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Old 04-03-02, 12:54 AM   #1
Amir R. Pakdel
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Effects of severe stress when combined with biking

Well, I know I should have gone a long time ago to the doctor or psychiatrist about this, but since the community here is so diverse and experienced I thought it might help, especially since I don't think any doctor would have the same love for biking as I and others do here.

*Just as a warning, my story here gets a bit long

Well, in September the semester started. All was well. I knew I was going into one of the most challenging faculties in the university but I was up for it. Young and ready to conquere all

Six months before I had started endurance training. I was at my peak. Never in my life had I felt so top both physically and mentally.

It all went downhill few weeks into the semester. Day by day I was cutting my training hours as well as my sleep. It reached a point that I was getting no more than 6 hours of sleep each night and only two hours of effective biking or running per week.

It was all still ok. As long as I could run and bike, life was good.

Then one day, it all came crashing down. I came back from a run (a rather routine one), and then I was feeling like I had reached the end of the line (you may remember the post I made the very same day on this forum) Learned a lesson for life a few hours ago...

Lightheadness... feverish chills... diherrea... unexplainable muscle aches in my shoulder... strange pains in my left side...

I got better, but after that day I did not, could not run or bike like before. Even 10 minutes of exercise would bring me back to that state. So I cut it off completely as I realized that it was severely effecting my academic performance, thinking it would get better eventually.

The hope of getting back on the saddle or running around the track again kept me alive. But I soon discovered that it was gonna get a lot worse before it got worse:

I was getting serious sysmptoms of stress, the silent killer: Trembling hands, undesired weightloss, shortness of breath (similar to asthma attacks), strange muscle knot pains. At this point even running up the stairs a bit too fast would give a major headrush; anything a tad physically demanding was out of the question.

Well, I guess you can imagine how confused I was getting. Now, on top of all the academic pressure, the very fact that I could no longer have the athletic performance I had before I was piling on more and more stress and putting me into a deep state of depression. On top of all, I was getting less and less sleep as a result.

This vicous cycle only getting worse and worse. Right now, even the thought of biking for example, gets my heart racing and gives me this really really creepy nervous feeling. Almost as if it has become an untouchable thing for me. On one hand I remember what I once could do, on the other hand the thought my last rides gives me phobia

I don't want to sound dramatic, but I'm holding strong at the edge of the knife hoping my fingers don't cut off before I run out of strength. It will all be over soon with the final examinations. That's actually the wrose part, but just a only bit longer.

I know most readers here are older than me. Have you yourself or know someone that has gone through something similar to what I am going trhough?

Can I just relax knowing that this is a phase that I will recover from soon after it's all over? Or will this trauma leave scars that are very hard to forget?

I'm just not sure anymore.
They say hope keeps you alive... which I do not have.
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Old 04-03-02, 12:58 AM   #2
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Definately sounds like stress. The other thing with this is that your susceptibility to disease will increas, colds flu etc, which will bring your general health down too.

Can't offer any advice other than try to deal with one stressful area at a time, to get control of your life again.

It will pass. Nothing is worth risking your health.
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Old 04-03-02, 01:10 AM   #3
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Like Chewa said, one thing at a time. I would try to forget about the biking and getting back to the physical state your were in until you complete your finals. If you're still having problems then, wouldn't hurt to talk to a professional about it. I really think it will pass when some of the other stress in your life is eliminated. Keep in touch with us here. We're all pullin' for you!
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Old 04-03-02, 01:26 AM   #4
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It is most likely stress, but it could be the beginning of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. See a doctor, NOW! You have pushed your body way to far and it needs a rest. This is definitely a subject best left to a medical professional not a bike forum.

CHEERS.

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Old 04-03-02, 03:04 AM   #5
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It sounds like heavy stress combined with overtraining. Overtraining is a serious condition and stress is a killer. You need to see a doctor ASAP.

I went through someting similar last year and the sports medicine specialist I consulted put me on zero exercise for three months. Four months later I posted my best time ever in the biggest hill climb race on my racing scedule.

Talk to a professional and follow his advice.
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Old 04-03-02, 03:06 AM   #6
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Many top athletes can find that they push their bodies too hard in training , and degrade their immune system. The result is chronic fatigue or infections.
See a doctor.
Stop all athletic training.
Limit your activity to gentle walks or very slow rides of a few miles.
This is a serious condition and you can just "work throught he pain barrier".

