I Thought I Was Dying, It Was Just Stress

10 minute read

This is definitely not a PowerShell post, but over the last several months I have grappled with what turned out to just be stress. Here’s my story.

The lead up

I’ve had a number of changes this year that are all stress-inducing. However, by themselves none seem to be super stressful, but as a whole they have all contributed to a deterioration of my health. Let me walk you through them to set the stage.

Work location

The first big change was that I started working from home full time this year. While I have been working remotely for several years now, I had always rented office space up until February this year. I was in a reasonably priced building until the building sold and rents increased significantly enough that it no longer made sense for me. Especially now that I am able to make a dedicated space at home to work in. And this is a space that has a door that closes and my kids have been instructed not to enter without knocking. While they do listen, my wife is a different story.

Morning sickness

My wife is also pregnant with our 3rd child and spent several weeks on the couch barely able to make any word noises in between wretching. This left me to work (thankfully my hours are flexible), take care of the house, and take care of kids. This is rather difficult, so hats off to any single parents out there like my mother. This is incredible stress-inducing!

Work Stress

There has been a rather high amount of turnover at my day job due to poor leadership, the details of which I’m not going to dive into here. Essentially work was extremely stressful and I was letting it have an outsized impact on the rest of my life.


While this is certainly not the driving stress factor for me, it is absolutely worth mentioning. Our life is completely different than it was prior to the pandemic. We wear masks, worry about socializing with strangers, and the political division is real and unfortunate.

The symptoms

So I unintentionally took all of these previous ingredients and crammed them together into my life. As you can imagine, it did not taste good coming out of the oven. In fact, the physical symptoms became a bit unnerving for me and ultimately ended up with me visiting a doctor. I thought that I might be dying.

Chest Pain

The scariest symptom by far was the chest pains that I was having. Essentially I was feeling something similar to that anxious feeling where my chest was tightening up and my heart would flutter. That was happening to me frequently and uncontrollably, which was scary. I feel like I’ve always been a laid back and chill kind of person, so this was new to me and I was a bit frightened about what might be causing this.


Another symptom that was strange was that I was tired all of the time. Going up a single flight of stairs would leave me noticeably drained and noticeably increase my heart rate. Even normal stuff like walking around or holding my kids was a chore. Having always been a fairly active person, I found this to be unexplainable.


With being so exhausted all of the time, I would expect to be able to soundly sleep it off. My stress had other plans. On the worst nights I was going to bed before my kids and after some tossing and turning, barely falling asleep only to wake up feeling similar to how I felt when I had climbed into bed. I felt like I was on the verge of insanity, knowing that sleep was the answer but trying it every single night only to continue feeling terrible. Its hard to think of something more frustrating than waking up feeling the same or worse as when I went to bed.


I waited way too long before going to see the doctor. Most of it was my own fault, but I can still blame some of it on the pandemic since they were booking a couple of months out. I ended up getting blood work, an EKG, and even an echo cardiogram. Everything came back normal. Which was oddly terrifying to me, but thrilling to my doctor. I was sure that something was terribly wrong with me and each simple test that came back normal just meant that it was something worse that they hadn’t yet considered.

Now I’m not sure who mentioned it to me first, or really, who was the first person I took the time to believe, but I do know that both my wife and my mother suggested that I might just be stressed. I, of course, didn’t believe them. I was certain that something else was wrong with me. However, without much reason not to believe that it was stress, I figured that I could at least pretend that it was stress and see what happens.


This is where things get interesting and I should probably take a quick break to remind you that I am an IT professional. Any medical or mental advice I give should be treated like it came from someone who spends 40+ hours a week either staring at a computer making software do cool things or having the life sucked out of him by incompetent beaurocracy.

Let me run you through the different changes I have made to lower my stress.


This might sound really negative, but apathy actually had the biggest positive impact on my mental state. I started caring less about work to the point of becoming apathetic. I cared way too much and that care was not reflected in the way I was able to work due to various restrictions that were out of my control.

When I started at my (then) current job, I set extremely high expectations and wanted to make my career there. Thankfully employment is not like getting married. If I stopped caring so much about my job, I would still get paid and even continue getting benefits unlike what would happen if I stopped caring about my wife. I have to remind myself that I have no stake in the business, so I shouldn’t so heavily devote myself to them. Especially considering that they would throw me out the minute I became useless.

And I should also point out that I brought this up with my (then) manager. He was the one that first suggested that I should care less about work. He said something about me being an idealist and that I need to learn to appreciate gradual change :) so I decided to take that a bit beyond and just care enough to get my work done.


I have placed a temporary hold on all of my obligations outside of my day job and my family. This includes things like my side gigs, some volunteering, and essentially anything that would add even a small amount of stress. If I had to commit to it, I started saying no.


While I consider myself an active person because I have kids that like to run around outside, I am no longer riding my bike to and from my office and I’ve never replaced that exercise. So I tried getting back into swimming as, once upon a time, I used to be a competitive swimmer. Turns out that is way too much work and was also a bit stressful, so instead I now take the dogs out for a long walk before work every morning. That puts me in a really good mental spot before having to dive into the dumpster fire of a job that I used to have. And it even gives me that hour to process things, which is what I used to use my commute for.


If you are human then you are a creature of habit. My routine had gotten pretty out of hand. Basic things like eating and sleeping. It was to the point where I was going to bed at varying times depending on my mood and rolling out with barely enough time to shower before work. In my mind it didn’t matter since I was working remotely. But now I’m far enough into rebuilding my routines that my dogs actually get up with me because they know they’ll get to go on a walk.


The last thing to mention is that I was unable to reconcile my grievances with my employer and they have now become a previous employer. I don’t want to work for a company that causes me stress if I care too much. I want to be able to channel my passion into my work and feel good about it.


Even with the new job I will continue with my routines and exercise. I’m also hoping to start digging myself out of the apathetic pit that I’ve jumped into, but with a really great opportunity at my new employer, I don’t expect that to be difficult. Hopefully this also means that I can get back to writing some more blogs or recording some more YouTube videos, we’ll see. Regardless, I’m in a much better spot now than I was a few months ago.

If you’ve dealt with stress and have any pointers, please share in the comments. I’d love to hear your approach.

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