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When to give up and admit it's all in my head?

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When to give up and admit it's all in my head?

Postby eotokke » Sat Sep 01, 2012 4:21 pm

Hi, this is my first time posting in this forum.

I just recently learned about somatoform disorders, and I wonder if I have somatization disorder. I have not been told this by a doctor, but I do not really have a primary care practitioner to tell me. I usually go to urgent care clinics out of convenience.

My whole life, my mother has been taking me to doctors, trying to find out why I am so tired and never feeling well. I wonder if perhaps this set me up to have the disorder, by making me think that if I have aches and pains, I should find a doctor who can figure out why, or something...they rarely do figure it out. Eventually I realized that perhaps aches and pains are part of life, and maybe I'm being over-sensitive to them or something, and I should try to ignore them.

I have been diagnosed with treatment resistant depression, anxiety, and insomnia. I have been medicated for those since age 13, and I am now 30. I had a long-term psychopharmacologist who lost his license a year ago, and I have seen 3 different ones in search of a replacement. One of them suggested I have avoidant personality disorder, which seems accurate. That would fulfill the personality disorder part of somatization disorder.

Last night I read this report about Briquet's syndrome: http://www.brown.edu/Courses/BI_278/Other/Clerkship/Didactics/Readings/Somatization.pdf
and I was sort of surprised to see that most of it describes my illnesses. Particularly the fatigue and heavy/painful periods (though I mostly have relief from that by taking my birth control pill). The final paragraph in the section called Clinical Features is disturbing though; saying that people with this disorder are demanding and get upset when their "illness" is not the center of attention. I think that in this sense, I do not fit into the description. I don't like going to doctors because I feel I am wasting everyone's time, and I don't like to mention that I don't feel well to others, because I am quite embarrassed by it. While I do decline to take part in many activities because of pain and fatigue, I feel very guilty for it, and I always apologize and genuinely wish that I did not have to decline.

It seems to me from that report that the basis for these disorders is attention or sympathy seeking, which I don't think I'm doing, but I guess this could be subconscious??? I don't know. At any rate, I just want to stop aching and feeling sick and tired all the time, and if it is all in my head, I am willing to embrace that if it will be the solution to these symptoms!

Over the years, usually by my mother's decision, I have seen a rheumatologist, a pain specialist, a neurologist, and a sleep specialist, who could not definitively explain my symptoms. I recently thought I had a UTI, but tests for infection, STD, kidney function and liver function all came back negative. This is what made me wonder if I could possibly be somehow imagining the pain. It's a scary concept. :(

All my life I have been missing lots of school and having trouble keeping jobs and maintaining friendships due to chronic tiredness and illness. In the years following high school, I started "self medicating" with various substances to cope. What is the correct way to go about dealing with this?

Any feedback is welcome, thanks for reading!
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Re: When to give up and admit it's all in my head?

Postby Ada » Wed Sep 05, 2012 9:53 pm

Pain is pain, I can't imagine how you'd imagine it. To answer an unanswerable question: "When to give up and admit it's all in my head?" would be, for me, if doing that would make it easier to tackle in some way. Are the physical symptoms worse when your depression or anxiety are higher? [I've experienced that, although I should say now I'm neither a therapist, nor know anything about Somatoform disorders.] Or a reverse linkage, where your body lets up on you when your mind is having a tougher time?
We think too much and feel too little.
 More than machinery, we need humanity.
 More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness.

Charlie Chaplain in The Great Dictator
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Re: When to give up and admit it's all in my head?

Postby Supersaneman » Wed Sep 05, 2012 10:26 pm

I'd be surprised if you haven't rules out this by now, but posting it anyway.
http://symptom.healthline.com/symptomse ... dterm=Pain

(If you have it, you should stay on birth control pills or it'll get worse)
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Re: When to give up and admit it's all in my head?

