Somatopsychic


Definition of PSYCHOSOMATIC

  1. 1: of, relating to, concerned with, or involving both mind and body <the psychosomatic nature of man — Herbert Ratner>
  2. 2: of, relating to, involving, or concerned with bodily symptoms caused by mental or emotional disturbance <psychosomatic symptoms> <psychosomatic medicine>

We hear it so often, especially when relating to depressive symptoms.  Depression hurts.  Ever heard that expression?  Probably.  That is, after years and years of being called a hypochondriac, lazy, dodging responsibilities, neglectful, irresponsible, neurotic, uncaring, inattentive, a complainer, and a flat out liar.  You might still be getting flack for that, right?  I sure am.

We’ve touched upon the issue of bipolar depression and it’s limitations at Dailystrength.org’s Bipolar Support Group and again in Blogging Beepers throughout various posts.  Bipolar depression literally destroys us both mentally and physically.  It’s a proven fact that bipolar depression and hypochondria  have nothing to do with one another.  The aches and pains are real.  The exhaustion and fatigue are too real for words.  The headaches are blinding and are just as real to us as they are to you “norms’.  Depression causes a variety of symptoms that aren’t just made up in our heads.  And they sure as hell aren’t made up because we’re too apathetic toward our own lives.

I’m a control freak, much like Mwam who writes “I Was Just Thinking…”.  I cannot stand the idea of someone else having to take the reigns of my life.  It is my body; it is my mind – I can do, say, think, whatever the hell I want.  Except when I cannot physically or mentally do the things that I think and want.  I don’t put the responsibility on anyone else.  I don’t throw my kid at the nearest person because I’m having a breakdown.  I don’t let the bills go unpaid and I don’t let my house get to the point where it would likely be condemned.  I wear my stylish clothes, dash on that makeup, and I don the smile that you trolls love so much.  I keep on moving at MY pace, where the “norms” like it, or not.

Which brings me to Monday.  I noticed that I had been losing pace unusually fast, and my physical health had turned for the very worst.  Unusually so.  I had made a recent, but passing mention of a physical illness in, “When it Rains, It Bleeping Hurricanes”.  And since “To See If I Still Feel”, I’ve been making multiple mentions of a lingering depressive episode.

I bring you a surprising answer.

Definition of SOMATOPSYCHIC
: of or relating to the body and the mind; especially : of, relating to, or concerned with mental symptoms caused by bodily illness >

Shortly after the accident, I contracted what I thought to be influenza.  It happens biannually.  This year, it was the stomach flu at Christmas, and the body flu in the summer.  The year before it was H1N1 (or Swine Flu) over Halloween and “viral syndrome” (AKA summer flu in doctor-speak because, they don’t seem to think anyone can catch the flu outside of flu season).  I hate it, but that seems to be the rhythm of circulating illness.

Anyhow, during this June influenza, I developed laryngitis, and as a music teacher, this is bad, bad, bad news.  As a wife of a man who has diagnosed hearing loss but is too vain for hearing aids, it was the most aggravating thing to ever happen to me.  99.9% of As the Pendulum Swings readers have never met me, seen my face, or heard my voice.  I am very careful to preserve anonymity.  (Yeah, come find me among the 1,223,348 people that live in Allegheny County, PA!)  I’ll tell you this.  I am a 5 foot 1 inch powerhouse of sound.  If I were a stereo, my speakers would be larger than I stand.  I don’t need a microphone in assembly halls, cafeterias, stages, or theaters.  Literally.  So having the mother of all sore throats that preventing me from speaking at all was a challenge.

But this continued for over a month.  I didn’t want to see a doctor because I knew I would get all fired up when they told me it was something stupid like allergies, asthma, cold, etc that could not account for these symptoms.  But they would.  Because I’m a big flippin’ hypochondriac.  And I would’ve been a whining drama-queen who blew my symptoms out of proportion just so I could go on being lazy.  Over the last week, though, I noticed that I started to lose a lot of traction.  My throat felt like there was glass in it, I had a half an octave surrounding my speaking voice, I was intermittently running a low grade fever, and I had a super sensitivity to changes in temperature.  I noticed my behavior changing.  I started letting go.  I let my kids in my classes have free periods.  I couldn’t go three hours with the dire need to sleep.  I let my kid destroy the house and hardly said a word to him.  I couldn’t.  My throat hurt so bad that I would only talk when it was absolutely necessary.  But when the shortness of breath came, I knew that wasn’t anxiety or any other psychosomatic symptom.  I literally wasn’t getting enough oxygen into my body.  And I started to feel it – HARD.

