The mental picture my brain has assigned to my stress levels is that of a winch with a ratchet and pawl gear system. Whenever another problem arises, the pawl moves up another tooth, or several. When I can get some relief, like passing out at 7pm and sleeping until 6 the next morning, the winch unwinds a little, but does not release completely.
I don't know what it will take to let the winch unwind completely. Sometimes it seems like cutting the rope is the only option.