by stress, this wasn’t good. Then yesterday, while not as stressful as Friday, was stressful in its own right. Right now, I should sleep like the dead, but alas, that is not how this is going to play out.

Often people say to count sheep. I tried, they kept running away. “Clear your mind, focus on the fan.” I did that, I noticed it needed to be cleaned. Chunk, my rat terrier has been whining since midnight. I finally got him to rest, and put him back in his cage. Now, here I am on my laptop trying to make sense of my life. Since, I can’t sleep, I might as well be semi-productive. Writing calms me down, or as my lady friend would say, “For you, writing is therapeutic.” Am I going to rest prior to my bus route this morning? I doubt it.

Did you know that stress alone kills 110 million people per year? That is 7 people every two seconds. Think about it like this, one thousand, one. One thousand, two. Seven dead people. Stress hampers your heart, wrecks your nervous system, and diminishes your sex drive. Amazingly enough, George Burns lived to be 100. He said the key to longevity is to avoid worry and stress. I have been told my entire life, that I need to learn to let things go. Don’t hold on to crap. It is easier said than done. In the military, stress is common place. When you get shot at and blown up for a living, stress is a constant. I was taught to use stress and anger as fuel. Allow the anger to flow, use it to sharpen the edge that you need to survive another day. However, long-term stress will kill you. Then what are you going to do?

It is possible that people who work constantly do not even recognize the signs of stress. I recognized it when I was in the military, however, I had no clue how to combat it. Stress combined with anxiety and depression almost killed me. Add on a divorce, and epilepsy and you have all the ingredients for a train wreck. Ah, I forgot to add-on the loss of my career. There, I fixed it. Things got so bad, that I could not recognize the colors of the leaves. I could not smell fresh-cut grass. My head constantly ached, and my answer was to eat 800 mg Ibuprofen like it was candy. Five of these would ease my headache. That is too much to take at one time, regardless of who you are.

My mind was a battleground, in many ways it still is. Some days I win, others not so much. Severe PTSD, nightmares, and dissociative disorder makes me a ball of joy to be around. Given all the stress that I was dealing with in the Army, I needed a reprieve. It came through divorce. As the judge pronounced my marriage dead, I felt like a giant burden was removed from my back. My mind felt light, agile for the first time in three years. It scared the crap out of me. Rock bottom will teach you many lessons. There is nowhere to go but up, yet, that climb to normalcy is difficult.

I still have problems with my health. Seizures are a part of my daily life, but everything else seems to check out fine. Most days, I am successful in limiting my stress. Most days. Some of the steps that I take include but is not limited to: walks through the woods, wood working, writing, reading, church, and limiting my interaction with people. This last one is difficult since I go to church. However, in my life going to church is a good thing. Religion has helped me find peace in my life. Many friends of mine don’t care for religion. I understand. In my own life, I needed peace. There comes a time that you must confront your demons. To try to make peace with actions of your past. It took me many years to do that. Religion helped me in this aspect of my life.

It would seem that stress is to be avoided like the plague. The adage is, “don’t sweat the small stuff, it’s all small stuff.” If I was to interject a Freemanism in here it would be, “just let it go man. Draw a square. Everything inside that square is what you can control. Outside that square doesn’t matter. Breathe. Let it go.” In the end, life isn’t about control but about the ride. Relax, and have a great day!

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