Which came first the chicken or the egg?
A question that has been asked by philosophers for centuries and one that is asked by most people who are diagnosed with a mental health problem when they have a physical ailment too, but with a slight adjustment.
Did my physical problems affect my mind, or did my mental health problem bring on my physical problem?
It’s a difficult one and the answer is going to be different for every person, every ailment and every mental health problem. The body and the mind are entrenched in each other, one can not function without the other and if one is affected by a condition then obviously the other will suffer too.
You are suffering with anxiety? Your body will react, your stomach may churn, hands may shake, the heart races, tingling in your fingers, blurry vision and all because of a reaction to a situation that your mind deems to be dangerous.
You lose a limb? You’re mind will struggle with the adjustment to your situation, you may become depressed or anxious, you will have to change how you think about your life.
I have had to think about this a lot of the past few years for a couple of reasons, I have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and I have really struggled with anxiety and depression. Now for me the answer to our philosophical question is quite simple, my mental problems were there well before my physical problems developed but my mental health took a big nose dive when the MS started. Whether my mental health caused the MS no one can answer for sure because in this case although there are links no one can pin point the exact cause of MS yet.
When you’re diagnosed with any condition it is only natural to look for answers, you search for a reason behind what is happening to you and always hope that in finding that reason you can solve the problem, it’s part of human nature.
What I’ve realised is that I don’t need to know what came first. Tackling the issues I have does not mean I need to understand where every problem has come from and that focussing on my past too much is as unhealthy as any other behaviour that stems from them. I am who I am, with the problems I have and accepting myself with these problems has been difficult but I’ll keep trying because without them I wouldn’t be the person I am today.