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Thursday, October 07, 2010

my stupid health

I have had major depression since I was a child, but I started falling ill from weird symptomatic sicknesses since I was 17. It was at the time, a stomachache I often got in school, that when a doctor saw me for it, he couldn't diagnose it, attributing it to 'stress'. Age 17 was right before my first major depressive episode. Ever since then, I often fall ill and often hear doctors after doctors telling me that the pain/ache/symptom etc. is due to stress. Which we all know is what doctors say when they don't know why or what.

I have tried everything of course. Exercise. Supplements. Eating well. But the rest of my life since 17 has been plagued with countless MCs (if I am salaried worker) and time-offs from work because I am ill. Before I knew I had depression, I thought I was just weak, and everyone thought I was simply making excuses. I started to think so too. I blamed myself terribly.

Then I learned of the word 'psychosomatic' and finally understood why I fell ill so often, to the tune of say once or twice a week or fortnight. And it doesn't have to happen when I am seriously depressed or suicidal. I could be feeling emotionally balanced (as far as the antidepressants make me) and still fall ill with some nagging sickness.

It is still on today. I was 17 in 1996. It has been over a decade of constantly falling ill. I developed a host of psychosomatic illness. I have been to almost every hospital in Singapore. I have had my heart, stomach, thyroid, etc. organs checked. I know the names of medicines inside out. Tell me a med and I would probably have taken it before.

This is one of the reasons why I consider myself in my recovery to only be leading a 30% normal life. Apart from constant lethargy, depressive and anxiety episodes perforating my daily life, I am often ridden with some kind of flu, allergy or ache.

Supplements you say? I have tried zinc, Vit C, echinecea, chicken essence, and don't even bother suggesting TCM because when I take it, I either get more sick or if healthy, I actually become sick from TCM.

When I was able to travel every year, every time I came home I would fall sick. Of course I take care of myself religiously when overseas, one must when travelling in Asia, but when I come home, I will definitely get some kind of sickness.

At any one time, I would be having eczema, rhinitis, headaches, flu', colds, or gastritis symptoms. Recently I had the experience of being diagnosed with having a migraine, something a doctor has never said to me before about me, it has been tension headaches for the past 10 years or so.

After so many years of flitting between salaried jobs and freelancing or entrepreneurship, I still reckon my state of health would suit freelancing the best because I have to have more sick days than regular people. This means my life has to be financially risky for a long time.

One of my favourite authors Marian Keyes is somewhat like this too - she need 16 hours of sleep a day, gets an illness by simply reading about it. For me, I used to fall sick right after an MRT train ride. Now I just don't take trains anymore (not just because of the germs of course, but I am still phobic of trains).

Having had almost half of my life's worth of psychosomatic illnesses, I now simply live with them. I only hope others will bear with me for them too, but the world isn't that forgiving. Illness is a sin to most. It was fashionable to be constantly ill probably only in Jane Austen's era, but not in workaholic current times. I want to be well too. But will you give me time? I just have to let opportunities pass me by because of my ill health, stock up on all kinds of medicines, and rest more than normal people need. And stop blaming myself for being sick.

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