Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Magic of... Stress?

Posted by: Seleste deLaney/Julie Particka
There is a lot going on in my life right now--both personally and professionally. Some of it's good (great even) and some of it's bad. What all of it stressful.

Stress is one of those funny things where everyone reacts to it differently. Some wither under it while others thrive. Some stress eat while others lose 20 pounds in a week.

So what's so magical about that? The fact that sometimes your body surprises you.

Normally, I am an emotional eater. (I also just happen to like food, but the emotional stuff makes it worse.) I also suffer from depression, and stress usually makes that worse, pushing me into that metaphorical corner where I hug my knees to my chest and rock a lot.

Thing is at the end of January, I committed to changing my eating habits. I caved on one weekend with the extended family because there was yummy stuff EVERYWHERE, but otherwise, I've done really well.

Then all the stress factors hit...pretty much at once.

I looked at the work I'd put in and could see it disappearing. If I caved at all to the yearning for pizza and beer and doughnuts and... I'd be right back where I started. And then suddenly... I wasn't hungry. (On the down side, I wasn't hungry for anything, but...) It became easy (or at least as easy as it ever was) to say no thanks to all the bread and sugar and booze. That had NEVER happened before in my life.

And the depression corner? It still has its moments, but the paralyzing effects aren't there so much. In fact, I've done quite a bit of work around the house in the aftermath of all the stress. The work actually helped to hold the depression at bay.

Who'da thunk?

Somehow I doubt this weird mastery of my stress will last forever. But for some reason--whether the timing, my own self-awareness, or...magic--this time I'm truly doing okay (not great, but...hello...stress...)

Anyway... all of this got me to thinking about characters and how we sometimes insist that they behave the same regardless of the situation. I've now realized that sometimes--especially in the extreme circumstances characters tend to face--the most appropriate reaction is the opposite of normal. It's why Hermione occasionally had no answers. Why Buffy periodically found the depression corner and debated giving up. And it's why sometimes the character who shies away from everything gets pushed hard enough to find their strength.

Oddly enough, those are the moments that make them human.

Those are the moments that make me love them.


  1. I love this post, Seleste! And good for you for finding a way to preserve your hard work and NOT cave to emotional eating. I'm so with you there. I also love the story you extracted from this. We pay so much attention to our character arcs, the gradual change, but not so much to those crisis changes. I'm going to use this!

    1. Thanks :) And I'm glad my weird little epiphany was useful to more than just me :)

  2. I love this post too! Congratulations on keeping the depression, and eating, at bay. There are ties in my life that I shrug and think, well, this will make a character more interesting. It's my way of staying sane and dealing with the stress.

    I love that it's the light and dark, the action and fear that makes us and our characters human.

    Thank you!

    1. Thank YOU :) It's just hard to remember that sometimes human beings don't react to things the way they "always have."


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