July 16, 2018

How Valid is YOUR Stress?

I came across a really good documentary series last night called My Last Days (on The CW channel). It's about people who have terminal illnesses, and how they want to make the most of their remaining time in life. I only watched the first episode of the second season, but it was so heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time. (I'll include some links at the end of this post--you can watch the whole thing on their website)

It made me think of a comment someone left on my last post. Normally, when I get not-so-nice comments on my blog, I just ignore them and don't think about them again. (I've come a LONG way with that--I used to spend days losing sleep and feeling horrible about myself from a stupid blog comment! In therapy last year, I finally had an "aha!" moment, and ever since then, the comments don't bother me at all. I would certainly never draw attention to them, as I'm about to...)

Anyway, so here is what the comment said: "If the biggest stressor in your life right now is your weight, you really need to get a job or go do some volunteer work and stop focusing on yourself so much. I am sure just feeling like you are contributing to the world would make a world a difference.
I would give anything for the biggest stressor in my life to be 30ish pounds overweight."

My first thought was, "Well, I'm *actually* only 10-15 pounds overweight, but okay." BAHAHA!

The comment is right, of course--I have so much good in my life, I have no reason to stress over things as stupid as weight, and all of that. Yeah, I know that.

BUT--if everyone thought that way, then there would only be one person on this planet who could say, "Well, you don't have it as bad as I do, so you have no reason to worry about anything." There are ALWAYS going to be people who are worse off. Does that mean that we are unable feel stressed by what's going on in our own lives? Maybe for some people, but I can't control feeling stressed about things--even things that some people find completely insignificant (like my weight).

My obesity kept me from being the mom I wanted to be to my kids--there were so many things I physically couldn't do with them because I was too big. I even had to hold my breath in order to tie my shoes, because I couldn't bend over and breathe at the same time! I eventually resorted to wearing slip-on shoes.

Every time I felt a slight pain in my chest, I wondered if I was having a heart attack. Knowing I was so overweight made me question a heart attack... in my 20's! My eating habits were setting my kids up to be overweight as well, if I kept up the way I was living.

Are there worse things than being overweight? Of course! But knowing how my life felt when I was 253 pounds makes a small weight gain now feel like a pretty big deal. I don't ever want to get to that point again, and it always starts at 10-15 pounds (or 30! haha). So, maybe outsiders looking at me would think that I have nothing to stress about, and I understand that; but for me, the weight gain equates to my not being able to do the things that I want to do with my family, to setting a bad example for my kids, to fearing for my health almost constantly.

Basically, what I'm getting at is, I don't think it's fair of us to judge what feels stressful to each other. There are always going to be people who have bigger problems than we do, but that doesn't mean that we aren't allowed to feel sad or stressed out over things that we have going on.

Look at Joey. This poor dog feels stressed out every time I leave the house without him. Dogs don't have much to stress about, because we give them everything they need. But Joey worries about things that I imagine normal dogs worry about... "Is she going for a walk without me? Eating treats with another dog? And FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, is she ever coming home?!?!"

If I was being judgmental, I would say that yes--those are ridiculous things to stress about. But I'm not judging, because it's something that dogs in general stress out about. (At least that's what we humans assume based on their behavior)

Whenever I find myself complaining about the heat, I try to remember my brother, Nathan, who spent a few years in Iraq when he was in the Army, and how hot it was there (especially wearing all of his equipment). He said that he once drank over 30 liters of water (I picture 15 of the 2-liter bottles of pop) and he didn't pee for the entire day. THAT'S how dehydrated he got from sweating so much.

Do I have any legit reason to bitch about the heat? Nope. Do I do it anyways, when it's 100 degrees and I'm drenched in sweat? Yup.

Using that same line of thought... I could say, "Wow, he has every reason to complain about the heat! I need to keep my mouth shut." But then someone else could say to Nathan, "Well, you have no reason to complain, because at least you had clean water to drink!"

My point is that this train of thought could go on forever, until you truly get to the one person on earth that has it worse than EVERYBODY else. And even then, who is to judge that? That person could probably say, "Hey, at least I'm still alive. I have no reason to complain."

