Many of us may feel “stressed out” in our daily lives without knowing why. As many people are on medication due to anxiety and depression, it is obvious that many of us are under a great deal of stress. While medications to alleviate the symptoms of stress can help, they are merely a mask. The real problem is the stressful situation that we are enduring, either in our minds or in reality.
Janet was a secretary for a large law firm. She had a boss who would criticize her every move on a daily basis. Janet was in no position to leave her job as she was the sole supporter of her two young children. Her husband had died two years prior and this was the first job Janet had since his death. She worked hard, but no matter what she did, she could never please her boss. However, she had to work so she kept her mouth shut and never said anything. Janet’s boss had been through three secretaries in the past six months before he hired Janet.
Although her boss was very critical, Janet liked the people with whom she worked very much and she considered herself lucky to be able to earn enough money to keep her children in the lifestyle to which they had all been accustomed when her husband was alive. She considered herself happy. She felt that she was finally able to get on with her life after the unexpected death of her husband.
She could not understand, therefore, why she felt anxious all of the time, especially on Sunday evenings. One Sunday night she ended up in the emergency room of the hospital with heart palpitations. She thought she was having a heart attack so she got her mother to look after her kids and went to the hospital. After a series of tests, it was determined that Janet suffered from a “panic attack.” The ER doctor gave her a prescription for tranquilizers and advised her to see a psychiatrist.
A psychiatrist! Janet wasn’t “crazy.” And everyone knows that only “crazy” people have anything wrong with them mentally. So she took the tranquilizers and ignored the advice of the physician. She continued to experience “panic attacks” on a more frequent basis until one Monday morning, she couldn’t get out of bed. Her children got very upset and called their grandmother who found Janet in a catatonic state. She took her daughter to the hospital where she was admitted to the psych ward for a few days. Janet had what used to be called a “nervous breakdown.”