Having one mental illness can definitely lead to having another. Mental illnesses usually build on each other. For instance, if you have Depression, you are more likely to develop anxiety over any other mental illness (which is what happened to me), vice versa. Before I was started showing symptoms and was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, I was only nervous about one thing, and that was public speaking, which is common fear for most of the population. However, after being diagnosed with Depression, I started to get nervous and antsy about everything for no reason. Simple things like talking on the phone to someone other than my mom and dad, terrified me. Public speaking became a phobia, not just a fear, at this point. I became obsessed with pleasing people, even if it hurt me, just so I could avoid conflict, I’d say yes to just about anything, which can be dangerous. I developed a constant tremor in my head and hands that causes me to naturally shake. I avoided anything that put the attention on me. I worry about things, sometimes up to 6 months in advance, which causes constant worry and distress. Of course, along with anxiety comes with anxiety attacks. I had never experienced an anxiety attack before, or so I thought. Every time I get stressed, which is everyday it seems like, I can’t short of breath, and my chest has the sharpest pain possible. It has been so bad, that I have gone to the Emergency Room a few times and have had a doctor tell me that he thought I was having a slight heart attack because that’s what my EKG showed, but because I am so young, and otherwise healthy, that wasn’t logical. It turns out I was having anxiety attacks.
With my anxiety came anxiety of taking any form of pill, which includes my daily medications. I had developed a Somatoform Disorder—- Illness Anxiety Disorder, which is formally known as hypochondriasis. For about a year I would take my medicine very month, and that is only if my parents were shoving it down my throat because I was so scared that I would feel nauseas, like I had when I first started taking the medicine. Nausea is a symptom of new medications, and I didn’t like how I would get nauseas every time I’d take it, so I just stopped taking them all together. Of course, that was detrimental to my treatment because I started to develop other physical symptoms that piggy backed off my Somatoform Disorder.
It took me a long time to convince my parents that I wasn’t ‘just’ over-exaggerating, but that It is an actual illness. Knowing my body, and wanting to get better, I got treatment for it. Having multiple illnesses doesn’t make you weird, or a freak. Knowing you have them helps you get the treatment that you need.
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash