There is More to me (Than the Illness)
Our talented manager “Office happiness” Nelly wrote a great article about her personal experience with psychosomatic diseases. Read it and tell us what you think in the comments!
Back in January when I was dedicated to my New Year’s resolution to watch one TED talk a day I found this talk by Salvatore Laconesi and I was really impressed by his approach and overall way of thinking. For some time now, especially since we started developing FindMeCure, I’ve been thinking more and more about health and, particularly, about the connection between physical well-being and state of mind.
CASE POINT, DON’T SELF-DIAGNOSE
I’m a believer in complex, eclectic solutions that target every aspect of who we are, because as Salvatore said “There is more to me (than the illness)”. It got me thinking about the exact moment when I decided to pay more attention to my emotions and psychological mechanisms in order to maintain and even maybe improve my physical health.
A few years ago I was suffering from a terrible headache, which lasted all through the night and got me checking every medical website and discussion forum for the possible reasons. I also felt nauseous quite often and what I found on the Internet had me convinced I had a malignant tumour, which seemed to worsen my headache. Case in point, don’t self-diagnose.
Scared as I was, I went to see a doctor and got an appointment for electroencephalogram (EEG). He seemed concerned after hearing me out, especially when I mentioned my nausea. That was all my paranoia needed to grow, as if the look on his face confirmed my fears. My EEG however showed nothing to worry about, my blood pressure was in the norm – I was completely healthy by all possible indicators. “Must be psychosomatic”, he said, “I suggest you see a therapist.”
SOMETIMES IT’S NOT THAT EASY
I was having a mild depressive episode as it turns out, and I would have known that had I paid more attention to my thought patterns. I’m a very analytical person, mind you, but sometimes it’s not that easy to notice your own state of mind as it is to be observant of others. This is what therapists are here for – to focus your attention on something you might have otherwise missed.
Now, I’m in no way saying every disease out there is psychosomatic but whenever you feel some kind of physical discomfort, it’s worth investigating your emotional and mental state as well, as it can worsen or even provoke some of the symptoms. I’m all for the holistic approach when it comes to health: our bodies are these complex machines that need to be taken care of on every single level in order to keep the optimal balance.
Supplementary treatments are exactly that – supplementary. Medication only goes so far in curing a condition, but don’t be hazardous with your health and go see a doctor by all means. What I’d like you to take from this article is the idea that you can actually do more for your health and enhance the effects of medicine if you investigate the emotional and psychological reasons that might be behind the illness.
It has been proven by now that prolonged periods of stress and unhappiness lower immunity and in the extremes can even influence the growth of cancerous cells.
But even if you completely reject the notion of psychosomatic diseases, it still could be helpful to talk to a professional therapist while undergoing medical treatment. Your friends and family are your natural support-system in these moments but they don’t have the necessary skills to help you deal with your feelings – which sometimes could be crucial.