A common expression used in Jamaica on occasions of hearing labrish1 is “What a stress inna mi lef’ breas!”2. From discussion with consultant etymologists,3 it has been concluded that the phrase originated in the mid to late 90s, increasing in popularity after being used in a local play/comedy show. Up to a few days ago, when I first felt the tingling sensation in my left breast, I was quite convinced that this was just another nonsensical rhyme with a touch of innuendo, of which we Jamaicans are excellent composers.
Last Tuesday night, I had a very difficult time sleeping. In fact, I went to bed a few hours later than usual and had much trouble falling asleep; it was a night of tossing and turning. I felt the tingling and pricking in my breast from time to time but I was not sure whether I was experiencing trauma from the brassiere or some foreign object in my bed. After a few hours I awoke feeling very groggy and out of place.
When I had finally settled into my routine I continued to feel the sensation and decided to immediately see a doctor; after all it is October and breast cancer was the first diagnosis I made even though I recently had a mammogram, I also thought I was having a heart attack. I spent a good while with the doctor, and he concluded that the tingling sensation was a symptom that I was suffering from anxiety. The other possible causes were shingles or any nerve disorder – I do not have either.
“The dictionary says that “stress” is “a factor that induces mental or bodily tension” or a “state induced by such a stress.” (Another definition is “a force which distorts a body,” which explains why we get all bent out of shape when we’re stressed.)
Anxiety is defined as “painful uneasiness of mind” or “abnormal apprehension and fear, often accompanied by physiological signs, by doubt about the nature and reality of the threat itself, and by self-doubt.” Now, that’s an interesting definition.
Stress and anxiety are not the same thing, but they do tend to reinforce and perpetuate each other. Stress makes you anxious, and anxiety increases your stress, and it’s very important to interrupt that cycle.” – KillStress.org
So, yes, stress can indeed manifest itself in one’s left breast!
I am now on a mission to, in the words of Dr. Glenda Simms, ‘take back my breast’ and the rest of my mind and body which have been affected by my anxiety disorder. Henceforth, I will be thinking only positively, believing in my abilities, eating right and exercising daily.