Hello world, it is becoming more scientifically glaring that there is often only a very thin line between mental and physical health. This is why, we at Gbm are throwing this post out to sollicit further reflections and why not research into this link.
How thin is that line anyway?
Our executive Director for Cameroon shares some personal experiences with us for this post. She says that there was a two year period in her life when she was very sick and on medication. She had equally put on much weight and had difficulty walking. Several hospital appointments, lab tests and even manual therapy provided little sollace. She says she eventually met someone, who encouraged her to work from within her ownself first. She then realized there was a lot going on in her life and some of this she was covering up with overeating. She was also depressed and found little joy in doing what would otherwise be a normal activity. Yet in all the hospital appointments, no doctor had enquired about her state of mind. The physical symptoms were what was of interest. The stomach which churned, the articulations which were often swollen, the heart which beat faster than normal the headaches which were becoming chronic and much more. In her case, she now thinks there was a very thin line. Today, she is conscious of that possibility and she tries to find any such link when she experiences physical symptoms like a hand swell recently.
Stigmatization can greatly increase physical illness
We recall the advent of the HIV epidemic in the 80s, or even recently the Ebola crisis. Even before society started shunning the patients, many had already gotten worse just by ‘believing’ it was ‘over’ for them in this life. In Africa in particular, although it is said that the HIV virus can be transmitted by different ways, the focus is on transmission by ‘sexual conduct’. It implies the shame of ‘sexual immorality’, and what people would say. Some even knew back then that death was very near once they got the diagnosis. Hence, their physical health quickly deteriorated. The same can be said for the recent Ebola crisis when families instead hid cases in their homes for fear of ridicule. Such actions which originated from a ‘frail mental health’, affect the physical health of not only the patient themselves, but of several others concerned with their health.
It can also be vice versa
Sometimes it can be vice versa. The physical illness which may not have resulted from any mental issues, could actually wear out the patient’s health. Some cancer patients are still ‘ashamed’ to open up about their illness. In some circles, it is hushed because it is a terrible ‘fate’ to behold. And yet, already feeling so defeated before the ‘battle’, can only lead to a rapid deterioration of the situation.
It is for such reasons therefore that the Gbm foundation for epilepsy and mental wellbeing is campaigning to fight against all forms of stigma. Epilepsy is a physical illness though with mental consequences as a recent post of ours examined. Join us therefore in our advocacy. Thank you.