While I'm thankful the Chronic Illness community usually aspires towards ending mental illness stigma, we also tend to look down upon any potential diagnosis of Somatic Symptom Disorder.
Virtually any time I see this potential diagnosis raised I hear the individual say something along the lines of, "it's not in my head" or "my pain is real" or "I'm really sick".
First, I have a newsflash, ultimately your experience of pain IS in your head. We perceive and have cognitive awareness of our pain via the brain. So if pain being in your head means pain is not real, then no one's pain is real, irregardless of the circumstances.
If you are trying to say pain is not as real, or as valid if its origin is psychological, then thanks for stigmatizing mental illness, particularly Somatic Symptom Disorder.
We have a toxic relationship with physical pain and symptoms being tied to mental health in any way. I understand that much of this comes from the medical community.
While medical professionals often use diagnoses like Somatic Symptom Disorder to dismiss health concerns that doesn't mean we get to double down.
Somatic Symptom Disorder causes very real symptoms, it can be even more debilitating and take much more work to effectively treat than many other Chronic Illnesses.
Not only do people with Somatic Symptom Disorder experience physically manifested symptoms, often they are in immense emotional pain as well.
In addition they deal with the stigma, even from people in their own community frequently viewing their experience as not real, or valid. On top of all that often there is poorer access to mental healthcare.
ALL pain has a psychological component. Our experience of pain is largely qualified by the psychological and emotional suffering versus the actual physical sensation of pain.
Then there is the fact that the emotional pain and suffering of mental illness is just as valid and has at least the same capacity to be debilitating as any other type illness.
Honestly it's probably a good idea for all of us who deal with any type of chronic illness to seek out mental health treatment and at least be evaluated. We should be pushing against stigmatization of mental illness, not participating in it.
Instead if a health professional says they think your symptoms originate from psychological sources, let them know regardless of origin you are still in real pain. Let them know you're awar that similar to many diagnoses with a physical origin it is a diagnosis of exclusion, and you expect it to be treated like one.
Often we can only rule out a diagnosis to the extent we are willing to rule it in.
Acknowledge that all experiences of physical pain are at in part psychological, and state you are willing to investigate the psychological role of your pain, so long as they are willing to continue to investigate the physical role of your pain.
#MentalIllnessStigma #ChronicPain #ablelism #MentalHealth #SomaticSymptomDisorder #Undiagnosed #ChronicIllness