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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Psychosomatic Sicknesses | Psycho till Sick, Sick till Psycho

It was 1996 and I was seventeen.

Also, it was the year I first ever had a doctor in front of me figuratively scratching his head, because he couldn't diagnose the sickness I brought with me to him, finding no other reason for a stomach ailment I had than that of 'stress'. He had nothing to prescribe me for it, because he couldn't figure out what was wrong with me.

The situation preceding that doctor's diagnosis was very kindly and loving. Two of my classmates at the time were very concerned that I had been having chronic stomachaches daily for two weeks, triggered by simple actions like bending down to sit at a chair, or eating fried egg. They did an intervention and dragged me to a doctor near their old school in Lorong Ah Soo, convincing me I simply had to get some help for it.

I remember that doctor somewhat: my friends said he was a Christian doctor, and he had stacks of 'Our Daily Bread' devotionals in his clinic. He didn't have charismatic bedside manners and wasn't an outstanding doctor in any particular way, and him finally saying in a baffled manner that my stomachache was 'due to stress' definitely did not make me want to see him again in a loyal fashion - as I did and still do, other doctors I have met later in life. I supposed he did keep me in his prayers, as did my two intervening friends, because the stomachache eventually went away. I avoided egg for a long time after, though - just in case.

But the trend started - many sicknesses after, many doctors saying the words 'due to stress' or similar. I now know that such sicknesses are 'psychosomatic' in nature, to give the whole issue a proper term. Being thirty two years old this year, it has been sixteen years of having psychosomatic sicknesses. All the freaking time.

Psychosomatic sicknesses affect me so badly not because they kill me, but because I always end up being so frequently sick it kills my productivity. The more stressful the environment I am in - work, school and so on - the more frequently I fall ill. Some are serious ailments, like developing adult asthma, or gastric problems, necessitating hospital visits or rushes to the emergency room. Some are irritating, like chronic eczema, or rhinitis. Usually it is just frequent flu', colds, coughs, headaches, giddiness and such.

Before I knew for sure they were psychosomatic illnesses, I tried every darn thing to 'take care of my health' as my irritated bosses kept saying to me whenever I had to take yet another MC. Nothing worked, but I sure did contribute a hell lot to the health-care industry in terms of buying supplements.

Eventually, I just explained it in simple terms to the people I worked with: When I am stressed, I fall sick. That's just me.

Ah, then the final revelation eventually came to me. I have clinical depression, and psychosomatic sicknesses are part of the deal! It took a while for that causal conclusion to sink in and thoroughly educate me. It started with regular doctors revealing the term 'psychosomatic' to me more often, and prescribing me anxiety medication and sedatives alongside treating stupid minor ailments.

By the time my second and still ongoing major depressive episode kicked in a few years ago, I became more concerned with getting treatment for depression itself - it is much more life-threatening than the sum of all the irritating sicknesses like gastritis and allergies. Years on, still getting treatment for depression, still not able to push the disease into entire remission, still not able to do a lot of things normal people can do. Am still trying, am still bleeding money into getting better.

Meanwhile, I still get psychosomatic sicknesses.

For the past few days, it has been terrible nausea that came with actual puking. Everything I puked was undigested, so definitely some incongruence in my gastric system somewhere.

Well, this bout of sickness may not be purely psychosomatic because I have been having side effects from my new antidepressant (works wonders for depression but): gastric problems, giddiness, severe headaches. I prescribed myself a dosage reduction and the headaches became slightly more bearable, the giddiness went away.

Whatever the cause, I am so sick of being sick. Psychosomatic, or caused by psychiatric medication, I am thoroughly fed up with being sick almost all the time for the past sixteen years. Right now, I am typing this in the middle of the night because I am too sick to fall asleep. I have just puked, and my head hurts. I feel like shit, and I wanna puke some more but there is nothing left to puke. My stomach keeps churning. Medication for it? If could afford any, have consumed them and finished them or puked them out - rinse and repeat - the pain and suffering continues.

And what makes it worse? I am too poor to be sick, and am poor because I am sick.

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