[Sept 2012] Limits, Symptoms, and Panic

I feel that I have difficulties handling stress, mostly the stress that I experience at my work. Actually I don’t know it sometimes if I have difficulties handling it, or there are just so many sources of stress and pressure in my life, that would break anyone. Sometimes I can’t decide if stress is too much or I handle it badly, or I just don’t spend enough time to rest and regenerate. Whatever the problem is, or whatever combination of these, something is wrong in my life, I am pretty sure of that. I am sure, because there are clear signs of it. I experience strange and weird things, more and more often lately. Just like a couple of years ago, when I started having heart arrhythmias more frequently, and I started to worry about it so much after a while, that it manifested itself in panic attacks. And I was naive enough to make myself examined, because I thought it must be diabetes or something else, until I realized, that these were only my heavy fears because of my heart condition. Now I experience something similar again and again.

Stress and Tiredness

I am tired. I am exhausted almost all the time, and sometimes it overwhelms me from one moment to the next, and I feel I just have to stop everything, I have to get down and rest, otherwise I will collapse. And this feeling can be very scary for me! Of course I suspected diabetes or something physical again, but my body is perfectly healthy, thanks God. Other times I feel I crash under the burden that weighs on me from every direction: work, family, my father’s cancer, my girlfriend, etc. A door closes in front of me suddenly, and I feel like I am unable to receive and process all the endless impulses and information that reaches me. I can’t listen anymore, and can’t do anything anymore, I can’t communicate anymore. This feeling comes and then it goes. Like a panic attack. I drift to the edge of total breakdown, even if I’ve never literally fainted in my life. But I feel I am getting closer and closer to it. I feel it when I am in a new company on a wedding, like two weeks ago. It attacks me in a restaurant during having dinner after a very long and demanding day. In situations that require a little more presence, attention, and concentration. When this happens, I would like to escape and run away, far far away, to a deserted island, where I can lie all day, trying to empty my head. And if I could get there, I feel I would need days to reach that calm, relaxed, and stable state, that I need so much. I think all this because a peaceful evening and night is not at all enough for me to wake up calm and energetic. Even my weekends seem shorter and shorter. And it is increasingly scary, when I get this feeling of being overwhelmed and paralyzed, I am not able to make decisions or think about decisions at all, although it is an important part of my life and my job. Sometimes I think about quitting my job, because I see no other way out, but then I drive this away. Sometimes I just wonder what’s wrong with me, and then sometimes I wonder how can I wonder about what’s wrong, after all I’ve been going through. Maybe all my problems is only this: I don’t rest, I don’t let myself rest and regeneration. A couple of months ago I visited my best friend, who is working abroad. Before that I don’t even remember the time when I didn’t work for a whole week. This visit was way too active and exhausting to recharge me. I need rest, after all the work I’ve done in the last years, and especially after what I’ve been through the last 6 months, since the diagnosis of my father. I have to rest, and I should not let things get this far next time.

Do I have limits?

I am responsible for my situation, it is clear for me now. If a friend of mine does this, I would lecture him right away: you are crazy, you have to rest! But when it is me, when it’s my life, then I am biased and can’t see clearly. My wisdom about others doesn’t work here. When it is about me, I think I am exceptional, I am special, I am invulnerable, flawless, rules don’t apply to me, I can handle and solve everything. If someone is not able to keep the pace, I tell him: look around in your life, it is a total mess, you’ve lost your balance and harmony, nobody could keep up with it like this, get yourself together, think about your life, take a few days out, etc. If it is me, I think there must be something wrong with me, because rules don’t apply to me. It must be something else, something more serious. I become scared, I panic, and I think it must be something very wrong deep inside of me. I am wrong, I have some inherent abnormality, I am not suitable to be what I am, I am not able to handle my life. And in the meantime I forget that I am a human too, and rules apply to me, whether I like it or not. If I don’t rest, I become tired. If I don’t have balance in my life, I lose touch with things. If I don’t train properly, I lose fitness.

Oh yes, this is the perfect example, training… I’ve already learned along the years, that my body handles serial-loading very well, but it doesn’t like neglect and too much rest. I’ve been playing soccer for decades. If I train or play every day, I can become so fit and strong in a week like a bull. But if I don’t train for a week, I feel like a sick old man, who can’t breathe after climbing a few stairs. I’ve learned this, yet I forget it always. I don’t run for a week, I go for a run, my heart wants to jump out of my chest after 5 minutes, and I don’t think “oh yes, this happens, if I don’t train, this is how my body works, this is perfectly normal, and it will be better after 30 minutes and even better after a few more days with training”. No, I don’t tell myself this. I say this instead: “oh my God, I have serious issues with my body, a heart condition maybe, I should see a doctor, because this is not normal feeling like this after 5 minutes of running, when I am only this young”. In fact this is all perfectly normal, I just don’t accept the nature and limits of my body.

The same thing happens when I have enough of something I do: I think I am sick or mentally ill, and I will surely end up in a mental institute soon. But in fact I am normal, I just have limits like everybody else and I have to accept and respect these. Why am I always pushing those limits? I forget that there is not a single leader in the world who would not be knocked out after working 12 hours on 100 consecutive days. There is no sportsman who would keep his condition and fitness with shitty food and no training. And even the strongest and healthiest heart would produce arrhythmias with no rest, no sleep, a lot off caffeine, and a lot of stress.

Rules

Rules apply to everybody, even to me, and I am the only one responsible for my own life, for my physical and mental health. If my body or my mind gives me signals, then I don’t have to panic, but understand and respect it, and change my life somehow. This is the takeaway for me. I am perfectly normal and healthy, I am born to what I am doing, I just have to arrange the circumstances to achieve what I want, and I shouldn’t carry more burden, than I can handle!

And most importantly, I should not forget what I just wrote now!

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