There seems to be some kind of “awareness month” for almost every topic on the planet, so I was not overly surprised to see that April is Stress Awareness Month. Not sure a month quite does it …
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There seems to be some kind of “awareness month” for almost every topic on the planet, so I was not overly surprised to see that April is Stress Awareness Month. Not sure a month quite does it for the level of stress we are under these days, but hey, at least there is an established time to educate the public about it.
By nature, I am a stressed person. I have regular anxiety. I have imposter syndrome in several aspects of my life. Then, there are the daily realities of life that I do not create in my head to add to the stress.
In doing some research, I learned about three levels of stress, which include:
• Acute stress – This is known as more “brief” stress. However, those brief stresses are common and frequent. This kind of stress is caused by reactive thinking where negative thoughts reflect current events and situations.
• Episodic acute stress – This is when a person experiences acute stress frequently. This level of stress may leave someone feeling like they are always under pressure and that things are always going to go wrong.
• Chronic stress – This is the most harmful type of stress, especially if left untreated. This level of stress never fades, leaving someone to feel pressured and overwhelmed over a long period of time.
Stress does not just affect the mind. I can attest to that in telling you all something I rarely talk about. Not because I am embarrassed, but it is hard to explain.
In my early 20s, I was getting my journalism career started, had recently been married and was waking up feeling off some mornings. My tongue was hurting and something was wrong.
After getting married and moving in with my husband, we found out I was having seizures in my sleep. I never had them during the day and they only happened on occasion. They had also never happened before.
I was sent to a neurologist who ran tests and found nothing wrong or nothing to explain it, especially given that the seizures only occurred in my sleep. He considered it to be hormones and maybe other causes but eventually told me I would either have to learn to deal with the stress of my job or find another career.
Seizures can affect everyone differently. For me, it impacted some of my memories. I do not remember dating my husband and sometimes he has to remind me of things that happened in those early years of marriage.
There was no way I was going to give up my career, so I started working with doctors and therapists on what to do.
To this day, I am still a stressed person by nature, but on those particularly bad days, I have a different feeling or sense. I know that before going to sleep, I must destress. I must take some time to smile and try not to think about the day I just had.
I haven’t had a seizure since I was 32. I am now 44.
To this day, we still do not know for sure what exactly triggered these seizures, but it did force me to be a lot more aware of what is happening to me on a mental health level.
Thelma Grimes is the south metro editor for Colorado Community Media.
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