Posted by: Lars Oestreicher | June 7, 2012

Follow the warning signs…

Picture of broken electric wiresI wrote in the previous post about a friend of mine that I heard of had fallen into the trap of stress-related syndrome. I guess I should have read through that checklist as I was writing them. Especially the item number 8. Denial of being stressed. No I am not stressed, I just have lots of things to do, and I am really feeling good about my situation right now. I can’t be on the way to that famous wall again…

Well, so wrong I was. Reading the checklist today scored me around 8 on the scale.

If you didn’t read that post, I can tell you that the list contained eight items. And this morning I just couldn’t get out of bed. I have slept 14 hours tonight, and still feel completely exhausted. Just thinking about taking a short walk is too much. I have booked myself for two parties tonight and tomorrow, two parties I have looked forward to very much, especially since one of them is to celebrate a good friend of mine who really deserves it. But I will not be able to make it. I am too exhausted even before the party, and since social meetings drain me, even if they are positive experiences in themselves. After any larger social event, I always get drained. But I have learned to handle this fatigue. (Did you see that word? Fatigue – warning sign 4 in my list). But in those cases I am reasonably alert before the party.

To make a long story short. This morning I realised that it is necessary to pull the emergency brake, and I just hope that I will be able to stop the train in time. Like with a train the stopping stretch is long. That is why it is important to have clear signals to follow. And to start braking when the signs are there. I guess (and hope) that this was the final sign before the wall, and not the wall itself. I hope that I have some petrol left in my spare tank, on which I am running now.

So, what is the point in this post? Well, the point is twofold, one is of course to help raising the warning flag for others, but the second is also to try to explain myself towards my social environment. I don’t act in the usual way, and I don’t act as I would like to. I forget things, I forget names of people I know well, and I have big difficulties in focusing. This can cause much discomfort among people in my surroundings. I don’t want that. I don’t want to behave the way I do when this happens. So what will I do about it?

As I feel currently, I have decided to start by cutting down on my social activities, that is hard enough. I know that may disappoint some of my friends, but I hope they are more happy to have me around later, even if I don’t attend some social things now. I still have a few work tasks to do before I go for summer. So why not go on a sick leave and leave that? Well, there are some things that cannot wait, and if someone else would do them for me, they would have to ask me about it all the time, which means that I am not able to put them away. Course reporting is one such thing. Other things will be on my mind even if I would postpone them until I get better again. Such things just need a relaxed pace, and doing away with them will actually make me feel much better. So I will continue with my work doing those things that cannot wait, or that will relieve me of stress. This will help me to reload my batteries. The social events are easier to remove (albeit with a bad conscience towards other people). In social events, you are most of the time possible to replace, that is the hard truth. You are of course possible to replace in the work context too, but with much more problems to other people.

But, you may wonder, isn’t that still to continue along the stress path. Yes and no, the most stressing things in life are often those things you don’t do. If it is possible to get a few undone things unloaded, it will remove a large amount of stress. But, if I feel that even this will not work, then I will drop it. I have seen the warning signal (a bit too late, but still) but I think I will be perceptive about this.

Just to round up my post today, I hope that you who read this will understand more about this impairment (because it is an impairment, and an impairment that is chronical to some extent). Hopefully you will be able to avoid it, but also that you will understand the problems it causes to both the person who is affected, and to this person’s social environment, wife, husband, children etc. It is often so that we concentrate on the person who is affected, while the people around him or her are left aside.

I will write more about this in a later post. It may take some time until it appears, but it will, I assure you.

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