스트레스는 만병의 근원이다 – Stress is the main cause of all kinds of illnesses. This is a common saying in Korean and something my best friend used to say from time to time if I ever mentioned anything about being stressed. And he was right, stress is truly the root of all evil.

Googling the main stress triggers will give you the following results:

  • The death of a loved one
  • Divorce
  • Loss of a job
  • Financial obligations
  • Getting married
  • Moving to a new home
  • Chronic illness
  • Depression, anxiety etc. 

I did this google search a few days ago. For the past few weeks I had been feeling weird. No pain, just extreme fatigue, nausea, lightheadedness, and changes in my appetite. I had a few spells where I was sure I was going to faint but didn’t. I felt my heart galloping and had trouble taking deep breaths. It felt as if the air got stuck in my throat and never reached my lungs.

I’m a firm believer in never ignoring any health issues, but I didn’t have the energy to schedule an appointment with my doctor. One night as I was lying in bed without being able to fall asleep with my heart racing, I asked myself “what the hell is wrong with me?”. Within seconds I heard my friend’s voice in my head calmly repeating what he had told me so many times before “스트레스는 만병의 근원이다 – Stress is the main cause of all kinds of illnesses”. “Right”, I thought to myself, “that must be it – I’m stressed out from grieving the loss of him” and feeling a bit calmer I finally drifted into sleep.

The next day I called the office of my doctor and scheduled an appointment to confirm that it was in fact stress that was causing my symptoms. When I then went to see her last week, my doctor said that knowing my story she had every reason to believe that it was stress but that she would run some tests just to make sure. She took a few blood samples and while she drew my blood, she told me that it was very common to feel physical grief-related stress symptoms a few months following a traumatic incident.

Within 24 hours she sent me an email assuring me that all my tests were fine and that she believed that my symptoms were indeed caused by grief. She suggested that I mention this to my therapist in order to get help managing my symptoms. 

It never ceases to amaze me how much mind and body work together. In the early weeks of my grief, I remember feeling an intense stabbing pain in my chest and back, frequent headaches and problems with my digestion from either eating nothing at all or far too much at once, giving me pretty severe stomach aches as well. If your mind is not well for a prolonged period of time, it will inevitable be reflected in your physical health. Likewise, taking care of your physical health by eating well and getting moderate regular exercise like taking a long walk is crucial when you’re trying to heal from grief.

I’m thankful for having a wonderful doctor and a great grief therapist helping me with both my physical and mental health in this dark period of my life. I firmly believe that admitting your weaknesses and asking for help shows much more strength than pretending that you have everything covered and trying to manage on your own. Life hurts sometimes – losing a loved one always sucks – and there’s no shame in admitting that you need help to carry on. 

2 Comments »

  1. Hi Sofie,

    I found your blog earlier today and have been binging on your content for several hours. You’re an excellent writer, and your honesty shines through. I find it very interesting to read about your different thought processes and emotions – all of which are laid out through great communication.

    The main reason I find your particular niche of content so interesting is because I am a 교포 who moved to the USA at a very early age with my Korean parents. As I was growing up, my friends were mostly white Americans, and I tried identifying strongly with the culture. As you can see, I even unwittingly filled this form with my American name Sammy, even though my legal name is in Korean.

    Until very recently, I truly thought I was 100% American on the inside. Although my Korean is very good, at this point I definitely prefer English for communication and thinking. This led me to neglect my originally Korean upbringing.

    It wasn’t until a recent trip to Korea (got back less than 12hrs ago) that I realized I was more Korean than I had once thought. It was weird. Although I hadn’t spent more than a years worth of time in the country since my original immigration, I strangely felt right at home.

    As a young person still learning about life, I am immensely grateful to have found your highly insightful blog, and I appreciate your dedication to it. Your insights helped me find more understanding in major parts of my life such as parents and my own personality.

    To conclude, I have achieved more self-discovery from your blog than this message can convey, and for that I am forever grateful.

    Needless to say, I will continue reading!

    P.S. I have enjoyed reading all your blog posts, even the ones that are more personal and less about Korea. I find it very relatable and it makes me feel like a normal person which sometimes is hard to do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Sammy,
      Thank you so much for your kind words. This is the kind of feedback that keeps me going. I’m so incredibly happy that you have found this blog useful. As you can probably guess from the most recent posts I’m struggling a lot these days and your words truly warm my heart. Wish you all the best!

      Like

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