Well, I suppose, logically, you’re kind of right.
It is after all my brain that causes these thoughts and feelings, which is located in my head. I should be able to control that, right?
Mental health symptoms are not just in my head. Depression and anxiety have caused me lots of other physical health issues.
Let’s start with anxiety and panic. When I feel anxious, my muscles tense up, my mouth becomes dry, I can’t eat and I can’t breathe properly. All of these symptoms have knock on effects.
I often feel light headed and dizzy from not being able to breathe properly.
I feel physically exhausted from my body being on high alert and feeling tense for prolonged periods of time.
I have had stomach and huge painful throat ulcers from not being able to eat properly, when I need to alongside the medication I take.
My muscles in my jaw are constantly tense, without me even realizing. Having my teeth grinding is causing some real long term problems and pain.
I have been physically run down from not being able to maintain a regular sleep cycle. Lying wide awake pondering what you should have and could have done 2 years ago is the worst.
You could argue that anyone can experience these problems, anxiety or not, and you’d be right.
What I would argue is that for me, personally, I wouldn’t have experienced these health issues without my anxiety triggering them.
Let’s move onto depression. When I feel depressed, my past, present and future all seem bleak. I have no motivation and my body is just a dead weight I have to lug around.
I do what I have to do to survive because it is my only option.
I comfort eat when I am depressed, I don’t think about what I’m eating, I just eat. I gain weight because of this and don’t have the strength to get up and exercise to counteract it.
I struggle to concentrate, I can’t think straight. This caused me problems though my studying years and I believe it had a negative impact on my grades. I actually did surprisingly well in these considering (#littlevictories).
Embarrassingly, depression causes digestive issues, causing pain and discomfort.
I suffer from chronic headaches when I’m depressed, ones that even medication won’t help.
Again, you could argue that everyone experiences these symptoms at one time or another in their life, but imagine them all at once.
I know better than anyone what I could have done at the time when I was feeling that way and what could have made me feel better, but you try telling depressed me what I should be doing.
I had no energy, no motivation and no self belief to do any of these things.
I knew what I needed to do, I just couldn’t do it.
So looking back at all of these symptoms, I think it is safe to say that mental illness is not all in my head.
If I could just snap out of the way I was feeling and stop all of these problems that easily, I would have done that a long long time ago.
There are other physical health problems that mental health can cause, I just hope to never experience them.
It is tough enough to feel the emotional pain, let alone anything else.
I know I am not alone in this. I know there are others who would love to get the message across to loved ones and outsiders’ looking in that it’s not just in our heads; it is so much more complicated than that.
Stay with me here.