Some sthletes monitor their immune system with blood tests, and back off training at the first sign of trouble.
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Old 04-03-02, 04:03 AM   #7
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1. Go and see a doctor. Yes, there is good advice to be had on this forum, but it's not the same as professional medical opinion.

2. REST!!! I finished university last year, and I know for a fact that one or two days off, in itself, is not going to ruin your study program. What you need ASAP, in my view, is to get about 11 hours of sleep one night soon.
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Old 04-03-02, 09:38 AM   #8
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Doctor today. There are other serious symptoms you are having other than stress.
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Old 04-03-02, 10:55 AM   #9
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I had some similar problems in college. Go see a doctor, and take a day or two off. That means just chill. What's the worst that could happen? It won't ruin your life to take a short breather. It helps to hang out with a friend, that way you don't feel like you should be doing something else.

andy
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Old 04-03-02, 04:00 PM   #10
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Amir, follow the advice of this forum and go see a doctor. He will probably advice you to take a break from biking and running. And later on you may be stronger than ever before.
But go see a doctor!!! Take care and keep us posted.
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Old 04-03-02, 04:21 PM   #11
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I got better, but after that day I did not, could not run or bike like before. Even 10 minutes of exercise would bring me back to that state. So I cut it off completely as I realized that it was severely effecting my academic performance, thinking it would get better eventually.
Listen to your body, PLEASE. It is sending you a very important message. You are completely exhausted and probably terribly "overtrained."

PLEASE see a MD ASAP. You may also have some disease process (infectious mononucleosis comes to mind as one of many possibiities) that is significantly increasing your symptoms.

Don't be proud and "work your way through it." You need some professional help. So many symptoms that we think are signs of mental stress are actually some sort of physical disease.
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Old 04-03-02, 05:21 PM   #12
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Some of the symptoms you described could be from a stroke or heart attack, like everyone else has said, go see a doctor fast.
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Old 04-04-02, 02:24 AM   #13
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Hi Amir --

same advice as everyone else: definitely see a doctor. Get some blood tests done -- see if you can rule out things like mono, anemia, thyroid conditions, that sort of thing. And be good to yourself: you deserve to sleep, to rest, to eat well, and it will help you more than you might believe.

At the very least, you're exhausted and stressed out, but it's also possible that you do have something that needs additional treatment. Someone else mentioned mononucleosis as a possibility; I do know someone who struggled through her exams being dead tired all the time and only found out afterward that she had had mono. Lack of sleep and overtraining will also tend to depress your immune system, which of course will make you susceptible to illness in addition to just contributing your general non-well-being.

I'm actually fairly notorious for not getting enough sleep and I'm also fairly bad about taking my own advice, but you should really consider sleeping and resting rather than attempting to fight through the fatigue in order to get that just little bit of extra studying done. The tradeoff you think you're making actually doesn't work -- less sleep in favour of more study/more work does not make for better learning/better work, and I should know, since I try getting around this reality all the time (the problem is, the less sleep I get, the more convinced I become that getting less sleep is the answer). I find that when I'm really sleep deprived, I have more trouble making decisions, and I'm much more likely to get "stuck" in unproductive behaviour loops or thought patterns. Lack of sleep also seems to affect my gastrointestinal system -- definitely my guts act up when I haven't had enough sleep.

The other thing to consider is that you may be in danger of being seriously depressed, if you aren't already. That, too, can have effects on your physical well-being that might be difficult to trace to a specific cause, and of course it affects your ability to sleep, work effectively, and to deal with stress. Getting treated for major depression is really, really important, as it is a physical condition that, while quite treatable, easily spirals into a vicious cycle.

Now that I think of it, there was a period in my life in which I was severely stressed out because of my work and also pretty active, as it was summer and it was ultimate season. I went through a weird period where my skin was peeling off funny on my fingertips, and I had chills and weird cold/hot numbness in my lips and face and hands, shakiness, and general weakness that I couldn't trace to any specific illness. One of my teammates suggested I get checked out for hypothyroidism, which was worth doing, even though the problem eventually went away and my thyroid hormone levels turned out normal. I think I might have gotten treatment for depression at the time, and I also changed my eating habits, both of which might have helped. As for the possibility of thyroid problems, I did do a little research and recall finding some papers that suggested that thyroid function can be messed with if you're stressed out -- not too surprising, really -- lots of body functions are adversely affected by stress, esp. by continual stress.

