Anyone that knows me personally will know that I am quite a laid back person and normally very chilled out. It takes a lot to rile me or stress me out, especially to get me to show that at the same time. I’m the sort of person that will normally pack away anything that’s bothering me as, well… It’s normally not that important to take over me. However, things have been different for a little while now.
While I’ve still been keeping my usual calm persona at face value, I had been showing some symptoms that were bothering me. My usual night of solid sleep (snoring and annoying the wife), was becoming more broken and sometimes I would find myself not falling asleep until 4, 5 or even 6am. For someone who has to wake up for work at 5am, I’m sure you can see where this could be a problem. On top of this, I’ve been getting unexplainable headaches. I’m not just talking about your regular headache, but the feeling of having an axe blade stuck between my two lobes. Not pleasant, although I put this down to the lack of sleep.
When it really started to worry me was when it started to combine with dizziness and unusual muscle aches and pains, including one awful run of leg cramp for a few nights in a row as well as a much weaker stomach than normal. I thought I better head to see the GP who told me that I was suffering with stress and signed me off work.
I suppose at this point I better bring some history as to what was happening in my personal life at this point as stress isn’t something I would normally let bother me. While the one aspect I made very public at the time, there was something else happening behind the scenes that me and my wife had decided to tell few people.
Let’s rewind a few weeks from the GP visit. The first major event was my 3 year old son falling from the surround of his trampoline and landing on his head. This prompted a call to 999 and a trip to Cardiff A&E (the 2nd closest hospital to us). After about 5 to 6 hours of monitoring and several nurses and doctors seeing him and checking him over, we were sent home with a leaflet on head injuries and told to keep an eye on him. He awoke the next morning vomiting several times so we took him back to Cardiff A&E only to be told he was fine and to keep an eye on him at home. However the next morning he woke up looking like this, where he previously had no swelling…
So it’s day 3 of the injury and we’re already fed up of hospitals so we call our GP to get some advice and they suggested calling the 9-5 Emergency Injury Department at Ystrad Fawr Hospital (much closer to home!)
After explaining everything to them over the phone we were told to bring him in, so we make the trek and check in at reception. We were then called swiftly in to the room only to be sent straight back out after looking at our notes as ‘His injury is too serious to be seen to here!’ and sent packing back to Cardiff A&E. To cut a long story short, we got seen at Cardiff A&E and several hours and a CT scan later we find that the poor lad has had a bleed in his head and fractured his skull and will take 6-8 weeks to heal itself. Now, I’m not just talking a small fracture, this went all the way through and is a good 6 inches long, although the picture doesn’t really show it:
Don’t get me wrong, this was enough stress in itself; however what my wife and I hadn’t told many people is that at the time of this happening, she was 9-10 weeks pregnant. I’m devastated to say that she lost the baby while we were at the hospital on the 3rd day with my son.
I returned to work over a week later after having a bad stomach thinking things would get back to normal. It didn’t.
As I mentioned above, I’m not an emotional person. This could well be my downfall as I don’t tend to show how I’m feeling, however in my ‘return to work’ meeting I had explained everything that had happened and that’s when I could feel it building up inside as my voice started to shake as I was going back over everything in my mind. This was so unlike me, especially in a work environment and not in the safety of my own home
At this point I also had a bad bug bite on my leg so I decided to visit the GP who gave me what I needed for my leg, but also remembered my wife from a previous visit about the miscarriage and this was where I came clean with the symptoms I’d been having at home after she asked how I was. After talking through it, it was decided it was best that I have some time off work to try and keep my mind clear and get myself back to feeling normal.
So that’s my stress story. Not many people know the true extent of what is going through my mind and never will. Since taking time off work my stress has manifested itself in a few other physical manners as well. For example, a 6 hour fever making me feel ridiculously cold and then waking me up dripping with sweat only to be sick. On top of that, I’ve also had a water infection, which wasn’t particularly fun if I’m completely honest!
I have now been off work since the 5th of August and have just been signed off until the 20th of September. Do I miss work? Yes! You may think I’m strange for saying this, but I do enjoy my job working in Social Media and there are some nice people on my team that I get on well with. However my concentration levels were at an all-time low which made me feel like I shouldn’t even have been there, as to be honest, I wasn’t getting much done anyway.
How am I doing you ask? Or not as the case may be… I was surprised at just how few people, both friends and ‘close’ family have neglected to find out how I’m doing.
I suppose I’m doing a bit better but there is still a lot on my mind and my concentration levels still aren’t where they should be. My sleeping pattern is still all over the place, with me only getting as much as 2 or 3 hours sleep some nights due to stress and things on my mind. I need to find a way to shut down and I’m hoping that writing this blog will help get some things out of my mind, help me de-stress and explain to those that have been wondering what has happened to me, exactly what is going on. So there you have it.
I am Mike. I am suffering with stress. My body can’t handle it.
Thanks for reading.
P.s. I had full intention to touch on depression and anxiety, alongside stress in this blog post, as they are both different types of invisible illnesses that have affected people close to me as well as old friends who have reached out to me for help. This has been brought to the forefront already after the tragic death of Robin Williams on August 12th.
In the meantime, please check out this song, even if you mute it and just read the lyrics. Mental illnesses are dangerous. It’s not as simple as being able to ‘just snap out of it!’. This ignorant and outdated way of thinking is what stops those from suffering coming forward and asking for help.