This is more of a personal/essay-style post. Lately, I've been experiencing several physical issues and felt the need to write about it, to shine a light on what it means to be experiencing physical pains and how one might be able to fix them through means other than medicine. I hope you enjoy!
Surprisingly, most physical pains are formed through emotional pains. We aren't allowing our minds to release feelings and issues and therefore, our pain is transferred to our body. When we experience physical pain, we are more aware of it, we can label it, we can treat it, whereas emotional pain is daunting, deep, and certainly more emotional. Physical pain is normally a manifestation of stress, low self-esteem, depression, fear, anxiety, fatigue, and more, issues that are "harder to treat" than physical ones.
Now, onto the backstory! (Just a note: Some of my physical problems are grosser than others and I'm a little embarrassed to say some of them, but I'm going to say them anyway because we're all human.)
It all began when I found a wart on my knee. I actually had two warts on the same knee a year before and went in for treatment for them, but apparently they grew back. Also, around the same time, my eczema was flaring up and I was out of medicine. My arms were constantly aching and itching and bleeding because of this genetic rash which had never been so inflamed. I scheduled an appointment at the dermatologist, but I'd have to wait an entire month because my dermatologist is incredibly popular.
At the same time, I was having some female problems and was put on antibiotics for a week. While I was waiting for my derm appointment and taking my antibiotics, I banged my leg against my bed frame and bruised my shin (this happened a month ago and yes, it still hurts a bit) which caused me to be on bed rest for a day and a half. I sat in my room, elevating my taped leg, unable to walk, holding an icepack to my shin... you get the picture.
Then, when I was able to walk again (still dealing with eczema issues) I went on a weekend trip with my mom to go see Gabrielle Bernstein, a self-help author and life coach that my mom and I adore. While there, I got a sty. Yes, you heard me right: That annoying eye bump that is common in children and hurts worse than any bruise to the shin. For two days I would blink and feel excruciating pain in my right eye. It got so bad that I had to leave work and make a doctor's appointment at my university's Health and Wellness Center.
Luckily enough, I was given antibiotics and the very next day, my eye was healed!
Sometime during all this, I went to the dentist and was told that I had two cavities, was close to gum disease, and may need a retainer. I brush my teeth every morning and night and floss so... this was fun news.
Finally, I went to my derm appointment, got my warts frozen (yay!) and was prescribed steroids for my eczema. (Oh, and did I mention that I had eczema on my scalp as well?) Everything seemed to be working out; I was finally on the path to healing.
A day or so later, I was doing yoga and got a good look at my fingernails. I am (or used to be) a frequent nail-biter, with short, raw nails and bloody cuticles. It was a constant battle, biting my nails, and I had reached a point where I really didn't care anymore. That is until I found out that the scabs on my fingers (I figured they were scabs because I usually always had scabs... gross as heck, right?) were not scabs at all, but warts.
I had two warts, one on my thumb, one on my ring finger. And that's when I reached my breaking point.
The conference my mom and I had attended spoke a lot about independence, releasing the pain to your spirit guides, not focusing on what's going wrong, etc.. I had been doing this, releasing the pain, praying for healing, but I couldn't take it any longer. I hadn't spoken about my physical issues with anyone, not even my boyfriend, really. But sitting there on my bedroom floor wearing yoga clothes and a slicked-back ponytail, staring at my finger warts and feeling absolutely disgusting and defeated, I called my boyfriend, and I told him everything that had been happening.
And he just sort of laughed. He told me that I wasn't disgusting, that I was beautiful, and that I would get through this physical stuff. And so I smiled, released my worries, and returned to yoga. I actually got rid of my finger warts quickly by wrapping them in apple cider vinegar-soaked bandaids overnight for three days. They died and fell off quickly (gross, I know, but whoop!) I also stopped biting my nails. Yes, that's right--a nasty habit that I had been doing since birth was something I vowed to never do again. But, it was pretty easy to stop-- warts gross me out so much that I can't stand the idea of putting a finger in my mouth ever again.
Everything seemed to be going well at that point. My shin slowly healed and became nothing but an occasional dull ache, my finger warts were gone and my nails were (and still are) actually growing in, my eczema has been contained and settled, my sty was long forgotten. I dove back into my life and moved on as a new, healed self.
And then, well... everything went on halt yet again. I looked in the mirror and noticed a white bump on my top lip which happened to be, yes, you guessed it: A wart. On my lip! I was humiliated and disgusted, but I assured myself that the very next week I'd go to the derm and show it to them.
A day or so later I noticed three red bumps that had formed in various parts of my body and they hurt to the touch. I mostly just ignored them because I didn't have time to diagnose them! And I had been spending so much at the doctors.
And at last, I got sick. Extremely sick. I woke up on a Monday and was certain I was dying. Sore throat, headache, clogged nose, nausea, weakness, chills, all of it. The sickness sprang out of nowhere, really, and both Monday and most of Tuesday I was forced to stay home and binge Gilmore Girls and drink fluids and take DayQuil. But I wasn't getting any better. I began tapping for healing, praying, saying affirmations, because I was so tired of going to the doctor, but then I began getting worse. I couldn't keep staying home and missing class and work, especially not in college. I had to postpone my derm and dentist appointment, and I went to the doctors on that Wednesday. I got prescribed three different medications, had both a head cold and a sinus infection at once with a really bad cough and near-infected ears. I went home to rest and take medicine and before the medicine kicked in, I remember laying in bed and staring at the wall and asking myself, Why me? Why does all this need to happen to me?
