It’s not all in my head

Just doing DPT at the ER

There is more to having a Mental illness than just being in your brain. The pain can also be very physically real.

Today, I resigned myself to the fact that it was time to write another blog post. Last week, I promised my friends on Facebook that I would write a blog about people interactions with Bella, but after the week I have had, I am writing something else. Also, a heads up, I wrote this on my phone so I am sorry if the format is different than usual.

She’s always concerned when I have an infusion done.

It started earlier this week. I have been so sick, a doctor decided to let my sinus infection and bronchitis play itself out with out antibiotics, and surprise surprised it got me sicker. It triggered a series of migraines and cluster headaches. Monday night it got so bad that Andrew took me to the ER. By bad I mean that I was bawling my eyes out in the bathroom, lights off, fan going to block out sound and running cold water over my head and coughing uncontrollably because I couldn’t breathe. Just and FYI the ER absolutely sucks when you have a migraine. It was loud and bright and if one more person, called my migraine a “little headache” I was going to punch someone. Good thing I was exhausted.

They gave me the short version of a migraine mix and after 4 hours in the ER, which was a 2.5 wait time, half hour meeting with the doctor and an hour of treatment. After all that I was sent home, with a paper on how to “handle headaches at home”. Exhausted I went to bed at 1:30am, but because I love my job, I got up at 7:30am and went into work. I was tired and achy, I got put on medication for an upper-respiratory infections and I spent the night with some friends trying to distract myself. Wednesday morning I resigned myself to the fact that I needed to go in for a migraine infusion. Which are 3 days long and each one last 4 hours. It helps. It really does. Minus the fact that the combination causes horrible depression and mood swings for a few days after. Atleast it helps me see. But there is something I can never say; my pain never really goes away. That’s hard for some people to understand.

performing a “watch task” while at the home show. She was checking in on me.

There are two other instances that made me want to talk about this. I read an article, I am leaving the topic out because it is controversial) but in it, the MI sufferer talked about how much his symptoms change how he lives. He is miserable and he can’t change it. As I glanced at some of the comments, I noticed how many people questioned if his physical symptoms were related to his psychiatric diagnosis. No body realizes that a mental illness isn’t just mental. This thought was reinforced when someone left a note on my blog. They questioned Bella’s tasks because they sound like comfort. So now, I am going to write about the knitty-gitty of Mental Illness.

Stopping my muscle spasms while getting anxious. She puts her head on my thigh so I can’t be “jittery”

Here it is, Mental illness has physical symptoms besides the mental ones. I live with demons every. Single. Day. Sometimes it is so hard to live with them that I just check out. I get my stuff done, but that’s all, every “spoon” I have is dedicated to work. My housework is lacking, my personal life is minimal, and my body is exhausted. I was trying to find some of the articles I have read in the past about the physical symptoms of an MI but I was losing focus. I have talked to my doctor about it and it is totally normal. Basically your body gets so sick from your MI that it starts manifesting in pain. I have always gotten migraines but my anxiety makes them worse. My depression makes me exhausted and my panic disorder leaves a pain in my chest that feels like a heart attack. (costochondritis) Oh and my anxiety gave me interstitial cystitis (painful bladder syndrome). They may not seem related but it’s basically my body trying to come up with a reason for being sick, and I have had tons of testing that link them together.

It is hard. It is hard to live with chronic pain. It never goes away. I just finished migraine treatment and I am still at a 4 down from an 8 but not great. But for me, that is actually good. I never feel well. Ask Andrew; he stopped asking me how I am feeling because it is always, not great or just okay. My medication keeps my bipolar under control most of the time. My anxiety meds do a decent job and Bella helps to keep me from having unpredictable panic attacks. She gives me 4 minutes to sit so I don’t pass out or gives me 5 minutes to get to a safe place. She gives me about 8 minutes to sit down and take medication before I get a migraine because they cause me to pass out. That’s how she saves my life. I have fallen and hit my head many times.

Tucking under a chair at a doctor’s appointment. She is always watchful of me.

