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“The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality, and it was vitality that seemed to seep away from me in that moment.” From a talk by writer Andrew Solomon.
In that talk, he discusses emotional health and vitality. Here I wish to talk about physical health and vitality. With a mental illness, it is not our minds but ‘health’ that goes missing.
I often face physical health issues.
For example, a few years back a scar started appearing on the calf of my left foot; today, it is a 7*4 inch mark. I tell people it’s is a birth mark. It is actually neuro dermatitis caused due to prolonged periods of stress that are often treated with anti depressants. Since I am already on anti depressants there is no way to treat this and it is definitely something that won’t go away ever.
I am currently suffering from severe gum inflammation. An Internet search on home remedies for inflamed gums is to ‘reduce stress’.
Since 2005, I have suffered back pain caused by muscle tension. Again an Internet search says near-constant muscle tension—whether it consists of clenching your jaw, balling your fists, or flexing muscles throughout your body—often accompanies anxiety disorders.
UTI, heavy hair loss, dryness of skin, migraine headaches are the other seemingly smaller health issues caused by depression. Likelihood of diseases of the heart, diabetes, osteoporosis, parkinson, dementia and even cancer are high amongst patients with mental illnesses.
I suffer from serious attacks of Candidiasis i.e. overgrowth of the candida fungi in the system. Candida fungi contaminate the bloodstream and spread throughout the body, causing severe infection. One of the top three symptoms of Candida overgrowth is depression.
Then there is the viciousness of increased appetite. If there is one thing I could wish the medical community figures out a solution to, it would be to reduce the appetite increasing effect of anti depressants. Extra curves and overweight bodies can set even healthy people into a depressive cycle.
For over 12 years I have suffered innumerable health issues and visited multiple doctors. And I am certain I am not the only one. A lot of us don’t even know their physical health issues could be related to their mental health. Whether caused ‘by’ depression or a ‘side effect of’ depression these are some important health issues that plague us.
“Every day, I choose, sometimes gamely, and sometimes against the moment’s reason, to be alive. Is that not a rare joy?” – Andrew Solomon
Pic credit: Marco (Used under a CC License)
The power of stories to inspire change made me turn into a storyteller. I write
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