And after that... my concentration was gone. For a good two years. My ability to write code for 70 hours a week, and think of it as fun, was gone. My mental clarity was gone. It took a solid two years to come back, maybe three years.
My dad was my best friend and losing him hit me very hard.
And I learned there are some kinds of emotional stress that take years to recover from.
If you're reading this, do everyone in your life a favor and take care of this shit this week and email it to the people who will be cleaning up your life when you're done with it. It's the courteous thing to do.
I've been interested in compiling an end of life documents for myself for my family. Have you found any resources that offer some kind of checklist and guidance as to everything one might need to complete for such a process?
That said, in the US, generally:
1) Last will and testament: what to do with your stuff when you die
2) Living will: what medical treatment you desire while unable to decide for yourself
3) Power of attorney: who handles your accounts if your incapable
I was not yet into my career at that age but I am certain it would have heavily affected my concentration and ability.
Any advice for people going though a very tough time you'd like to share?
Kidding aside, stress is a deadly serious thing. I never took it seriously until it nearly did me in. I can also attest to the memory and other cognitive issues. It can take quite a while to recover.
The most stressful situations are where you are expected to perform, but have little or no control. This could be a job situation or some other situation. Find a new situation or a way to establish more control. Better to lose that job than your ability to work at any job.
The last thing you want to do if you're constantly stressed is to just suck it up. It's one thing to do that for a limited duration to achieve something specific, it's another thing to do that indefinitely with no end in sight.
> When they gave the mice a chemical that inhibited inflammation, neither the brain-cell problem nor the depressive symptoms went away. But the memory loss and inflammatory macrophages did disappear.
>And that led them to conclude that the post-stress memory trouble is directly linked to inflammation — and the immune system — rather than to other damage to the brain. That type of information can pave the way for immune-based treatments, Godbout said.
A lot of it seems to run along the lines of confusing correlation with causation.
Then I get stressed because I have so much to do.
Avoiding anything is always the worst option. Get some professional help on how to deal with the thoughts.
Telling people to "get help" is really frustrating since the help seldom helps. It's just a blow-off conversation-ender. Don't assume they aren't getting help, don't assume that someone suffering an episode can't fix it on their own given time.
"Avoiders" who push themselves into social situations and work they care about will fare better than ruminators.
I was in a very stressful relationship in college that resulted also in a lot of sleep loss (although oddly I rarely had problems falling asleep probably because of exhaustion, just got way too little of it), strangely it didn't seem to affect me that much negatively at the time. I managed to get basically straight A's but I had to lose more sleep to do it and finally graduate and then go on to a masters sans relationship, but in the past 3 years I've still had a different and tenuous relationship with sleep and lately I feel like its started to affect me. Despite having a fairly low-stress life (current relationship is low stress, job is low stress, high-maintenance family is kind of taking care of itself), I'm noticing some of the symptoms referenced in the study, but it would have to be either a delayed reaction or more sleep-related than stress-related.
I've had it happen, wherein I wonder why I'm feeling anxious, angry, or otherwise. Then, I step back and recognize how a particular person is treating me and realize that a) it's simply wrong/unfair and b) I'm allowing it to happen and allowing it to get to me.
It doesn't mean it's malicious or intentional, but it's no less affecting.
I'd encourage everyone to step back once in a while and objectively consider their relationships, then tweak, manage, or dispose as necessary.
Then the question turns into, shall I leave and find new social groups? This is such a high risk act.
But, there are still ways to put distance between yourself and the source of the problem. And, keep in mind that the distance may not always be physical, but involve other ways to limit contact/interaction.
Also, depending on the type of problems the person is causing you, it's very possible that others in your group are experiencing the same from the person and may also want distance, or at least be supportive of you.
I've unfortunately had to do it with a member of a close group. It was for the same hostile, destructive behavior the person was clearly displaying towards other members of the group and they were well aware of it. I simply told them I was no longer willing to tolerate it, so couldn't be around when the person was. I also explained that I was responsible for my growing family, who depended on me, and I could not afford the additional stress.
It created a rift, but the other members and I still make effort to see each other without this person present. It can usually be done. Virtually any situation can be changed. You just have to decide whether it's worth it. You'll know when it is.
It is actually more logical that the psychological scars linger and go untreated as the damage is not recognized.
