What ‘P.S. I Love You’ Taught Me About Blue Stress


Last evening, while watching people passing by my lane, I realized how lucky it is to be happy and alive. It wasn’t the same with me a few months back.

I used to prefer staying alone. I had locked my guitar inside the cupboard. And I had quit my work.

Was I in a state of disbelief for changing equations between me and my spouse?

Or is it that I wasn’t able to overcome the grief of losing my best friend? The only thing I was sure about was that I was feeling blue!

That’s when I went through a similar story by Cecelia Ahern.

P.S., I Love You

“Holly held the blue cotton sweater to her face and the familiar smell immediately struck her, an overwhelming grief knotting her stomach and pulling at her heart. Pins and needles ran up the back of her neck and a lump in her throat threatened to choke her. Panic took over. Apart from the low hum of the fridge and the occasional moaning of the pipes, the house was quiet. She was alone. Gerry was gone and he would never be back. That was the reality. ”

Many of us have some days felt like Holly at least once in our lives.

We never know what life may throw at us next. It can be a pleasant surprise making us all excited or a shock, leaving us feeling blue. I don’t intend to tell you what you must do when it’s a beautiful surprise. You know it. And that is to embrace it.

But what should one do when it is something unexpected and hurtful?

Again, I’d say, embrace it. With open arms. It’s tough I know. However, we cannot stop living our lives on account of few undesirable events, can we?

And the first step is to Grieve. That is what Holly did.

Recall the scenes when she hallucinates the presence of her husband, his smell and his singing, and ends up sleeping on the couch. She lets herself be herself, shutting in the doors, putting on his boxers and shirt, and singing opera at the top of her voice.

That was how she grieved. You can have your own way of grieving. But just do. It is essential, as it lightens and cleanses your heart, and gives your mind the sufficient time to realize what has happened.

Holly was going through ‘Adjustment Disorder’. I prefer to call it – Blue stress.

What is Blue Stress?

In simple terms, it is the inability of a person to cope with a certain situation or the person finds it difficult to accept an unexpected turn of events. It starts with desolation, fear, angst and melancholy, and slowly it passes away by itself. However, in some cases it might take a dangerous turn.

It can happen to anybody. In fact, you might even be dealing with it right now!

Are you being the Holly here?

If you are facing the below listed behavioral problem, you might be:

  • Crying without any explainable reason.
  • Gripped by constant feeling of failure.
  • Sleep disturbances.
  • Mood swings, anxiety, fatigue
  • Desire to stay alone.
  • Feeling deprived of positivity and motivation.

It can happen to anyone. Be it because depression or just plain work pressure. In most cases, people can get over adjustment disorder with patience and support from friends and family. However, you might want to see a certified professional.

What triggers Blue Stress?

Losing her husband was a big loss for Holly. It was hard to cope and adjust in life without Gerry. And this is what triggered this adjustment disorder in her. The triggers can be the same or the different for you.

Also, the stressors vary for age groups. Like the common trigger for adolescents/children are –

And the triggers for adults can be –

  • Post-marriage issues
  • Financial crisis

However, an accident, being victimized in any crime and death or severe illness of a loved one can affect both an adult and adolescent or child.

How to Cope with Blue Stress?

Before anything else, we need to understand that all which has happened cannot be reversed. And hence, we cannot lose what we have or can have for what we once had.

Not even, Gerry wanted his wife to get stuck at that point in life. Although he himself was dealing with a terminal disease, he knew that his wife would not be able to take care of herself in his absence. So, he made a plan for her.

He first prepared himself to embrace his own death and then left her letters which motivated her to move on and seek happiness beyond his presence. More than anything else, he made her realize her own self.

You can also use Gerry’s technique to help yourself or your dear one. All you need to do is follow those letters (I mean the steps in the same order). This is how he designed her one year, through letters –

Step 1: ‘ME-Time’

As I mentioned before, grieving for the loss or situation is essential. It makes you hit rock bottom faster and so you can bounce back sooner.

Gerry gave enough time to Holly to believe and digest that he is no more with her. The first letter arrives on her birthday days after his funeral.

Likewise, take your time. Grieve. Cry your heart out. Console your own self. Spend some time alone. Or do whatever you want to do. As long as you intend to get back to your normal self soon, everything is allowed.

Step 2: TALK your heart out

Meet a good old friend or anyone you are comfortable with and share your feelings. Sharing will always make you feel lighter. It’ll unclog your mind and make space for positive thoughts.

