Sunday, 16 September 2012
"Lay Your Hands On Me"
"To touch can be to give life." ~ Michaelangelo
"Lay Your Hands on Me." ~ Jon Bon Jovi
Depression is all in your head.
Um, no. It really isn't. The physical impact of depression is huge and can be just as debilitating in some ways as the psychological symptoms that you fight while in a battle against depression. Yes, the illness in your head can also hurt you from the neck down.
"For a substantial number of people, possibly up to half of depression sufferers, bodily pain is the way that depression presents itself." - Psychologytoday.com
When I was in my mid twenties I was new to depression. I knew what the black moods meant but a lot of the other ways that depression can present itself, disguise itself, rather (because it is very sneaky!), were still unknown to me. I clearly remember getting ready for work one morning. I lifted my arms to blow dry my hair when something tiny snapped in my back. This tiny snap left me unable to move without great pain for a week. Lifting a tea cup was almost unbearable. It wasn't until afterwards when consulting with my doctor that we put all the pieces together. Muscle aches and joint pain are a common symptom of depression.
It's just as important to recognize the physical signs of depression as it is to recognize the psychological symptoms. So here is a list:
- Muscle aches/joint pain
- Chest pain/palpitations
- Breathlessness (anxiety related)
- Digestive problems
- Flu-like symptoms
- Weight loss/gain
- Changes in speech patterns
When I read through this list recently it was a wake up call for me. I suffered five days of migraines a week ago along with severe back & shoulder pain. No, I am not in a depressed state currently but I also don't want to be. So, time to start focusing more on my physical well being and reducing stress. I can't eliminate stress from my life but I can mitigate it.
OK, so what's the plan? Well, just like my road to mental wellness was one day at a time, so too will be my road to physical well being. Thursday I stocked up on organic strawberries, veggies & chicken. On Friday I made a date to meet with an old friend who is a personal trainer. Saturday I spent a sunny afternoon enjoying the company of a very positive group of people. Sunday, today, I went for a massage with a registered massage therapist.
Bliss. That is the word to describe my massage. The RMT thoroughly consulted with me before she even touched me and I have never experienced that. It was refreshing to have someone really listen to me about my aches and pains and to suggest easy ways to manage stress. Lucky me, registered massage therapy is actually covered by my benefits provider at work. Why haven't I taken advantage of this before? Why? Because I haven't made my physical well being a priority. That all changes now.
Not only is massage a great tool to relieve and prevent physical pain, it has psychologically healing benefits, too. In an article written by Dalcher Keltner Ph.D., Keltner writes, "Proper uses of touch truly have the potential to transform the practice of medicine—and they’re cost effective to boot. For example, studies show that touching patients with Alzheimer’s disease can have huge effects on getting them to relax, make emotional connections with others, and reduce their symptoms of depression."
You don't have to tell me twice. Appointment number two has already been booked with my new favourite registered massage therapist, Marianna! But what if you don't have this benefit? Massage therapy isn't cheap. How about a hug? No, I'm not kidding. The power of touch is really that important. For more information about the science of touch, please read Keltner's article on The Daily Good - I have attached the link below:
So tell me, how do you manage or relieve the physical manifestations of stress? I want to know if you have experienced the physical pain of depression - what did it feel like and how did you alleviate it? I want your tips and tricks, people!
Here's to wellness, in all shapes and forms!
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