I could say to the person who left the comment on my blog, "I'm so sorry for what you have going on in your life right now, because it must be very stressful to have caused you to leave that comment. But, at least you have access to the internet. And a device to use it. And the time to read blogs and post comments on them. There are a lot of people who don't have those things!"

Does that mean that the commenter shouldn't feel stressed out by whatever is going on? I don't think so. I think that the commenter feels like his/her problems are worse than my own, and therefore, my stress isn't valid. And if leaving a comment to let me know about it makes him or her feel better, then I accept that. Whatever floats your boat!

In my opinion, I think that whatever feels stressful to people is all relative to their way of living. It might look superficial and ridiculous to others, but if it causes them stress, then it's just as valid as the stress of someone who has what other people would call a "bigger problem".

But what would I know? I'm just a blogger who contributes nothing to anyone but herself 😉

Anyway, after that very long tangent... the documentary series ("My Last Days") is very inspiring! It will certainly make you feel grateful for all that you have (especially your health). But I learned quite a bit about two major health conditions in just the one episode. I had heard of ALS, for example, but I really didn't know anything about it until seeing a glimpse into the life of someone who has it. It was very eye-opening.

In looking for a link, I just discovered that the whole series is available on the CW website, which is pretty awesome! Here is a link to the episode that I watched (I especially loved Anthony's story): Season 2, Episode 1. Here is the general link to the show's page. I was hoping to be able to watch season one, but I don't see where it's available, so I'm not sure if it is.

I hope everyone had a great weekend. Noah is away at church camp all week, so it'll just be Eli and me hanging out together this week! :)


  1. AMEN. We can't live a life of comparison, expecting to know what everyone else is going through. I can resonate, Katie. My Mom is obese and has had two heart attacks. While I am currently at a healthy weight, I fear the hereditary nature of weight gain (and I have been overweight several times myself)...weight gain can be a scary thing. And until you have walked in someones shoes, one should not judge. No one ought to judge ever really...in my opinion.

  2. Yes! Amen to this post, we are all fighting our own hard battles.

  3. I agree! If something is stressing me out, it's stressing *ME* out. Whether it would bother you or you think it's silly is not really any of my concern. And I think that your an especially valid stressor when it triggers the idea that if you keep on the path you're on now it would take away some of the things you have been able to do since losing the weight. I'm in the same boat and it's ridiculously overwhelming sometimes.

    I also think that the opposite can be true. Things that don't bother you could be the most stressful thing in the world to someone else. A sales job would be stressful to someone who doesn't like to talk to people, and a job in accounting would be stressful to someone who isn't good with numbers. We are all wired differently, but that doesn't give us cause to judge you by the standards I have for my own life. Basically, you do you, boo.

  4. Nicely said.....And I feel this is soooo hard for those who are depressed too. From the outside everything looks wonderful so others may judge as to "Why are they depressed?" But, WE don't KNOW WhaT it feels LIKE inside THEIR HeaD!!

    About 15 years ago we had our first close friend commit suicide. Nobody would have ever thought HE would be depressed to the point of suicide but it happened.

    From then I look at everything differently but I still get stressed about my 10-15 pound weight gain!

  5. I agree with you. But while the comment wasn't stated well, there is a kernel of truth there that sometimes works for me: when I'm feeling really stressed about something (large or small), getting out and doing something - volunteering, an act of kindness for someone else (stranger or friend), that sort of thing - does help me keep things in perspective. Does it solve my stress? No, but it is one way that I have found can be helpful for me in managing stress. Take care!

    1. Yes I agree that perspective is what we are all aiming for but it much harder to do than say!

    2. But the whole point is that Katie does this every single day. If she had a physical job where she actually went and counseled people with mental health issues by sharing her stories and hearing and helping them out then a comment like this would never have come about. And that is because it fills a conventional role that people are comfortable with and makes them happy that she has a real "job". Katie blogs and her message reaches the whole world. I live in Norway and have never met her but she has impacted my life deeply. She writes and responds to people who email her using her own precious time and energy, which she does out of the sheer goodness of her heart. And all she received for her time and dedication and energy is a very modest income from ads on her site. As far as I am concerned, this woman is an angel and for people to pick on her is just astounding to me!

      I wish when you are sad Katie that you could just know that there are hundreds and possibly thousands of people who are sending you love and good will. Please don't stop blogging!

