Feeling stressed wasn’t the way I wanted to start off the New Year, especially when one of my resolutions was to relax more!

I’m on a forum which discusses Miniature Schnauzers.  It’s a great forum on the whole, and I don’t know what I would have done without the help and information I gained on there when I first adopted my little rescue dog Bertie.  But, like the majority of online groups, there are always those people who think they can be rude, confrontational, sarcastic or downright obnoxious, just because they’re online and “invisible”.  They wouldn’t walk up to someone in the street and get in their face for no good reason, but online it seems that some people think they can act without care or manners and it’s OK.  Well, it’s not OK.  Words are powerful and, good or bad, they cause a reaction in the person being spoken to.

Someone on the forum decided, quite unnecessarily, to be a bit of an arsy cow.  I tried, politely at first, to explain she’d gotten the wrong end of the stick but she was obviously on one and not interested in listening.  I argued with her for a few posts then decided she wasn’t worth my time or energy.  However, by that time I was a little bit upset and quite stressed.  I was also really itchy.

I lifted my sweatshirt to find my entire torso, front and back, plus the tops of my legs were covered in hives.  My neck and face were also flushed beetroot red (click on image to enlarge).

photo of stress hives

I’ve had emotional urticaria (for want of a more technical term) all my life – it’s just the norm for me.  The hives lasted about an hour before fading, the flushing a little longer, but I felt really tired all day and still felt stressed and unable to relax 12 hours later.  I didn’t sleep well.

I don’t take anything for these episodes as, unlike my regular hives, they don’t last long.  The reaction per se doesn’t bother me, apart from being really embarrassing, but such a strong physical reaction makes me feel a bit weak and like I can’t cope with the normal every day situations that other people seem to take in their stride.  Which isn’t true at all, it’s just that my stress is visible where other people’s isn’t.

Mast cell researchers propose that one of the ways stress affects histamine production is through corticotropin-releasing hormone (or CRH).  CRH is a hormone released by nerves in the ‘flight or fight’ reaction when the body is under stress.  Mast cells live close to these nerves and the CRH release induces mast cell mediator release, flooding the body with histamine (amongst other chemicals).

Needless to say I’ve now left the Schnauzer forum, which is a shame.  However, I refuse to place myself in any space which negatively impacts my emotional or physical wellbeing.   I’ve left other forums in the past, such as UK Mastocytosis Support, for the same reasons.  I was always brought up to believe if you had nothing nice to say, you say nothing.  If you do need to confront someone you can do it firmly but politely.  There are always those people, though, who want to argue to the enth degree just for the sake of it, and it’s these people I metaphorically want to punch in the face 😉 .

Back on the hive theme, I’ve had a fresh outbreak of my regular butt hives over the holidays.  I’ve eaten a few things I shouldn’t, granted, but I don’t think they’re responsible.  I seem to have butt hives almost permanently these days for no reason I can particularly put my finger on.  I’m using the Sudocrem on them and they do fade much quicker than they ever did with steroid or anti-histamine cream though, which is a mystery but one for which I’m grateful 🙂


3 thoughts on “Stress

  1. Sherry

    Greetings from Canada… OK, so that confrontation simply sucked. Been there :(. Many, if not most of us have been there…I think. Yes, some folks are rather quickly able to find a distant pocket for the upset this kind of event insights – this does appear to be true – but whether or not it is true, is irrelevant. Some of us are affected deeper and longer (and those of us with this illness suffer the physical effects on a mounting scale). And,in my humble opinion, its OK, maybe even helpful, to imagine that metaphorical wallop to the face – but, for me, I’ve been working at (a life long practice) awareness of when that person, that episode, that hurt, that anger – bla, bla, bla – interrupts my thoughts, my feelings…my day, my life experience – and – I do my best (not always successfully) to simply let them drop like a hot plate from my hands – a good visual – let them drop from my hands. Dropping that thought, in that moment, no matter how fleeting, frees me up for purposes and experiences that are more in tune with what is in my heart and mind. But one has to be aware of the ongoing chatter in their head to notice the thought that needs to be discarded without further analysis. Thus, the life long practice.

    I say, after stating your position, if you so choose – integrity intact – disregard the negative nasty folks… they, and their miserable choices are NOT mine or yours and deserve no place in our heads, our feelings, our actions…our days, our minutes. They are not worth it. This, I am confident, you already know…but, in the heat of it, we sometimes simply feel only the heavy weight of the experience and need to work through it – whatever way is best for us (our heightened symptoms can serve to make us feel weaker and they too need our awareness in order to respond to them vs react). I have also similarly chosen, over the last couple of years, to stay true to myself and not participate in chats, groups, social sites, in person or online – and so forth – if the experience does not provide and support love, joy, generosity, grace, truth, authenticity, and a positive connection (no I am not super human but these characteristics remain my intention regardless).

    This person who treated you poorly does not hold any power over you and if you choose to, immediately or over time, you can put that person out of your mind…and, if the Schnauzer site has positive benefits that outweigh the negative experience with that person (which is quite likely), you can choose to rejoin – ignore that person and block them. Small people like that get bored quickly and need to move on to the next fight almost immediately – it seems to define them internally no matter how false their perceptions are (and quite often you have long gone from their mind) – so don’t give them space in your own.

    My two cents, unsolicited but offered genuinely. 2014 is wide open yet!
    Sherry 🙂


    1. bertieandme Post author

      Beautifully put as usual Sherry, thank you 🙂

      Maybe what I failed to put over in my post is that I’m really not bothered by these people, but my body reacts of its own accord. And once the histamine and other chemicals have been released there isn’t much I can do to stop my body’s reaction. I was annoyed for all of 10 minutes by this woman, yet the histamine overload affected my body all day! It seems a tad unfair that a healthy person can have a spat with someone then just walk away, whereas we mast cell sufferers have to put up with the physical consequences for hours, sometimes days, afterwards.

      Jak x


  2. Sherry

    Hi Jak,

    No misunderstanding on my part – your strength, well placed sarcasm, common sense, humor, confidence, integrity, candidness, and resilience are loud and clear in your posts (despite your significant challenges). I just contribute if I think my two cents might help validate or assist you or anyone else…or me for that matter. It does often help me to get my own thoughts on a compelling topic out of my head – its supports my desire to be content :). I too feel the weight of the unfairness in our involuntary bodily reactions to stress and, at times, am temporarily overwhelmed by this. But, there is a but :), we know we can’t always see mental unhealthiness in folks (unless their circumstances are obvious) and are unable to see the chain reaction of stress induced symptoms wreaking havoc in these folks bodies and minds…I find, not to justify them in anyway but… that people, like the person in your story, have reactions I am grateful not to experience. Not too say I don’t get angry or fed up or tired – I do… and I often speak up about it…I just try to take notice of doing so – its the foundation I use to keep myself grounded (regardless of how difficult this attainment can be at times).

    You make yourself very clear in your posts. It may appear as if I am sending advice your way in my replies but this is truly not my intention…it can look like that but your posts make it clear too me that you have much to share with us, your subscribers, as a reporter on the front lines of your own experience with illness and in life. I am pleased and grateful to learn from you.




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