Adjustment Reaction

I’m so tired of struggling, I’m so tired of the rollercoaster of emotions and the physical reactions to anxiety that come and go. In general I AM positive about all the changes I have made in the last 18 months, but all this change and loss (of the me I know, of my partner and our dreams for the future, of son #1) is hard.

Yesterday I had a text from son #3 saying that son #1 had “locked him out with both dogs” in an attempt to MAKE son #3 walk them. Son #1 had been asked to walk the dogs on three days in the hiatus between his two (completely funded by me) trips. I don’t think thats unreasonable. Between them, the two dogs weigh in excess of son #3, and can pull him over, Its not appropriate for him to be walking them alone. I had to leave work, go home and ‘deal with the situation’. I’m sorry to say I shouted at son#1 who was idling the day away with his on/off female ‘friend’… and he shouted back before storming off. Not ideal.

Then i went to my therapy session and Angela reduced things to some kind of order for me, pointing out that it is a stressful thing going away, that son#1 is probably nervous, that I am probably a bit anxious and that this is all pretty normal. Indeed if another parent told me this, I would think it was pretty normal. When I got home we had a hug and a chat, and order was restored.

I think all this gloom could be called an adjustment reaction

An adjustment reaction is the psychological reaction to profound change in a person’s life such as divorce, separation, immigration or bereavement .

An adjustment reaction is characterised by anxiety and depression. The timecourse of the disorder allows a distinction to drawn with an acute stress reaction:

  • symptoms appear soon after a life event (within 3 months for DSM III-R or 1 month for ICD 10), however the onset is slower than in an acute stress reaction
  • symptoms last longer than in an acute stress reaction”

(see how I like to have a diagnosis for everything.)

I’m way past being the person who felt invincible, as young people so often do, and as I did in the past. I used to feel I could cope with anything, and manage to carry on. Now I feel frail and vulnerable and only too aware of my own weaknesses. I wonder how I coped in the past, without feeling as dreadful and dispirited as I do now? I wonder if I did just bury my sadness in drink? or maybe I ‘had’ to do that or I would literally have collapsed and fallen apart. I dont know.

I just know I have to keep going, and have faith that the days will get lighter.


  1. I often feel fragile now too. Sometimes I’m disappointed in myself for that, but I know the alternative is to become rigid and brittle.
    Life is hard.
    Your sons sound like normal sibling behaviour. Step back and let them figure things out. Perhaps 1 is stressed and 3 is feeling unsettled by the changes.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Anne. It helps A LOT to know others also feel the same. It’s partly an age thing I think- suddenly one knows life is short , and there is a limited time left – we will all be ok, it’s just unsettling


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