What Stress Can Cause
Stress management is super important for us middle-agers. I'm sure you've heard over and over that stress can actually lead to death and I'm here to tell you that I've seen that happen. I've seen where some traumatic event in a person's life ended leading to their ultimate demise. And not just once nor twice either. We must learn to manage this killer as best we can.
My Own Recent Experience
I had my own test of stress management as recently as yesterday. I left the office at midnight, got on the elevator to the garage and got stuck on the third floor. The doors were jammed and there was no one around at that time of the morning. At first I was in denial that this could be happening, so I kept pressing the #3 button as well as the door-opening button.
Next, I located the emergency telephone in the elevator which is used to contact their emergency maintenance personnel. They told told me not to worry and that someone would be there to release me as quickly as possible. I wasn't sure what that meant so I used my own cellphone (thankfully it was fully charged) to call my building security to let them know what happened. He rushed to the third floor and stayed outside the elevator to keep my company until help arrived.
A half-hour had gone by and no help had arrived so I again called the the people at the elevator company. This time I was being told that help would be there in 20 minutes. I wasn't happy about that because I had taken “as quickly as possible” to mean some time very, very soon.
I decided to call 911 since it seemed as though things were taking a bit longer than I had anticipated. They told me that since I was not hurt nor in pain and this wasn't a real emergency, I should just wait for the elevator personnel to come to release. Another 20 minutes went by and nothing happened. The building security guard kept calling the elevator personnel also to sort of push things a little faster. By this time they had become very discourteous and unprofessional and started straight up lying to us about the status of my request. Each time I called for help, I was told:
"Someone will be there shortly". "Someone will be there in 20 minutes". "Someone will be there in 45 minutes". "Someone is just around the corner, should be there shortly". "He must have gotten lost but should be there in another 20 minutes". "Ma'am, I said he'll be there in 45 minutes"
By this time, my subsequent calls to them were either disconnected, placed on hold with music playing or simply just went unanswered. They refused to communicate with me at this point. I waited for another 30 minutes and when I called again, a man answered and yelled at me on the top of his lungs "I told you someone will be there in 45 minutes, he's a ways away!!" That was when I decided to call 911 again and and this time they agreed to come out to get me.
How I handled This Stressful Moment
When I came to the full realization of what was happening, my first thought was – what if I don't get released until in the morning? This would mean I'm going to die in here! But, I quickly grabbed a hold of myself and said “Hey, worrying and stressing is NOT going to help you right now. Instead, manage this by keeping as calm as you possibly can, so you can strategize your release from this elevator. Take deep breaths, don't panic and don't cry.”
It was a small elevator with a capacity of about 20 people and was very cold and stuffy. I took my cellphone out, tweeted about what had happened, called my loved ones and one of my coworkers who had gone past me in the stuck elevator, not knowing what was going on. I then placed a limit on incoming phone calls from relatives to preserve my phone battery life. I started taking deep breaths, pacing the small floor back and forth to help manage the coldness, and popped a stick of Orbit chewing gum in my mouth. I was never in panic mode – not once, because I know the stress that comes along with that. By this time, it was now 2:52 am. My legs had become tired and frozen and so were my hands. Even with winter boots and a jacket on, I felt extremely cold in this small, stuffy space.
By this time, I had stopped calling the elevator people and they NEVER called me back. My phone battery was now running low and I simply decided to make one more call to 911 Emergency. This time they agreed to come since it was now going to be 3 hours that I had been stuck in the elevator. By 3:03 am they arrived and I finally walked out of my temporary prison. Those were the longest 3 hours of my life!
I know for a fact, that if I had gone into stress and panic mode, the outcome would not have been the same. I kept myself calm with positive thoughts of how to formulate being released and it paid off. The treatment I received from the elevator personnel was enough to send my stress level way up but I chose instead to not let that be the case.
This morning, my daughter reminded me to stay out of the stressful space that a situation of this magnitude can bring. It's not healthy, nor is it helpful, she said.