Self-Care Sunday: When Life Literally Leaves You Sick and Tired


I had been vomiting for the better half of the day. It was so bad that I couldn’t even keep water down. I was dizzy and cramping. Trying to avoid medical bills, I delayed medical treatment, but by that afternoon I folded and had my boyfriend at the time take me to the emergency room. They ran dozens of tests and scans and couldn’t find anything. They kept me overnight until I could finally hold something down. A few weeks later I received a few medical bills, including the overnight stay that was well over $10,000. Fortunately for me, most of my deductible was paid for the year and I had to pay my ER visit fee and a nominal percentage of the other bills. After all of that I figured it was some mysterious illness that thankfully went awaythat is until it happened two more times, only less severe. It wasn’t until two years later that I realized my mysterious disease was stress.

I grew up hearing stories about how people were admitted to the ER because of chest pain, thinking that it was a heart attack only to find out it was just anxiety and stress. However, I never thought that I would be admitted for the same thing. Stress manifests itself in tense muscles, stomach issues, and a host of other health problems. So how can we win this fight and avoid costly medical bills?

1. Determine how your body reacts to stress

It took me tuning in to my body to realize that my stress usually manifested itself in my stomach. My stomach starts gurgling and I am unable to keep anything down. Sometimes stress eating and too many processed foods have a similar effect. Both results are the same: I end up incredible sick and unable to hold down food for hours. Stress can be manifested through irregular sleep and eating patterns, anxiety/panic attacks, acne/breakouts, high blood pressure, etc. Everyone is different. Being in tune with what is “off” from your normal state will help you recognize it in the early stages.


2. Determine your stressors

My biggest stressor at the time was my relationship. It was a long-distance relationship, and the little time we spent together often involved arguing and intense conflict. It was a crazy rollercoaster with more downs than ups. I didn’t recognize it while I was in the midst of it. It wasn’t until one of our break ups where I was less stressed that I made the correlation between my stomach issues and my stress. It took becoming upset about work the the years to come to make me realize that you can have both general stressors like family, and circumstantial stressors like a job or relationships.


3. Determine what is the best way to detox

Not getting sick can still be a struggle. After not being sick for a couple of years, I became ill twice last summer. Usually when I feel my stomach turning over I acknowledge my stress, then try to focus on the positive things in my life. Sometimes I see a therapist or talk to someone. How you avoid an episode will vary and depend on the severity of the issue. I have friends who have to take medication to manage their anxiety and that’s okay too. Definitely seek medical help along side of using things like meditation and breathing exercises to reduce stress levels. Also be proactive in handling stress once you are aware of your stressors. It can also be as simple as reducing your long to-do list and commitments in order to preserve your health and reduce your stress.

When life literally leaves you sick, it is time to step back and evaluate the root causes. Fortunately for me, the idea of a $10,000 medical bill was eye-opening. Imagine if I hadn’t had decent insurance coverage? I probably would have been one of these crazy people trying to sue my ex for my literal emotional distress! ;)

Do you have an eye-opening story about stress? Share in the comments below.


The Body Buffet creates handmade artisan soap, shampoo, conditioners, spa bars, beard care, body wash and more for Baltimore, the DMV, and beyond. We have been creating conditioning skin-loving, hair-loving, since 2009. Visit our shop at Marquita Johl is the soaper-in-chief and a self-care advocate. She has been crafting soap for eleven years.

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