I had been meditating, praying, reading self-help books on emotional healing. So I didn't understand why I was getting so sick. My boyfriend, while taking care of sick me, would say, "Goodness, how are you so sick?" And I didn't even have an answer. I was sick. I was burned-out. I was tired. I wanted these physical problems to stop happening.
I knew there was a deeper meaning behind it all. There had to be. No one in my life, who was obviously going through much more than I, had all of these physical problems.
Then I reflected back at what the doctor had told me while visiting him for my sickness.The first thing he did was look in my ears and knock on my head, which caused me to wince. He looked at me with squinted eyes and said, "Oh my, there's just so much tension!"
I found myself laughing in my head because it all made sense. I had so much trapped inside (literally) that it began rising to the surface (literally). My mind couldn't handle it anymore and therefore, my anxiety was transferred to my body. I subconsciously manifested my own pain. Now, you may be thinking: What? But, just, bear with me...
I haven't even finished going over my "physical pains". The last one is not so much as pain and really just funny. But, at the moment, it was far from funny.
The day after my doctor's appointment, something truly terrifying happened. During class, my feet became numb, and after class my hands became numb, and I found it increasingly difficult to walk. When my boyfriend picked me up I was loopy and dizzy and unable to form words correctly. I felt strange, and my body became tingly and not mine. My boyfriend almost drove me to the ER, when I called my mom and she asked, "What medicine are you on?"
We went home and sure enough, one of the medications I was taking was the same one that my mom was allergic to, as it made her feel loopy, numb, and dizzy.
Feeling relieved but very unlike myself, I lied on my bed with my boyfriend, and we talked about things and I found myself laughing way too much at the things he said. The world was spinning, my body was still, and I felt incredibly blissful and at peace. I wanted to sink deep down into my bed and soak in all the goodness my body felt. My skin was warm but in a good way, and I didn't care about anything except for how good I felt.
It was at that moment when I thought back to what the doctor had said: There's just so much tension! He was right.
I miss the sensation of lying in bed and living completely and perfectly in the moment. I miss having a calm mind, not focusing on 5,000 things, not worrying about death, about not living enough and other terribly sad thoughts. I miss simply living and being with the people I love.
But the funny thing is: I'm not sure if I've ever felt this way other than briefly and randomly. I've been waiting for the feeling to approach me, to make the first move. I've always believed that if I were to check everything off the to-do list, I'd feel complete, whole, happy, but really, that's not the case at all. We are never going to finish everything and that's okay. We must relax now.
I decided to sit down and do some research on physical pain and emotional stress correlations. In turn, I found some incredibly interesting quotes that answered all of my questions.
Psychology Today says, "...one might develop psychosomatic symptoms or stress-related symptoms because of unresolved emotional issues... Often, physical pain functions to warn a person that there is still emotional work to be done, and it can also be a sign of unresolved trauma in the nervous system."
"Dr. Murray Grossan of the Grossan Institute writes, 'The first thing about healing an illness is to stop the stress and anxiety chemicals that impair normal healing.'" - HuffPost
Medline Plus says, "The mind and bodywork together, they cannot be separated. The way your mind controls thoughts and attitudes affects the way your body controls pain. Pain itself, and the fear of pain, can cause you to avoid both physical and social activities. Over time this leads to less physical strength and weaker social relationships. It can also cause a further lack of functioning and pain."
I know I'm simply listing quotes (which is not how one is supposed to write an essay), but I'd like for the quotes to speak for themselves. After doing just a bit of reading on three different sites, I realized my hypothesis was true: Stress, anxiety, grudges, fear, can all manifest into physical pains.
When we don't deal with our internal issues, we will never be able to fully be healed. Only, dealing with internal issues can be scary, daunting. While is why we turn to physical symptoms, blaming outside events and other people, and even blaming mental health issues.
Upon realizing that physical pain is only a manifestation of deeper meanings and holding onto to past stress, I've decided to take action. Forgiving my past, finding the next best feeling, saying my gratitude daily, changing my mindset, reminding myself that I am loved, cared for, safe. That I am okay and life is short and my body is beautiful. The little actions, that don't involve more stress, and are intended to release the stress. That's the goal--letting go and releasing. Of course, I'm not there quite yet--I'm still working on balancing my stress. Even now, I'm still dealing with upper back and neck pain (manifestations of holding onto the past, of being too hard on myself, of stress) but looking back, re-reading this post, I realize that I am nowhere near as ill as I once was.
The other day I got my lip wart and remaining warts are frozen off, which should be the last thing I'll have to do. Warts, I've come to find out are manifestations from not feeling good enough, comparing yourself. I got my eczema settled (anxiety and stress), healed my sickness (too much stress, which weakened my immune system), cleared tension from my head (tension, aha), got rid of my sty ("A part of myself is missing"), and everything else. It's crazy, how correlated all my physical problems are. I dare you to look yours up. They may amaze you.
I'll conclude this "essay" by saying: It's easy to grab medicine, label our physical symptoms, even our disorders, but everything is only a manifestation of something deeper. Of course, sometimes medicine is necessary. Although, maybe its time to take a deep look inside, journal it out, ask ourselves what's really bothering us. And it's important not to ignore the pain, not ignore the emotions. It's important not to race through life and drag around our worries, cling to them. Maybe, it's time to look inside, then let it go, and embrace openness and healing.
Maybe it's time to heal our physical pain by first healing our emotional pain.
sources (read more on this topic in these posts!) -
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/symptoms-of-stress https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000417.htm https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/somatic-psychology/201004/the-connections-between-emotional-stress-trauma-and-physical-pain