I just sent her this article. This probably won't help.
When I entered the workforce, at first I noticed I couldn't remember names at all, I would have to either concentrate on the name while ignoring the conversation in front of me, or I pay attention to the conversation but have an almost certain chance I will forget the name.
I've noticed in general that I had poor short term memory, but I never realised this issue when I was in college.
The worst part was not being able to remember what tasks I accomplished just a few hours before at work, boy that always made me feel good.
It's been driving me nuts for years, I'm unsure how much I have recovered if at all.
A short interview on the topic: https://www.washingtonpost.com/express/wp/2008/09/23/heres_o...
This sounds like an extreme level of stress, of course the poor mouse has memory issues. I don't think you need to worry if you have ordinary levels of stress from traffic, mortgage, kids etc... But if you live in Syria and your city gets destroyed by war, then yeah, your brain performance will suffer, but I don't think anyone would be surprised by that result.
I don't disagree that the guy in Syria is more justified in his perception of a greater stress, but the soccer dad's body doesn't really care about the guy in Syria or their relative justifications for level of stress.
> This is the first study of its kind to establish the relationship between short-term memory and prolonged stress. In the case of the mice, that meant repeat visits from a larger, nasty intruder mouse.
> Mice that were repeatedly exposed to the aggressive intruder had a hard time recalling where the escape hole was in a maze they’d mastered prior to the stressful period.
Whenever I have multiple tasks to cover in a short amount of time, my creativity levels stutter. I find myself unable to come up with quick and creative solutions instantly. I guess I need to learn how to work under pressure although I've read that multitasking is counter productive.
I find short breaks helpful but most of the time I can't afford them because of the urgent nature of the tasks. Writing down helps a lot when I do routine actions, but I still believe that this might not be the best method to incentivize creativity.
Her book: https://www.amazon.com/Upside-Stress-Why-Good-You/dp/1101982...
I'm a Jr dev who spent a year sneaking into lectures, studying, stealing food before I became employable. I now work 70 hours a week for peanuts and although I feel fine, I am pretty sure I am about to rip my hair out.
Oh yeah, I'm probably pretty stressed.
What do I do about this?
Thus, whatever is motivating you to work longer hours is mistaken. If it is your own belief, fix it. If it is the belief of the company you work at, either try to work with them to get more reasonable hours or try to find a new job.
Hasn't depression research been focused on hippocampus function for some time now?
Letting those build up definitely hurts.
The other things I'm trying:
- Daily meditation
- Regular sleep routine.
- Got rid of my smartphone
- Ignore all social media
- Unitasking with one screen, one task at a time
This is some of the stuff I've been doing to help alleviate the stress that I put on myself. Might work for some, might not.
- Highlight the cost of doing what he says. There is always a cost, but either you or him/her may be misunderstanding or miscalculating it.
- Ask why it needs to be done.
- Offer alternatives.
- Keep in mind he/she has more to lose than you if the conversation goes bad.
- Stay polite.
Also learning to say no politely is of great help.
I used to often say yes before I really knew what I was agreeing to.
Before stress started I had almost photographic memory. I was not very smart software developer. But ability to recall patterns and documentation fast, made me very productive. I worked at CS semi-research position and spoke at conference every other month.
Now it takes mental effort to recall what I did 4 hours ago. I can only program if I strictly follow my TDD routine and design notes. Recently I could not even pass job interview for trivial entry level position :(
Stress is mostly gone now, but it will take about one year to recover. It is very weird period. People, who do not know me well, think I actually improved over past three years. I fixed my health, lifestyle, social interactions...; I took every advantage I could to compensate for damage caused by stress.
Now, I can feel improvements every week, and I am basically starting from scratch. Once I get my old memory back and combine it with new things I learned to cope, I will be unstoppable :)
Once we realised that being a team was better visualised as taking on different roles, we functioned way better. As she was on parental leave for a year, it made more sense for her to deal with the baby at night, and for me to get a good night's sleep so I could function during the day at work. She could catch up on some sleep in the day when the baby slept. If you have a spare room then use it if you are both happy with that.
