When I hear the word “trauma,” I think about car accidents, fires, military deployments, and abuse. I think of movies with sad music and loud explosions, not the quiet hours at night trying to fall asleep despite the pain.
Trauma has affected my mental health in a major way, but it wasn’t due to a sudden catastrophic event. My trauma stems from years of being ignored by medical professionals, of feeling ashamed for not feeling well enough to participate in activities with friends and family, and of simply feeling ill all of the time.
My experience of being diagnosed with Cushing’s disease was short, as I quickly received a diagnosis once I actively started looking for an answer. But for many years before that, I suffered without looking for a reason for my weight gain, acne, headaches, depression, and anxiety. I thought it was normal to gain weight in college (to a certain degree, it is), to develop sudden and extreme acne, and to have anxiety about my grades. The thing that wasn’t normal was the severe magnitude and the fast acceleration of symptoms.
Whenever I went to the doctor for the more severe symptoms, such as the constant headaches, insomnia, shaking hands, and joint pain, I was always turned away with a diagnosis of anxiety and depression. While doctors weren’t wrong about that, they did use it as a scapegoat for what was really happening to me medically.
This prevented me from trusting doctors. I felt lost and alone in what I was going through. I had constant pain, fatigue, and anxiety, and I thought that maybe I was just weak.
It seemed that all of my friends were getting along just fine, so why was life so much harder for me? Eventually, even my friends grew tired of hearing my excuses and complaints. That made the depression even worse.
I received my Cushing’s diagnosis after seeing a neurologist about my shaking hands. The neurologist suggested an endocrinologist. Later, I had surgery to remove a tumored adrenal gland, and within a year, I returned to normal.
Because I had lived my entire life up to that point with no one believing me about my illness, and feeling constantly sick, I developed a severe form of illness phobia. To this day, I have extreme anxiety about germs and feeling sick and nauseous, and I need to tell my close family members if I feel ill. I’m afraid that if I don’t tell them, it’ll get worse.
I don’t know how to handle being sick or alone. It’s hard, because I also believe I’ve developed a lower tolerance to pain and anything uncomfortable, because I think about how I feel all of the time.
This has led to many emergency room visits due to anxiety, nausea, and fear about not knowing how to handle being sick and alone. Every time I go, it gets worse because technically, nothing is wrong with me anymore — I’m left only with fear.
Fear of the unknown, of being uncomfortable, and of others judging me has led to many years of therapy. To this day, friends and family members tell me they are tired of hearing about my ailments.
This fear is part of who I am, and I have learned to deal with it. I am nowhere close to being cured of my trauma, but every day, I grow closer to being comfortable with the scary thoughts.
I must remind myself that I’ve been through so much, and I’m still alive. I have learned that even if I am ill, uncomfortable, or in a bad social situation, I am sufficient to see myself through it.
Trauma doesn’t always include events that are over-the-top dangerous and catastrophic. It can be caused by something that has personally triggered pain and suffering for you. Disaster and emotional pain are highly individualized, so don’t let anyone tell you that your hardships aren’t relevant.
Once you accept your trauma, you can start on your road to recovery.
Note: Cushing’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cushing’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Cushing’s.
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