What stress can do to you

"I am not stressed at all." I protested, but my hair kept falling out in patches. I was scared.

Imaan Sheikh September 15, 2013
It began in grade twelve. My grades had suddenly gone down, and I had no idea why. The journey from being a class-topper to actually failing in three of my favourite subjects was a short one. It took a toll on me.

A year later, the stress that I had been gathering for years appeared in the form of a coin-sized bald spot on the crown area of my head. The night before, I had slept with a full head of hair, but that afternoon as I prepared to go for lunch with my friends, I saw that hairless little patch of scalp peeking through my fringes.

After a few more patches, I consulted a doctor. I was told I had alopecia areata. This disease can be hereditary but can also happen if you have a weak immune system naturally. It is triggered by stress. You lose your hair in patches, which can become huge and appear overnight.

This was chewing at my self-esteem. From being that child in the family who was showered with compliments for having long, straight and healthy hair, I had gone to waking up finding my pillow covered with hair - it was frightening and unsettling to say in the least.

Every time a doctor told me that it was happening because of stress, I would look at them in shock and protest,
“But I am not stressed at all!”

After all, my friends were doing almost the same things as I was, physically, and they were all right. Why was I always low on energy and demotivated?

It wasn’t until some eight months ago that I decided to pick myself up. I started off by admitting I was stressed and that my brain and body worked differently. I stopped sweating over the small stuff and learned to ‘block it out’ by keeping myself distracted with happy things — music, painting, writing and humour. My new job was a blessing in disguise, keeping me from thinking about useless things that would trigger my stress and also cause an alopecia relapse.

The doctors and their medicines cannot deep-cleanse the build-up inside anyone’s mind. Only we can help ourselves de-stress. Recognising your problem is the first step, the rest is a rinse-and-repeat procedure — remember, ignore, forget.

It has been nearly a year since I had that bald spot. I am doing more work than I have ever done before and though I get tired with nearly 12 hours of university and work in a day, I am usually mentally at peace. However, I have made some resolutions which require me to not push myself to a point where my health was compromised.

All it took was some determination, courage and a lot of carelessness!
Imaan Sheikh An graduate with a degree in Mass Communication from the University of Karachi, she enjoys reading, writing and listening to classical psychedelic rock. She blogs at www.imaansheikh.wordpress.com and tweets as @SheikhImaan (https://twitter.com/SheikhImaan)
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Imad Uddin | 9 years ago | Reply People normally dont understand that being stresssed is not about having a problem in life, not about being afraid of anything and not about some real worries! Its just some strange state in which our mind slips!... From where we must pull it out and we can do it with our conscious effort! Stress hits ur worst vulnerability. If ur stomach isnt strong it will deteriorate ur digestive sustem, if ur joints are weaker it will cause u osteoarthiritis, in some it may trigger survical, eyesight issues, weaker memory and learning, those who have higher blood pressure it may cause diabetes and cardiac issues, and of coarse hair loss. However the comon thing stress does to all is tht it makes u tires earlier than others and reduces ur work effeciency. Some generalizations about what causes stress:if u think about past and get angry and think about future and get concerned- rather than staying in present. Doing so much imaginative thinking and thinking on matters on which we do not have total control. Being worried about surfing on the harsh waves of contingencies in the future(trying to control every contingency to ENSURE success), rather than only taking care of what we can do and leaving the rest to Allah and Destiny with firm belief on it. Not properly SHIFTING FOCUS (If u paint on large canvases u know while forming small shapes u ocassionally have to get up and walk back to see whether the whole painting is in correct proportion e.t.c....... shifting focus in life is about shifting ur focus between working or thinking on details and matching it with overall objective- thus never letting ur plan turn into fantisizing by not working on the details and, on the other hand, not even missing the overall objective by getting lost in the details ) Those who shift focus are normally least stressed and most motivated. Furthermore, negative thoughts, bad intentions and shutting up ones conscience also increases stress. To sum up, while stress increases when our thoughts struggle with desires, motives and problems of the harsh sea of this world
abc | 9 years ago try EFT,search on internet. will help you for sure. not joking
Indian | 9 years ago | Reply What a nice thought process ,you learned. Sometimes our mind can be our greatest enemy - and you learned to tame it (early in your life )
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