  6. I have a little saying saved on my pinterest that is something along the lines of 'saying someone can't be sad because someone out there may have it worse is like saying someone can't be happy because someone out there has it better.'

    1. That is thought provoking...getting a pen and paper right now.

  7. No one can decide if stressors are “valid” or not. That is determined by each of us. I came here to comment because I think cbt is very helpful for this type of struggle, and I haven’t read any mentions of this type of therapy on your blog. Just something to consider, and much love to you!

  8. Katie, I just wanted to tell you I love your blog so much. I love that you write about simple things, about everyday life, about fun moments, love and sadness. If you were a stoic, austere world-savior who would only write about terrible tragedies I would not read. Getting stuck into comparing one's calamities with someone else's is a miserable way to live.

  9. I like your tangent. Everyone's stresses are their own, and fully valid. :)

  10. I love everything about this post. But honestly my favorite part is about Joey. One, because I adore when people give dogs human names. And two, your summary of his worries. LOL! Dogs really do have it made, don't they?!

  11. Well said Katie. Well said.

  12. I love how far you come and how much you share with us. Its inspiring.
    - Kady

  13. Could not have been more tactful!! When I read that comment I cringed. Thank goodness people cannot read our minds because then we would be judged constantly!!!
    Take care Katie :)

  14. Katie has a job, its called being a parent and many child minders get paid for looking after children all. Katie, you are a good parent, you spent time with your kids, for example taking them to do sports. Look how they have grown up. Some people dont appreciated parents enough. It sounds like lots of your stress is really about being a parent. I keep reading this blog because I am a parent too. Its hard to fit in kids and house and husband. Feeding them makes sticking to a diet much harder I found. Also its impossible to be a perfect parent as there is always more you could do for them or less to make them more independent... You can't win. Dont be so hard on yourself. Easy for me to say or write than do. I will try a maintenance diet next with one low calorie day a week to try to lose weight with only extra self control on one day. I will read your determination post again as weight is a long term time but also one day at a time. Hope that makes sense.

  15. Katie this is a such an important post. I'm stressed. Stressed all the time and I absolutely feel like my life has too many stressful things going on and that my stress is validated. But I keep hearing how I should be greatful for things I have and not complain about what I dont have. Even worse, I'm being told that its the negativity that I accumulate by thinking about such things that I attract bad things in my life. I live it have a hard time dealing with all the things that are going on and add to it I'm being told that I have somehow attracted all these due to my negative thinking. Life sucks big and people suck even bigger. Take care Katie. You are such a inspiration to a turn of people, I absolutely dont want you to feel low. Cheer up my girl. I was in Michigan recently and kept wondering how nice it will be to run into Katie. I'm @ Chicago and someday I will meet you and will give you a big huggg.

  16. I read this and have found it very true.. hope it helps you too-

    Your Trauma is Real

    Even if other people have experienced "worse". Even if someone else who went through the same experience doesn't feel debilitated by it. Even if it "could have been avoided". Even if it happened a long time ago. Even if no one knows. Your trauma is real and valid and you deserve a space to talk about it. It isn't desperate or pathetic or attention-seeking. It's self-care. It's inconceivably brave. And regardless of the magnitude of your struggle, you're allowed to take care of yourself by processing and unloading some of the pain you carry. Your pain matters. Your experience matters. and your healing matters. Nothing and no one can take that away.

  17. Katie, I am so glad you responded to that post and I admire the way you did it. Everyone has their ups and downs. It is part of life. Sending you lots of love and support. (I always read your blogs and they have helped me so much!)

  18. Unrelated, but I just wanted to show you what popped up on my Facebook memories today... ;)


  19. I think this post felt pertinent to me because I feel like I make these types of comments to myself when I am feeling stressed and sad and overwhelmed (and a variety of other negative emotions) and feed a downward spiral into darker mental space...that I have such a good life that it is ridiculous that I am not ecstatically happy all the time and instead stressed and depressed. Thanks for reminding me that sometimes it is good to just recognize that our current feeling is valid regardless if it is logically so.

  20. Funny, I would always eyeroll those women who made a huge deal about how they needed to lose 10 pounds.
    But looking back, I wish I did tackle it at ten pounds. Maybe then the other 80 wouldn't have needed to be lost, too lol


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