Mail (August, 1998)

Stressed About Stress
From Jean

I am amazed ! I pulled up your web page and read some of the e-mail. I have a scalp and hair loss that is about to drive me crazy between shampoo and itch cream and antibiotics and steroids. What a circus!

I hate the medications, but sometimes with the flare ups I end up with infection. It would be great to find a treatment that could put you into remission for longer periods of time. It gets frustrating and embarrassing.

I have understanding friends and my husband is understanding and tells me to relax. Easy for him to say! When I get really flaky and red he reminds me to go to the derm. I love him dearly.

So if you can learn to control stress does it help? In this day and age how do you control stress? Do you have to be on medication to control your day to day stress? That's a joke. Who wants to be medicated all the time? The steroids are nasty and make me have high and low mood swings.

It is nice to know that there are others to chat with and be able to talk to about this ongoing disease. Thank you for letting me ramble on about a condition that millions of other people have and I am sure a lot have it worse than me. Thanks -Jean


Ed's Response: My questions, exactly. By now, Flake HQ visitors are familiar with my irreverence towards the "it's-caused-by-stress" argument. It's not that I don't believe it. There's simply too much evidence to discount it. The problem is—so what?

Without my irreverence for the whole discussion, my reaction would be just like yours: I'd get stressed about my stress! So, I just tell those who want to steer me towards a high regard for my stress to go away. I'm not going to see a shrink about it. I'm not going take pills for it. I'm not going to ignore it, either. I will continue to deal with it my own way. Someday I may try yoga ... I may change careers ... I may win the lottery ... I may have a lobotomy. In the meantime, I moderate stress by seeking pleasure. Hey! That doesn't make me a Hedonist! "Pleasure" is a broad term.

There are lots of ways to pass time pleasurably. I recently discovered one old/new way to "take pleasure." Believe it or not, it's classical music. I had a brief eight year career as a child cellist during which time I butchered enough classical music to leave me turned off to it for thirty years. But a year or so ago I rediscovered it. And, though it's music I have to think about to enjoy, the whole process is (for me) stress-reducing. (Regrettably, I think the rest of my family finds it stressful.) -Ed


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