Friday, October 1, 2010

Stressed Out?? Part Two

Last time I shared a rather personal experience of how I got caught up in a stressful, crazy, and hectic lifestyle.  As a result, I suddenly became very ill.  The truth is, my body was sending me signals all along but I was so busy that I couldn't hear them or chose to ignore them.  Here were some of the warning signs.  Do any sound familiar to you?

I was tired and restless all the time....
I couldn't sit still. My job required that I sit behind a desk most of the time but I constantly had to get up, walk around the office or step outside. My office was on the eleventh floor so slipping out for air or coffee wasn't so simple but I still managed to do this several times a day.  When I did stay still for extended periods of time, I would fall asleep. I have fallen asleep in the oddest places; while leaning up against walls, waiting on line at the store, in public restrooms, at a live show at Carolines Comedy Club (we were in the front row and I still mangaged to nod off) , in a movie theatre (while actually out on a date) and countless other embarassing locations. I was restless because I was tired and tired because I was restless. I tried to keep my body and my mind occupied all the time so I wouldn't fall asleep. Every part of me was begging for a good night's rest, but I wasn't about to give in.  Even vacations (when I took them) were all about fun, parties, and non-stop action.  I just kept pushing myself above and beyond the limit.

I was an emotional wreck.......
Ordinarily, I am an easy going, flexible person.  I am kind and compassionate, understanding, and very patient.  My whole personality changed.  I became grouchy, nasty and demanding.  I whined, complained and nothing was ever good enough. My assistant used to go above and beyond the call of duty and take such good care of me.  She made sure I ate, had coffee, screeened my phone calls, and even stayed late with me at the office after everyone else was long gone. Now she hated me. I yelled at her, demanded more of her time and attention, and pointed out every little mistake she made. I was so awful that eventually she arranged to work with someone else. Now I had a stressful, demanding job and no one to help me.  I interviewed other potential assistants, but none of them were good enough.  I decided I didn't need one. I was literally drowning in work and too proud to ask for help. This made me even more nasty and unpleasant to be around. I would explode in anger over uncontrollable circumstances or escape to the ladies room to cry a couple of times a week. I yelled at my computer for not working fast enough, cursed at folks who accidently bumped into me on the street, I even got into a fight in a bar. So not me! Stress was changing me into someone completely different.

My personal life was just as bad.  I argued constantly about everything with family and friends.  The man I was dating couldn't make me happy no matter how hard he tried.  I had no time or patience for him so eventually he gave up and moved on.  I had lots of friends and acquaintances, but my close and personal relationships were all falling apart due to neglect (on my part) and such drastic changes in my personality. I left so many lovely people behind simply because they could not keep up with me.

I gained weight.......
How could a proud vegan (no animal products in her diet) with a degree in nutrition put on 30 ugly pounds of fat?  Bad eating habits.  I ate out at every meal.  I did not have time to prepare my own food.  I added some animal products back into my diet for convenience sake.  Eggs and cheese became my main sources of protein.  I ate on the run, at my desk, at the bar, or very late at night.  Every meal was unhealthy, fattening and fast.  I washed it all down with coffee, vodka or wine.  I hardly drank water at all, unless you count the quarts of Gatorade gulped down in the middle of a convenience store after a night of non-stop drinking.  I craved carbs for instant energy and existed on pizza, bagels, and pretzels from street vendors. If  I could hold it in my hand and shove it down my throat as I ran down the streets of the city to catch the next train, the next show, the next party;  that is what I ate.  My body was crying out for a good, healthy homecooked meal.  I ignored those cries.  My body retaliated by holding onto every single thing I ate and turned it into fat. 

I had constant chest pain...........
I don't care how busy you are, anyone with half-a-brain would not ignore a sign like chest pain.  Well... I did.  My whole family has a history of heart disease. My dad has had two heart attacks and my mom suffers from rapid heart beat and dangerously high blood pressure.  She has been taking medication for these ailments since her late thirties.  I never had heart issues, my blood pressure was always low and I was proud of the fact that I was in my middle forties, healthy, strong, and had the stamina of an Energizer Bunny.  At first the pains were subtle--a painful twinge, a flutter in my chest, a little difficulty breathing after a night out, a burning sensation.  Eventually I felt as if I was being squeezed in a vice. I would be out of breath and hunched over in pain when I walked up a flight of stairs.  I refused to accept this and pushed myself harder.  I decided to run up the stairs rather than walk or take the elevator. I was like the Six Million Dollar Man.  I would make myself harder, faster, stronger. I blamed the pain on everything else--a big meal right before bedtime, too many hours spent in crowded, smokey rooms, the heat and pollution of the city.  I kept myself occupied and entertained so I did not have to think about it. People told me I didn't look well but I ignored them, too.  I didn't have time to have a heart attack.  If I was going to have one it would be on my terms, at the place of my choosing, and so massive that I would just drop dead right where I stood. Talk about a death wish...........

These signs of a body, mind and spirit in distress went on for quite some time.  I continued to forge ahead, pushing myself harder and harder until I did end up in the hospital. Thank God for well-meaning people who wouldn't take no for an answer and insisted I submit to a battery of tests to determine what was wrong.

Next time I will share what my doctor did discover and how I got back on the road to good health.

And this is my Daily Cyn.......


  1. You poor girl. I know you must have suffered horribly and yet were trying to drag yourself forward ignoring the pain. If you had just delivered. Post partum depression would be a likely candidate. Now I'm thinking it could be clinical depression. I'll just have to wait for you to finish the story to know the truth.

  2. LOL...Poor Girl?? Well...I did bring it on myself!! And IGRNORED every sign for a long time! LOL More to follow,......I am kind of digging this cliffhanger type writing.......Thanks for reading, Thomas