Postby Dayz » Thu Oct 04, 2012 6:47 pm


I am much like you in that I have always said that if only I could say yes this is what I have and accept it. It is very hard to be accepting of this disorder...it can cause embarrassment when asked a multitude of question, oh and the judgement from others who just don't get it. So I used to lie, I would say i have chronic migraines, IBS, arthritis, and fibromylagia. I never mentioned to anyone somatization disorder and even my doctors, although indirectly, have told me this is what I have but they do not write it in my patient forms. Even my psychologist told me not to disclose this information. What I am trying to say is that it is very difficult to open up and accept an invisible illness like this especially since nobody want to admit to having "imagined" or "exaggerated" physical symptoms that can not be attributed to an organic illness. I have discovered that I will not ever be able to accept this so long as I keep hiding and pretending. My husband understands and knows the pain is real...other people, not so much. You mentioned being embarrassed and feel like you are placing a burden on others and sometimes I feel that way but other times I do get upset when no one listens because I feel that they think I am crazy and I feel like I have to prove that it is real. So I do get very frustrated when my father compares his mild IBS to my holy grail of symptoms. It is difficult but I am getting to the point of not caring and just telling people the truth and when the judgement sets in I just answer, "I really don't want to talk about it, but i cant make it today" Assertive or aggressive.. I dont care I am just tired of lying . My close friends and family are just beginning to realize what i have and not even they understand so I chose not to go into detail...
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Re: When to give up and admit it's all in my head?

Postby anti_matter_boy » Wed Oct 10, 2012 1:35 pm

I wonder about the ethos of the medical and psychological professions sometimes.

You may recall Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) was an affliction that was originally believed to be "all in the mind" (ie imagined) or even attempts at malingering, yet was later accepted as real experiences with the development of diagnostic tests.

The problem with pain is that it is very subjective and not particularly open to objective assessment. That doesn't mean it does not exist, but for a profession that tends to rely on objective scientific evidence for its judgments, it biases a certain amount of disbelief.

Therefore, a client is not only faced with unpleasant symptoms, but often an invalidation of their complaints: guilty until they can prove their innocence. That's like being kicked when you are down and what I would consider abuse.

I believe the mind-body connection can be weird at times. I experienced shameful issues with flatulence, IBS and other digestive system related disorders: the flatulence was the worst because I couldn't tell anything was happening until after the fact and I did not know what was triggering it. I would get unpleasant accompanying physiological sensations of flushing, cold and clammy, eyes watering and ice water being poured down my spine. I felt so ashamed I would retreat into a psychological tunnel. I was such a mess I could not function and I developed an avoidant personality. After many psychological interventions, including a psychiatrist who thought I was hallucinating as a result of mini-epileptic fits, but which he could not demonstrate, I finally saw a therapist for 2 years, who helped me discover that I was suppressing anger and, as strange as it may seem, a part of me was "making a big stink" to get the emotions recognised. Once I began to acknowledge the suppressed anger, the flatulence disappeared almost overnight. I would never have imagined in a thousand years that suppressing anger could result in flatulence, but I suspect the tools available to our primitive psyche may be so limited, that the techniques used can seem completely uncorrelated with the presenting symptoms. I still find it hard to believe, but I am angry that it took the profession so long to properly identify the underlying condition.

It may be "in my head", but it certainly wasn't merely in my imagination.

What those who don't experience this issue fail to understand, is how it can become a terrifying living nightmare that you desperately want to wake from, but can't.

I'm now wondering whether my Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia are similarly physiological indicators of buried emotional disorder, but if the link is as oblique as with the anger/flatulence, it may be difficult to ferret out and treat.
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Re: When to give up and admit it's all in my head?

Postby Azule » Sun Dec 02, 2012 9:57 pm

My advice, owing to both minor and major congregations of pain and/or damage is to go headlong into embracing the feeling of the pain. Let your body move and feel before you move or feel it. Accept all that it tells you and move in accord with what right path you might find.

Be one with yourself and do not hold anything in except your love for life. Let pain wash through you and see to it that your body understands what you need do, see that you understand what your body requires for optimal running too. Breathe in as fully as you can and let your breath be dynamic.

Just for anything: Make sure to give yourself good water and small-sized, organic fruits and veggies. Downsize on anything that you know will be strenuous to digest. And be sure to get yourself good water and organic fruit. I can't state it enough.
And if you do get experimental, go look up this site about "Earthing", namely giving your electrical energy a chance to ground out any over-amperage, and get a regular current going through you again. This could help, as often "pain" is due to sensitivity or awareness, and it's not always as explicit as a stumped to as to what was the cause of our discomfort.
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