Anecdotally, my sister-in-law has 3 young sons and while both the parents are stressed out more than couples without children, they get a welcome break over the weekends and many weekdays because one of the grandparents is often around to help with taking care of the children. This allows for a lot of freedom and more importantly, the freedom to think that you can get away from it all, even if it is for a few hours. I think (I don't have children myself) that the thought that this young human is completely and totally dependent on you all the time can be extremely discouraging, even if its your own child.
That said, the first three months will almost convince you that you can do it. Babies may only sleep 2 or 3 hours in a row (we were lucky and got four consecutive hours at nighttime), but they sleep a lot in total. If you can handle the sleep disruption, you will actually be left with a lot of time for work. From four months onward, they start to be awake a bit longer and they start to get very interested in what you are doing. It will then begin to get very difficult to work with them around. You might need to find an alternate place to work and/or begin to make alternate child care arrangements.
Work early on to get the child a proper sleep routine and don't get them used to sleeping in the big bed, that's what most people do wrong and what pays 'dividends' aka bad sleep for a long time.
Also with one child the beautiful thing is that you can split times. So each parent can get some time completely off. But this requires that you get active early on. Start changing diapers on your own and bathing the child early on, so that neither mom nor you ever have doubts that you can handle things alone. It is TERRIFYING but oh so fun and better do it right from day one so you can enjoy it from then on and you are an equal couple from early on. Too many couples hey a bad dynamic where is only the cheap replacement mom never lets go completely, leading to stress for everyone involved.
Ideally she will breastfeed at least a few times a day for 6-12 months but even then after a few weeks she can start pumping milk and you can bottle feed, or from some point you can give formula. Remember that while you'll be exhausted she'll be even more so, it's best for your relationship and mental health if mom gets some breaks as well. believe me on that, i only learned that on the second child, when things are anyway more stressful...
Stress factors include:
1) Getting very, very poor sleep, which can last anywhere from 2-12 months depending on your kid and your parenting technique.
2) Higher monthly expenses, plus a potentially-giant bill for the birth, on top of a year of smaller but still substantial bills for various things. This will be worse if the pregnancy is split over two years of insurance deductible (probably irrelevant in countries with medical coverage systems that aren't totally broken, but very relevant in the US)
3) Having your free time (including kid-free time that you have to use to keep the house in something that resembles order if you squint at it really hard) drop to ~25-30% what it was pre-kid. (you can gain a bit more by making your sleep even worse, though. Hooray?)
4) Your house will be kinda messy and gross even if you try hard to keep it clean, which is discouraging and stressful.
5) Leaving the house and getting out of the car now being A Whole Thing instead of something that barely takes any time or effort at all. Everything you do that isn't sitting at home in your pajamas is much more difficult. Even that is, in a way.
6) You no longer actually have time off, ever. Not in the sense you did before kids.
7) If you're a woman and want to breast feed... oh god. It's bad. Even worse sleep, and you'll have either a baby or a noisy milking machine attached to you seemingly all the damn time, which is incredibly inconvenient if you need to do anything else at all ever.
Go ahead an multiply the stress of the above by a factor of 10 if your new kid has serious health issues.
It boggles my mind that we consider the US a first-world country when I read things like this.
Also not sure I agree about the breastfeeding being so bad. Sure, it's a bit of a chore, but most mothers I know (including my wife) found it to be a positive experience that increases attachment.
And the leaving the house/car part I also don't follow. You have one more person to dress and one more item of luggage to carry; it's hardly an exponential increase.
Otherwise I agree, esp. about stress if kid has serious health issues. (We have two kids, aged 1.5 and 4).
We had a hospital stay before the birth, emergency c-section (the cord was around my son's neck), hospital stay after the birth, and about 2 weeks of him staying in the neonatal ICU. I think the bill came to around $30,000 (covered by insurance), and I think we paid a couple of $20 copays.
> And the leaving the house/car part I also don't follow.
Exponential? No, but I don't think anyone claimed that. But compared to a couple going out, a couple and a child takes several times more time to do each step. Everything takes more planning, and nothing is completely spontaneous.
If you that's the case and you hadn't already hit a larger yearly out-of-pocket-max through other bills, then your insurance is uncommonly good to put it mildly. If you additionally didn't have to fight with insurance to get that stuff covered so completely then you have ZOMGWTF good insurance.
