When I think back to 1993, when I was first diagnosed with this illness, I wish I had understood the impact of stress on bipolar mood disorder and on health in general. One of my favorite books on healing is Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D.
In the section on stress, Kabat-Zinn talks about Dr. Hans Selye who popularized the word "stress" in the 1950s. Kabat-Zinn writes: "Selye opted to define stress as a response, and he coined another word, stressor, to describe the stimulus or event that produced the stress response. He defined stress as 'the nonspecific response of the organism to any pressure or demand.'
"In his terminology stress is the total response of your organism (mind and body) to whatever stressors you experience. But the picture is further complicated by the fact that the stressor can be an internal as well as an external occurrence or event. For instance, a thought or a feeling can cause stress and therefore can be a stressor. Or, under other circumstances, the same thought or feeling might be a response to some outside stimulus and therefore be the stress itself."
(to be continued)