I Was Secretly Repressing My Stress for Years—and You Might Be Too

I like to think of myself as a "chill girl"—the type of person who's not easily worked up. "You can't overwhelm me," is something I've said to my boss on more than one occasion. "Always trust that I can handle anything and be totally fine."

Only recently did I discover that I was not somehow born resistant to mental and emotional stress. It's simply that I refuse to acknowledge it. Stress denial is a common phenomenon, especially among Americans, who romanticize overworking and continue to turn their noses up at mental health care as a cultural rule. My personal rationale was that from the outside, my life was objectively happy and comfortable, so what right did I have to be stressed? Even if I was stressed, what benefit would there be to indulging it? It took a conversation with an acupuncturist for me to realize that a traumatic breakup, death of an important family member, manic work schedule, and overwhelming social calendar were all putting me at about an eight out of 10 on the stress scale—information that, as a stress denier, I had no idea what to do with.