Let me start by stating that I have no official training in either the psychological or physical disciplines. This is nearly a blog about me.
I’m not sure when it may have started but the first time I noticed it was late summer of 2007. Or, rather, my wife noticed it. We would be sitting somewhere, I’d be thinking about work and my wife would notice my left hand shaking. I didn’t know what caused it for sure but it didn’t take long to realize that it only happened when I thought hard about work, which was often. It would show up anyway. Dinner, watching TV or even while trying to go to sleep at night. I wasn’t sure if it was stress, lack of a proper diet, lack of sleep or any something else that changes within your life when you work long, hard, stressful hours.
Work became so stressful, and not because of the actual work, that I looked for another job. It was a difficult process after spending 11 years at one company and moving up 4 positions. An amazing thing happened after I found another job though. I landed in a very good situation where there was 5 very strong system administrators. It was such a drastic change for the better that within a couple of weeks my shaking went away and I didn’t notice it again for at least 3 years.
I continued to work at this job until the economy tanked. We didn’t lay anyone off but we turned into “maintenance” mode since most of our income was advertisement based. I only noticed the shaking one time while there. That was during a very stressful data center move. No one ever said anything to me about it but I did see it when we were moving a blade chassis into my Jeep while 3 helpdesk admins where holding a tarp to keep the rain off of us. 🙂
In a chance encounter, shoveling the snow off my driveway at 11 pm, I started talking to a neighbor that I had never talked to. Turns out that he was looking for a well-rounded infrastructure and VMware products systems admin to manage an environment that supported all of their developers. It was a cool step that I couldn’t pass up. This environment was so much fun to learn in, advance to a bunch of cool technologies and have great support from my manager.
There was only time each year that was stressful. We had a conference for all of our clients and I was in charge of setting up lab systems and a portal for them. It was a ton of fun but a lot of stress to get done in time. Every year we made improvements that usually meant changing the way we did almost everything. I remember my coworker asking me about my hand at least once a year.
By now I contributed my shaking to stress. It was the only correlation I could come up for it. I would blow it off and not worry about it at all. That is until my dad started having issues. Doctors weren’t sure what was going on as all tests came back negative. He was shaking a lot, sliding his legs and moved into a deep depression. We finally got him to a few different doctors who diagnosed him with Parkinson’s. It was a rough time for him and the entire family.
I spent at least one day a week with my dad. We’d talk, shoot pool or what ever I could get him to do. I spent most of my time watching him and his mannerisms. I would look back and see if there was any indicators from his past that would have let us know this was coming. At the time it was just data gather. It would soon start to haunt me.
I ended up leaving this GREAT job for another. Four of the admins from the second job above had moved on to a VAR. They were trying for years to get me to come over. I finally decided that I was ready for a new challenge. It was great for about the first 9 months and then I realized I didn’t like most of what I was doing. I don’t think it was completely because it was a VAR but more the VAR I was at. We had a limited product set we could sell because of partner agreements and the management style was about 400% outside of my comfort level. Next thing I knew my hand was shaking almost every day. I was back to the same point from the first job above only this time it was getting worse.
At this point not only was my hand shaking but I was constantly tired and my head was so congested that I would almost black out while driving to work. I was hacking a lot of phlegm all day, every day. This triggered something else in me. I started looking at all of my physical issues and comparing them to my dad. I was seeing way too many similarities. Since this time I’ve really fallen into a depression. It’s caused relationship issues between me and my wife, concentration problems at work, me not treating my friends very well and not being as good as a father to my kids as I should be.
I finally went to a doctor to get a full physical and blood work done. Nothing came up and I was told to get another hour of sleep at night. Since that time I have not talked to a doctor about my issues. I really need to find one that is willing to listen and help me rather than just push me down the line.
I still didn’t really like what I was doing at my new job, though I was good at it and getting a lot of recognition. I wasn’t happy there and I haven’t gone for medical assistance in any way other than a therapist now and then. I’m honestly scared to end up like my dad. He was a mechanic for ever. The manly guy who provided for his family and all of a sudden he couldn’t work any more.
I know I need to take control of this. I’m not sure how. I know I need to talk to someone but my family has never been much of a feelings type. Don’t get me wrong. We talk A LOT. Just not about our feelings.
This post may not help others. It’s more about getting my thoughts out. If anyone reads this all the way through I’d like to say thank you for reading. If anyone has any recommendations I am all ears. I know at this point I just need to make it a priority to get help but as most of my hard working family has done in the past I’ve just tried to keep my head down and “work off” the feelings.
I guess what I’m trying to convey is that work is important but not as important as our health. We should pay close attention to that aspect of our lives. Even more so than our career. It is very hard to do that when you are trying to provide all that you can for your wife and kids. We all must make sacrifices and some times that means making sure you will be around to support them in the long run, not just the next few years.