Stomach in knots, shoulders tensed up towards my ears, sweat on my brow, teeth clenched, head starting to throb. I'm not inflicted with the flu or any other ailment. This is simply how my body responds to my mind. Ever get the nervous shits? Yeah, that happens to me constantly. I, thanks to my anxiety and nerves, deal with I.B.S. (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). This means my digestive tract gets irritated, and things happen--irritated mind, irritated bowels. It's a simile, really: Diarrhea of my poop tract is like diarrhea of my thoughts. You're welcome.
I've gotten really, really sick, emergency-room-hospital-stay-physically sick, two times in my life, and both durations were very scary, painful, and incredibly unpleasant. During the first stint, I had the worst case of Mono my doctor had every seen. My job at the time was incredibly soul-sucking and simply sad every day; I was working with high school special needs kids who basically had no chance of ever living independently. It emotionally drained me completely, and my body followed suit. It became worn down and completely withered with no fight in it left. I was in the hospital for over a week, was jaundice due to the effect of the Mono on my liver, and nearly had to get my gall bladder removed. Thankfully, that didn't happen, but that was the first time it really hit home how strongly my mind's health affected my body's health.
The second stint of this happened this past year when my ass exploded. I had to get myself to the emergency room because of the horrendous pain and blood. Eventually, this led me to a colonoscopy, which was AWFUL. The procedure itself wasn't bad because I was out for the duration of it, but the prep for it was simply nasty. For those of you who've had this done, you know what I'm talking about. I was sick for several months, barely able to eat anything due to my digestive system literally shitting itself. Finally, my doctor concluded I had temporary Colitis (inflammation of the colon), mild acid reflux, and I.B.S., which was all caused by my anxiety. I made myself sick. Me--I did that to myself.
That realization knocked me off my feet. I couldn't believe I was doing this to myself. Thankfully, I now have medication for the condition, but if I don't keep my nerves and anxiety in check, the I.B.S. will flare up. The explosions ensue, and it's not pleasant. I can always feel my body prepping itself for another oncoming onslaught of gut pain. The twists of the stomach, the gurgles, the burning--these symptoms are signals for me to calm the hell down. If I don't calm the shit in my brain, then I will shit my pants.
I suppose the I.B.S. gives me a good reality check; it's a way of my body informing me that my mind is doing unnecessary work. It's a reminder that the incessant worrying and nervousness isn't doing any good, especially to my own health. My physical health is intertwined with my mental health; both affect one another, and both serve as reminders that if I don't take care of one, then the other is forsaken.
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