Sharp pains followed by dull aches in my stomach. Painful headache. No energy. All I could do was prop my pillow on the couch, lean back and stare at the television. I stayed there for a short time and later retreated to the bedroom. Moving slowly from couch to bed and back to the couch, I could not find rest. What was wrong? How could I feel better?
My next thought was to make an appointment with a stomach doctor. Calling and scheduling the time for the visit gave me some comfort. The doctor would know what was wrong and how to make me feel better. At least that was my hope. I thought maybe I had a virus or “tummy” bug.
Through a series of events, I learned not all doctors are equipped to help a person with mental health issues. When visiting the gastroenterologist, I was told that my aches and pains were in my mind. They weren’t real. I was given medicine for acid reflux and told to “relax”.
Very frustrating as I knew my body needed help. At that time, I didn’t realize my mental health was in need of help, too. Filling the prescription and heading home, my mind and body were still in turmoil.
Days later I called the doctor’s office and explained my symptoms were not better. I was told to give the medicine a few more days to work. Angry at the lack of compassion, I placed a call to my primary care physician to make an appointment.
The meeting was very productive. The physician listened and after examining me and ordering bloodwork, he made an observation that changed my life.
“Have you ever considered seeing someone for mental health?” He asked in a way that gave comfort and did not cause embarrassment or anger.
“No” was my answer. He provided the name and number of a physician who could possibly help. This was an important step in my healing.
The new doctor reviewed test results and took time to speak with me and listen to my concerns.
He explained how our mental health can cause our physical health to suffer. When I was anxious or having panic episodes, and even when I didn’t realize my mental health was suffering, my body was reacting by causing stomach aches, headaches and other aches and pains.
I am pleased to have found a doctor who listened and cared. He helped me understand why I was feeling physically and mentally sick. Yes, I needed a different prescription for anxiety. There is no shame in asking for help and receiving help.
These days, I am able to notice when my mental health is affecting my physical health. I know how to proceed to feel better. I know when to contact the doctor.
I learned that stomach aches and headaches and other ailments can be caused by mental health issues. If you are uncertain about your mental and physical health, please contact your doctor or someone who can help.
Prayer is a big part of my life. When I am feeling anxious, depressed or uncertain, I pray and ask God for His guidance.
Also, when I am happy and filled with peace and joy, I pray and thank God for His love and grace.
Have you noticed times when your mental health is affecting your physical health? Share any tips you have used to feel better.
Melissa Henderson is a writer of inspirational messages through fiction, non-fiction, devotions, guest blogs, articles and more. Her first children’s book “Licky the Lizard: was released in 2018.