Let's talk about psychosis and how to recover

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marycontrary

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Let's talk about psychosis and how to recover
« on: January 16, 2015, 02:12:08 PM »
I have had a number of psychotic breakdowns. I am not schizophrenic, nor bipolar, but do possess a very sensitive constitution to stress and grief. I have studied this via academic journal papers and other expert channels, and I think I have a grip on this.

1. Psychosis is an extreme dissociative state induced by intense grief or stress
2. The parts of your cortex, frontal, temporal, parietal, and occipital---that join up with one another or with deeper structures  (association areas or junctions) becomes scrambled. With all of the areas EXCEPT the frontal, this is how various auditory or visual hallucinations occur.
3. One does sustain brain damage with each cycle, the more cycles, the more damage, thus leading to more psychosis
4. Therefore, it is extremely important to self monitor and nip symptoms in the bud
5. It takes a LONG time to recover. Motivation and memory are most stubborn. Almost impossible to function in everyday life.

This was a deep source of shame for a long time. I have tried to talk about this multiple people, only to be cut off or to be stared at like a deer with the headlights. Shame on THEM. When I allow psychosis to break in---and this is by having poor boundaries, exposure to toxic people or situations, etc., then I cease functioning as a regular person, and settle in this total dreamlike dissociative state. When I stop functioning, I become extremely suicidal, because essentially this is a walking dead state.

Again, I have said before that life has to be worth living. Since I do not have family to rely on, I have to be very, very careful so I do not fall destitute or homeless, because of the nonfunctioning---essentially staring at a wall all day in psychotic flashbacks.

Of course, this "propensity" serves me greatly when I keep healthy. I am creative, very intelligent, and can solve complex problems (in science, business, or in life) that nobody else can. For instance, I cured life long genetically based hypothyroidism---ran through the females on my grandma's side like wildfire, including thyroid cancer. It was a caffeine and dairy allergy. Totally cured. I have created a very small self employment business so that I could emigrate, as my environment greatly affect my mental state. I have award winning art that is been in museums and TV. I am a good functioning human being. The world needs this badly. But I have to really watch the stress and grief so that I don't slip into nonfunctioning psychosis and substance abuse to cope with the agony.

Your thought or experiences?

 

Re: Let's talk about psychosis and how to recover
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2015, 04:22:17 PM »
No experiences at all with psychosis, but a lot of experience with stress reactions. Mine are physical, mostly, plus brain fog and demotivation. If I'm going through a bad patch, I also get strong EFs a few times a day, and I get suicidal.

One big ah-ha! experience was pregnancy. When I was pregnant, whenever I got stressed, I threw up. That's how I became more aware of what stresses me how strongly how often. Before, I was trying so hard to live a "normal life". I was trying to function like someone without CPTSD, someone who is normally (not highly) sensitive. So I'd learned to push my stress away. I thought I didn't even have the right to be stressed. It's still a bit of a task to be aware of what stresses me - I was taught to simply push on and ignore it.

If I'm reading this right, this is also an issue for you - finding a stance where we can say "YES other people don't struggle with this, but I do, and I'm taking care of myself the best way I can". It's so easy to just apply "normal" standards to ourselves. At least it is for me - I keep on slipping up, and I think I'll have to go on working on this for the next few years, oh joy.

I've lost patience with the way people deal with this. Especially women do this to each other: when someone talks about their troubles, you'll sooner or later hear someone say that "my (aunt/friend/neighbour) was in your precise situation and she dealt with it admirably!" Oh yeah? Well, Stephen Hawking hasn't got half of your advantages and he's a bestseller-writing certified world-famous genius, how about that? Or this: "oh, but surely things could be so much worse." Absolutely. We could suddenly see a giant rift open into another dimension, out of which an army of winged tyrannosaurs could come to conquer the earth, and just when the good guys have won the day - ka-BOOM, meteor strike! By contrast, your problems don't matter at all. Always keep the tyrannosaurs in mind and you'll be happy.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2015, 07:31:13 PM by schrödinger's cat »