There was a stress-related stay in the hospital for her for several days with a $250 copay, around late January. Then the whole birth+surgery+NICU+breast pump rental was judged as one incident, with a $250 copay.
Individual doctor visits are $20. Hospital stays are $250. Medication is heavily subsidized, and most of it that we've ever gotten had a copay under $10.
There was an with a demand for payment for the entire bill+interest. A series of calls to their billing department led to them finding the mistake in their system and sending us the bill for just the copay.
I'm positive that we fall under the "uncommonly good" category.
For comparison, my wife and I are on a marketplace plan, and out of a total of $60k in expenses for our newborn daughter, we were responsible for ~$12k.
We want to have more children, but I would move from the US to a first world country to do so.
First = US/W.Europe + Allies
Second = Soviet Union/China + Allies
Third = Non-aligned
As a first world resident I am not sure about the prevalence of this usage in developing countries. I know I would not be thrilled to have my country--and, by extension, culture--referred to as "third world". I wouldn't be surprised if it is common in developing countries to note this original sense to both blunt the pain of being dissed by denizens of rich countries and to establish a sort of reverse superiority by insisting on and noting the original sense of the word.
It's mainly that something so easy you barely think about it becomes something you do have to think about. It's a vanishingly tiny value being acted upon such that it is many times larger than it was, though still not huge. It does get worse with older kids—newborns are in many ways very easy, sleep and constant feedings aside—and I understand that some people have lots and lots of trouble with the process, though for us it's not that bad, just a non-issue that is now a once-or-more-a-day minor issue.
(Edit: The full presentation is pretty relevant to the topic too if you are interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1cFt2tWsI4)
And when you're all finished and ready to get into the car, the person has a full diaper that needs to be taken care of, so when you've done that you're back to square one.
(but as I say, if one chooses it and feels like being a parent, I can guarantee a hell of satisfaction, those kids are just marvelous eyes openers)
The toll on household finance and peace of mind of the US insurance system is incredible. The births of two daughters, including a couple of days at the hospital, peridural, pre-birth prep and post-birth followup, cost us a grand total of 30€. Of course nothing is free, we pay it through other means (taxes), but not having to think about cost at that moment is so relieving.
But the actual cost reduction is that the system is not a bloated for profit world with what resembles monopoly powers (well, you are free to not go to the nearest hospital...) but instead a public good, serving the people not the shareholders.
In reasonable prices a birth in western Europe will cost something like €2000 including a few days stay and possibly pre- & post-natal care. That's the amount paid by the insurance to the hospital. In the US you easily get to $30000 for a normal birth, of which then anything up to the full amount might be billed to the patient.
If you to real cost you could calculate eg the amount of taxes that pay for tuition free medical degrees, lots of pharmaceutical research, or similar things that would in the US be part of the justification for the huge cost (high tuition -> need for high earnings for doctors -> need for high prices). But in the end it's just absurd and the US system should be a warning to anyone who thinks that such a vital public service would be better if privatised.
3 years ago our then-19 month old was diagnosed with type-1 diabetes - and we haven't had a decent night's rest since. For anyone not aware, type 1 diabetes is a condition where your body stops producing insulin and as a result unable to process carbs into energy. This is not type-2 diabetes that is a result of not taking care of yourself.
Our son could die in the middle of the night from his body not having enough glucose in his system and as a result starving his brain of the energy it requires - ('dead in bed syndrome.') We're up at least 3-4 times in the middle of the night to make sure he's OK.
As a software developer I've been fortunate enough to be able to "afford" the best insurance ($20,000/year (our share) + more than 3-4k/year in out of pocket costs) which affords us the latest and greatest technology - insulin pump with integrated glucose monitor. The tech is ancient by my standards, relative unreliable (his glucose monitor can get a 'weak signal' for seemingly no reason and as a result could fail to report potentially fatal blood glucose levels.
In an ideal world the tech would be more reliable, better connected, services to monitor his blood glucose levels 24/7 would alert us by phone/emergency services/etc when at critical levels.
The stress levels are high because we never have a moment 'off.' In effect we are human, manual versions of a thermostat for his glucose levels. If it's too high he faces the long term consequences of diabetes (loss of vision, neuropathy, etc.) If it's too low he can die.