My husband pretty much reluctantly took me to the local urgent care after he got home from work yesterday.  He kept saying, “It’s up to you, it’s up to you.”  Manslation – I will take me if you tell me that I have to.  It turns out, I have (drum roll please!):

Walking Pneumonia!

Walking pneumonia with acute bronchitis complicated by history of asthma, as a secondary infection to influenza.  And do you know who invited this illness into my ecosystem?  It wasn’t the children.  It was the dirtiest, nastiest, smelliest, most abominable creature I have ever encountered – Rs (we’ll call him).  Rs is my husband’s estranged best friend who recently made reconciliation.  When this guy comes around, it never fails that someone becomes deathly ill.  One year, we thought he gave C.S. SARS because they both had respiratory infections so badly.  (Neither confirmed, nor denied.  No one had health insurance).  C.S. was almost too sick for our first Valentine’s Day.  The only person in my family Rs hasn’t gotten sick yet is T.D.  And if T.D. ends up in the hospital because of that misogynistic germ breeder, there will be hell to pay.

As my doctor is giving me this information, the light bulb goes off in C.S.’s head.  “Oh yeah, Rs had that about a month ago!”  Smooth operator there, Einstein.  You could’ve killed your wife who seemed like the only person susceptible to this illness!  And speaking of, how was I the only one who got any of these illnesses in the first place?  Oh yeah, because I don’t have an air conditioned bedroom, I sleep next to the fan, I spend at least two hours a day in the elements in my commute, I don’t sit at a desk all day to do my job, and I chase after a hyperactive toddler all day.

“This bleeper is going to get an eyeful when I get my phone back.”  Yes, I was sick enough to leave my Blackberry, which is normally an electronic appendage, at home on the desk.  The text message conversation looked a little like this:

So it turns out that for all of this time, this entire month, I have not been having an episode.  My psych meds were ineffective because they aren’t made to treat somatopsychic illnesses, like pneumonia caught by a music teacher who just so happens to have bipolar disorder.  Only the Z-pak, 60mg of prednizone, and sucking an albuterol four times a day is going to cure that.

I will never let anyone call me a hypochondriac again.  Eff you “norms”.

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18 thoughts on “Somatopsychic

  1. I am so sorry to hear you went through this. I had a similar situation with a neurologist last month. I was fortunate that up until that point, I had doctors who took me seriously. I had excruciating neuropathic pain, numbness and circulation problems. Every step was like walking through fire and burning sand while my veins filled with ice. The numbness took over my feet, my legs, up my torso. I wanted to scream in fear and pain. This went on for a year and a half. Suddenly, over the course of a month, most of the numbness receded. The neurologist comes in and says: your bipolar is out of control, which is why you can’t handle the pain. I spent thousands of dollars last year (nearly six, because I almost maxed out my total deductible) to track down an illness that only “partially” exists. Would the neurologist have said the same thing to me if I wasn’t bipolar?

    My mother was always considered a hypochondriac. She complained of shooting pains down her left arm for years. In 2000, she had a massive heart attack and quadrupole bypass surgery. Her primary care physician came to her and said, “I am so sorry.” I wanted to sue the S.O.B. because he obviously never took her seriously and look what happened.

    Keep fighting those idiots, those “norms” who think that “it’s all in your head”. You don’t deserve to suffer.

    • I’ll fight the norms until the day I die. I refuse to be discriminated against based on my condition. Do we discriminate against anyone with MS or Parkinson? No. And they’re just the other side of the coin, is all I’m trying to say here.

      I have given myself the resolve that I am putting matters back into my own hands. It’s upsetting and sad that people cannot have enough compassion to see the sickness in your face and want to help. But, to these norms, we’re just a bunch of whining liars. When I tell you that there’s something wrong, there is something wrong, dammit. I’m not lying. We don’t lie for attention. There are others who do that. We’re just trying to get the care that we deserve, and the same care that anyone else would receive in the same situation.

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  4. Unreal… Thank you for sharing and thank you for pointing me to the post ;).

    What you said about being called all those things? Yep, yep and double yep. I have, however, never been called a hypochondriac before but I sure do feel like one. It always turns out to be justified fears and my doctor, when I once told him about the feeling of being a nuisance whenever I came into his office, just laughed and said “You know, you are my only patient who actually makes an effort to research their symptoms before coming to see me … that doesn’t make you a hypochondriac…that makes you smart”.

