Health and wellbeing

When stress gets serious

Signs of stress

Why you shouldn’t dismiss the signs of stress.

I am not the person I thought I was.

I thought I was someone that ‘got on’ with things.

I thought I was someone who could keep a cool head in the face of adversity.

I thought I was someone who, when faced with a particular challenge, would put their head down, work through it and move on.

I thought I was someone who was resilient, determined and independent.

When life give you lemons, make lemonade. Isn’t that what they say?

But I am not the person I thought I was.

It turns out that I’m more fragile than I thought.

It turns out that I’m stressed out. So stressed out in fact, that I’ve been having anxiety attacks.

So stressed out that I feel low and worthless.

So stressed out that I broke down in tears with my doctor last week.

Stress is a funny old thing. It’s a word we can throw around flippantly and so readily, it’s easy to brush it aside and not take it seriously.

But it is serious. And it can be debilitating. I know this now.

When stress becomes a problem

It is difficult to pinpoint an exact moment in time when the stress and pressure I felt went beyond what might be considered ‘normal’. What I do know is that it has been building for a long time.

I don’t want to go into details about why I feel the way I do, but let’s just say that my work-life balance hasn’t been in equilibrium for a while.

The result has been that I’ve found it near-impossible to stop thinking and worrying about work. I’ve felt increasingly anxious whenever I thought about it and I’ve had trouble sleeping.

Concentrating on tasks has been difficult too. I’ve had what can only be described as a ‘mental block’ when it comes to writing anything. For the last few months, whenever I’d sit at my computer to write a document for work or a post for this blog, no words would come.

Things eventually came to a head last week – it was always going to happen at some point – and I found myself sitting in front of my doctor. I broke down in tears telling her about how I felt and explaining the reasons why.

I told her that I felt silly coming to her and crying about feeling stressed. After all, I said to her, stress is a natural part of life. It’s why I hadn’t asked for help before: I worried that I would be seen as weak and unable to cope at work.

My doctor, thankfully, was great. She explained that stress and anxiety is common and told me that she sees roughly 2 people each week with the same problem as me. She gave me a note to say that I was unfit for work for a little while and also recommended a course of online CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy).

Before last week I felt like I was drowning. Stress was affecting how I thought, felt and behaved. It affected my work and my blog, but worse of all it also affected my family. It made me distant in a way that I hadn’t realised; consuming my thoughts and controlling my mood.

Now I feel like someone’s thrown me a life jacket.

And that, right there, is my whole point to this post.

Stress is very real. It affects people’s lives more often than you might think. Left unchecked, it can easily develop into anxiety and depression, 2 of the most common mental health problems in the UK.

Stress shouldn’t be ignored. It shouldn’t be dismissed. It isn’t something you should feel ashamed about.

If you’re feeling stressed out, please don’t sweep it under the carpet. Help is always there.

9 Comments

  1. I’m glad you sought and are receiving help. The unfortunate thing about life is that I think we all discover at some stage that we aren’t in fact invincible as we presumed we were and that we are all humans with all the frailties and weaknesses that that brings. However I hope this comment isn’t as negative as it may sound- as someone who has been where you are now, I can honestly say that getting through the other side – with as much help as you need, shows you that there are times that you may be weak but there are also times when you are strong and pulling yourself back from the brink is one of those times. It is just the cycle of life- some times we are in need and at other times we are there to help the needs of others, it’s what makes us human…. and completely ‘normal’.

  2. I am sorry you are feeling like this, I remember the feeling very well though and it was one of the reasons I left my last job. Hope you start to see the light at the end of the tunnel soon

  3. Oh I want to put my arms round you and give you a big cuddle, but first well done for taking those first steps. They can often be the hardest of all. Anxiety and stress can be crippling. But I also want to say that CBT is life changing or at least it was for me. So hang on in there, take all the help you can get and be gentle on yourself

  4. Aw I feel bad that I only just saw this. I have done CBT when anxiety got back at a couple of phases in my life. It can really work so I am glad thats where you are heading. I also did a video on tips I use for anxiety in case any of that helps in the meantime. Stress is a b*tch and can make you feel stuck in a fog one minute and a tornado the next. It does get better though with support around you. I’m here if you need a chat anytime lovely x

Leave a Response