According to an internet search, Psychology Today says:

stress generally refers to two things: the psychological perception of pressure, on the one hand, and the body’s response to it, on the other, which involves multiple systems, from metabolism to muscles to memory.

What stress means to me:

Constant headaches, sensitivity to light and sound. Sore neck muscles and shoulders, often times with limitations on movement. Bloating and stomach irritation. Lack of sleep caused by broken sleep, late nights, early mornings and the inability to calm my mind long enough to fall asleep. Constant feelings of inadequacy, anger, rage, hatred, sadness, depression and other feelings that I lack the words to describe.

My whole body hurts and often times, my day is interrupted by chest pains. Sometimes these chest pains prevent me from moving my arm or from picking up my almost 2 year old. Stress robs me of energy and steals my motivation.

Stress causes anxiety. If I stay home all day, I stress out because I should have run errands, I should have taken my daughters to the park, I should have gone to the gym, I should have taken my youngest for a walk in her stroller, I should have spent more time playing with my daughters. Why can’t I be left alone? Please, I am trying to do dishes, stop hanging on my legs. My head is pounding, please be quiet. Stop dragging the cat. Get out of there! Please go play with toys, mom is busy. I just need 5 minutes!!!! My head is spinning, my heart is racing, my chest hurts. All the lights are off, but it is still to damn bright in here. The light hurts my eyes. Get away from me!! Stop hanging on me! Please, I need a break. My whole body is shaking and I cannot breathe. I feel dizzy and want to pass out. I think I might vomit. Please, I need quiet!! I need to be alone! Please, just go play and leave me alone!!! I can’t stop crying. I curl up in a ball on the floor and cry. No one leaves me alone. Just make it all stop!!!

If I go out, then I stress and have an all out panic attack in public. I should have stayed home and done the dishes, swept the floors, mopped, cleaned the bathroom, cleaned my daughter’s bedroom, baked a cake. I should have stayed home and taken care of the home front instead of running around all day. I should have stayed home because I am wearing the same sweatpants from yesterday and have not had the time to take a shower in the last three days. Why are people looking at me? Can they see how miserable I am? Can they tell how drained I am? Do they realize I am wearing sunglasses to hide the tears in my eyes? I should have stayed home. I have no business being out in public. I belong at home with my children, cooking and cleaning. I am a failure. The house won’t be clean when he comes home from work. Dinner will be late. I can’t be here, I can’t stay here. I have to go. Too many people, too much noise. Why won’t my children be quiet? We are in public, they need to be quiet and stop running around. They need to behave themselves. Proof that I am a terrible mom, my children do not behave themselves in public. They are not using their manners, they are yelling inside-this is not allowed! Can’t breathe, can’t think. Why is the room spinning? The walls are pulsing, this is bad. Time to go! Run! Must get home and hide!!!!

This is the abbreviated version of what happens inside my body and mind. Some people can not imagine what this feels like, others know it all too well. I have not always been like this. Once upon a time in my life, I could go out all day and night without ever thinking about it. Too much has happened in my life to allow this anymore. I long for the days when I could go on about my life and not worry about panicking in public. I miss being able to curl up with a book at home and not panic. What I would not give for a sense of peace and calm in my life.