Recently while at the 1st Responder Treatment Center at Transformations, I discovered that adrenaline junkies can actually run dry. I am not going to pretend to even understand this whole thing, but wanted to share that for years I would laugh when people would refer to me as an “adrenaline junkie” until I realized what that REALLY meant.
Webster says that a “junkie” is a person who gets an unusual amount of pleasure from or has an unusual amount of interest in something.
That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? After all, football season is about to break open and how many of us get an unusual amount of pleasure from THAT?
Reading Webster’s description did not make me feel too bad. What made me feel bad was the MEDICAL definition of a junkie…
Turns out, a junkie is someone “suffering from an addiction”. Wow. Suffering. Addiction. Now it doesn’t seem so innocent or fun, in fact, it leads one to ask the question “What does it really mean to be an adrenaline junkie?”
It is the stress. Without the knowledge or willingness to adopt healthy coping mechanisms, to continually fill voids in my life with fast-paced or dangerous activities, I had created such a stress-filled life that was all there was! The term “adrenaline junkie” is actually inaccurate! It means you are addicted to stress!
Am I rambling? Maybe, but the revelation has come so fast it is hard to put the thoughts together in a cohesive manner… I had actually created a world for myself in which all I did was ALLOW myself to be stressed physically, emotionally, mentally and even spiritually! After a while, because I had allowed this incredible amount of stress to grow, it was all there was! No rest! No sleep! No health!
Stress is a part of life. It is one of the major factors that cause strokes, heart attacks and other illnesses. Not all stress is bad either. The other morning I watched a large group of triathletes on Lake Michigan stress themselves only to become better athletes. We will never escape stress, and in fact, should not try, but how much stress we encounter is too often within our control and sadly responders tend to ignore how much they are “taking”.
Since my visit to Transformations I have had to slow down and take a look at a few things; primarily, how can I begin to “use” less stress (I looked at Walgreens and they do not make a stress patch to help you quit). I am finding new activities to replace old ones…healthier foods to replace the old…trying to create new habits while working on the old…
We need to be honest with ourselves about our ability to deal with stress. Is your everyday filled with work, thoughts of work, the last call you were on, what training you want to take? When you get off shift do you rush home to consume more on television or have you joined another group that feeds your cravings until your next 24 hour shift comes? Have you become that person that cannot enjoy that day off without doing something that leaves you frightened, breathless or completely spent?
Maybe it is time to take a look at that addiction… would you tell me that you can quit anytime you want, you just don’t want to? Think about every movie you have ever seen that featured that exaggerated heroin addict…are you the same when it comes to adrenaline?
As I sit here writing this, I am already healing. The sun is still up, there is much to do, but I have chosen to sit, write a short article and then take in a show (that is NOT about response work) and spend time with my family while petting my dog. Is it easy? Not really, but I am breathing better, feeling better and I know I am on the right road…
Are you an adrenaline junkie?
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