Stress Awareness Month

Today’s post is a brief detour from the usual content. It’s a heart-felt post written by my friend, Rucksana Hussain to mark the end of Stress Week. I do hope you can take the time to read it. Thank you.

– Sheenie

Some of you may remember me from the now defunct beauty blog Walking in a Beauty Wonderland and possible from some collaborations with Sheenie. You may know me from my social media or perhaps you know me personally so hello to you all. I decided to write a post to mark National Stress Awareness Month (1-30 April 2018), namely my experiences of what stress means to me.

I thrived on stress and for 29 years of my life, I basked in this attitude. In the sixth form I was that smug 18-year-old who, leading up to and during exam week, walked around with a huge grin on my face. In fact, I was synonymous amongst my teachers for the lack of stress I exhibited whereas my peers were visibly crumbling under the pressure.

Learning to drive, which is a typically stressful event for many, didn’t phase me. OK it took me a few too many attempts to get that pink plastic card but I never gave up. I did go through a bout of depression and anxiety relating to an accident I had, for which I sought treatment and eventually I was able to come off it and go back to the old me but I’d never thought I would ever suffer stress. I mean the kind of stress that have impacts on your physical health.

What have I got to be stressed about? I have the most amazing support network around me from family, to friends to employers to colleagues and down to my select following on social media. I’m blessed in more ways than I could ever have imagined and I am thankful for everything from material to precious things around me.

Then 2017 arrived and I was about to have very rude awakening. In February 2017, I went through a life-changing event – someone very dear to me, who had been a constant presence in my life from birth, lost her battle with heart disease. Those few weeks leading up to her death were tough; this lady was like my second mother and to see her deteriorate within almost 24 hours was harrowing but I had to be strong for my family especially my mum.

In May last year, life threw another curveball, which resulted in a Thursday afternoon in a flood of tears, leaving me to question, ‘Why did it happen?’, ‘Was it something I did?’, which didn’t help in the long run. The weeks after that I was blighted by some health worries, for which the results didn’t really bring anything up but could have been caused by some form of stress.

In July 2017 I came across a job advert and it seemed perfect so I sent off my application and two weeks later I was invited to an interview in September and offered the job. However, I was sad to be leaving my then employers, who had always supported – I had a post dedicated on Facebook and Twitter!

The job started off very well. Some things weren’t as expected but regardless I did learn a lot, and I had had some fun along the way. I also found a kindred spirit in my boss who had about as many cat tales as I did. But inside was another story. Without divulging too much, things weren’t going well, but I kept pushing harder and telling myself that things will get better. I was getting through the days but I was feeling worse. Doubts were setting in though I kept pushing them to the back of my mind.

Then I noticed my health, mentally and physically, was beginning to decline. Looking back I wish I had sought help straight away but on the outside I had a smile and kept my sense of humour in tact (after all Del Boy Trotter is my biggest hero).

After much thought I resigned. At the time I felt like the biggest failure. Was I a coward? Was I scared of hard work? On my last day I walked out of work feeling the lowest I had ever felt.

You’d think that was the end of it? No. My health worsened further when I somehow contracted a very painful tooth infection, which led to an extraction. During this period there was a lot of uncertainty in my life but I decided to go on holiday. Twenty four hours after my tooth was removed, things were getting better. I had managed to talk my way back to my old employers, who threw me a lifeline and were ready to give me another opportunity. Things were on the up again.

I went on holiday, which was two weeks of fun, shopping and sunshine but while I was away, I felt tired, feverish and lethargic. Then my asthma reared its ugly head. (It had been about 6 months since I had last used an inhaler.)

Until early December I could not breathe. I don’t really remember much of what happened next, but the doctor said a few more minutes delay in seeking treatment and…well I wouldn’t be here writing this post.

When I saw my GP in England he questioned why did this happened. Why, in a space of few weeks, did my health snowball out of control? Since December last year, I have been seeing my doctor every 2 weeks and finally at the beginning of March I was given a somewhat definitive diagnosis – it was stress. My body could not cope with the stress, and decided to attack itself. I was worried what this would mean for me and for my future but he did his best to alleviate my fears.

Being a victim of stress or any other mental health illness isn’t anything to be ashamed, and we really shouldn’t let society define what is acceptable. After all, it isn’t our fault.

Fortunately the new year did get off to a great start. I was given an amazing opportunity and given a full bill of health. It seems I had made a full recovery from my little blip. But there has been something I walked away from, and I feel guilty for letting people down. I’m very sorry about this and will be apologising for the next 10 years. If you’re reading this, you know who you are, I’m extremely sorry I let you down. The reasons are selfish which makes me feel even more terrible.

On a brighter note, I’m looking ahead to the next few months, namely the next adventures and hopes and challenges that lie ahead. The future is looking bright.

My aim with writing this post? To reach out to anyone who may feel things are getting on top of them or may think they are suffering some sort stress. Stress is a taboo – we aren’t encouraged  to talk about our feelings regarding mental health and that is how these issues spiral out of control. Reach out to a friend, to family, to your GP or even your employer, who has a duty of care towards you. Don’t let it build up until it’s too late like i did. If I can reach out to one person then this post has not been in vain.

What do I wish for? I wish someone had spoken to me and made me aware of this ticking time bomb. I wish at 18 my teachers had taken me to one side and said I would not always thrive under stress. One of my favourite teachers, Mr Hosfield, once said to me that if he knew what he did in his 30s at the age of 18, life wouldn’t have been a struggle. I wish he as my tutor and mentor had told me about unspoken truth.

I fear one day this may return, but like my GP has said it most probably will not and if it does we can cross that bridge This episode may make me even more stronger and like the ever inspirational Albus Dumbledore said, “it does not do to dwell on *what ifs* and forget to live….” may have added my own spin on that!

Going forward, I really would like to do some work with school and college students about stress but whether I will get the chance time will tell.

If you would like to talk to me then please feel free to get in touch on the contacts page.

Thank you for reading about my struggles. This was not an easy post for me to write and those who know me personally realise I am a very private person so this did take me out of comfort zone. Thank you also to my best friend in the world, Sheenie for allowing me to use her blog to post my feelings.

Rucksana

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