Also, with panic and anxiety I get confused, my face goes numb and I shake uncontrollably. Sometimes I forget where I am, or how to get home or to my car. Bella guides me back to those places. I also try to scratch or cut the pain out (that’s how my self harm started, but don’t worry I am a year self harm free) during those moments she finds Andrew to get help. When I get the pain, she also performs Deep Pressure Therapy (DPT) and helps control the muscle spasms and pain. Mainly because I can’t carry my 12 lb weighted blanket with me places.

Just another infusion picture.

With the panic attacks and anxiety, I have triggers. One of which is people. I am not going to get into my past and what caused this, but I do not do well with people getting to close to me or touching me. That’s how she blocks, she gives me a perimeter to keep people away, and Bella watches my back to keep the paranoia away. She always lets me know if someone is getting to close. It’s an important task even though it might not seem that way.

I realize that as I reread this, it’s all over the place. I apologize for that. I am completely scattered in a million pieces right now. My brain doesn’t work. My body doesn’t work. It is hard. I wish that people could understand that there so many more factors to being mentally ill. It is not easy.

we get happy on low pain days 🙂

What I want to say next is this; if you have a friend who has a psychiatric disorder and they complain of chronic pain don’t write it off. It is not just in my mind, it is real. It is so real that it scares me. I have OCD and I have no control over my own body. None. I can try to control the pain and symptoms but I can’t get rid of them. I try so hard, but I just can’t. If you ever ask me how I am feeling and I respond with not good or I am having a bad day, please know that, that means I trust you, a lot. And please be patient with me (or others) we are crazy but we love with all our hearts because that is what we can give and sometimes that is all we can give because our body is just to tired to give anything else.

9 thoughts on “It’s not all in my head

  1. My thinking is scattered like yours so I followed what you were trying to get across. You have opened my eyes to things I knew nothing about. Thanks for the openess about your illness. I have a much better awareness of how to interact with people now.

    • Thank you Gail, that’s why I like writing so much. If we don’t talk about this others will never be able to understand because they simply do know what we are going through. Thanks for reading

  2. As a retired psychotherapist and also a past PTSD sufferer, I get it. But sadly some people never will. I now write mysteries in my retirement and one of my series is about a trainer of service dogs for combat veterans with PTSD.

    Would you mind if I picked your brain about the Deep Pressure Therapy at some point? That is in the book I am currently writing. Please email me at if you are okay with that.

    And I’m praying that you have a bunch of those happy, low-pain days very soon!

  3. Thank you for your blog. It is very helpful to know other people have some of the same problems as yourself. My MI has me always feeling so tired and I rarely get a good nights sleep.

  4. How wonderful to have a warm hairy helper like you do! Do you mind me asking: what is your mental illness? You mention Depression and Anxiety, but also another condition which you do not give a name to .. what is your diagnosis? And how is the service dog helping you other than giving you the obvious love and companionship? Also, how is Interstitial Cystitis related to your mental illness? I hope you do not mind my many questions .. I too suffer from IC and I also have a myriad of psychiatric diagnoses, so I am trying to understand better. Thank you.

    • I have a few psychiatric disorders. The main being bipolar depression, anxiety/panic disorder, and borderline personality disorder. I don’t always write them all down in each post.
      Bella is for medical alert for psychiatric and migraines. She alerts to my panic attacks and to the migraines which gives me a few minutes to either take medication or get to a safe spot for if I pass out. I pass out and disassociate a lot as a result of my panic attacks so she does alert and response. Her response is to “guide” me if I disassociate and she uses tactical stimulation to bring me back.
      She doesn’t do anything for IC but my doctor just told me that it is very common for people with anxiety disorders to develop interstitial cystitis. At has something to do with how the body handles stress. Hope that helps!

      • Thank you very much for clearing that up. It’s truly amazing what these hairy helpers can do! Magical even. I am interested in your doctor’s suggestion of a link between IC and anxiety .. I’ll investigate some more into this. Thank you again and keep up the good work. Both of you :).

  5. Wow!! Thank you so much for writing this article. I never really connected my MI with physical pain. I’m always feeling nauseous, and my body feeling like I just got hit by a car. I also get migraines but not as often but when they do happen I feel like I’m going to die. This article felt like you were looking into my life. I recently started training my dog to become my service animal. How did you bring up the talk to your doctor about getting a service animal?

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