Step 3: Go out, celebrate and ENJOY

In the first letter Gerry asks her to doll up, go out with her ‘girlies’ and celebrate. If you are not comfortable with the idea of party, go out for shopping, chit-chat with your friends and celebrate the gone by years of togetherness.

Step 4: Stay BUSY!

Keep yourself engaged with work. Focus on your career. Apply and go for interviews or join your old office again. Or join a hobby class. You’ll get to meet people, learn a new skill, and find your way out.

Step 5: HOLIDAY BREAK

Very cleverly, Gerry asks Holly to go on a trip to Ireland and meet his parents. A change in your daily routine and location will cheer you up. It’ll cut you off of all the things that constantly remind you of your worsened situation. So, travel, go on a vacation, relax yourself and have some fun again.

Step 6 – MOVE ON!!!!

It’s the last and the most important step. Chase your dream and take a step ahead to achieve it.

And I repeat, MOVE ON!!!

Nevertheless, moving on is necessary. And here is why.

How it interferes with your health?

Trying to avoid the situation or taking it too seriously can interfere with your normal routine. Research has shown how excess of stress can affect health in uncountable ways and can whistle in the following health issues.

  • Troubles your HEART! – Ripples of any kind of stress are first felt in the heart. According to studies, chronic depression is a threat to the heart making one vulnerable to heart attack and increasing the risk of death by 20%.[1]
  • Diabetic Issue – Having symptoms of diabetes (Pre-diabetes) with the above mentioned signs is a straight way to the danger zone as it increases your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.[2]

Know more about diabetes here – Diabetes Alert! Reverse It While You Can

  • Getting obese? – The risk of getting obese with signs of depression are 58 % more than usual. The reverse is also true. This means, if you are obese, the chances to get depressed out of a situation increase significantly. [3]
  • Substance Abuse – This is a common observation. People begin to find out a solution to depression by drowning themselves in drugs or alcohol. Such fatal habits make the treatment even difficult and can take you to addiction.[4]
  • Suicide – Do you know that two-thirds of all the suicides are triggered by depression?[5] If such thoughts have come across your mind, pick your phone, unlock it and dial 911.

Not to forget, how it harms your energy level, activeness, and general attention to hygiene.

Closing thoughts:

Most of the times, it is our outlook towards a set of circumstances that is directing our mood. As soon as, you accept the changing equations with life, you will start feeling better.

As Holly’s mom tried her best to stay with her whenever Holly needed; parents, teachers and caregivers should remain patient and supportive for their troubled one. Understand that like everything else, it is just a passing phase.

As said in the book, “Don’t be afraid to move on. Shoot for the moon, even if you fail, you’ll land among the stars.”

Things will go up and down, like an ECG wave. If you stand still, reluctant to move on, you are like that dying last pulse.

Living means adjusting your raft to go up and down with the tides and riding the waves like a champion, because in the end, this is your one and only life. May be, it’s great and maybe it’s terrible…but life is now, in the present moment, happening with your breath. Embrace it.

Things might take time to settle down. But they someday they surely will .

Take Care!

Related Post

Reference
[1] Anda R, Williamson D, Jones D, Macera C, Eaker E, Glassman A, & Marks J (1993). Depressed affect, hopelessness, and the risk of ischemic heart disease in a cohort of U.S. adults. Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.), 4 (4), 285-94 PMID: 8347738. ^Back to Top^
[2] Wellen, K., & Hotamisligil, G. (2005). Inflammation, stress, and diabetes Journal of Clinical Investigation, 115 (5), 1111-1119 DOI: 10.1172/JCI25102. ^Back to Top^
[3] Ozcan, U. (2004). Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress Links Obesity, Insulin Action, and Type 2 Diabetes Science, 306 (5695), 457-461 DOI: 10.1126/science.1103160. ^Back to Top^
[4] Najavits, L., Weiss, R., & Shaw, S. (1997). The Link Between Substance Abuse and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Women The American Journal on Addictions, 6 (4), 273-283 DOI: 10.1111/j.1521-0391.1997.tb00408.x. ^Back to Top^

[5]Maercker, A., Einsle, F., & Köllner, V. (2007). Adjustment Disorders as Stress Response Syndromes: A New Diagnostic Concept and Its Exploration in a Medical Sample Psychopathology, 40 (3), 135-146 DOI: 10.1159/000099290. ^Back to Top^

Last Update : 11th July 2014
Next Update: 11th Sept 2014

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