Sunday, July 03, 2016

What to Do When Work Leads to Chronic Stress

{This Sunday we are hearing from Kimberly de Blieck.  Kimberly is sharing one way in which her life did not go according to plan–chronic stress took her far from where she wanted to be.  I want to thank Kimberly for sharing her story as others will be able to relate or understand someone else in their life a little more.}

Definition of work: Mental or physical activity as a means of earning income; employment

In my mind, as a 29-year-old female, married with no children I should have a job, a career even. To be well established in a successful position with a future and potential growth within a company. This is how I thought my life should look.

I had all of that.

Four years ago I started with a local company as a front desk girl; customer services and order taking was my job. As the company started to grow and expand, so did my position. It was exciting! I moved into more of an accounting position, dealing with accounts payable and accounts receivable. My future looked really bright. I was going to be taking a bookkeeping course, take over the accounting department, and eventually move into a bigger financial role within the company. This was the perfect fit for me. I love money (funny, I know), but I don’t love it in the way that I feel I need to have all the money in the world. I love organizing it, saving it, seeing accounts grow, budgets, etc. I am an organized person too, so this plan was really the perfect fit for me. I was excited in the direction my career was headed.

Unfortunately life doesn’t always go according to our plan.

Definition of stress : A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.

The body is an amazing thing; your mind is so very powerful. When your mind and your body are functioning properly it truly is amazing what the body can do. In the same way, when something enters your life and alters the way your mind and body function, it’s unreal the major toll it can have on your body and in your life.

Let me introduce you to stress.

We’re all familiar with this little 6-letter word. Such a small word, but it carries so much weight. I think it’s safe to say everyone has had some sort of positive and negative stress in their lives. But I don’t know if people will fully realize the affect it can have in someone’s life until it fully consumes all that you are, and takes over your life.

Of course there is positive stress. The stress of a big presentation, or an important sports game. It’s the fuel that helps you push forward and perform your very best. Lots of great things and memory are made when pushing through positive stress. Conquering your first day at a new job, or delivery a big speech, such great memories created with a little positive stress pushing you in the right direction. You can achieve great things when you can let stress fuel you positively.

Then there is chronic stress, the not so positive kind of stress, and this kind of stress is a whole other ball game. Chronic stress takes over your life and completely changes everything about you. You become a different person. It messes with your mind, your emotions, and every part of your being. Your body can no longer function at 100%.

(I understand everyone handles stress differently, some less sensitive, some more sensitive. I also understand stress affects peoples bodies differently as well, but this is my story of how chronic stress affected me.)

I’m no stranger to positive stress. I’ve always tried to push myself, try new things, and go after what I want. I’ve played my fair share of competitive sports games, read speeches in front of hundreds of people, been to multiples job interviews, and even bungee jumped. All these things are stressful in the moment, but great things came from them: winning games, getting jobs, and creating memories. All absolutely wonderful things.

When I Googled ‘definition of chronic stress’, this is what comes up: is the response to emotional pressure suffered for a prolonged period over which an individual perceives he or she has no control.

Things at work began to change. It was gradual really, and along the way I didn’t really think too much of it. But, due to multiple different reasons, and events, the months passed on and my stress increased.

My positive daily stress, to push forward and do my best, was slowly taken oven by an overwhelming feeling that had me thinking, “I can’t do this anymore.” The daily stress turned into weekly stress. The weekly stress turned into monthly stress, and the next thing you know my whole life was consumed by something I felt I had no control over. Every moment of everyday, whether at work, or at home, my work stress loomed over every part of my being and completely took over my whole life. That nervous, shaky, anxious, pounding heart, out of control feeling was my new life. I was like that 24/7, for months already, with no end in sight.

I’ve always considered myself a strong stubborn sort of person, but I had no fight left in me. I was one big giant ball of stress with no way of getting away. I wasn’t eating, I wasn’t sleeping, I was an emotional disaster! I’m not typically a crier, but let me tell you, I cried all the time, over everything. Simple things like getting out of bed was more then I could handle and usually ended up with me crying in the bathroom. When you can’t control anything that’s going on, and my only thought for the day was “you just need to get through today”. One cannot keep living like that. At what point do you say, that’s enough, my life and my health is more important and I shouldn’t just be living life trying to survive each single day.

Over time when your adrenaline is running at 150% all the time, your body eventually says “that’s enough” and slowly shuts down. Unfortunately I let myself get to this point; I hit rock bottom. Simple things like trying to decided what to make for dinner became such an overwhelming task that I couldn’t make any proper decisions. Stress affected every part of my life, my marriage, my social life, every little aspect of life, stress affected it.

What do you do when you can’t think straight, how do you make big decisions about how you should continue on with life, when you literally can’t even think about getting out of bed. My brain was done!! My mind was mush, my body was mush, and I was useless.

So what does one do in a situation like this? Looking back on the situation the answer is very obvious. You get yourself out of that environment as fast as possible. But when you’re stuck in the middle of it, you’re not thinking straight. All I was thinking was, “I can’t give up my job, we have a house, how are we going to pay for our mortgage without me working.” “I can’t just not work, how are we going to survive.” “Not having a job at 29, who does that.” Our mind can be our worst critic.

Thankfully my parents stepped in and became the level head that we needed, giving the best advice when my husband and myself weren’t able to think for ourselves. I finally got myself out of that situation. As amazing as it felt to never have to walk back into that office again, the journey wasn’t over. My body had been on high for an extended period of time, and that just doesn’t disappear overnight. It takes time to emotionally heal, mentally heal, and physically heal. It was a process. As scary as it was to leave my job, I do fully believe that I made the best decision by walking away and focusing on taking care of myself. It’s never worth risking your health!

Kimberly de Blieck love (love loves!) to travel.  International travel lights up her life.  She designs, drafts and sews clothing for herself.  She loves being active, weight training, hiking and anything outdoors.  Summer is her favourite time of year.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks kim for sharing your story and struggle!