This page is about a peculiar sensation that many of us have when we've been going through a fairly long period of Excess-stress. (Read more about Excess-stress here.)
It's quite common to get a feeling that our emotions are 'running away with themselves' – in other words, they seem to you to be almost operating independently of "me" as a person.
So, we feel one emotion after another waving over us, without much, or any, warning, apparently without rhyme or reason. One moment we feel "up" – for no particular reason – and not long afterwards, we feel "down" – and can't put a reason to that either.
It is important to note that this page is for people who have recently experienced slow-stress (that's a period of stress that has developed over some time – rather than stress from a sudden, unexpected event – like an accident or another kind of trauma).
Feeling this odd sensation is quite normal after a prolonged bout of anxiety, whether or not it has been resolved.
If you haven't had any anxiety, it's worth a trip to your doctor to be checked out. Tell your doctor what you feel, make sure that you mention that you don't feel you've been particularly stressed lately – and just ask for a check-up.
If you want to, do the NSA Assessment and take along the Clinical Code at the end of it.
If Excess-stress does seem to you to be the culprit for these feelings of quickly changing, quite strong emotions, then it may be a sign that you are entering the stage known as Post-slow-stress fatigue – usually called P-s-sf.
We say that someone is in the P-s-sf stage when they've had a time of high stress, then, rather than feeling – and looking – anxious, they become quiet and feel more exhausted than hyperactive.
It's well worth taking a moment now to check whether you feel this.
To experience a state of P-s-sf you will have:
recently been through a period where you've been frequently anxious and concerned
lately, become quieter. So, whereas before you’d felt yourself to be fired-up; hyper-alert often wanting to run or shout or feeling like you’d feel better for hitting a big punch-ball, now you’ve changed. You’ll possibly be melancholy sometimes, often exhausted and worn down by life in general - maybe with a few flu symptoms thrown in, which seem to disappear if you manage to get some decent sleep.
You've probably seen people become like this – one day they're running around desperately trying to get things done, the next they're run down, maybe looking a bit defeated.
There's a link to more about what P-s-sf is at the bottom of this page.
The biggest danger with being in the Post-slow-stress fatigue (P-s-sf) stage is that it can lead to feelings of depression. Due entirely to the build-up of some chemicals in your body, which circulate into your brain, you can start having negative thoughts about yourself, your life – things in general.
These feelings are no more "real" than the feelings you'd get if, due to some mishap by a maybe stupid, maybe vengeful, maybe bored chef in a restaurant kitchen, you were accidentally given a plate of magic mushrooms, which you happily tucked into. A sudden influx of chemicals would enter your body. These are quite similar to those your body manufactures itself, but out of all proportion to what is normally required for you to understand how things really are in the big world outside your head. If you drink alcohol, you'll understand how a sudden surge of chemicals into your brain can alter how you perceive things to be.
Just like with the plate of mushrooms, or alcohol, these feelings will eventually decrease. But it might take some time. A period of stress can cause quite considerable build-up of chemicals which are released into your mind over a period of time. If you start to feel 'down' often – seek out some guidance. Humans are definitely made to work out things with other people - not on their own – because we are descended from tribal creatures. If you don't feel your friends or relatives are the right people to talk to – don't worry. Lots of experts can help – and your own doctor will understand your situation much better than you might think. More info on help here.
By the winter of 2011-12, there will begin to be dedicated Registered Stress Practitioners trained to help. But until then, don't try to manage feelings of being down on your own – particularly if you seem to be getting them more and more often.
Here you will find a list of people you can contact – therapists who don’t specialize by working only in clinical stress as Registered Stress Practitioners will, but people who are, nonetheless, experienced, friendly clinicians who can help you a great deal.
There's more about Post-slow-stress fatigue here.