Not Feeling Great
I am not feeling great. I went to see my dr and he says there is nothing medically wrong with me. He thinks I am having some mental health issues. Can mental health problems really make me physically sick?
Signed: Not Feeling Great
Dear Not Feeling Great,
Therapists see this a lot. Clients often come to us at the direction of their family doctor because whatever is happening physically in their body cannot be fully addressed by the medical profession. Most doctors know that the medical treatment being offered will likely only address the physical symptoms the patient is having for a short period of time, if the root cause is more psychologically based (and not a physical health related issue).
When we are out of balance (emotionally, mentally or physically), our brain talks to us. It sends us signals to warn us of a need that has developed. And this often comes in the form of not feeling great. We have to know how to hear/notice these warnings from our brain. And we have to be willing to listen and respond appropriately. This often means we need to slow down in some way, or remove something from our plate, in order to regain the balance that our brain is seeking.
We don’t always like to do what our brain is asking of us. Human beings want to believe that we can push through the issue until it goes away on its own. Or we tell ourselves to “be strong” and tune out the warning signal. We want to keep doing what we have always been doing; but we want it to somehow feel better (this is the very definition of “crazy”). So, our brain has no choice but to speak louder. Its ultimate mission statement is the protection of its person. So, by turning up the volume on the message (making things worse), it hopes we will eventually respond in a helpful way.
The brain is an incredibly smart mechanism. It learns quickly which warning signals a person is more likely to listen to, and it hones in on this area to send its message. Here are some of the most common physical, mental and emotional ways that the brain tells us that we are out of balance (or have a need that must be addressed):
We might feel exhausted, on a constant basis. Even when we seem to be sleeping, eating and hydrating well, or we seem to be having an easy day, we still feel tired.
Our body aches and/or we experience pain that cannot be explained. Maybe our muscles are tense, or we start having regular headaches, or we get twitches in some part of our body, or we may just have a flu-like achy feeling all over.
We could get dizzy spells or blurred vision. Maybe we start having digestive problems (constipation or diarrhea). We might experience an overall sensation of weakness in our body, and simply not be able to do the things we used to be able to do.
We start to over or under eat. Or we eat for the wrong reasons. Perhaps we begin to self medicate (with drugs, alcohol, food, shopping, sex, etc).
We might start to feel emotionally numb or detached from our feelings. We cannot always find the feeling words/internal connection to explain what we are experiencing – it’s that overwhelming. We lose our passion and motivation for things. We might also start to pull away from others and feel lonelier and more isolated.
We have feelings of being disorientated. We might start misplacing things; or get turned around easily; or lose track of time. Hours slip by without being able to get much accomplished. We get caught up in our thoughts or mindless activities (like social media) and tune out the world around us.
We might start to experience panic/anxiety attacks or depression. Feelings of dread or fear about the future begin to develop. We could get stuck ruminating about what has already happened. Past experiences resurface and start to haunt us again.
Anger and resentment start to build. Our attitude becomes more negative and we struggle to recognize the good and the hopeful things around us. We stop having fun and laughing. We start to feel like something is missing in our life – and sometimes we cannot quite figure out what that might be.
We don’t care as much about others. The important people in our life start to feel like a burden or a bother. We no longer have the energy to care or help others because we can barely manage to tend to our own needs.
We surround ourself with people who are not the healthiest for us. Perhaps they take advantage of us. Or they have habits that we know are unhealthy but we simply don’t have the energy to distance ourself from the situation. Maybe we feel unloved, and we tell ourselves the unhealthy people around us are the best we can hope for. Or we see them as a justified punishment because we do not feel “good enough”.
We start to do things that compromise our values and beliefs. We lose sight of who we are or intentionally shove that person away.
We are wholistic beings – nothing in our brain/body works in isolation. So, it stands to reason that the way to address any concerns that we are having would be with a wholistic approach – a little medical science and a little psychological support, in combination together. Remember though, that there could be something medically wrong in your body, whenever you experience any of the physical signs that I have described. Seeing your doctor is always a smart thing to also do. He/She will help monitor your symptoms and see how they are improving (or not).
Have a question? Please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com. Your answer will be provided confidentially.
Want to start your counselling today?
Make an Appointment