If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know I’ve been struggling with my health for quite a while now, but if this is your first time reading, hello! and let me fill you in.
I’ve suffered with depression and anxiety for about 5 years now and over the past 18 months I’ve been working really hard to tackle them both and try and remove them from my life. I’ve made drastic improvements but I have come to accept that they are not illnesses that just disappear.
For the last 18 months I have also seriously struggled with my physical health and this is not something that I have talked about much, if at all. I am waiting to be tested for Endometriosis, but otherwise the doctors don’t have an answer as to what I’m dealing with.
I have suffered each and every month, around the time of my period, with severe bleeding, immense pain that lasts for hours at a time, and my mum and I have even been in A&E three times, and had to call 999 at least 5 times due to the severity of the pain I’ve been in. I’ve often taken 5-10 days off work because I can’t walk or even move. I’ll just be lying in bed, crying in pain, or lying in a boiling hot bath for hours and hours because nothing helps. I get dizzy, throw up for days, sleep for 16 hours or not at all.
Sometimes, the worst part is that NO ONE believes you. I’ve had employers and even colleagues be unkind because they think I’m trying to score a day off work for fun, or people think I’m over exaggerating period pains. Believe me, there’s no days off for fun here.
Oh just take pain killers. Oh just get a hot water bottle. Oh just drink some tea.
Yes, yes, I’ve heard it all.
The painkillers don’t work, in fact, nothing works. I know that when that time of the month is coming around… I’m in for a tough few days, or even a week or two.
Now, I’ve spoken to numerous doctors about this and they all think it’s normal. They’ve said things like
“You’re a woman, you just have to deal with these things”
“Us woman all suffer once a month, we all go through it”
“We’ll give you some painkillers, that should help”
and the first time someone turned around and told me that what I’m going through is not normal, was last week. The first time in two years that someone finally acknowledged that something was absolutely not normal with my body.
So, I’m on a waiting list to have some scans, or whatever it’ll be.
I’ve been doing a lot of research recently and I know there are about 5 possible causes for what is happening to my body, maybe even more. But it’s not nice, or comforting, or any less reassuring when you have no idea what is causing your body so much pain and discomfort. In the last 3 months the ‘once a month’ problem has been 7, 8, 9 weeks in a row. 9 weeks of vomiting, bleeding, pain, discomfort, headaches, mood swings. 9 weeks. What doctor in the world thinks that this is normal? I really don’t understand it.
So, that is why I left Taiwan, because dealing with this all alone is extremely difficult and it is also scary. I’m constantly worried about throwing up, or fainting, or not being able to stand up due to the pain when I’m out in public. I’m worried about doctors not caring or understanding, I’m worried about coping on my own.
Being continuously ill, run down, unwell, in pain – whatever you want to say about it, is taking it’s toll on my body and my mind.
But the worst part is is that quite a few people have asked me if I left Taiwan because I’m depressed.
I’ve had comments like:
Well, I know you have mental health problems, so is that why you went back to England?
Is your depression why you are sick?
Is your bad health because you’re depressed?
Maybe if you relax you won’t have depression
If you just stop worrying about everything you will get better.
Now I know some people are just trying to be nice and helpful, but I have had my physical health dismissed so much in the past 6 months because people are aware of my mental health issues that I also deal with.
That is upsetting.
So, because I have depression and anxiety, I’m not entitled to get sick?
Does my physical health take a back seat because I have mental health issues?
Why is one more or less important that the other? And more importantly, why are people separating them?
Too many people think that mental and physical health are not connected, but they’re wrong. They are very much connected.
Many of us like to eat junk food on a bad day, but how do you usually feel after stuffing your face with chocolate or pizza? Most of us feel guilty, heavy or worse than we did before eating.
How do you feel after a good workout? Tired? Yes. Aching? Probably. Better? Most likely. Exercise is a huge boost to our bodies – both physically and mentally – because it gets the endorphins running around and helps us sleep, focus and feel better.
Just like suffering with depression takes its toll on our bodies, where we may become tired, our bodies ache, we get headaches, migraines, gain weight, lose weight… the list goes on.
The same as being physically ill makes us feel sad, lonely, unhappy, stressed… the list goes on here as well.
These two parts of our health are so much more connected that we realize and I just want to raise awareness of this.
I have been ill almost every day for 3 months, so yes, my mental health isn’t at its best right now, and it means I have to fight a little harder to take care of every part of myself both physically and mentally. It’s difficult. It’s tough. But it’s possible.
Your mental and physical health ARE connected. Your mind and body are connected and you need to treat them as a couple, not as individuals.