Next year the stress gets even worse - we have to trust that the school system will be able to manage his diabetes. Up until now he's always with my wife or myself, 24/7 (and occasionally with my parents, who can keep an eye on him for a couple of hours with text messaging as a 'support system' as needed.)
Needless to say there are situations that are much worse than ours, and we're thankful to be able to take care of our son in the interim until technology catches up to make his situation more manageable for him as an adult.
The stress and sleep deprivation have certainly taken their toll. Weight gain, short term memory, etc.
Good luck with your son. On the positive side hopefully trusting the school system can at least give you some time off of this stress :-/
I don't think they are differentiating between stress, that this study discusses, from lack of sleep, which also affects memory.
> "I don't think they are differentiating between stress, that this study discusses, from lack of sleep, which also affects memory."
However, stress is a result of, and not the cause of the sleep deprivation that comes with nursing and changing a child throughout the night.
In a similar position and would be good to learn what worked for you.
For example I have simple exercise routine I do every evening. It is just stuff I do before shower and bed. I also stopped driving in narrow city roads, I leave a car at motorway exit and walk last mile.
Forget self-help stuff. It is really just basics; fix your sleep, health, sex, community you live in...
For programming I follow simple TDD routine (and other simple best practices). And I do not do anything else at computer except making money. Today is an exception, I have 2 hours a week for facebook and news ;-)
If you really want to go bold, one of the best decisions in my life was to do a ten day silent meditation (i did one of those of dhamma.org; free courses where you of course donate according to your means at the end).
Idle time is an investment in your brain. We don't need constant information or entertainment.
Specific books mentioned in the thread I can vouch for:
The Power of Habit (popular science)
Superhuman by Habit (actionable, no-bull, if somewhat introductory)
Epictetus' Enchiridion. A cheap, used Dover Editions copy off Ebay is all one needs.
Also, if a Christian, morning and evening prayers by candlelight using the 1928 Book of Common Prayer.
A good exercise is to just sit quietly in a dark room, and completely empty your mind. Think no thoughts -- whether you believe them to be good or bad. This simple thing turns out to be so incredibly difficult, that many monks on the Holy Mountain have mastered. I myself can barely go a minute before a stress or a worry about my day or job or family comes into my head, but cool thing is you do eventually get better.
It certainly sounds like one of you is talking about the meditating by using your thoughts as an object (sorting thoughts obviously makes no sense once you stop identifying them as "yours"), while the other is talking about simply doing it object-free.
Both are taught by many of the same traditions, with neither being necessarily better or worse, though usually the object-free version is taught later because it's hard to do without something to focus on when you're first starting.
I personally find the prior more useful when I'm trying to process a specific problem or stressor and the latter to be more useful after I've done some preprocessing. They are often done sequentially for this reason, as well as because meditating briefly with a specific focus helps prepare you mentally for the more general focus-free meditation where you simply rest in the experience of existence. But other preparation meditations with focuses can also be used to help you mentally prepare, such as focusing on body sensations, breath, vision, sounds, etc. Thoughts are just another thing you can observe.
EDIT: I'd note that the Wikipedia article on Hesychasm describes it as asceticism and "blocking off", so in retrospect I'd describe it as a different class of meditation than those that involve resting in experience. More like visualization practice or some of the scarier death practices. But they're talking about the "advanced" version there, and such things are easy to misconstrue because the language for describing it is poor. But I'd still call it a meditation.
sorry, I think this is where the confusion is coming from. My original expansion on the comment with heyschasm was in response to kingmanaz. If you are a Christian, the heyechastic practice is markedly better than simply meditating. I was trying to differentiate between modern renditions of what meditation looks like, with the christian ascetical discipline of heyschasm, and I concluded by saying both are beneficial in any case, to someone who is under extreme long term stress.
Hesychasm is alive and well in the Orthodox Church. Mostly practised by monks, but well known outside monasteries.
Otherwise for me stressful was in particular to lose/reduce large parts of my social life (eg Toastmasters or going out to talks and discussions, theater, for beer with friends, ... Before children i was out 4-5 evenings a week, now maybe 2/month). Your life structure changes, which may or may not be easy for everyone to adapt to depending on the before & after. I have no regrets, but i do miss what used to be couple- or me-time and relaxing and simulating activities.
The linked article is full of popups, ads and dark patterns.