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marycontrary

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Re: Let's talk about psychosis and how to recover
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2015, 05:44:48 PM »
Well SC, I could write a book on invalidation. Over the last 3 years "exactly", I have tamed the inner critic. You know what happens when some d***ebag (sorry I am swearing so much this morning) pull that minimizing crap on me? I tell them to F...Off. Not literally. But one of my "boundaries" is to distance myself from somebody who has troubles with processing empathy.
Here are my list of boundaries
1. No liars
2. No addicts (this includes food, sex, gambling, etc. as well)
3. No people  who have problems processing empathy
4. No reckless people---this also includes the elderly who will not address self care/behavioral issues.

This is probably why I have had to let go of so many relationships. Honestly, since I have followed this list of boundaries, my personal relationships have never been better. The people I am close with know damn straight I am sensitive, will not tolerate drama, and I think they actually value that. There are people in the world who do greatly value integrity.

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alovelycreature

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Re: Let's talk about psychosis and how to recover
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2015, 08:06:21 PM »
I know what you are talking about. From as early as I can remember (around age 3?) till about age 22 I had insomnia to the point of visual and auditory hallucinations. Very scary. One time I almost drive to work in the middle of the night in my PJs to serve a customer. They stopped happening when I moved in with my best friend who I felt safe with. It was the first time in my life I could sleep through the night and the visual hallucinations stopped.

I always had more auditory hallucinations than visual ones. An old T told me this is very common in those who have childhood trauma. Your brain doesn't function properly. The only time I have auditory hallucinations now is when I am under very extreme stress and dissociative. Or in these situations I will become very paranoid.

As an artist myself, I often make artwork about these things. It's a safe way to express these experiences. Also, I don't know if I read this, or someone on OOTS suggested this, but I will literally say out loud to myself (often while hugging my dog), "This is not real. I am safe unless there is clear evidence that I am in danger. This is an amygdala hijacking." I don't know what works well for you for getting back into your body, but mine is taking a walk, hot bath, pets, and body scans. It's like taking care the child part of yourself that never learned emotional regulation and lives in a state of fear.

Have you read The Body Keeps the Score? I'm reading it right now. The way the book explains all the different ways our brains are effected by trauma is incredibly amazing. Knowing that there is a biological component to all this has been helpful to me. That there is nothing wrong with me, but there is something wrong with what happened to me! Also, I'm a HSP, so I don't know if that has a role in the psychosis.

Do you think that your imagination and creativity play a role in psychosis? I always wondered that in myself. I feel like I have a very active imagination.

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marycontrary

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Re: Let's talk about psychosis and how to recover
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2015, 08:29:53 PM »
ALC, I have had visual hallucinations when I was a terrible insomniac, just like you. My big thing was paranoid delusions, like when I was a teenager and young adult, I used to think camaras were on me, and the the FBI was watching. Yours seems to be more in the rear part of the cortex and mine seemed to be in the frontal lobe. I have delusions that god hated me (still wonder, lol), that everybody was after me. That nobody loved me.

A few months ago, I had to let go of a family member who has severely violated the above boundaries, and they had no insight and mucho entitlement. I was so heartbroken that I was in a solid EF stream for days. I got ahold of my therapist, writing about the betrayal and collateral damage, and he could not understand me. I realized that I was unraveling, and I had to stop it right then or I would be nonfunctional for a long time. So like you, I saw my frontal lobe was crapping out (weird, because frontal lobe processes self insight). And the hijacking, yes, for 2 solid years I would just sit and observe like a Buddhist monk those awful EF events, and they started burning themselves out.

And like you, I am a pretty good self Mom these days. I walk the line right now because my life is so unstable (like the other thread you commented on) and my will and personal effort are of limited use---these are external event that I cannot control----only my reaction can be controlled.

