The Mighty Logo

I Didn't Know a Mental Illness Could Have Physical Symptoms

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

One thing I hear people talk about is the numbness that comes with anxiety and depression — as if the emotional pain is so intense, you don’t feel any psychical pain. This is another one of the many myths about mental illness, and, until you’ve lived it, you can’t fully understand just how false this statement is. I can’t judge the people who say this, though, as there was a time I thought the same thing — I thought mental illnesses don’t have physical symptoms. Well, I found out just how wrong I was.

Seven years. Seven years of constant pain, going to countless doctors appointments, having numerous vials of blood drawn and experiencing what felt like every medical test possible. I was close to being a medical mystery; no one knew what was wrong with me or what was causing this pain. And I was always in pain. My stomach felt like it was going to explode, the headaches were unbearable and I was constantly feeling weak and tired. During appointments though, when asked how I was feeling mentally, I would say “fine” and think, “What does that have to do with this? Just get the test over with.”

Little did I know, I was actually depressed. As the years went on with no results, and after being call a hypochondriac by many (including doctors), my anxiety worsened, causing my physical symptoms to get worse, too. Joint pain, always feeling sore and much more.

Then, after seven long years, I was diagnosed with Lyme disease and put on an all-natural treatment for it. Things got better, but there was still pain. That was also the year I decided to embrace my depression and anxiety and take control. Within months, the pain was gone. I realized at that moment the two had been linked all along. Sure, maybe I did have a minor case of Lyme, I will never know, but for seven years I went through physical pain that was linked to my mental health. Even today, I notice these physical elements when my depression and anxiety get bad, but at least now I know the cause.

Some people ask how I can be so positive after such a long journey with all of this, but my experience has made me stronger. My experiences have helped me support so many others because they too didn’t realize that physical and mental health are connected. So, the next time you think that someone with depression, or any mental illness, is numb to physical pain, think again. Sometimes they can be feeling it the most.

Originally published: March 24, 2016
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home