Kidding, this is actually a serious post, like this is going to be about real-life, deep shit not about me talking about some new materialistic product.
Recently, I've become concerned with my health, I go to a general practitioner a lot to make sure my overall health and well-being are okay. I have had multiple health screenings or basic tests. I've had blood tests to check if I have any vitamin or mineral deficiencies and to make sure that my body is getting enough nutrients it needs. With regards to this I was diagnosed with what is common amongst women, being iron deficiency, this is an anemia where the number of healthy red blood cells in the body are too low. Red blood cells are the cells carrying oxygen to all of your body tissue.
Basically, there aren't enough blood cells in my system to carry iron and thus lead to symptoms such as feeling faint, shortness of breath, dizziness, headaches, fast or irregular heartbeat, pale skin, weakness and general fatigue, these symptoms which I experienced quite often for a number of years. Once diagnosed, I then was prescribed iron supplements that would hopefully make me feel a little better.
Other than iron deficiency anemia, physically, I'm as healthy as anyone should be at my age. I have a healthy BMI, my heart is healthy, however, my doctor did advise I slow down on the caffeine. Overall, my cardiovascular, digestive, endocrine, exocrine, muscular, nervous, urinary, reproductive and respiratory systems are perfect, while my immune system is still trying to get there.
I had been taking the iron supplements prescribed to me for two months, this was the recommendation made by my doctor, however, I didn't feel any different. As a result, I went back to my general practicioner, which lead to another prescription of iron supplements.
I hadn't thought about my mental health actually affecting my general health. I was asked the following questions:
- Do I experience stress? Well duh, I'm a law student, all I know is stress.
- Do you sometimes feel as though my chest is caving in? Yeah, that's what indigestion and heart burn feel like right?
- Do you experience faint-like symptoms? It happens every so often.
- Do you feel tired even after sleeping 7 hours or more? Always.
- Do you have trouble sleeping? I sleep like a baby, however, I stay up past 12:00am most nights, I blame coffee for this.
- Is it difficult to concentrate on certain things? Definitely, I am the ambassador of procrastination.
- Do you feel like you're choking or your throat is closing up? Occasionally. Like when? When I'm worried or fear something.
- Do you feel nauseous? Only all the time.
- Do you sometimes feel cold or hot when it's the complete opposite to how the weather is actually like? Yes.
There were other questions but I can barely remember most of them. Honestly, I didn't think anything out of the ordinary when asked these, these sounds like PMS symptoms. However, my doctor and I keep track of my menstrual cycle and noted I had already finished my menstrual cycle. I had no idea what was happening but my doctor said it loud and clear I recommend you speak to a psychologist, social worker or a counsellor. I was stunned by this recommendation.
It turns out my GP thought my iron deficiency was a connection to anxiety disorders, both general anxiety and panic disorder, as well as obsessive compulsive disorder and depression as I constantly clean, tidy and rearrange everything and then felt unintentionally emotional once the anxiety kicked in.
This was the first step, diagnosing me with a mental illness and connecting them to my overall physical health issues. They provided support and referred me to a mental health specialist. I was a little reluctant because of course I was in denial. How can someone like me have not just one mental illness but multiple ones. Turns out, people like myself who are socially orientated, independent and extroverted can in fact be impacted by mental health issues.
Once the denial period was finished I decided to open up to my doctor, I hadn't know my doctor for very long but so far they've been the best doctor I've ever seen in my lifetime so far.
However, I still wasn't ready to talk to anyone else about it. No one knows about this issue besides me, myself and I, and of course my doctor... but of course now everyone reading this knows.
I feel as though this issue is important to talk about as many people, like myself, hide this from people they know and love. It's a stigmatising subject and you do not want to feel like an outsider, an outcast. Furthermore, you don't want to seem like you're seeking attention or making excuses for when life gets hard. However, mental illness is not an excuse to gain attention from the world nor is it something to put the blame on. It hits you without warning, it controls you and quite frankly if you haven't experienced it then you have no idea what you're talking about.
You may be reading this wondering, why would you want to tell everyone and anyone about your mental illnesses, the reason is that it is not spoken about enough and when it is, people ignore it, ignore you or even laugh about it. You cannot claim to be "woke" (I hate that term) and acknowledge issues such as racism, discrimination, sexism, the LGBT+ movement and general social and political issues but claim that mental illness is not a real thing, your ignorance is showing if you honestly think it is a myth or an excuse, or claim people are taking the easy way out. This type of behaviour from mentally healthy people leads to suicide, alcohol and drug addiction, and closeted mental illness sufferers.
If you know someone who's having a shit day, simply ask if they're okay, whether or not that person has a mental illness is not the issue. By showing such positive emotions you can help a person who has a mental illness(es) or a person in general. Regardless if someone has a mental illness or not, remember to watch what you say, by simply being aware of your actions and your words this will help foster a positive environment.
There are many resources one can utilise if you are suffering from mental illness or just want someone to talk to. Talk to your friends, family and/or health professionals. Make this issue known through social platforms which are so powerful these days.
I guess I'm using social platforms to raise awareness, to tell you that there are people out there who suffer in silence. Life hits us all hard enough as it is, we don't need further ignorance and lack of sympathy to hit us even further.
, by Chanel Tiffany