I was listening to Magic Lessons a week ago, and the episode hit a little too close to home. It was about a British woman who had just finished her PhD on the history of the Holocaust, but she had grown up wanting to be a comedy writer. She was so unhappy and stressed by her work that her hair started to fall out and she developed several health problems. Now, I'm not a New Age-y person or anyone who believes in "signs"... but damn, the timing of this was way too creepy.
I'm starting week three of being sick. It's not fun—lying in bed when I wasn't working at the day job, not really wanting to eat, an obnoxious amount of Gatorade, my dog standing on my aching form like he was a mountain goat for reasons known only to him. Though it did allow me to catch up on the Stranger Things craze, but that was the only positive.
However, my doctor has confirmed that this isn't a stomach bug or something related to travel. And I had visited her just a few weeks earlier for acid reflux issues, and her first question was, "Are you experiencing any stress?"
My answer: "Always."
I fall into stress like a 3-year-old in a Chuckie Cheese ball pit. I'm a perfectionist, I want everyone to get along, and I will do anything for validation or to make people like me. All of my math tests had me bawling during my school years—it was the only class I would pray to get a "C."
The tension in my back reminds me that I'm alive. That is not just a bit; that is a fact. Do you know those wooden toy structures where you press a button on the bottom and they collapse—typically a giraffe? That's what I'm like when someone massages my shoulders. Collapsible KC. (Now I'm imagining a scenario where people read this blog and immediately want to massage my shoulders, just to see if it would happen. Yes. It happens. Please don't touch me.)
Now, is stress a direct cause of the health issues? I don't imagine you can get stress cancer. However, stress can be that starter domino that leads to other health issues. Not just mental health, but your body trying to implode while you are still existing in it. Those damn survival instincts can really do a number on you to the point where even your own body is at war with itself.
Is there a situation where I don't feel stressed? Honestly, I never feel stressed on stage. I have bad nights, yes, but even on those nights, I'm still at ease. Then I get off stage and Deep Ellum walking and car traffic has me screaming on the inside, because who wants to accidentally murder someone after a show?
I don't have good advice here other than see a medical professional. And maybe find things that don't make you stress, like looking at puppy pictures or reading or watching something with puppets... like Empty Inside on Saturday, August 27, at 7 p.m. I hear they're good... no bias at all... please like me.
KC Ryan is currently a Level 5 student at DCH. An office worker by day, she spends her nights writing, improvising, recording podcasts, and having existential crises. She’s a co-host of Parsec Award-nominated podcast Anomaly Supplemental about general sci-fi and fantasy topics. Her greatest achievement so far is convincing her husband to watch Project Runway.