Coping - or not - with stress.

Published 28, Jun, 2011

Viral Load Warrior asks “Do you ever have those days when you want to just crawl under the bedcovers and hold a pity party for one?”

Lately, I’ve been feeling more stressed than usual. Life has changed a lot over the past couple of years and the effort and knockbacks involved in getting it back on track are starting to frustrate the hell out of me. In addition to that, I’m dealing with some other problems, including a close relative who is very ill.

I called my dad who responded with, ‘Things could be worse’, which I have since added to my growing list of ‘Most useless things people have ever said to me’. Not that I’m disputing that things could be worse. It’s just that pointing that out doesn’t acknowledge or help me with my problems. It’s a bit like saying, ‘What the fuck are you complaining about?’


To top this off, I’ve been feeling like an emotional sponge of sorts. I’ve had at least three people rant at me this week with various problems, in one case for thirty minutes in connection with the devastating occurrence of a broken hairdryer and related life-changing consequences.   In each instance, I’ve had around two minutes of input in the conversation.

I read some time ago of studies demonstrating the negative effect of stress upon the immune system. I don’t fancy ending up like the unfortunate rodents, who after prolonged exposure to stress, developed ulceration of the stomach and a shrunken thymus.

Also, apparently wounds take longer to heal when stressed. In one study, participants were wounded using a punch biopsy. Those who reported more stress took longer to heal than those who reported less stress. This might explain why I have been experiencing a recurring anal fissure which has this week again decided to show face, culminating in the lowest point of my week – walking like a penguin in the rain for 20 minutes feeling like my behind had busted open.


My stress management techniques pre-HIV diagnosis mainly usually involved guzzling a bottle or two of wine and/or heading out and getting completely twatted out of my mind. Not very helpful, as you can imagine...

Lately, I’ve been trying out some progressive muscle relaxation. This involves tensing and relaxing various muscles in the body, with a view to promoting relaxation. I’m having some success with it, indicated by the fact that I usually fall asleep whilst doing it due to the cosy feeling it gives me.

The next step is to get my dusty running shoes out, and run the stress out of my body. That will have to wait though, as running with an anal fissure is probably ill-advised.

If anyone has tips on how they manage stress, it’d be great to hear them!