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I’m going to start off with my unpopular opinion which to most physically ill people is not that unpopular of an opinion. So, the posts/videos/etc about “If Mental Illnesses Were Treated Like Physical Illnesses.”, I am not a fan. As someone who suffers from both I can tell you that neither get treated better than the other and the lack of compassion is still there from the majority of the world.
What most people do not seem to understand is that people who suffer from physical illnesses/disabilities are likely to develop anxiety of depression because of it. In almost every support group I have been in, the majority of them were also on some pill for their anxiety or depression brought on by their disease/disorder/etc.
I want to talk specifically on my own experiences with this, because I can only speak for myself, not everyone else. When I first got sick, few took me seriously. My teacher thought I was faking my stomach pain that left me in the fetal position during recess. When I was in the hospital for a long period of time, the teacher and principal both refused to take any of my make up work, kicked me off the student council, and when I got back kid’s called me names because my face was swollen from the high dose of prednisone I was on.
This led to lots of anxiety, depression, and issues with my self esteem. It was a lot more than most kids had to deal with at that age (although now thanks to support groups I know I was not alone in my childhood even).
I started seeing my first psychologist the same year I got sick, was put on antidepressants a few years later. I lost my sense of identity in it all. I wasn’t sure who I really was, depression will do that to you sometimes.
As the years went on, the depression hit its peak, but then started getting better once I started immersing myself in support groups, meeting other young kids, people who had been through more hell than I had, and still managed to keep a smile on their face.
I wanted to be more like those young adults who smiled in the face of their illnesses both mental and physical.
“Recovery is not linear though.” It takes time. And that’s okay. There are still days when I am in so much pain and feel like people don’t get it and I will get depressed, the days when my brother makes fun of me for using a mobility device, the days I worry about ostomy leaks, when my chest hurts and the anxiety sets in.
My mental health correlates directly with my physical health sometimes. I am more likely to get overwhelmed and have a meltdown when I am already in pain, or nauseated, or dizzy because that is a lot of stimuli as it is, and then people will ask you a million questions which makes me uneasy, and then I will find myself agitated before finally escaping to be alone and melting down: crying, screaming, hitting myself.
Recovery isn’t linear. I’m working hard in therapy to better myself, not for anyone else but myself. These things take time, and I will never be perfect because nobody is. And I know that as long as I have my physical illnesses (Crohn’s, Gastroparesis, EDS) that I will always have bouts of anxiety and depression because there are some days when you can’t help but to worry about what the future holds, or get upset over how you may feel robbed of opportunities. It does get better though.
I thought I would never be at the peace of mind that I am now, and it’s because I’m not trying to be someone I am not, I’m open about myself, I’ve met hundreds of other beautiful souls who are struggling just as I do, and while these diseases may be awful, they have given me some wonderful friendships that I wouldn’t trade for the world.