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C.

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Re: Let's talk about psychosis and how to recover
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2015, 09:53:57 PM »
I have a friend who had her first psychosis that I knew about several years ago.  It was painful for both of us, and I know that I didn't handle it well at one point.  I was just in too much pain myself and protection of my kids.  However, several months later I realized my mistake, apologized and have had some contact since that time.  I know that she was originally diagnosed with schizophrenia but we later all noticed that did not describe her long-term reality.  No that I've educated myself and knowing her reality I'm pretty sure that CPTSD and psychosis "nos" describes her experience.

I have another friend from my faith community who talks openly about her psychosis with me, describing the challenge of the voices she hears.  I just listen and validate.  I figure we all have something to work through to process and for some people, this is theirs.

I watched someone in a hospital setting have a nurse very compassionately talk her through an experience reminding her that the voices were being created by her mind and that they were "tricking" her...that she was safe and ok...in that situation this helped a lot.

I don't know what words would help here...do you like to speak and hear Spanish?  I know from another post that you are bilingual...given my experiences my compassionate side seems more easily experienced there...solo q eres una persona noble y tus experiencias, tu compasion y deseo para sanar siguen ayudando a ti mismo y las personas a tus redadores...

I guess just that I understand some and am open to learning more about how to support anyone dealing with psychosis.

And I see from your posts that you have put in place many processes to get and stay healthy.

Thank you for bringing up this topic and hopefully we can all help to learn and support this recovery as well.

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marycontrary

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Re: Let's talk about psychosis and how to recover
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2015, 01:03:11 PM »
Hey there C, thanks for your response. Mi espanol es debil, pero hacimos mejor cada dia. I might be able to say yes to that in 6 months...as I am quickly getting there. This is about empowerment. What people can do to minimize the onset and duration.

This is just a frank mechanical talk on the aspects of psychosis and how to fix it or prevent it. It affects a lot of people with CPTSD--and there really isn't a heck of a lot out there that describes solutions other than antipsychotics, which can be very harmful for a lot of people. In fact people taking antipsychotics have a poorer outcomes over time than people who don't (It was a a 30 year study, I think).  I have overcome these things ultimately without medication. I took 11 different meds spanning over a 14 year period, with zero lasting improvement, and a LOT of harm.

For me, the key is to really managing stress by minimizing exposure to toxic people and situations. Ultimately, it is avoid cognitive dissonance---that is the real culprit here.


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Whobuddy

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Re: Let's talk about psychosis and how to recover
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2015, 04:07:03 PM »

One big ah-ha! experience was pregnancy. When I was pregnant, whenever I got stressed, I threw up. That's how I became more aware of what stresses me how strongly how often. Before, I was trying so hard to live a "normal life". I was trying to function like someone without CPTSD, someone who is normally (not highly) sensitive. So I'd learned to push my stress away. I thought I didn't even have the right to be stressed. It's still a bit of a task to be aware of what stresses me - I was taught to simply push on and ignore it.

I've lost patience with the way people deal with this. Especially women do this to each other: when someone talks about their troubles, you'll sooner or later hear someone say that "my (aunt/friend/neighbour) was in your precise situation and she dealt with it admirably!" Oh yeah? Well, Stephen Hawking hasn't got half of your advantages and he's a bestseller-writing certified world-famous genius, how about that? Or this: "oh, but surely things could be so much worse." Absolutely. We could suddenly see a giant rift open into another dimension, out of which an army of winged tyrannosaurs could come to conquer the earth, and just when the good guys have won the day - ka-BOOM, meteor strike! By contrast, your problems don't matter at all. Always keep the tyrannosaurs in mind and you'll be happy.

OMG, I never put it together with the throwing up in pregnancy. I did that all the time and my life was so very stressful but I was trying to act as if everything was fine. My poor son was born so thin. He is still thin at 34 so I guess it is a good thing now.

