That fucker, fight or flight, that instinct when you’re cornered by a beast or some twat of a boss at work, who’s micro-managing and bullying as a power game, is one stress indicator.
Where you want to lamp the savage dog, or the knobhead boss, or simply run away – slink off, disappear and get signed off.
Men fight or fly a lot.
It’s programmed in me and you – and schools and those knobhead leaders seemed to induce both frequently. I think it’s the same in most jobs – the ones managing you are often bullies and incompetent and deflect their own uselessness in political hierarchical vendettas.
5 years ago, I ran away with stress and when I summoned up willpower to return, it got worse and I ran off again, never to return. Those days are gone though because that long chapter of my life has been slammed shut, stamped down and disposed of.
Scientifically though there are three hormones associated with acute stress:
Cortisol is a stress hormone. Heart rate, blood pressure, respiration and muscle tension are all affected by raised levels of it.
Epinephrine is adrenaline – fight or flight – a hormone produced by the adrenal glands.
Oxytocin is the love hormone – triggered by touch.
All three hormones can surface in stressed men (and women).
When I was battling at my workplace, I was placed on betablockers as my heart rate and blood pressure were so high, engaged in binge drinking to fight the stress and withdrew from social and physical contact as my stress deepened.
Now you can’t order a chemical diagnosis kit from Amazon or Argos and get these measured and sorted – you have to change a way of behaving, reacting and working.
I make no bones that teaching had become a daily torture ritual in that toxic workplace, and it’s funny now, how 5 years on, my blood pressure is normal, I do engage in social activities and I don’t often feel the need to employ fight or flight techniques.
To me, the job was making me stressed and by leaving it, by changing lifestyles, adopting a dog, binning the booze, doing something I now love, has made me well.
I’m a bit fat – and need to lose weight – but those three hormones are now controlled and I’m in control of my life again.