Positive Stress

There is a scene in the movie Under the Tuscan Sun when Frances Mayes buys her house in Cortona. She is in the notary’s office, there are a few documents that have to be rubber-stamped, a sip of espresso, and that’s it. Francis asks, “Just like that?” and it’s met with

“It’s a house, not a Vespa. What are you going to do, steal it?”

We close on our home tomorrow. To. Morr. Ow. We have our walk through this afternoon. I’m beside myself. I want to move in. I want to spend an hour, quietly, without any extra-familial eyes on me, going slowly through the house introducing myself. I want to carry in a box and make a meal. I want to go buy paint and a new couch. I want to haul the old washer and dryer out and scrub the alcove floor. I want to huff and puff and sweat and curse and accomplish something. I want my children to have space to play where I’m not trying to work. And I want it NOW.

I’m so beyond overwrought. Good stress is still stress, my friends and therapist keep reminding me. I’m not sleeping much. I’m eating either far too much, or I’m nauseous and skipping meals. My heart is racing and up in my throat all the time. I’m weepy and it is all because of good stress.


Positive stresses cause lots of mental health symptom. Buying a home, having a baby or adopting, weddings, even planning parties and vacations cause people lots of the symptoms I’m having. It is disorienting for me because my more severe symptoms are triggered but have nothing to feed of off. I’m stressed, so my suicidal thoughts are popping up, but “Kill yourself because you are getting your dream,” just doesn’t have the internal consistency of “Kill yourself because you fought with your kids,” or any other negative stress.

Have you experienced anything like this? Are positive stresses harder to manage than negative ones, or do we just forget that the same skills we use to stay on the rails during crisis will do the same thing during the exceptionally hard-but-wonderful times. I’m going to go do my Square Breathing exercise to see if I can get productive before the walk through. Wish me luck.

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