What do our physical illnesses say about our mental state? 

I have discussed in previous posts that I have suffered with a lot of physical illness throughout my 22 years. I have had vertigo and crippling dizziness, gasteroentiritis, stomach lining infections, unexplained nausea, hip and pelvic problems, frequent headaches, chronic fatigue, and many general aches and pains. I am quite aware that most of these illnesses have been more prominent when my mood is low, and my depression is at its worst. The body can be particularly cruel at times, playing out symptoms to make you feel worse. There’s something satisfying about having physical symptoms to explain why you need to just stay in bed, or for why you just don’t want to go out, and perhaps subconsciously, the body allows us to feel physical illness, in order to disguise the real problem. The issue of course was, that after great investigation by doctors and consultants, there was absolutely nothing wrong with me; nothing notable on any scan or any blood tests. I should have been thankful for this, but the stigma around mental illness being what it is, despite the growth in understanding in more modern times, it is easier to have a broken leg than a mental illness that nobody can see. And so I found myself feeling decidedly angry that there was nothing wrong with me, no other explanation for the way I was feeling, and no escape from the fact that my depression was giving me physical symptoms. 

I am in no way saying that illness during depression is not real, it is very real. It is debilitating and horrendous, and annoying too. But how much of these illnesses can we put down to mood? And would we feel quite as bad if we felt happier in ourselves? 

I am in a much better place in my life these days, with definite sticking points, bad days and things to work upon, but I have recently been plagued with a new illness. 

  • For the last 2-3 years I have had crippling hip pain, and last year did in fact have hip surgery for this. In the last 6 months or so the pain finally seemed to have eased, and only in the last 2-3 days have I been aware of a twinge now and then, a feeling I had gotten quite fond of not feeling. 
  • I have been getting chronic period pain, sickness and abdominal cramps, and after an ultrasound scan and many horrible internal examinations (ladies you will feel my pain) I have been diagnosed with endometriosis, an illness whereby the lining of the womb grows elsewhere in the body and causes great pain. As you can imagine at a certain time of the month this is particularly painful. 

Due to the sheer amount of pain I am in, I am taking regular pain killers, resting lots and constantly feel that my body is struggling with day to day tasks. This has obviously got me thinking about what my symptoms (I initially typed the word “illness” here but it felt wrong, it felt as though I was defined by this, and it was belonging to me and permenant and I don’t see it this way) are saying about me. A therapist I still keep in touch with introduced me to the healer Louise Hay, who released a book all about what our physical symptoms and ailments say about our mental state. She explores what we may be in fear of, and what may be the sticking points that we are not addressing that cause our bodies to react. I therefore looked into what she believes endometriosis and hip problems to be explained by: 

Endometriosis: Insecurity, disappointment and frustration. Replacing self-love with sugar. Blamers.

Hip: Carries the body in perfect balance. Major thrust in moving forward. Fear of going forward in major decisions. Nothing to move forward to. 

Pain: Guilt. Guilt always seeks punishment. 

When I see these explanations I can see how they resonate in my life. I am aware that, as with horoscopes, you can make anything fit your situation, and I am trying to be objective and really analyse what is true and what feels right in my life at this time. 

I can see that: 

  • I do feel a fear of moving forward, and at the moment that fear is based around the unknown and indecision of what is best. I spend a lot of time “in my head” trying to make decisions instead of trusting that things will work out just as they are meant to;
  • I do have insecurities – I need constant reminders in my life that I am doing ok, constantly seek approval from others and don’t value my own opinion enough 
  • I am self conscious 
  • I am frustrated – I have frustrations towards the fact that I’m not “fixed” yet, and Im not the picture of everything I want to be, letting go of all depression, anxiety and eating disorders. I also feel frustrated that Im not where I want to be in my life, in terms of on the way to being able to buy a house and have children;
  • I feel guilty for everything, guilty that I can’t make everyone happy all the time, guilt for the way I have treated people in my past, and guilt for the way ive let myself live for so long. 

Acknowledging that these things are true has allowed me to see the areas that I need to focus on this week. I need to let go of the guilt I feel, forgive myself and others, and learn to love and trust myself more.  I need to write a forgiveness letter or two, I need to draw pictures and write a story of my perfect life, I could work on my Pinterest vision boards too, and I need to write down all the things I like about myself. I know how much progress I have made in these departments, but I can also see that there is more work to do. I need some alone time, walking the dog and getting some fresh air, to clear my mind and take a breather. 

I feel better for evaluating my feelings, both physically and mentally. Although I do not accept that to deal with these mental feelings is to rid myself of physical symptoms, it’s definitely worth putting as much energy into healing my head as it is to healing my body. I’m going to be my own mental “painkiller”, give myself the love and rest I need and let my thoughts take some time out. After all, though our bodies are our a car to drive us through this life, our mind is what supplies the petrol and the drive that keeps us going – it is essential to take care of it! 

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One thought on “What do our physical illnesses say about our mental state? 

  1. Physical pain can lead to mental health becoming worse…And on the flip-side, mental health problems can exacerbate physical pain. Headaches, fatigue, aches and pains, all go hand in hand with the mind in my eyes… Obviously some physical problems are evident, but the ones that have no real cause – that’s where I believe mental health triggers it more.

    Liked by 1 person

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