Stress is universal and affects every living organism. It even affects the non-living, like rocks, linoleum and the living-dead, like zombies.
Think of stress as what makes for change — either good (eustress) or bad (distress). In one form or another, stress is present every day and all the time.
Sometimes what is good can be bad. There’s too much of a good thing like eating a few squares of dark chocolate versus eating the whole bag. Or trying all the machines at the gym because of a New Year’s resolution to get in shape versus working a plan for weight loss and toning. Too much too soon comes to mind.
What does this have to do with invisible illness or disability?
Picture this: it’s springtime and the display in front of the grocery store entices me to buy buy buy flowers and plants. Having that color and fragrance in my garden, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds, feeds my soul, as well as the souls of the bunnies and deer who feed on my garden, too. When other shoppers say “Someone’s gonna be busy!” I’ll let them know it’ll be my husband who’ll be busy, not me. Then we’ll all chuckle and wheel away to load up on the paper towels that’re on sale, without any clue that it’s only because of the shopping cart that they’ve talked with me at all. I’m pretty sure that if I was driving an electric shopping-scooter no one would remark on how busy planting I was going to be.
Ignoring the reality of limitations doesn’t get it done, whatever “it” is: giving a party; fixing that car problem; shopping at the mall; traveling; vacuuming; eating at a restaurant; walking across the street; planting a garden.
What does denial do for us? For others? Does denial cause personal embarrassment? Rob others of energy when they seek to rescue us? Cause worry, even anger, in those who care? Is bad stress sometimes good for us?
I lie to myself because I don’t want to acknowledge that multiple sclerosis affects my ability to garden. Oddly enough, the things I do usually prove the very thing I’m trying so hard to deny. Overheated, unable to stand or walk, unable to help myself.
Sometimes stress wears a white hat sometimes it’s black. Most of the time, I think, I color stress gray.