    Heh…I only do it because I know there is no manual for MFS and if I am not carefull, I will end up being treated for bruised muscles instead of costochondritus or some such.

    Pain, being relateable to Depression? I have heard that one before… I just don’t know which pains belong to which condition, wish they would stick a label with their names on it so I know :P. I do, however, seem to be the only MFS patient with such extended joint involvement…

    My dad is going deaf… And I know all about the struggles to keep thos blasted things in his ears. Some nights the t.v. is on so loud, I can hear it in the far side of the house. As a music teacher, I guess you can understand the fact that I fear going deaf my self… Even though I sometimes hate my own music, I can’t bear the thought of losing my hearing…music is one of those bottles of glue that keep me from falling apart all together. The biggest reasoning behind my fear… The marfan’s comes from my dad’s side of the family and the hearing could be a hereditary thing (They can’t pinpoint the cause, all they know is that the bones in his ears are dissintigrating). It seems our families genetics is fatally flawed and I was the lucky winner of getting the flaw, out of several trouble free generations.

    Again, thank you 😉

    • Yeah, I seem to be the winner of the genetically flawed olympics myself. I think I mentioned this in a few posts. My mother has throat nodules, and I was terrified that was what I had too. Apparently, she used to have a great singing voice herself. Now, she’s a straight baritone. Will that be my fate? But, I’ve always subscribed to the “use it or lose it” policy. Not one day goes by where I’m not singing something.

      Speaking of singing, it took a really long time for me to retrain my voice. The pneumonia messed up my vocal chords from all of the swelling so badly that I lost my pitches. I had to power through it to get control of them again. Use it or lose it. I really never thought I would, and that I would end up being mocked at work. A constant battle with that one. But, less than six months later, I’m back on the horse.

      My mother started calling me a hypochondriac when I was young. I’d complain of ailments, like, I can’t breathe. I have asthma. It took years to get it diagnosed because my mother didn’t believe me. She just thought I was lazy and didn’t want to run. I have tendonitis in my knees because of a condition known as “knock knee”. I used to cry when I was 3 or 4 that my legs hurt. My legs always hurt. The stupid doctor told my mom it was growing pains, and she stuck with that. Even though, I shouldn’t have had growing pains. I was so tiny, there wasn’t a whole lot of growing going on! It took until my mid teens to get diagnosed with tendonitis and then into my mid-twenties and a dislocated kneecap to find out why – knock knee. It’s just how my legs developed. I need PT, but I’ve never had time for it.

      So, when I started presenting with physical symptoms of bipolar disorder, lethargy, fatigue, insomnia, hypersomnia, you can imagine what happened there. I’d go to the school nurse and tell her these things. And everyone just assumed that I wanted out of school. (I did, but that was beside that point). I suspect that I have an undiagnosed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome that is being treated with Wellbutrin.

      Sometimes I have to sit and wonder if my mom feels like a total jerk, now that I’m an adult and have taken care of all of my medical ailments that actually have names.

  5. Now this is just getting eery… It’s almost as tho you described my childhood. As a toddler, I refused to walk and my mom had to carry me all over. Doctors had made all kinds of diagnosis, from blood sugar (I was not allowed to eat seats or have cool-drinks till I was 16) to “He’s just lazy”. It wasn’t till I dislocated my knee for the first time at 16 that doctors finally found the “cause”… I had Osgood Schlotter (Your bones grow faster than your tendons) as well as patella alta (My knee caps sits too high up) in both knees. I have had so many dislocations, I don’t care to remember any more.

    I have also wondered about CFS… I am constantly tired and frequently nap non-stop. Mind you, I am also on Wellbutrin and ever since, I am much better. I have a feeling that the remaining fatigue is due to the Mitral Valve Prolapse.

    I am really glad you found your voice again :D. I still play piano and keyboard, quite often as of late, actually. But I do pay the price as I have a wrist problem, which they just can’t pin down. It’s neither arthritis, nor carpul-tunnel, nor cysts, yet it presents with symptoms from all of the above.

    That’s me…allways writing the book, never reading it…

      • That’s me too. Always with the novels! But, I appreciate them. I love when someone has something more to say than a generic line. I want to read a story. I wonder if other people have stories like mine?

        Doctors are ridiculous. When I was diagnosed with tendonitis, I was also diagnosed with that Osgood Schlatter. I was always a very small kid. It didn’t make sense. But, the doctor did mention something about my tendons being too small for my bones. Are my bones big? Maybe. I’m 5’1″. So I’m not tall. Maybe they are thick or something.

