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The Physical Symptom I Didn't Realize My Mental Illness Was Causing

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It is said that little knowledge is dangerous. But when it comes to a human body, I feel any amount of knowledge is always less. The way a medical condition manifests itself can be so unique to an individual. It may take months or years to figure out the cause — or as my therapist says, you may lie on your death bed without even knowing your own mind and body.

So, for now I consider myself lucky to have realized my body ache, muscle tension and stiffness were not just due to any lack of vitamins or iron. Nor was it my Ankylozing Spondilitis, which has similar symptoms, as the disease was under control. After much thinking, I decided to visit a psychologist. Long conversations with her revealed my state which she described as “somatisation disorder,” a mental illness that causes body pain among other symptoms. I realized the distress I was experiencing while walking, being at work or even doing household chores was due to anxiety and actually no physical explanation could be found for it.

It was quite a discovery for me as I had never imagined my mind could pressurize my muscles to cause pain, discomfort and anguish. Probably only experts like my therapist can explain how psychological distress can manifest in bodily symptoms. But the fact that it does, it’s best to figure out how to manage it.

A good psychotherapist can help you ease your mental state which will result in better body functions. I did just that. Spent hours over two months with the therapist to understand complexities of my mind and in turn, she made me do exercises, both mental and physical, to release stress. Since I was also anxious, some medications helped in fixing the substances in the brain and wow, they do a good job. It’s a slow process, and one needs to practice introspection to understanding one’s own body functions. I did just that. Wrote a lot, just like how I am writing for the readers of The Mighty. I spent hours thinking and calming my mind. I indulged in various kinds of meditations to bring back the focus.

I am glad I took help which one would not have imagined. At least I gave it a try. It seems to be working now. But, there’s a long way to go. I believe the key lies in self-realization.

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Unsplash photo via Clem Onojeghuo.

Originally published: August 23, 2017
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