When Mental Illness & Physical Illness Collide

Over the last year and a bit, I’ve been quite unwell. Not just mentally, but physically too. I have written a blog post about this, but it isn’t finished yet as we still don’t have a diagnosis, and I’m also really scared to share that with the world at the moment! I’ve never really been physically ill before, but I’ve had to deal with mental health issues for the entirety of my adult life so far, so having to tackle both has been a massive eye-opener for me.

Good days are few and far between
This sounds really miserable, I know. I’ve always had good and bad days when it came to dealing with my depression and anxiety. On the bad days, I’ll either sit and wallow in self-pity, or I’ll do things that make me feel a little bit brighter. On good days, I’ll try to be as productive as I can – I’ll do the housework, catch up on emails and spend time having fun with my fiance. Since developing whatever the hell I have, I’ve spent most of the time either in a lot of pain or feeling incredibly weak and tired. On my bad days I literally stay in bed, because my body can’t take anything physical and my brain can’t process a thing. When the better days come around again, I’ve moved from the bed to the sofa and I use the time getting my shit together so I don’t end up seriously ill and missing work again.

You struggle to prioritise
When you have a cold, you know that the best thing to do is stay in bed, drink lots of water and watch a lot of crappy daytime TV. If you’re having a bad time with your brain, being gentle with yourself is really important, and often it helps you to relax and look at things with a little bit of clarity. Being physically ill drains both mind and body, so I spend all my time trying to make myself feel better with painkillers and doctors appointment and I end up struggling to keep my head problems in check. Neither of these areas should be neglected, but it’s all too easy to forget that your brain is also a very delicate part of your body and needs to be treated with the same respect as every other part of you.

Physical illness can make your mental health deteriorate
People who deal with chronic pain are reportedly three times more likely to end up with depression or a mood disorder than those without it. With constant pain or sickness or lethargy, you become a little bit of an outcast. You can’t do all the things your friends and family are doing and you likely spend a lot of time on your own, because while you’re off work or having to take the weekend to get better, the world continues to turn. Feeling isolated can make you really fucking miserable, as can being in agony 24/7. The fear of losing your job because you can’t work causes even the most chilled out of people to become sick with anxiety.

Stress can make you sick
Just as there’s a correlation between chronic pain and psychiatric disorders, there’s a link between stress and physical illness. If you have a super demanding job or a challenging home life, your risk of falling ill increases dramatically. It can be a never ending circle of illness and stress and anxiety and stress and illness and when it continues on like that, of course your health in general is going to deteriorate.

It’s naff. It’s hard to balance and it’s hard to know how to fix. The most difficult thing for me is working out how on earth I stop myself from being stressed when I have so many responsibilities. I get so ill sometimes the commute to work makes me actually sick, and other days I have anxiety attacks in the bathrooms. Without going to work, however, I can’t pay the bills. Without paying the bills we have no food and no money for prescriptions. It’s a shitty circle but unfortunately it’s what life deals us sometimes and it’s up to us to make the best of it.

I actually snorted as I wrote that sentence – hark at Little Miss Pessimistic over here telling you all to get on with it…

If anyone reading this is having a shit time at the moment, I’m sorry and I hope it gets better for you. Let me know how you deal with the two in the comments, or Tweet me, or Facebook me, or Instagram me or email me! I’m all ears.

Don’t forget, I’m running a competition to win a This Works Sleep Together set over on Twitter! Read all about the products here.


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24 year old freelance content creator

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