        The last ortho told me that I was pretty much born with knock knee, and that’s why I have tendonitis. It rubs the bones and joints together wrong, because I don’t walk correctly. PT will fix it, he asserts. But, knock knee isn’t going to hurt me in the short run. I’ll probably dislocate kneecaps every once in awhile. My tendons will inflame for seemingly no reason (I’ve gotten good enough to predict really bad weather!). And maybe one day, I will wear things out badly enough to need surgery if I ever tear anything. No immediate danger.

        There’s no way to prove the CFS. I can go off of the Wellbutrin, but then one could claim the depression is what causes the hypersomnia and extreme fatigue. Besides, do I really want to take the risk to prove a point? No. Absolutely not. I will just fight to stay on meds that I know help.

        Anyway, back to doctors. Medicine has been a developing science since the beginning of time. And yet, it’s still primitive. Did you know the averagr IQ for a doctor is 116? Not a whole lot above the average there. It’s concerning. Yes, I know, many things are mysteries. But you’d think they could figure out those clear things!

  6. Interesting! This childhood leg pain. Mine was caused by a strep infection that went systemic as a kid, some time before the age of two, I had been hospitalized several times for a month or so, where I learned to despise jello, and apple juice. And still refuse to consume some 45 years later. PTSD inflicted by nurses force feeding me??? Also where I learned to fight the medical system much to our local psych ward nurses and doctors dismay. Whichever!

    I refused to walk as a kid as well and no one could figure it out. I cried a lot apparently. Late bloomer perhaps. Then one night my parents came up to see what was wrong. Crying in the night again. But this time, they could see the reason. My knee(s) had ballooned up to some crazy proportion. And that’s how I spent my childhood. Poked and prodded. When the leg pains (actually entire body pains, nothing was off limits) would return and nothing showed up on tests they just pumped me with all their antibiotics and arthritic and other types of medicines I also suffered at times horrible anxiety and other such things, and did not want to go to school for a variety of reasons. I was a terribly sensitive child. Poly-juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatic fever (most likely), chronic fatigue, and the fibromyalgia thing were speculated upon.

    At any rate, I experienced doctor shuffle and stuff as well as the hypochondria thing. No one thought of mental disorders in me. My family on both sides, but no once talked about it. Mother’s side has severe anxiety/depression, her included, agorphobia, alcoholism and its issues (abuse among siblings). And then there is my father’s side with its bipolar influences and other quirkiness. Maybe it all links back to the strep infection as a wee toddler, I don’t know. But I do know that as I got older, I visited a chiropractor, and a fair amount on my leg pain started to go away as well as body pain in general. I had a number of spills as a kid, including one nasty fall out of tree. But that kicked off a whole other area of trouble for me, OCD, which turned out to be one of my downfalls with an excessively hard landing. And that is only a piece of the pie with other wedges missing. Enter medication and hospital visits which brings me in part to where I am now. I have been entangled in a web of this real and so called imagined psychosomatic pain and whatnot it seems from the day I was born.

    And I cringe at what still lays ahead. So I live in this very moment, the only way it can be done. Like many others, I walk a tight rope balancing beam act and am pretty much sick and tired of it all, but continue to press on, because well, there is no other option. I have stared the other option face to face and come close to succumbing to it on numerous occasions. And so I continue to fight on willing that God at times should be merciful and bring this whole thing to a close.

    And on that note, I shall return to my bed to see if I can squeeze in another hour of blissful escape.

  7. *Actually correction on the chronic fatigue and the fibroalgia. Back then, it did not exist to speculate upon. That came later. I just learned to live on Advil, bottle after bottle. The first drug that came on board was Amitryptilene? This swore me off drugs. These dumb doctors never ever tell you how these drugs are really going to tell you how may feel and the progression. I was pretty green way back then.

    • They did the bloodwork and X-rays for JRA. In fact, everytime I have to get X-rays, they’re checked over for arthritis, since it’s so prominent in my family. Except, it’s more in the hands. I was never really ill prior to age 8. One case of strep, and dozens of cases of bronchitis.

      Now, I did take a few knocks. Five minor concussions prior to age 10. Age four, one at age six, and two at age seven. And the last when I was age nine. I was struck by a car a week before my eleventh birthday, and ended up in a brace for a month. (Lucky it wasn’t worse).

      So, it’s no surprise that my body aches. I have a bad wrist – I punched a wall when I was drinking heavily. Bad knees by design and wear. Bad hip – child bearing. Stress migraines. And you know, I don’t know if there is anything more stessful than being afflicted with mental health disorder in today’s society.

