I know I’m stressed, but that’s not such a bad thing.

I’ve been told recently that I should avoid stressful situations, because stress causes migraines.  That’s a very simplistic take on an extremely complex subject.  I’m not sure that avoiding stress is even possible, or more realistically, should I?  I may not get out of bed in the morning.  Ever again.

Yes, I do get migraines, which I am painfully aware of.  Yes, I’ve had higher than average absence rate at work (for multiple valid reasons).  I highlighted this fact to our HR department myself, BEFORE they started “investigating” for themselves.  The idea was to deal with an issue before it became an issue.  It didn’t work.

On the mornings when I wake up to realise that I have a migraine, not only am I ill with the migraine, but sick with the worry and dread of having to endure yet another meeting about my absences.  It’s no wonder some people get addicted to painkillers, and other drugs, when you’re continually being told that you have to just “cope” with chronic medical issues; granted some are more physically debilitating than others, that doesn’t make either one any less important.

On the one hand I have been told:

“Everybody deals with pain/stress/illness in different ways, and therefore whatever you’re feeling is OK.  You’re allowed to have good days and bad days.”

On the other hand, all I hear is:

“There are other people out there with problems worse than yours.  Just deal with it.”

The latter is the statement that sticks in my head; but it doesn’t actually help me in any way, shape or form.  I just feel worse, because I don’t feel better.

But stress is not the only trigger (for migraines), I have multiple.  I am on combinations of drugs to try and control them.  The dosages of which have been steadily increasing, and increasing over the last few years.  You can only attempt to control one trigger at a time… what cures one, can aggravate another.  But quite frankly, I’ve lived with migraines all my life.  I went through university the first time round getting migraines every week; and came away with a 2:1 BSc (Hons.) with a year spent in North America.  This is not a new thing.

If I were to truly try and avoid “stressful situations” I would never get anywhere in my work or personal life.  I would be working a job that was truly mundane, and didn’t stretch me at all.  I am however extremely smart – and that type of job would be a waste of my time and abilities.  So, in order to make the best of it I have no choice but to put myself in stressful situations.

Working life, student life, personal life; it’s all life.  Life is not an easy ride, and I’ve been working damn hard – AROUND my migraines (NOT DESPITE them).  I would like to see another person have a go at juggling all my responsibilities.  I wear many “hats” in my current job; most people juggle maybe one, two or three different things.  I can name FIFTEEN.  It’s obviously doable, here I am doing it!

On a personal note, here’s something not a lot of people know about me: I’ve had to overcome a lot of odd neuroses in order to function day to day:

I’m agoraphobic.  I hate talking on the phone, I feel sick to my stomach at having to make a phonecall to someone I don’t know.  I don’t like traveling or going out alone, I don’t step outside my house unless I have a detailed plan of action – I cannot just go out for the sake of it, I have to have a good reason; sometimes I can spend all day trying to figure out what it is I actually want to do with myself.  If I have to speak up in a group of people I become a complete mess (unless I’m very drunk, or among very close friends – or both!).  Presenting (formally) is extremely difficult (I actually feel like I’m outside my own body, it’s very odd)… the list goes on.

I’ve also had quite a few emotional “ups” and “downs” in the last few years, both in my and my family’s lives.  Some of which have affected me quite dramatically.  But day to day, I’ve just had to “get on with it”.  That doesn’t mean I’m “over it” as such.  I just have to keep going.  Grieving period?!  What’s that?  I haven’t got time for that!

And yet: I live alone.  I travel alone.  I manage my own finances.  I have to use the phone all the time.  I speak up in meetings and classes.  I was one of two student representatives for the MBA cohort.  I attend conventions on my own and meet/chat with both celebrity guests and attendees.  I’ve tried to present formally on one or two occasions in class and in work.  I’m working hard to expand my academic knowledge and practical experience.  I do my own DIY – I can build all IKEA flat-pack furniture, no problem!  Also, I am computer literate and can often fix software and hardware problems; the IT department sometimes calls ME for help!  And so much more.

Yes, I’m neurotic.  Yes, I have debilitating migraines from time to time (and I always will). Yes, I do a lot all at once.  Yes, it does get on top of me from time to time.

But also: YES, I will make that deadline.  YES, I have valuable input to this business issue.  YES, my ideas and opinions based on both knowledge and experience are valid.  YES, I will come out on a Friday night if invited.  AND YES, I can cope with a bit of stress now and then.

Just occasionally, I might be having a bad day.

Don’t we all?


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