Mental Health & Wellbeing

Self-doubt, stress and sickness

Sometimes its possible to just feel ‘not quite right’, not sick as such just ‘out of sorts’ .  If , like me, you suffer from anxiety based illnesses it’s possible (I find, as I can only talk from experience), to find it difficult to judge whether you are ‘sick’ or feeling ‘down’ and as such, feel sick.  That doesn’t mean that ‘down’ is not a valid sickness, it’s just whether the symptoms derive from the anxiety or from something else like a virus or bug or allegy or something more sinister.

This whole week I’ve felt sick. Really tired, thick head, wheezy.  I’ve not been sick or rushing to the loo but my stomach is definitely very upset.  It gurgles and complains constantly.  Its windy and acidy and intolerent of anything it receives (gross, graphic and not particularly lady-like, sorry!).  Now I know I have a small hiatus hernia (very common , nothing to worry about), I also know I have to take medication for acid reflux and in the past have been treated for an oesophagal ulcer.  I also aware that when I overdo it I ‘fade’.  I kind of shut down.  I don’t want to go out, I can’t face work and my brain struggles to focus.  My head and body feel weighed down and sluggish.

Whatever the ‘real’ reason, the facts are that my head aches, I’m tired.  I’ve slept every afternoon this week and most of yesterday.  My stomach is genuinely ‘not right’.  But would I feel better if I just got out there and weeded someones garden a bit (as a job not just for the hell of it!); or got out my sketch pad and started producing drawings for the commissions I have waiting; or started cutting glass for a commission already agreed; or did my tax return; or got my head around the catering order for next weeks Sunday lunch… Maybe just the list is too long and I need to breathe and focus…..

….Or maybe I do really just need to go and have another little lie down

So, why do I feel a ‘fraud’ when I feel ‘sick’?  I think its because my feelings of wellness and my drive and enthusiasm and focus swing wildly from day to day; sometimes morning to afternoon; and sometimes I know to work through it and I do and its fine.  Sometimes I think I know to work through it and I do and its not fine I go into a decline.  SOMETIMES I make the descision that its a bug and rest and then wonder if I’d feel better if I just got on with it and the slouching around is a catalyst for feeling more ‘sick’.

So the question is, is it just me or is it you too?  Do you worry about these things?  When do you know it’s ‘sick’ and time to see a doctor, or ‘sick’ and recognising the need to slow down? Or ‘sick’ and you just need to give yourself a good kick up the backside?

(1) Comment

  1. Hi Berni,
    I love your blogs and your honesty. Thank you for bringing up another tricky topic and helping us all talk about it. And by the way, it certainly isn’t just you!
    I have always been aware that I have to be careful not to spiral downwards when I feel this coming on.
    The way I’ve developed to cope with it, is to stop asking myself what is causing me to feel a certain way or making my body do a certain thing. For example, I dislocate easily. I spent many years looking for causes, trying to cut-out anything that might bring on more dislocations. The result was that I gave up doing lots of things I loved and never made any difference to the number of dislocations I had (and still have).
    I found this was also the case with my anxiety; a perfect example was last week when we were due to go to the first concert I’d booked tickets for in over 5 years and, yes, you know it – I had a serious case of anxiety. Being in a crowded space used to be one of my favourite things, but since my heart surgery, I dread it – to the point that I’d rather eat rice pudding than go to an event with more than 4 people (and trust me the very thought of rice pudding makes me feel queezy!) So when I started to have hot flushes, a cough, even the shivers, I knew straight away what was happening. I knew I wasn’t “ill” as you put it.
    But I also know something else, and I’d love you to apply it too. I know that I am the one who gets to say “This is too much” or “I just don’t like how I feel about this” and that I can do this without judgement. There is no right or wrong definition of “ill”. Allow yourself to decide “this one is me needing some time to chill/have a duvet day/cry/eat chocolate” and go with it.
    And add one more thing to that list – call a friend.
    love from me to you xx

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