It’s easy to tell, today, just by looking at me that there is something wrong. Normally my mental illness is pretty invisible unless you know what to look for, but not today. Today I am standing awkwardly and grimacing.
That psychological or emotional pain can and does cause physical pain is well documented (here, for example) but that isn’t what I mean when I say my psychological problems are causing physical pain.
For the last few days I have been struggling to cope with the noise in my head – the volume, the duration, the demands – all of which is on my left side and in my left ear. Without being aware I was doing it, I have had my shoulder up by my ear and now it hurts. Consciously relaxing the muscles which I have evidently tensed for some period of time does nothing to relieve the pain so I must venture out to buy paracetamol.
My psychologist regularly tells me in session to drop my shoulders and I have become more aware of how I hold myself, but my focus has been on trying to reduce the head noise rather than on my physical position. This isn’t emotional pain manifesting physically, this is physical pain caused by my mental illness. I’m not sure how or why the two are different but to me they are.
I need to be more aware of how I am responding physically to the noise in my head. This is something my psychologist has mentioned before and that we have briefly worked on – it is evidently something to revisit.
The immediate cure is painkillers, a hot shower and keeping an eye on my posture, but this is a temporary fix. What I need is to discuss – with my team – what I am hearing and why, and why I am responding physically to it. Is it merely an attempt to shut out the noise, or is it a body memory that I need to explore. Time will tell.