About 3 years ago, the stress was slowly killing me.
So back then I was working on my own business, using some of the money I earned as a software consultant, and running a company as the CEO/director. The consultancy job required me to travel an obscene distance taking an absurd amount of time to the tune of 4 to 4.5 hours every single day.
I slept an average of 4.5 hours a night. 6 if I’m lucky (such as weekends). My last thought before sleep was typically the injustice inflicted on me by my Troublesome Business Partner (TBP). My first thought upon waking up was that of TBP. My blood boiled continually throughout the day whenever the thought of TBP flits past my brain.
My health was a wreck. I could see my muscles wasted away. My breath was usually ragged and shallow. My back hurt and my shoulders ached.
Sometimes just standing still and doing nothing was the best thing I could do for myself. Because moving or even the thought of moving was too mentally painful.
I was continually worried about money. My company wasn’t making profits and I had to make payroll using my own personal money (because my business partners seemed to think it was unheard of for them to continue investing their money and time beyond the initial company setup).
The wakeup call
So one night I was walking home after work. It was near midnight when I alighted the train. The night was cool and I wanted to save money by not taking the bus.
I was enjoying the slight breeze and the solitude of the quiet night when I felt something. More precisely it was what I didn’t feel.
Because for a few moments I felt the absence of my heart beating.
I stood shivering on the walk path beside the road. Tears welled up. I was just so tired. I took long deep breaths as I watched the occasional car pass by. Then I continued my journey home.
You might think I imagined that. I thought so too. Until my heart “gave out” on a couple of occasions after the initial one. It was then that I finally came to terms that I had to do something drastic to turn my life around.
Because whatever I was doing was clearly not working.
The frantic search for relaxation
Prior to my heart incident, I was already trying my darndest to relax. I’m not stupid you know. So I followed the typical advice.
Such as long walks, preferably in nature. I took long walks in the nearby park. But the presence of humans agitated me more than the relaxation benefits. Yes people stress me out, like way more than was normal.
I wasn’t unfriendly nor anti-social. But after dealing with TBP, I became much more cynical and distrustful of people.
I did deep breathing, forcing my breaths into long drawn out streams of air flow. It sort of helped. But I was so wired up that the moment I stopped consciously breathing, my breathing adjusted to simulate a chihuahua panting. It was like two giant hands squeezing my chest and back together, holding with enough space that I could just barely breathe.
I also tried visualisation and meditation. Years ago I would have found it easy to maintain a light meditative state. That stressed out Vincent? Oh he was bombarded with a constant flow of anger, sadness, money worries, future worries, frustration, moments of small joy. I had a nervous tick in my left eyelid.
“What about pets?” Have I mention my cat died? A small part of me died too. I’ll leave it there…
“Well what about exercise?” I also did that. The thing was, you need to be able to recover from that exercise to reap the benefits. I was so stressed out that some pushups or jumping jacks took me days, maybe even a couple of weeks for me to recover. I was so worn out.
“Uh massage?” I couldn’t afford it.
“Talk to friends?” They’re not the business kind of people. And even if it’s just to talk it out, they’re guys. It’s not a manly thing to talk about such woes. So I just hang out with my friends but I kept my troubles to myself.
I was at my wit’s end. But what I’ve told you were what I actively did for relaxing. Mentally with meditation. Physically with exercise. Emotionally and socially with friends.
Those helped, but not significantly enough to turn things around for me. I needed something more drastic. Something that is done to me. Something that is passive for me once I start the initial process.
Next time I’ll tell you about my research into health and fitness and the ridiculous amount of health supplements I tried.