A New Assignment Has Me Worried About Stress

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by Karen Del Vecchio |

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Well, it’s been quite a week. Just two days before school started at the high school where I work, I was asked to pick up a section of Honors U.S. History to teach in addition to my duties as a college counselor and an adviser to international students. The good thing is that I love history; the not-so-good thing is that I’ve never taught this class — or any class, for that matter. 

While I’m clearly around teachers and teaching nearly every day, it’s not my specific area of training, although I’m confident I can learn the skills I need. Despite this, I had to prepare to teach a class in 48 hours. Like many people with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), I also manage an accompanying diagnosis of anxiety, and these past few days have certainly had me working to keep my stress in check.

Although the previous teacher left lots of materials, I still haven’t studied American history in depth in 17 years. (I guess now you know how old I am!) As I’ve mentioned before, reading is one way I manage stress, which is key to keeping my EDS in line. So, yes, it’s one of my favorite topics to read about for fun, but a novel typically takes me on a deep dive into one small area of history rather than giving me a broad overview of it. 

While I’m not a pack rat in general, I definitely am when it comes to academics. Luckily, my parents don’t live too far away, and my mom actually had some idea of where my high school materials might be hiding in the attic. After about a half-hour of searching, we managed to track down my highlighted textbook, all of my handwritten notes, an essay, and each of my tests. Whew!

At least with that, I feel like I have a starting point. My stress level is still super high, though, as it’s already a strange start to the year with all of the COVID-19-related changes and protocols. As usual, I notice my body physically mirrors my mental tension. 

Although this is normal for everyone, it’s even worse when you have EDS. As someone who already has a natural tendency toward tight muscles, when you add stress and tension into the mix, it can quickly go from uncomfortable to flat-out painful.

Thankfully, I’m not at that point, but I know I need to really focus on taking care of myself if I don’t want to end up there soon. That includes things like using my heating pad, stretching, and getting as much sleep as I can while trying to finish everything I need to do. 

The next few weeks in particular are going to be acutely stressful, but I need to make sure that I take the time to recharge, cut myself a little bit of slack (which I’m terrible at doing), and use my heating pad and massage roller to stay as physically comfortable as I can.

It might be a roller coaster, but in the end I’m excited to learn some new skills and dive back into an area I enjoy studying. If nothing else, 2020 continues to throw even more curveballs!


Note: Ehlers-Danlos News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ehlers-Danlos News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Ehlers-Danlos.


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