Part 2: When Mental Illness Attacked My Body – MalaAsana

This is a three part story. To read Part 1, CLICK HERE

Now, I wasn’t going to just sit around and let myself be consumed by these symptoms. Something was wrong, and I was determined to get to the bottom of it. 

Thus began a battery of doctor’s visits and tests, including:
– Lyme disease and tick test
– An MRI of my head and neck
– Visit with a hematologist
– Visit with a homeopath
– Visit with an endocrinologist (I was out on steriods and beta blockers for hyperthyroidism- turned out I didn’t have it) 
– Thyroid ultrasound (my thyroid was inflamed- it’s incredible what stress can do to your body!) 
– Heart ultrasound
– GI consultation
– EEG 
– Several EKGs
– Naturopath Consultation
– Countless blood tests
– 3 ER Visits 
…and two hospitalizations.

The first time, I was hospitalized for tachycardia. I arrived extremely weak, with a heart rate of 160 bpm; seeing spots; vision blurry; freezing cold. I was on the cardiology floor for 4 days, being tested for everything under the sun. Finally, I was discharged with a diagnosis of vertigo — which really didn’t make any sense, but I was ready to get out of there. 
A week later, I was back, this time with a high heart rate and dehydration — but mostly, I was terrified. I was scared that something was REALLY wrong with me.

While being hospitalized for the second time, I met with one of the on-call doctors, and I will never forget that conversation.

He asked me if I had been through any recent traumatic events. I mentioned the death of my father, though not in detail. He then told me that he had seen this cycle many times: a patient is experiencing real physical symptoms, leaves no stone unturned in the search for an explanation, yet doesn’t get any clear answers. 

He kindly, yet matter-of-factly explained that he believed I was suffering from severe anxiety and depression. This had definitely crossed my mind as an option during all of this, but I didn’t believe it — my physical symptoms were so intense, so prominent, that I thought it had to be something else. 

In retrospect, I had been holding onto so much, and burying everything so deep, that my body couldn’t take it anymore — it just shut down. 

Previously I assumed that depression meant crying in bed all day, but it seems that my body processed these emotions differently and internalized them. I had thought that anxiety was feeling nervous about things like public speaking — meanwhile, at that point, I was having daily panic attacks, and felt like I was going to have a heart attack every day. I remember laying in bed night after night thinking I could die in my sleep. 

I disclosed all this to the on-call doctor. But more than that, we talked about how some people give up, and accept the emptiness — and about how lucky I was to be so driven to get to the bottom of all this. 

I immediately started seeing a psychiatrist, who diagnosed me with PTSD and panic disorder. I attend talk therapy weekly, am currently taking an SSRI, and things are slowly but surely improving.

My husband and I wanted an answer; we were on that journey together. While the culprit didn’t turn out to be a specific disease or disorder, where I could take an antibiotic and the problems would all go away, it was still an answer — and I owned that, and then the healing began… 

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