Oh, and about all the others who have it worse, blah, blah, blah. I see this as a common theme in OOTS. First we have to validate that yes we do have needs that are legitimate. And then we need validation that we are worthy of the time and resources that we need to heal. This is so cruel. If it were a physical illness the world would not be so callous.

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Whobuddy

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Re: Let's talk about psychosis and how to recover
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2015, 04:10:23 PM »

This was a deep source of shame for a long time. I have tried to talk about this multiple people, only to be cut off or to be stared at like a deer with the headlights. Shame on THEM. When I allow psychosis to break in---and this is by having poor boundaries, exposure to toxic people or situations, etc., then I cease functioning as a regular person, and settle in this total dreamlike dissociative state. When I stop functioning, I become extremely suicidal, because essentially this is a walking dead state.

Again, I have said before that life has to be worth living. Since I do not have family to rely on, I have to be very, very careful so I do not fall destitute or homeless, because of the nonfunctioning---essentially staring at a wall all day in psychotic flashbacks.

Of course, this "propensity" serves me greatly when I keep healthy. I am creative, very intelligent, and can solve complex problems (in science, business, or in life) that nobody else can. For instance, I cured life long genetically based hypothyroidism---ran through the females on my grandma's side like wildfire, including thyroid cancer. It was a caffeine and dairy allergy. Totally cured. I have created a very small self employment business so that I could emigrate, as my environment greatly affect my mental state. I have award winning art that is been in museums and TV. I am a good functioning human being. The world needs this badly. But I have to really watch the stress and grief so that I don't slip into nonfunctioning psychosis and substance abuse to cope with the agony.


It is so amazing that you have such a great understanding of your life and your brain. You have truly done great things despite your challenges. Keep doing the things that serve to keep you healthy and healing. Bravo!!

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C.

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Re: Let's talk about psychosis and how to recover
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2015, 08:38:44 PM »
Hi Marycontrary,

Thanks for your response.

This thread has really helped me to understand the need to know our stresses and how to limit them.  I think I understood this on a nonverbal level but everyone here has validated and put together pieces of the puzzle of truth.  I remember my two friends who deal with psychosis specifically stating this to me.  One noticed that as long as she works part-time and is in a healthy environment she does better.  I think her ex is such a stressor that it made it nearly impossible for her to be around her children, beginning from when they were abou 4-5 years old.  My friends have told me this in so many words, but now I understand a little better.  True for me as well, but I'm at an earlier stage figuring out my stressors.

I used to be able to cope with a mediocre marriage, parenting, an acting out teen, a job with very high levels of responsibility & emotional stress, and take Master's level classes.  I did all of these at the same time, but since the end of my marriage I've barely been able to work.  I have been able to parent reasonably well.  But self care, parenting and a low stress job is all that I can handle right now, and I guess I still feel a bit of shame and guilt about that...I long for the me that didn't have emotional breaks and could handle more.  Now I can feel the anxiety start to make my arms tremble, hold back tears and my thoughts just start to shut down in the same situations of work that I could handle in the past.

I'm at a point in my life where I simply cut out most of the people (outside of my current work) because I couldn't yet tell who had a positive influence and who did not.  Now I'm gradually adding people back in and paying close attention to my response.

I'm curious Marycontrary, on your list of qualities of people with whom you no longer associate, were you referring to in general, or in interactions with you?  And do you think someone can be different in different situations?  For example, not empathetic with co-workers but empathetic with their kids or to not lie to some people and does lie to others.  Do you think that these negative behaviors sooner or later show up everywhere?  How do you assess others for addiction, especially to food? 

Thanks again everyone for this discussion.

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marycontrary

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Re: Let's talk about psychosis and how to recover
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2015, 10:40:09 PM »
Wow, what a great thread!Thanks Whobuddy and C.

