I read this interesting article on The Cut the other day about the physical woes of anxiety. My therapist tells me that oftentimes the body is the first to recognize anxiety. Sometimes I don’t even have anything stressful on my mind and yet it feels like:
- my chest is super tight, like my lungs are being squeezed in someone’s hands
- my breathing is shallow
- my hands are tingly and numb
- and my head is heavy yet dizzy at the same time
I’ve heard from people who are less aware of the physical symptoms of mental illness that it’s all in your head, but what about when it’s not just your mind? What about when your body feels it too?
That’s why when I think about mental illness, I picture that the brain is not functioning at its healthiest capacity. Just as our world has blood disorders, liver disease, etc, it seems logical that the brain – the most complex organ of them all – wouldn’t work properly for every individual, right?
Maybe if we focus on how physical “mental” illness can be, the lucky ones without it might better understand why telling a depressed person to stop being sad is like telling a person with diabetes to lower their insulin levels. Maybe we should stop calling it a “mental” illness altogether and treat it with the same care and sympathy we give those with Alzheimer’s and other brain disorders.