Responding to Stress

red flowers on stems

While the tears poured,  I thought how I surely didn’t look like a green healing girl, nor did I feel like one.

Shingles had hit me fast and hard.  In the past, I’ve been able to recognize the virus before an outbreak.  Not this time.

I had been sickly for several weeks losing a precious nine pounds.  I even went to the doctor fearing I had a tick-borne disease, but my doctor said he didn’t think I have one and instead, blamed my symptoms on stress.

I get tired of my health problems always being blamed on stress, but I realize it’s a serious problem, particularly when it’s ongoing.

My mom and I were talking on the phone when I saw the outbreak.  I was relieved because I’d rather have shingles than a tick infection.

My son was a resident at a small farm, where I thought he might live for three months.  I had gone to visit him two days before getting sick and thought he was going to stay. 

He had said he was homesick and sometimes felt pretty down, but after spending more time with him, he said that most of the time he felt good being there.  Most of the time is a lot to me, so I encouraged him to stay.

He wasn’t sleeping well at the farm and as a result, was often so tired that he was a little late for the chores and classes.  He was trying really hard and the farm’s director informed me that he was improving.

I left the farm after that visit feeling more hopeful than I have in a decade.  For the first time since my son was diagnosed with a mental illness, he was at a place where people treated him like a full human being.  He wasn’t a ‘case’ to be managed.  He was treated the same as the other residents, which meant he was expected to arrive on time for classes.

During the few weeks he was away, even though I had to drive a lot, which was difficult, I had enough time to see what it was like being me.

I was not a full-time caregiver.  I was Michelle.  I was a single woman.  I saw parts of my personality that I hadn’t seen in a long time, such as my sense of humor.  I’d forgotten that I have a pretty good one.  I had fun.

It’s not my son that I need a break from, but instead is the caregiver role that I don’t have help with.

Two days after our weekend visit together, my son was an hour late for one of the farm’s classes.  He said he was so tired that he lied down for what he intended to be five minutes, but then fell asleep.

The man leading that particular class, which was a prayer time, asked him to do a writing assignment.  It was a long and arduous assignment.  He refused and as a result, had to leave the program.

I am not proud of myself for the way I responded to the situation.  I was angry and didn’t handle my emotions well.  I needed someone to talk with about the situation.  Someone with experience, empathy and a positive attitude.  I didn’t have anyone who could offer that.

I told the manager when I arrived that I was sick.  I also confided in him that I wasn’t sure how long I could keep going the way I have been.  He said they would pray for me and we parted ways.

The six months before my son went to the farm had become more and more difficult for us.  I didn’t get a break.  I deeply desired and needed help. 

My son needs peers and friends, something to do with his time and more activity than I alone can offer. 

A few months ago, he was rejected from membership in a clubhouse for people diagnosed with a mental illness.  The reason was because he’s doing well and doesn’t have a case manager.  They aren’t used to that.  I’m not sure their response is altogether a bad thing. 

My son talks about recovery and has a reputation in that particular community of not taking medication.  Sometimes this causes ripples in the water.

I had begged God for somebody to help me.  The director of the farm called to say they would accept my son as a resident the same day that I had nearly screamed at the sky.  I thought my break came and it was one that I believed could change my son’s life. 

Things simply didn’t work out the way we had wanted.  I wish I could go back and respond to this fact differently than I did, but of course I can’t.  I can only try to do better in the future.

I feel better now.  I don’t know exactly what to do or where to turn in life, but I’ll keep on keeping on.  I’ll keep on trying and hoping and praying that there is a way to help my son, that we both can heal and recover, and that perhaps one day our lives will look much brighter.

I learned from the farm experience that I need to work on myself.  I need to take time for me.  I need personal time, as well as time for healing my own wounds.  I want to  heal.  I want to respond to life in a way that doesn’t cause me illness or worsen existing health conditions.  I certainly don’t like responding in ways that bring harm to others, hurt feelings or make the situation worse.  All easier said than done I suppose, but giving up is not a good option.