Regarding the change in diet -- I also realized at that time that I wasn't really eating enough protein and fat -- mostly by default, since often I was eating things like pasta with tomato sauce or rice with veggies. So it might be helpful to consider your diet as well. I actually felt quite a bit better once I started putting a bit of flax seed oil into my diet -- sounds a bit hokey, yeah, but the essential fatty acids provided by nut, seed, and fish oils are actually really important for various aspects of your metabolism, including the production and balance of hormones that regulate things like inflammation. There is also some relationship to the production of serotonin as well, but I can't recall exactly what. Suffice to say that it probably won't hurt to add a couple of teaspoons of "good fat" to your diet (fish oil, flax seed oil, cold-pressed polyunsaturated seed oils), and it might help a little.

But all of these ramblings about my own experiences are just things to think about -- they may be completely irrelevant to your case. You need to consult an expert to figure out what's going on with you, and that means: SEE A DOCTOR.

This cannot be emphasized enough. If it helps any, try and find a doctor who specializes in sports medicine -- they're used to dealing with athletes and they'll understand your concerns about not being able to ride. You're not seeing one partly because you're afraid they'll tell you to give up the things you love doing, but a good doctor will help you figure out why it is you *can't* do the things you love doing, and work with you to figure out what you can do to change it. There's a lot you can do to help yourself, but it always helps to take advantage of someone's expertise. Don't suffer because of the answer you're afraid of getting. Get some answers, and then go from there.

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Old 04-04-02, 07:47 AM   #14
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Well it does sound like stress but you also have some of the symptoms of diabetes www.diabetes.org but your doc is the only one to find out for sure (unless you wanna taste your piss for sugar, I think I heard that on discovery or summat - repulsive thought)


chin up

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Old 04-04-02, 10:29 AM   #15
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Oh Rose thou art sick,
The invisible worm,
That fly`s through the night,
In the howling storm,

William Blakes poetic words that summed up his feelings whilst suffering Stress/depression, my advice like others , see a doctor immediatley , do not ignore such symptoms....... I know and speak from experience, as I overlooked such complaints as you have stated....... then suddenly to late i slipped into cognitave depression.

It cost me my lifelong occupation and three years later i am still taking medication.

Regards and look after yourself Willic
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Old 04-04-02, 07:47 PM   #16
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READ THIS---> I have a friend who just lost her entire small intestine to a stress-related illness. She says the doctors tell her it will take a full five years to recover.

Get to a doctor NOW.

In the meantime, if it causes stress, I'd say avoid it.
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Old 04-04-02, 08:59 PM   #17
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Thanks for your thoughts everyone.

A doctor's visit is in order.

By the way, I have stopped training all together for months now. I think some people here might have gotten the impression that I am still training.
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Old 04-04-02, 09:10 PM   #18
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On a side note, I want to add something:

About depression, well I do get sad for extended periods of times somtimes, but I'm not sure I would call it depression in the medical sense. I think the depression is quite mild, but the stress meter is reading high. In fact, I don't think my mood right now is much different than before.

I know I still have a lot to be happy for.

And heart attack... hmmm, I would hope not I'm only 18!

Once again, thanks everyone.
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Old 04-04-02, 09:36 PM   #19
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it's a few things, but the stress of your finals(midterms) probably pushed you over the edge. Althought you may feeel rested with 6 hours of sleep that is certainally not enough. in fact as a teenager, (and yes you still are on even at 18) you should be getting 9 hours of sleep. Sleep depervation can cause serious problems, mentally and physically. if you tack on something like cycling you really depleat your body. I'm aslo guessing your diet probably was not the best in the world (be honest). as for solving the problem, first see a doctor, second make sure you are eating right, third get sleep!!!!!!! think about it, you were getting roughly 42 hours of sleep a weeek, while you really needed 63, you lost 21 hours or so a week, that's almost a whole day of sleep you were losing.

