Sneaky Stress

I’m sure many readers are aware of the boiling frog syndrome. If you aren’t, it’s about how a frog would jump out of a pot of boiling water. But if you put a frog in lukewarm water and increase the temperature slowly, it will boil to death. That’s what stress is like for me. It snuck up on me and I didn’t realise just how stressed I was.


Last year my health was really deteriorating. I was unable to run and I felt exhausted all the time. I was ratty and grumpy with the people around me. I thought I was just a little depressed that I was not managing to turn my business around. I thought that I needed a healthy dose of motivation or goals and that would surely solve the problem. I didn’t realise that my stress levels had skyrocketed. Stress was the cause of the onset of my auto-immune condition, Graves’ disease.

I haven’t been working in any way since the end of June and my cortisol levels are coming down slowly. I have been trying to find some statistics on the recovery period for stress-induced illnesses. I suspect that this slow response of cortisol is why many people say it can take between two and five years to recover. Of course there is no full recovery, there is just remission but I’ll take what I can get.

I recently read journal entries that I wrote last year and I am amazed to find that I was still grateful and I thought that I was happy overall. I thought that this daily struggle at work was just what everyone deals with. Nothing good comes easily, right? I did know that the primary source of stress was work, and that the rest of my life was happy.

I also wrote about wishing for more time to myself but feeling too guilty to take it. My heart breaks when I look back and realise that I would have my health back if I had acted on those ideas to reduce my stress. It would have saved everyone a lot of trouble. But I would still be there, in an unhappy place doing work that I don’t enjoy.

I wonder how many people out there are heading in the same direction I was last year? I wish that I could do something to show them how it can happen. How our bodies can start to turn against us and once we have the anti-body in our system, it is for life.

I was always a healthy person, and was actually quite glib in telling people that my biggest health complaint was sinus. I relished the fact that I could reflect no serious illnesses, nor surgeries on any doctor forms I completed. I went for all the prophylactic check-ups and made sure I had a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. I thought I was looking after myself. But I didn’t realise just how radically the work stress was affecting my body. Until I became the boiled frog, sweating, struggling and finally imploding.burnout1

If you feel at all stressed or that you are approaching burnout, please take some action. Act on the thing that you feel will help you most. I wish I had.

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I am a champion for living your passion. Writing is my passion, my destiny and my calling. I am a mother of two beautiful daughters and a wife and live in Johannesburg, South Africa.

1 Comment

  1. You are so right. If we don’t look after ourselves or put ourselves first, even only sometime, how will we have enough energy and motivation to look after others. Or to teach them to look after themselves.

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