For nearly 4 years, I dealt with high levels of stress in my life without seeking help. As a consequence, my stress response got stuck "on". While I removed myself from the primary stressor, I took on new stress with an international move, new job, a new house, and reverse culture shock coming back to the USA. Even though these were mostly positive changes, my body kept the stress response active. I knew something was wrong, but I told myself I could manage it. I thrived in stressful situations. I knew my limits.
I was catastrophically wrong. My inability to recognize the severity of my situation lead to three devastating physical health issues I am still actively managing every day. I wish I had reached out for help sooner.
These are the steps I am taking to manage my mental, emotional, and physical health:
- I started working with a mental health professional
- I removed myself from stressful situations
- I exercise regularly
- I value my attention
I'd like to share my story of how the stress I experienced manifested physically. If for no other reason than to serve as a warning to folks currently dealing with anxiety and stress. I wish someone would've told me, "you don't have to do this alone. It's OK to ask for help even if you feel like others are in a worse place."