As many of you know, I had started a new blog on the CaringBridge platform to express some of the challenges I was continuing to encounter as I moved through this thing called life. Life post-cancer, post/present eating disorder and now with a chronic disease or two. I wasn’t finding the CaringBridge platform to be particularly user friendly this time, so I stopped posting. After just over 2 months of not posting, and in speaking with my therapist and contemplating her comments over just the first 2 sessions, I decided I think it would be helpful for me to start blogging again. Even if I do not have a lot of followers, I think the process of expressing my thoughts is beneficial to me, and hopefully to some readers. I am reposting some of the blogs from CaringBridge and then restarting here.
This was my first post on CaringBridge:
As many of you know,I have faced a series of health challenges beginning nearly 5 years ago with a diagnosis of breast cancer in 2011. I did not express many emotions during this period and the subsequent complications and surgery. I don’t remember crying about it at all. I saw this diagnosis and treatment as a new challenge and one I knew I could beat. And I did. I thank all of you for your support, love, and caring during that period.
Next, in 2013 came ED, my eating disorder. I now know that my desire to control something as well as my perfectionism fed ED very well and caused me not to feed myself well at all. Three years later, I think my gastroparesis, which made me almost continually nauseous, also contributed to ED. I decided to share this journey with you as well, because I thought it was important to increase awareness of this disease which does not only strike thin anorexic teens and twenty-somethings. I thank all of you for your support, love, and caring during this period as well.
I am now facing a challenge that some of you may know about, but which I have not shared with many people. Unfortunately, there is still a stigma regarding mental illness in our society. I want to share my story to do what I can to work against this stigma. I am having much more difficulty “beating” or managing these latest illnesses, namely anxiety and depression. I feel like I’m losing this battle. Basically, I think after fighting cancer and ED, and being in “fight or flight” mode for nearly 5 years (as well as striving in my career before that… there goes that perfectionism again) have resulted in me basically imploding. I humbly ask all of you for your support, love, and caring during this period as well.
I found this article that really resonated with me: http://fitlife.tv/this-is-what-happens-to-your-body-when-you-suppress-your-emotions-original/ It was written by Doris Dahdouh. In it, she describes how as a society, we encourage the suppression of emotions and the negative impact this has on our bodies, minds, and souls. I have certainly experienced much of what she describes over the past 18 months or so.
Here are some of the highlights of her article, along with my comments.
“Society appears to have become emotionally inept. Feelings seem to be associated with negativity and showing emotion has somehow become a sign of “weakness.” “
1. Suppressing Emotions Can Cause Stress; Stress triggers a neurotransmitter called cortisol which sends our body into “fight or flight” or “panic mode.” Stress also causes pain, mostly in our heads, necks, shoulders, and backs. I have had severe neck and shoulder pain for which I have undergone PT and acupuncture. I have also had tension, and more recently, migraine headaches. The vasospasms that cause the migraines also cause my vision to be completely black when I first wake up. I wear eye shields to help this, and have started yet another medication for the headaches and vision. The vision issue was truly terrifying as going blind is one of my greatest fears.
2. Suppressing Your Emotions Can Cause Serious Mental Illness: The brain “becomes“sick” and can’t see reality for what it is because a false sense of reality has been created by the ongoing/continuous restraining of feelings. This can result in severe depression and anxiety. I have been fighting severe depression and anxiety every day for many months. I had my first psych hospitalization in February 2015. This first admission was due to mania brought on as a serious side effect of the antidepressant I was being treated with, bupropion. My body was metabolizing the medication differently because of the gastroparesis. I didn’t sleep for 5-6 days and was in the hospital for almost 2 weeks. I have had several ER visits and hospitalizations since last year, most recently an ER visit this week, though I was not admitted.
3. Suppressing Emotions Can Cause Weight Gain: Cortisol,referred to above, also stores in your midsections as “visceral fat”, considered the culprit of a “big belly.”(I have gained over 40 pounds despite limited intake due to the gastroparesis.)
4. Suppressing Emotions Can Cause Serious Physical Illness: “Keeping your deepest emotions quiet puts your subconscious under ongoing pressure. Your subconscious has to find a way to release it so it releases this pressure into the body, which can wreak havoc, triggering the onset of autoimmune disease, cancer, heart disease and more.” I am unsure whether this has specifically caused any of my illnesses, but I have had complication after complication and diagnosis after diagnosis over the last few years.
5. Suppressing Emotions Can Affect Gut Health: the gut is considered the “second brain.” Both the brain and the GI tract are linked interchangeably, making it difficult to isolate one from the other. Therefore, suppression of emotions and strain caused by the inability to be expressive can cause physical symptoms in the stomach such as upset, nausea, diarrhea, bloating and/or constipation. As many of you are aware, I suffer from gastroparesis (paralysis of the stomach) whereby food passes through the GI tract at a much slower rate than it should resulting in a multitude of GI symptoms.) I suffer from all of the above named issues almost daily, as well as reflux disease. I am often on a liquid only diet.
With this new WordPress site, I’ll continue to share some of my journey. I hope this will help me survive and thrive once again and to perhaps help others with similar concerns.