Anyhow don't get depressed, you made a mistake and exhausted your body, see a doc and get yourself healthy.
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Old 04-05-02, 04:43 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally posted by Amir R. Pakdel
On a side note, I want to add something:

About depression, well I do get sad for extended periods of times somtimes, but I'm not sure I would call it depression in the medical sense. I think the depression is quite mild, but the stress meter is reading high. In fact, I don't think my mood right now is much different than before.

Many people often wrongly assume that depression is just a very sad mood. It's not.

Not that I'm trying to convince you that you yourself are depressed, Amir -- I just feel ethically compelled to make this point for those who might actually be depressed and not know it. Apologies for the soapboxing, but I believe too many people are walking around not doing something about very treatable depression because they don't think they feel sad enough, or because they don't recognize that the persistent vague malaise and greyness they feel is something that can go away, even if they can't get rid of all the other stressors in their lives.

The thing about depression is that it's not necessarily an inability to feel happy. Even when I was quite depressed, people could still make me laugh, I still had a sense of humour, and I could still be happy for periods and recognize that I had a lot to be happy about. It's just that I tended to have to remind myself that getting through the day was actually a good idea. Often, I didn't necessarily feel sad but more just weary -- tired of living, tired of trying. Little things and big things overwhelmed me both, and I was a lot more susceptible to small stressors. I had trouble making decisions. I couldn't get things done. I'd also have physical symptoms, like not being able to sleep or not being able to eat (food would make me nauseous).

In some people, depression can present as anxiety and restlessness and irritability rather than sadness; at other times it might just be a dulled feeling about the world and living -- an inability to enjoy what you used to enjoy; a remoteness from your own feelings that you can't seem to escape.

The thing about chronic illiness of any type is that we get used to it: we start to think that a certain level of dysfunction/discomfort is normal, and that there's no reason to go bothering someone about it because, heck, it's no big deal -- we feel like this all the time, right? It's a dangerous place to be, but it's very easy to get there. That's why good, sensitive health professionals can be so helpful: they can offer us the perspective we've lost, they know what normal is supposed to look like, and, usually, they have some pretty good ideas of how to get us back there.

Okay, I'm done now. Take care Amir. Just remember it helps to ask for help, and that things do have a way of turning out okay.

-Cathy

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Old 04-05-02, 06:00 AM   #21
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About depression, well I do get sad for extended periods of times somtimes, but I'm not sure I would call it depression in the medical sense. I think the depression is quite mild, but the stress meter is reading high. In fact, I don't think my mood right now is much different than before.

Depression is not only about sadness.......

My deppression consisted of viscous mood swings, a feeling of almost euphoric good mood and then within moments almost within the time it takes to turn on the light , plunged into a feeling of deep despair!!!.
This happened continuosly with no apparent logical reason , just thought signals in your head.
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Old 04-08-02, 02:12 PM   #22
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Just got back from the doctor.

I explained everything to him, and he took my blood pressure. He said it was perfectly okay.

He said it is related to the work and stress I'm under, and he assured me he will help me get back to my training.

Since I am at the peak of the final examinations, he said there is no rush and I can go back for a full physical for xrays and whatnot to figure out what exactly is wrong.

What a relief.
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Old 04-08-02, 02:16 PM   #23
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Congrats Amir! That knowledge in itself should help you out immensley. Not knowing is the worst. Keep us posted.
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Old 04-09-02, 10:31 AM   #24
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The only thing that helps me handle the stress of academia is at least 9 hrs of sleep a night. My brain might be freaking out, but my body and alertness are good. I read yesterday that people who get enough sleep report being happier on average than those who do not. People who don't drink enough water also feel less haapy than those who do, because they don't feel good.

One needs sleep like they need ~80 oz. of water a day, and need to eat. It's not a luxury. Take care of yourself--put the same effort into your own physical care and contentment as you do your academic life. When you're retired someday you won't care about careers, but you will care about how you physically feel, and the habits you establish now strongly influence that.
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Old 04-22-02, 03:58 PM   #25
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Just an update for those who may care...

After a full blood and urine test, and x-rays, to quote the doctor himself:

"Everything is perfectly normal".

So I guess stress is to blamed for it all.
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