I’d like to say thanks to my blogging friends for the awesome support and encouragement you have given me.  I’ve said it before, but I’m proud to be a part of this community!  Thank you so much!

Even though my mother will likely never read this, I must say here that I am truly grateful for her love.  She sure stands by me when I’m sick and for that I sure am grateful. 

I am proud of my son for trying the program the farm offered.  He’s a strong young man with a kind and good spirit.

Thanks for visiting Dogkisses’s blog!

Red flowers in the garden, by Michelle and Son.

19 responses to this post.

  1. Michelle, I hope that your feeling better.. I know how you have tried your very best with everything and need you to know that I am here always for you.. even though thousands of miles away.. I know how much love you have poured into helping your Son on his journey..
    But I am at least pleased that you see that you too need to Heal and Rest and take care of your own self.. And are allowed to laugh and enjoy your own life.. I Often when typing out own. misspell it to won. as I type the keys backwards..and again if we rearrange it again it spells Now… We Own Now and We have Won…. and this has just come to me.. so forgive a crazy Dreamwalker this afternoon Michelle…
    I just want you and your Son to enjoy the Now and Win your own lives back to full health.. Love and Blessings Sue xx



    • Dreamwalker, Thank you my friend.

      My brain is on a break I think, as spelling is hard today and I am very tired. I hope things will get easier very soon. Hopefully next week will bring some stability for my son’s living arrangements. And, I hope to move also very soon. It’s time for a change, whether I like it or not. I guess sometimes if you don’t get up and make changes, the Universe will do it for you. That’s how it seems.

      Thanks for your kind comment. I always appreciate your support. Sending you virtual Big Hugs across the miles, Love and Blessings, Michelle.



  2. Wishing you all the best as you try to cope with your and your son’s health issues. Stress complicates things and causes both physical and mental pain. Know that many people are thinking about/praying for some stabilty, peace, understanding, and help. May you and your son get the peace that you both deserve so much.



  3. I’m so sorry to hear that things didn’t work out as you’d hoped. You have a lot of responsibility on your shoulders and even so, you continue to bring joy into people’s lives. Like the commendable way you find pleasure in the small things in life—things people race past and don’t even notice. Like the field of cows you wrote about and how beautiful you thought they were.

    Don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re a human being like the rest of us. Most people (especially those critical folks) could never last a day in your shoes.

    I always enjoy personal, tender and vulnerable posts. Being ‘open’ about my life has been empowering. The more I write, the more I understand myself. And the less likely I am to avoid the truth or lie to myself. Personal writing gets me in touch with who I am and how I feel.

    We’re so lucky we can share our lives with people through blogging. And get hugs. And encouragement. And validation. We used to write in diaries but the only hugs we got were the ones we gave ourselves! ha!




    • Thank you CZ! Boy do I have a good opportunity to be human today. Sigh…Sorry I haven’t responded, but am in crisis. I may be away from my desk for a few days, so I wanted to respond and say thanks for your encouragement, particularly about personal writing. It feels good to write freely again, as I stopped doing that for a long while. Remember when I wrote fearlessly? Maybe I’ll find my balance again. Big hugs to you, and isn’t that better than waiting on your diary 😉 — (((HUGS4CZ)))



  4. Hello sweet Michelle!
    I’m so sorry you’ve had such difficulties lately, and wish I’d not been caught up in my own family drama & trauma so I could have been the person you could have called that night you mentioned in the other post.
    I hope the shingles are starting to heal, and you are feeling better. It’s hard to remember sometimes, but to be a good caregiver to you son, you have to take care of your own needs – mental, emotional, physical & spiritual – first, or you won’t be able to help him.
    Know that I’m thinking about you despite all that’s happening, and sending thoughts, prayers, and the gentlest of hugs, along with much Love!



    • Thanks Ash! I’m in a bit of a rush, and a crisis. Hope to talk soon. I hope you are okay. Thank you for commenting, esp., during this time. Lots of good wishes for you guys, and a big virtual hug! xoxo Love, Michelle.



