Some people have a low stress tolerance so even the slightest thing could become a crisis like spilling a beverage. They may have a hard time with self-regulation and can be extremely reactive (tantrums, anger, procrastination, hyperactivity, and/or give up) rather than flexible and appropriate to the situation. What others see as a small situation could have someone with a low stress tolerance spiral into anxious or criss based thoughts.
Then there are others that dissociate which can be an automatic response that can just happen. A coping mechanism where they appear calm and not stressed on the outside but on the inside they feel numb and completely shut down. Detached from the world around them.
My Low Stress Tolerance Story
Although there are times where I look back and think I may have overreacted to a situation, I relate more to the dissociative response. I’ll be having a conversation and seem as if I’m fully present but mentally I’m just not there. Feeling numb, can’t concentrate on what’s being said, struggling to connect, emotionally unavailable, and missing chunks of time.
My hypervigilance of the impact my behavior has on others allows me to appear calmer than I feel on the inside while going through a stressful situation. Once the situation has passed, I overthink my reaction and feel exhausted from masking my emotions.
One day as I was driving home from the grocery store, I noticed my car felt off and my tires visually looked a little low. As I was putting the groceries away, I kept thinking that I have to remember to put air in the tires sometime today. The next morning I panicked because I didn’t remember to put the air in the tires. Boy, did I beat myself up over that mistake!
Now, I’m in a time crunch to get somewhere and the panic sets in. I check them and they are low so I use my new air pump which stops working halfway through pumping the first tire. I find an extension cord and that doesn’t work. I plug it into an outlet and head to the nearest gas station.
The gas station air seems to be coming out of the hose but my tire isn’t filling. After the second time I paid for air and it still wasn’t working, I threw the hose toward the hose holder rather than wrapping it as it’s still blowing air out of it saying some negative things about the state I live in.
At this point my mind is racing. I know the other 2 gas stations air pumps in my town do not work, that’s why I had to purchase one. My drive is filled with such fear, negative thoughts, and bitter emotions but somehow I am able to remain calm on the outside.
Although I made it home without a tire blow out, my stressful situation wasn’t over. I let it charge most of the day and it still wasn’t working. Turns out that I used the wrong plug for the air pump battery. I finally found the right plug and only had an hour for it to charge before I had to drive again. It worked just enough to fill the tires a little bit and then after that trip, I was finally able to pump them all up to capacity.
An all day stressful tire situation may not have been a big situation for some people, but it was for me and my overwhelming spiraling thoughts of doom that my mind took me. It did allow me to come to the conclusion that perhaps it’s time for new tires or another car. Even though the two troubled tires were brand new as of last year. Would have been nice to have someone in my life to share this situation with, sometimes just having the presence of another like-minded adult is enough to stop the spiraling thoughts.
This is where my therapist comes in to remind me of the tools to use in situations that happen. I feel so emotionally unregulated that I need someone to tell me if a situation called for the emotions I felt or not. If I overacted or not. What I could have done better or if I did all I could at the time.
I hope that my low stress tolerance story has helped shed some light on different ways that we can walk through life and learn from one another. Maybe my story could help you, someone you know, and/or maybe my experience is good to hear because it’s relatable. Sometimes hearing someone’s story can help us process our own.
We just have to keep trying different things to find what will work for us. Remember that what may work for one, may not work for another. Hang on and keep trying!
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