Whobuddy, I am a scientist, and I was trained in the study of the human stress response (physiopsychology). I have taught over a 1000 premed students, and I emphasized the study of stress and homeostasis when understanding the etiology of pathology.
Stress can be mechanical, chemical, and for higher animals, psychological. All disease results from  stress on a cellular level.

C., when you endure long stretch of intensity, it is like racking up debt on a credit card with 40% interest. Yup, all this superwoman stuff has to be paid back, with interest. I  worked 7 days a week in my business for years. I took care of 2 dying inlaws while working and getting my graduate degree---and I got that in almost record time.  * no I can't do it any more. I will not care take anymore. So please try not to feel shame---this is biology, and it happens to everybody who overdoes it for long periods of time.

On the sister site "out of the fog", there are many discussions about detecting red flags from toxic people. As an aspie (person with high level autism) learning these things has been like gold.  Probably weeding out people who have issues with empathy---people that just don't "get it", will take care of weeding out a big fractions of a**clowns right off. People who are liars or addicts rarely can keep there toxicity contained for long....and usually have issues with empathy, so you can get rid of them before you discover toxic lying, recklessness, addiction, or other stupid drama behavior. It is like empathy goes to * first, and all the other stuff follows next. Just my 2 cents... 



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C.

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Re: Let's talk about psychosis and how to recover
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2015, 11:20:10 PM »
Thank you for helping point me in the direction of another step.  With a specific place on OOTF I think I'll doing some more reading.  And for the validation...I still am having a hard time letting go of the superwoman me who did too much...but all of this takes time.

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Annegirl

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Re: Let's talk about psychosis and how to recover
« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2015, 04:09:08 AM »
Hi MaryContrary I really love the name you picked, by the way.
I agree with you that psychosis symptoms come about in a toxic environment whether replayed on your own by the habit of being around toxic people/environment or by still being in that environment. Which if I read right, you are no longer in such an environment.
I too had symptoms, heard voices etc when I was young and imagination became real. I remember crazy things I believed thought I saw, and even said to people and cringe now thinking about talking about.
Very scary real dreams, like demons visiting me. My mother used to bring me to get prayed for and even though she ( I believe)was the cause of my "psychosis" I stopped hearing voices sometime in my childhood.

I remember cutting about 6 warts off my knees with scissors, for paranoid reasons.

I was still very paranoid until in my 20's when I went overseas from NZ to Central America to do relief work. To help others not thinking it would help me.  This helped me immensely even though I still had not much empathy at that stage. ( a bit hard to even know about empathy if you get beaten every day of your life and just try to survive)
Then I met my husband who has been kidnapped by Muslims and as a Christian in a Muslim country is "lucky" to be alive. I don't know why but his stories started helping me make sense of the world and his very blazé attitude to misfortune helped me not panic so much inside about little things my background taught me to feel were life and death. He is very positive and has seen a couple of close friends/ his favourite teacher, killed in front of him. There are many other horrors he has witnessed and he seldom talks about these things but when he has he says it very matter of factly and this is life type of attitude. Somehow this calmed down my manic/ paranoid mind not that I still don't disassociate but his laid back attitude really helped me see that all the things I used to see as life threatening thoughts, like negative thoughts I would obsess about OCD anorexia all the things I had started to disappear.

Really I'm so sorry if im completely barking up the wrong tree here. Which I probably completely am, I just wanted to say what helped me get through my psychosis symptoms. It's probably different for everyone. But I suppose what I'm trying to say is maybe there is a pathway of thinking that is habitual and maybe it would help to have a complete change in atmosphere?

And please tell me if I am not discribing psychosis, maybe I'm simply talking about stress symptoms?

Does being an artist give you a creative outlet? For me my music compositions get out most of my pain and helps me to let it go. Is this similar for you and your artwork.?
Warmly
Annegirl
« Last Edit: January 18, 2015, 04:57:48 AM by Annegirl »

Re: Let's talk about psychosis and how to recover
« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2015, 05:49:21 AM »
This is such a good thread. I've been feeling more and more overwhelmed lately, and it's just so disconcerting when it happens. It's like you say, C: I long for the me who was able to just get things done with little effort, and I feel upset and confused about how "weak" I am just now.

