For the past two days, I haven’t felt well physically. And honestly, I’m not used to or the best at taking care of my physical health. I have an arsenal of tools to use for mental health problems, but when it comes to physical health, I can feel lost.
I was diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) several months ago, which is a hormonal disorder that causes irregular cycles and just a general not fun time with owning ovaries. This week, PCOS decided to flare by enlarging the numerous follicles in my ovaries. This caused stabbing pain, especially in my left ovary, dizziness, nausea, and fatigue. Summed up, I felt awful. I ended up leaving work early two days in a row. I work with kids at a day camp, and running in circles playing Duck, Duck, Goose was not feasible without feeling like I would pass out. So, I went home and mostly slept.
Now, as I mentioned, I’m not great at taking care of my physical health. I’m lucky that I’ve always been pretty physically healthy. It’s rare for me to be sick and the novelty of it causes discomfort not just physically, but also mentally. In true Morgan fashion, my brain took this week’s opportunity of not feeling well and also went haywire. Here are some thoughts that started to torment me: “What if you’re overreacting. You should get over it. You just didn’t to go to work. You just wanted attention. Others have it worse. You can’t trust your body’s signals.” Blah, blah, blah…
The longer I ruminated on these thoughts, the more I started to wonder if they might be true. Maybe I was just overreacting and making a bigger deal of it than it deserved. Maybe what I was experiencing was psychosomatic. Let’s not even bother with the evidence that when I went to the doctor and the sonogram showed enlarged follicles. I texted a friend, and she firmly told me that no, it was definitely my ovaries that were overreacting. But I still felt almost guilty for needing to take care of myself.
Then, last night I started to feel much better, and this morning I barely felt any pain at all. It was probably the heaps of Ibuprofen I took that helped bring down the inflammation in my ovaries, or maybe my hormones just decided to figure out how to do their jobs again. Regardless, I feel so much better today. I could feel a distinct shift between the past two days and today. Once I could feel a difference and improvement, I knew I, of course, hadn’t been faking it. Yet, when I was in the moment and was in pain and generally out of it, it was harder to also fight my mind.
I’m skilled at identify self-invalidation when it comes to emotional pain. I recognize my language when I’m denouncing valid feelings and not allowing myself to feel them. I;m less familiar with recognizing self-invalidation of physical pain. After this week, they seem quite similar though. Sure, pain is subjective, and sure, sometimes people report pain incorrectly. But for the most part, we can trust ourselves when identifying our pain. And all pain is valid.