Have You Ever Felt So Stressed, You Could Not Breathe?

Day 0. Tuesday (night) 29th March 2023. 1.30 a.m.

Anyone who read my round up post for 2022 would know that I ended the year at a high – having being engaged in a diverse range of activities through the year. I had managed to work hard at both professional and personal levels. I had big plans for this year too, starting with the intention of writing my second book. In short, I was as gung-ho about this year as the last – but then something happened – barely into the new year, I just felt I could not go on.

By mid-Feb, I started feeling completely exhausted along with associated aches and pains. I would often feel like an iron fist was pressing down on my chest, making it difficult to breathe (probably how tightly corseted women felt back in the day!) – and I would have to stop and take multiple deep breaths. Each breath felt like pushing a huge weight through. Simultaneously, I was battling low energy levels and just the thought of doing anything besides my work and taking care of kids was unthinkable. I had managed to write just one blog since the new year and couldn’t even think of writing another. Even reading messages on Whatsapp seemed like a chore. All my plans of interviewing people for my book had also gone down the drain.

I clearly remember the evening of my birthday – I was sitting alone in my (not so nice) hotel room (the travel agency had goofed up), struggling to finish the dinner I had ordered for myself, barely able to sit, with a backache so bad, I was sure I would need to see a physiotherapist once back in Almaty.

I initially put this exhaustion to a virus I had caught earlier on plus a lot of workload at home and work and frequent travel, but when this continued well into March, I got concerned. I continued to feel like the weight of the world was on my shoulders, like Atlas, and I couldn’t shrug. It seemed like I was wading through a thick heavy swamp, clothes weighed down by the water, pulling a ton of weight behind me. Phew!

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

I looked forward to the spring break at the end of March and was sure that the vacation would help. And it did. It was a week of great fun as two of my boys and I went to Dubai, had totally fun filled days, met my old friends who I had not met in years and their families. I barely thought about work or anything else, except what was on the itinerary next day.

I was sure that I will come back refreshed and recharged. It didn’t happen. Two days into the new week, and I am up at 1.34 a.m., unable to sleep and writing this blog. The iron fist is back. And I am trying to take deep breaths and hoping that I would feel sleepy soon.

Shutting my laptop, I again try to go back to sleep. Awaiting the ever elusive sleep to take over, turning and tossing in bed, my logical brain has kicked in. I have been thinking back and trying to figure out what’s wrong, because it is obvious that I can’t let this go on. Perhaps last year I was working on an adrenaline high and that helped me sail through all that I undertook. But for whatever reason, this year I have felt completely depleted, like all energy and enthusiasm have been sucked out of me!

Has the single parenting since the start of this year taken its toll? Can’t be, because I had done that last year too. Is it too much work? Yes, but that’s usual and I enjoy it and have a very high capacity to manage a big workload. And yes, there have been multiple challenges both at work and at the personal front, but barring few, nothing new. And more importantly, at a logical level, I know that most of these challenges will sort themselves out. Emotions of course do not know that.

Slowly my eyelids feel heavy and as I finally drift into sleep, I decide that I will reach out to my organization’s counsellor – enough is enough and I better take some active steps.

Day 1. Wednesday 30th March

To my surprise, I wake up feeling light, something I have not felt in a while. In any case, I reach out to the counsellor, but feel a bit perturbed when she is only able to give dates a week later. I wonder how I will pull through a whole week. But magically by evening the cloud has lifted. And suddenly I am able to breathe free. And breathe deep. And my mind registers the light around me.

Voila! I have experienced the magic of ‘letting out’ – even though it was just on paper – rather this word document!!

But I am cautious – how can this deadweight that I have been carrying around be gone in a jiffy? I plan to wait and watch, and keep on the lookout, in case this treacherous feeling comes back.

Day 3. Friday 31st March

I am cautiously happy. Almost back to usual self – wanting to do ten things at a time. Seizing the opportunity, I fix up interviews over the weekend for my book! I am even getting ideas for my next few blogs!

Day 4. Saturday 1st April

Feeling so light, I feel like prancing around. Looks like I have fully bounced back!

Day 7. Tuesday 4th April

Today is my date with the counsellor. I guess I don’t have much to talk about – since I have remained my usual self and the negative feelings have been kept at bay. And I have also managed to figure out some probable reasons that could have led to this ‘pricking of my balloon’. But we talk and I once again walk through my feelings with her.

Her main advice is to try and manage what is in my control. Try to structure things around potential causes of stress. Learning how to control the ‘stressors’ can help manage stress in a big way.

Day 25. Saturday (night) 22nd April. 1.38 a.m.

It’s been almost a month since my stress levels peaked and dissipated. And this post has been lying around since then. Its not that I didn’t have the time to finish it and publish. There have been a few weekends in between when I could easily have finished it and pressed the publish button.

But to be honest this is not easy. It is not easy to let the world peek into your weakest moments. My family, friends and colleagues – everyone reads my posts. Of course, I have bared my innermost feelings multiple times before. But those were usually much after the fact. This time was different – I started writing while undergoing and suffering stress. In fact, that is what ultimately helped me relieve myself of the burden.  

Yet, I knew I had to share this. However, vulnerable it might make me sound (I have a half-written post on vulnerability as well, awaiting its turn to be published), this is something I promised myself when I started this blog 5 years ago. ‘Sharing is Caring’, as my little one says. And it is not only sharing things – but also your feelings and thoughts. I started this blog, with the sole purpose of sharing – because I know the tremendous power of the written word – they make me lighter and in turn give something to every reader – depending on what he or she is seeking that day – happiness, compassion, solace, strength, understanding or just the feeling of not being alone in this world.

So just letting you know that I am here and that however down and out we might feel, we always have it in us to bounce back.

I will be writing more on mental health issues and stress management so do visit my page if you feel the need.


Thanks so much for reading! Please comment, share and spread the word! 

Regards, Sakshi aka tripleamommy
You can find me at:
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  1. I can understand what you have gone through. I have been there and still find myself there every now and then. Not for work pressure but for something else.. I am sure many people have faced the same, it has become a common thing because of the growing expectations of this era. Hope ‘letting out’ helps you stay calm.

  2. Totally understand this! All of us have gone through this on and off and it’s not easy coping up with this constant anxiety feeling.But the best thing how you bounce back !

  3. Hi Sakshi! Thanks for sharing. This reminded me of a book by Eckhart Tolle. He says the pain body is a mass of negative energy that can occupy your body and mind. It is like a parasite, living in you and feeding on you physically, mentally, and emotionally. But the pain-body only has as much power as you give it; the pain-body feeds on the negative energy that is created when you get swept up in the emotions it produces and identify with the pain-body.

    • Hi Sachin, thanks for sharing. Indeed very well written. I especially like the bit about it having only as much power as you give it.

  4. Hi Sakshi, I totally get what you mean by not feeling so comfortable about being overly vulnerable online. I took to writing in a notebook for 3 months while I did my morning pages – a part of Julia Cameron’s ‘The Artist’s Way’ program. I have realised it’s sometimes better to write deeply personal things in a notebook. I’ve sometimes felt oversharing is not a great idea because while it does help a few people, there seem to be negative elements on the internet who misuse such information. I guess it’s up to us as writers to find the balance that works for us. The best thing would be to listen to one’s own body ( for signs of stress – like aches and pains) and mind ( for feelings of panic or anxiety’. ) and arrive at a balance.

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