So thanks, MaryContrary, for pointing out that sooner or later stress will take its toll. It's like I'd taken up an energy mortgage, and now payments are due, would that metaphor work?

And I constantly, constantly forget that's it's something physical. My surroundings have always reacted to my depression/PTSD by pointing out that I was lazy and needed a better attitude. Honestly, nowadays I can hardly ever get a head cold without instantly worrying that "if I had the right attitude, I wouldn't feel so tired right now", which is just screamingly ridiculous, but there you go. That pattern has been etched into my thoughts by many years of repetition, and I'll just have to hammer it back out again very patiently.

Simply just hearing that I'm not alone - it was exactly what I needed today. I'm so relieved. Because you see, that was what made things so difficult. When I grew up, no one else was so tired, lethargic, withdrawn, unable to be cheerful and can-do. I can't begin to describe how confusing and unsettling this was. Even now, I tend to feel ashamed for being stressed. It's about as sensible as feeling guilty for getting migraines, I suppose. But there we go. Hearing everyone's story normalizes this. It's not me - it's a simple connection of cause and effect. IF I get stressed out for too long, THEN I'll have decreased levels of energy.

Annegirl, my husband is very matter-of-fact, too, and it's helped me a LOT. I think it's because my mother is a highly worried woman who reacts with fear and distrust towards so many things. Her worry bleeds over into me. That's another thing I have to watch out for, maybe - people who stress out over the littlest things and then try to make ME feel stressed and concerned too. My husband isn't like that at all, and our youngest kid is just like him. They saunter through their days much like Baloo the Bear in that one song about "the bare necessities".

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marycontrary

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Re: Let's talk about psychosis and how to recover
« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2015, 01:20:31 PM »
Wow ladies, thanks for adding such valuable insight.  :hug:

To be sure, I think there are genetic sensitivities, like there are sensitivities to type II diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Doesn't mean you HAVE to get it...just means the biological trigger is set lower.

Yes, Anne and SC, it is totally related to stress. I know I might be offending some, but my direct experience is that the Westernized, (former) high wealth, high pressure, way of doing things triggers a lot of mental illness in all sorts of people. 70 million people are on prescribed psychotropic drugs in the US at any one time. 70 MILLION. And this is only for people who can afford or access treatment.

I find it very punitive in the US. The US system punishes it's best and brightest---and many of them are leaving. I found working conditions in so called "high level" positions to be worse than my minimum wage fast food job in high school. The constant threats to your job, the huge, long hours,  the "doctoring" of paperwork. And the low pay.

And the homelessness. How is a veteran from Afghanistan supposed to heal if he is sleeping under a bridge?  Many shelters are dangerous. Food banks hand out junk food that perpetuates diabetes and heart disease. A simple trip to the emergency room costs 2 months wages (or more). Can't afford basic dental care. Families just literally falling apart, with MOST children living in poverty.

 It is illegal to be homeless, and shift without cash in most places in the US, so you become a criminal in the largest....by far...penal system in the world. If you are caught with possession of a small amount of pot (I am not endorsing this),  down here, the cops roll their eyes and may or may not ask you to throw it out. No jail. I have been here a year and I have not seen one shakedown.

 You just don't have these issues of the same magnitude in South America.  What the * have we become?

I think we have a collapsing, illness producing culture, and sensitive, predispositioned people really need to tip toe and be careful to stay healthy in this type of environment. The odds of being thrown on the street or put in jail are not small.

So yes, exposure to high adrenaline and cortisol (and the cascade of other nervous and immune response) over a long period of time will cause illness...period. The stress response was only suppose to be for short bursts, not for long drawn out intervals.