      I’ve often wondered if any of those concussions jarred my brain into this. I know it’s not. This didn’t flicker on like a switch. I’ve realized recently that I went through some psychic trauma I can’t willfully access in my memory. And it doesn’t seem like there is much coincidence between onset of symptoms, my grandfather’s death, and the point in my life where my memories begin a continuous timeline.

      Well, I guess as continuous as a person with bipolar disorder can have!

  8. I wanted to reply back on something you wrote, but forgot what it was now. But thanks for the reply. Honestly, I can never seem to finish anything. And when I do, it often is a struggle to pull myself back. How did you manage to stay on track for all the schooling you did? I am still convinced of some ADD. Who knows??

    You are fortunate regarding your accident. My younger brother in his six-year-old eagerness totting pop bottles in hand, made a poor miscalculation at a busy intersection that landed him in the hospital for a month. He received a nasty concussion leaving him unable to recognize his own parents for a few days. He has physical problems as a result. A chiropractor over the years has given him a new lease. His severe sleep apnea has improved as well. To my knowledge though, no mental disorders, although he does have issues that are more likely related to parenting and home life growing up.

    I would think that those concussions could add up to mental problems. I met some people in the hospital who had been in auto accidents that caused enough brain damage to trigger bipolar illness among other things.

    Anyway, back to the writing course. I am making little headway, and am about the halfway mark with nothing handed in yet. Argh! But on the other hand, I managed to make and sell a bunch of my wonderfully decorated valentine sugar cookies. But alas, you are in Pittsburgh somewhere. I have a few friends that live there. And another friend/acquaintance in or around Butler.

    Actually, you might know of one of them. She is a music prof. at Penn State. Joanne Rutkowski. Depends on where you went for school though.

    Take care and hope this depression thing is not sinking its fangs in too deeply.

    • I’ve been told by doctors that there has never been any evidence in any of my scans that would indicate that I have any lasting damage. I ended up with two moee concussions as an adult. But, neuroscience is still in it’s infancy. Scan technology is pretty primitive in the sense that a CT is still only 95% accurate when looking for obvious things like tumors, swelling, and aneurism.

      Bipolar disorder made schooling very easy and very difficult at times. I would get hypomanic and take on too much. Depression would set in, and without an adequate support system, I’d cave under all of that weight. If something didn’t come easy to me, I’d obsess about it. And, all of the other things would fall by the wayside.

      I know how it is, not getting things turned in on time. I always lost points for that, even when I had perfect assignments. I have faith that you will get it in. I’m a serious procrastinator, but I’ve always seemed to make it in, just under the wire. I really believe you can too.

      Actually, hilariously enough, I didn’t go to school for music. Originally, I wanted to go to Duquesne University for Music Ed. After much thought, and botching two solos in my junior year of high school, I didn’t think I could manage it. And, finding work as a music teacher is difficult. It’s highly specialized, and extremely coveted by musicians and vocalists. What does a person do when they are good at music, but don’t seek a life as a musician? They teach.

      I did want a life as a musician / vocalist in my youth. But, I realized it would be difficult to have a stable family life that I wanted so much. So, after a lot of majors, I decided on psychology. Besides music, it’s really the only thing I’m good at. And, with a strong music background and my schooling, I am qualified enough to teach music to children.

      I don’t teach music exclusively. I tutor. I am sometimes a classroom aid to children with special needs. And I am ocassionally a teacher’s aid. And, I’ve decided teaching, just teaching alone, that is my life’s passion. I can use music as a tool in my classrooms. I’ve often thought about getting a music certification so I can give private lessons, maybe open a studio one day.

      One step at a time. I don’t like making plans. Life is what happens when we’re busy making other plans. I want to follow my heart. When I do that, and keep my eyes open for opportunity, I almost always end up in a better place.

      Best of luck in your class! Let me know how it goes!

      • I am now reading the lecture notes for the poetry section and am making comments in the online log. It is an Online Course. The only way I could swing it. I’ve already written a bunch of poetry stuff and I don’t even care for it. But it’s funny, these head spaces I get into. So I am going to stop here and turn my attention back to it.

        Rrrrrriiipppp!

        I am sort of in that process of following the trails and getting myself knee deep into plans. Oops! Rrrriiiiiipppp! Later.

  9. ‘But alas, you are in Pittsburgh somewhere.’ And I made that comment cause I have been know to send my cookies out of town on occasion and maybe I’d send a few.

    Anyhooo, cheerio!

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