People assume you aren’t sick
unless they see the sickness on your skin
like scars forming a map of all the ways, you’re hurting.
My heart is a prison of Have you tried?
Have you tried exercising? Have you tried eating better?
Have you tried not being sad, not being sick?
Have you tried being more like me?
Have you tried shutting up?
Yes, I have tried. Yes, I am still trying,
and yes, I am still sick.
Sometimes monsters are invisible, and
sometimes demons attack you from the inside.
Just because you cannot see the claws and the teeth
does not mean they aren’t ripping through me.
Pain does not need to be seen to be felt.
Telling me there is no problem
won’t solve the problem.
This is not how miracles are born.
This is not how sickness works.”
• Emm Roy, The First Step
The first time I read the definition of the word psychosomatic, I was intrigued. Physical pain originating due to psychological conditions. I saw the first manifestation of this in a woman who couldn’t give birth. During her menstruation days, she would feel unbearable pain. Getting cramps and feeling pain during menses is quite normal but hers was so exaggerated that she would cry and need injections for it. There was no medical explanation for this. Except that it was psychological and her body was compensating for the loss she felt.
Previously, this disorder was known as psychogenic pain disorder as well as a somatoform pain disorder. The pain may originate in any part of the body or it may exaggerate already existing pain. It is very likely that the person might gain rewards from it. Few causes are given below:
- Receiving rewards like attention.
- Learned behavior from parents or others.
- Compensation for some kind of loss.
- Physical pain is more acceptable in society as compared to mental illness.
The most common targets of this disorder are lower back pains and headaches. A common misconception of this disorder is that “it’s-all-in-your-head”. When in actuality that’s not true. The person is indeed in a lot of pain. Even though it is not neurological or physiological. It’s the mind that is in pain.
To be diagnosed with this disorder:
- The pain should not be due to a medical reason.
- It should not be a result of a mood disorder or anxiety.
- The pain is so much so that it impairs at least one or more spheres of life, be it academic, social etc.
- It should be present for 6 months or more.
The pain can be acute or chronic in this disorder. Brain imaging can show the difference between a healthy person and someone suffering from this disorder. There are many treatments present and promising new cures are being tested as well.
A person suffering from this disorder shouldn’t give up. The pain can be managed and with time this disease can be cured.