Through public health awareness and our networks, we hear a lot about cancer, diabetes, strokes and other illnesses but nothing about the link between chronic emotional distress and auto immune disease. I was diagnosed earlier this year with Graves disease, an auto immune disease which I had never knew existed. I have not known anyone with it other myself. I had my 3 month follow-up today with my consultant. I don’t even think UK NHS mental health services have caught up with it the link. I didn’t know about the relationship between childhood trauma and the body’s own immune system attacking itself, until I read a book by Donna Jackson Nakazawa titled ‘Childhood Disrupted – how biography becomes your biology and how you heal.
At my appointment with my consultant, I got a bit flustered as there were two other staff in the same room when I walked in and a lot of the symptoms that I discuss are depressive mood, sleep disturbance, eye problems, skin problems and so on. I think the name ‘Graves disease’ doesn’t sound very sexy either! I wanted to say, ‘Can you both leave the room please,’ but felt a bit nervous to ask.
I am still trying to keep up with everything as in ‘life’ and work out how best to treat my body to the correct foods and fitness that it may need. (she says munching a pizza slice!) I also have to think about my health, long-term and if it can be something that can be treated well with my anti thyroid meds and psychological therapy. I am a great believer in the psychological causation to many illnesses. The sad and equally good thing about it is, I have a curious personality and I do a lot of reading and ask questions about how I can help myself. There is no cure, although my consultant said it can go into remission. There may be things I can do to make my health more manageable. I feel I need to email my consultants secretary and ask for some more help with diet (In my dreams…!) as you don’t get the chance to speak about all your concerns in 20 minutes! That is one area that is quite over looked when you are given drugs, how to heal with food. I could talk about that a lot longer, but I’ll leave it for another time.
I reckon I have had this condition for many years and if it wasn’t of feeling ill with chest pains and having an ECG in the summer of last year, I would not be on this journey today. I am now I am thankful to the medical staff that got my thyroid levels tested and began the referral to see an endocrinologist. It makes you realise how things could not be picked up unless we listen to our body and probe further to find out why we are unwell.
Think I’ve had two crying episodes today. One with my partner and one with my son. Ethan is 9 and I am raising him with the understanding that it is OK to cry and get the tears out. It heals the soul and without crying, the world would be a miserable place! I don’t want Ethan exposed to a lot of upset in this childhood but at the same time it is more healthy to let him see me react to sadness from time to time without running out of the room and hiding away in shock! Sometimes I can hold in the tears though and sometimes I chose not too. I always tell my friends to let it out so I need to take a lesson from that. I have always said there should be ‘community crying cafes’ where people can go to have a good cry and meet new people without them feeling they need to see a GP or have the label of mental illness. There is also too much commercial gain from the major, profitable pharmaceutical companies but again, but, wont go down that round on my blog just yet! I need to wait until my moods lifted!
There are people in our community needing to show emotion but self medicate with drugs or alcohol, get angry and violent and vent their emotions in other ways which have lasting damage because of a difficult life due to poverty, child abuse or even homelessness and as a society we are told not be depressed or anxious or at least the norm seems to be ‘happy, balanced and conforming with others’.
Anyway, I managed to get my son to and from school, go the library and buy some bananas today, oh and do some cleaning. I got through the day….!