It isn’t “just in your head”

So while I was home for break, my big dog dragged me over on the concrete and I was left with road rash on both knees, one hand and one ankle. When I put Neosporin on them, they burned even worse. I went to one of the walk-in clinics, and not only are they infected, but that burning sensation was an allergic reaction to Neosporin. I met one person over the summer who was also allergic, and I was skeptical because I’ve never heard of it. Joke’s on me now.

I was venting about this with one of my close college friends and she straight up just asked “how do you even function?” The only answer I can give is “not the way I wanted to”.

I, like most other college freshman, started out with a bunch of things that I wanted to do now that my life was not ruled by academia. I wanted to start going to the gym more, gain more muscle, join clubs that cultivated interests and get a job. I wanted to run more, stay up late with friends, go out, spend weekends exploring the city. . .

Then the Incident happened. I ended up juggling doctor’s appointments, trying to find a new therapist, trying to find a psychiatrist, then I needed to find a GI doctor and all of my joint pain started affecting my everyday life. I got headaches. I felt like my brain was a concrete mixer that’s been left out too long and the stuck sludge was my thoughts. I seemed to be moving at the pace of a snail.

But don’t worry guys, it’s “just anxiety”. Or maybe I was “just depressed”.

When my therapist asked me why it had taken so long for me to admit that I was sick, I told her that I just thought my body was weird. Bad knees run in my family, my stomach works different than everyone else, but the line fed to me most by the people around me was that it was my anxiety. My mental health was causing my physical symptoms. Right? Right?

Your mind and body are a two-way street. But I was looking at it a very one sided way. Despite the fact that I was less depressed and anxious than I had been in a while, walking up and down stairs was leaving me more out of breath and rarely did I have a day without feeling like I had the stomach flu. Then when my pain and nausea and lack of ability to do normal teenager things would make me depressed, my brain would scream SEE YOU’RE MAKING THIS SHIT UP, DON’T BE AN ATTENTION SEEKER. But I forgot that the street goes both ways.

An imbalance of chemicals in your brain can cause physical symptoms. But physical symptoms can also cause you to feel depressed or anxious. Regardless of their cause, your pain/discomfort deserves attention. It’s VALID. Ask your doctor/therapist about it, ask their opinion on ways of managing or maybe getting tests on your vitamin/mineral/hormone levels. Your experience is real, and deserves to be treated as such. Don’t sell yourself short by thinking “it’s all in your head”. It’s okay to treat the symptoms while you treat the cause. They are real and valid and should be treated as such. Don’t deny yourself that.

DISCLAMIER: There are many different forms of anxiety and depression. This is one story of many. Always ask a medical professional’s advice.

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