  5. very touching story.. Stress is such a hard thing to deal with .. I LOVE ur determination and spirit in the fact that you will not give up… i admire that.. huggs.. i hope soon u will be able to get some help u need for ur son.. it must be vry frustrating at times im sure.. u have had alot to conten with it seems but feel good bout your self cuz u sure manage to keep a good out look and stay on top of it all… loved this story was so good and i feel thats its good to let our personal feelings out to show that part of ourselves because in telling our stories we know there is a chance some one else could read them.. relate to them.. and it may help them heal as well.. gby .. della



    • Hi della, Thanks so much for reading my post and for your encouragement. I guess I can’t give up, now that I’ve told the ‘virtual’ world that I won’t 😉

      I used to write such personal posts, but after not doing that for a while, it felt a bit odd. I’m glad I did. I feel better (particularly after the very kind comments) and I also believe that when we tell our personal stories, there may be someone who will find comfort in knowing they aren’t alone with their troubles or sadness. I’ve always enjoyed reading autobiographies or short stories that I can relate to.

      Sending you a big hug,



  6. Very touching post! It’s hard but you do have to find time for yourself somehow; the caregiver is always forgotten and you can’t keep giving without some time to replenish. Stress can cause such horrible physical reactions. I’ve heard shingles are very painful; I hope you find some relief for them and your emotional state of mind soon. You are a strong woman and a good mom try not to beat yourself up for being human and not having the “perfect” response every time.

    Take care I am sure better days lay ahead.



    • Hi Carrie, Thanks for reading this post.

      It’s true, the caregiver is often forgotten. My son is quite capable in so many ways, and the word caregiver implies caring for the elderly or very sick. There have been times when I had to remind people that I have my days pretty well full and if I say the word, they ask who am I taking care of, and they know us.

      Once you get worn down and keep on going, well, the body can only do so much without a break. On that note, I am recovering from Shingles and like you say, trying to accept that I’m only human. We enjoyed peace at the Temple we visited today and I just finished a healthy meal for dinner 🙂

      Thanks for your kind note!
      Peace and Blessings,



  7. You will come up with another idea, Michelle. One that will work for the next chapter for both you and your son. I have such faith in you. I wish I could do more but I will pray for you both. There is a deep strength inside of you that will see you both through, I firmly believe that. In the meantime, I send you a gentle hug. In friendship, Laurie



    • Hi Laurie,

      Thanks for believing in my strength and for the gentle hug. Your prayers are also much appreciated.

      We went to a meditation temple today where we were treated very kindly, walked the Zen Gardens, had a Green Healing Tea Ceremony and my son bought himself an outfit like the Priestess had on. It looks very nice, made from cotton and naturally dyed. They invited us to visit anytime as well as coming to volunteer in the awesome gardens. It was like being in Asia for a little while.

      I was most inspired being there, and when I read your comment, I felt that same peace and thought yes, you have to be right. We will come up with another idea.

      Peace and Blessings,
      and a gentle hug too…



  8. Thank you so much for your comment Paul. This post was a little hard to publish. I feel a bit vulnerable, but sometimes, I think writing from the heart about such personal parts of my life is what I’m supposed to do. At least that’s how it feels. I’m very glad you enjoyed what I wrote, and thank you for reading.

    Peace and Blessings,

    PS I will visit and read about this awesome little guy, Tinker! Giving kisses and wagging his tail!



  9. Oh Michelle, the courage that you show in sharing these very personal thoughts with the big, wide, (virtual) world is wonderful. You are an inspiration for so many.

    I know that you will understand that one of the most important things we learn from dogs is integrity, and I’m using the word in the sense of emotional integrity rather than a personal moral code.

    I wrote about a dog called Tinker on June 2nd. Born with just one eye, found as a stray in Phoenix, just over 6lbs and in very poor shape when rescued, yet while being examined by the vet, “Tinker wouldn’t stop trying to kiss everyone around him, and couldn’t stop wagging his tail!”

    So when I read your words and see how you are sharing your feelings, the purity of your emotions is very moving.

    Thank you.



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