No Ipecac Needed: My Personal Story of Dealing with Psychosomatic Illness

black-woman-stressedI have been restless.

We all get to that place every once and while where life is calling for more. I have been searching for a new job for about 3 years to no avail. No interviews, nada. Now this was frustrating for two reasons 1) I’m qualified 2) Finding a place of employment has never been hard for me.

Being a person of faith, I naturally thought:

“Well, I guess this where God wants me to be right now, right? The door isn’t just shut to new opportunities in employment, it’s BOLTED with no key, so that has to mean something.”

“I can’t complain. I AM employed and my bills are paid. This unhappiness will pass.”

And then it happened.

My dream company, which I had worked for before as an intern, called me up and successfully passed 4 (FOUR) rounds of interviews and nailed each one with great feedback: “Everything you touched on in the interview is exactly what we do and more.” I was ecstatic. Not only would it be a new opportunity, I would have freedom to balance my work and volunteer lives in a better way.

1 week passes.

2 weeks pass.

I’m at lunch with dear friend, when she receives a call from someone else who interviewed for a similar position, informing her that they didn’t get it. Well, here it is. The moment of truth. They’re sending word out to everyone. Although that person’s call was unfortunate, and they had similar credentials, there was no doubt in my mind that my fate would be different. I would dare say, I saw a little light shining around that bolted door and heard the slow creak of the iron against iron as the lock moved back.

A few second later, I receive an email that stated the same. An email.

After 4 rounds of interviews, you don’t even call me?

Unhappiness set back in. I heard the bolt shift back to its original position.

“Ah, that’s ok. Its going to be fine. I HAVE a job my bills are paid. I can eat and I have  place to sleep.”

I left lunch in a daze. I began criticizing myself. “This was an interview for a face-to face position. Maybe they didn’t like the way I looked. Maybe I don’t look healthy enough to help other people? Well, whoever this person is, they HAD to have climbed Mt Kilimanjaro AND wrote a book about it. Maybe that’s it. ” and on and on and on…

I didn’t eat dinner that night though I did clean, sew, play with my dog, and sleep, but all in a daze.

The next morning, I took my time and made a great breakfast, counted my blessings, and enjoyed a leisure morning. I swallowed some scrambled eggs and drank some cherry juice, which all ended up back on the plate.

Read that again, you might have missed it because it happened that quickly.

I didn’t eat bad eggs. All my food was fresh, not contaminated, and cherry juice never hurt anybody. But my body rejected all of it like a baby who just tasted peas for the first time and recently learned how to throw. I sat the there stunned for a moment because it happened so fast.

Now, some of us may get a nauseated after eating, which is indicative of several conditions or digestive problems, and food poisoning doesn’t set in until maybe an hour later. But THIS was not any of THAT, so what could it have been?

Our thoughts affect our body. Right before you present or perform you get sweaty palms,  a knot in your stomach, or the shakes or during a fight you heart starts beating faster and your muscles tense.

Our body responds to our thoughts with nervous impulses sent from the brain to various parts of the body and to the release of adrenaline (epinephrine) into the bloodstream when we are anxious. However, the exact way that the mind can cause certain other symptoms is not clear. Also, how the mind can affect actual physical diseases (hives, rashes, blood pressure, etc) is not clear. It may have something to do with nervous impulses going to the body, which we do not fully understand. There is also some evidence that the brain may be able to affect certain cells of the immune system, which is involved in various physical diseases. (1)

Although I was not experiencing any immediate feelings of anxiety that came with warning signs, like during a presentation or a fight, my body still reacted to the mid-level anxiety I had been feeling for several weeks. The result of the interview must have been “the straw”.

There have been several accounts of psychosomatic disorder ranging from blindness and seizures, to simple but persistent stomach aches. (2) Your body can also have delayed psychosomatic reactions to stress you experienced as a child.  The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is one of the largest investigations ever conducted to assess associations between childhood maltreatment and later-life health and well-being. Findings suggest that certain experiences are major risk factors for the leading causes of illness and death as well as poor quality of life in the United States. (3)

“How do you know it’s psychosomatic? Your reaction wasn’t that severe.” Well, it has not happened since, it had never happened before, and because I am personally aware that my levels of anxiety and unhappiness are off the charts right now (FYI: just because you know it doesn’t always mean you can’t stop it) I have concluded that the connection between my brain and body must be culprit.

So what do I do?

Can I stop this reaction from happening again? No, as a rule our bodies will respond to our thoughts. BUT I can address my thoughts, stress, and anxiety in a variety of ways:

  • Counseling- Sometimes someone from the outside can see aspects of your situation and thought process that you, or your loved, never can.
  • Herbal therapy- St. John’s Wort and Kava are options
  • Diet (refer to the “Happy” article)
  • Exercise- 30 minutes a day!
  • Interaction- spend time with those that make you laugh, often
  • Don’t solve it with drinking (as the song suggests. I just liked this song the best out of all that fit the theme)

 

Stevon bio picAbout SteVon Edwards

I believe that interest, trust, and empathy are essential to community organizing and I rely on those elements to build relationships in my work around community-level prevention initiatives in policy/program development. My focus here is to provide you with information that will help you to overcome barriers you have in achieving a GREAT quality of life. I want you to be able to move, dance, sing, play, crochet , enjoy whatever healthy hobby you have among family and friends with sound mind, body, and spirit! Twitter: Twitter

 

 

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About SteVon Edwards "Community Health Enabler" I believe that interest, trust, and empathy are essential to community organizing and I rely on those elements to build relationship in my work around community-level prevention policy and programming initiatives. My focus here is to provide you with information that will help you overcome barriers you have in achieving a GREAT quality of life. I want you to be able to move, dance, sing, play, crochet, enjoy whatever healthy hobby you have among family and friends with sound mind, body and spirit! View all posts by SteVon Edwards →