“Physical symptoms such as muscle tension, back problems, stomach distress, constipation, diarrhea, headaches, obesity or maybe even hypertension can be caused by suppressing your emotions. Suppressed anger may also cause you to overreact to people and situations or to act inappropriately. Unexpressed anger can cause you to become irritable, irrational, and prone to emotional outbursts and episodes of depression.”
Nice Girl Syndrome by Beverly Engel
Many times an abuse survivor asks the doctor first as to what is wrong. Tests are run then they are told nothing is wrong with them. I started seeing doctors at age 15 asking each one what was wrong with me. I had no childhood memories and they didn’t ask. Run test, results come back normal… I finally asked, “If it is all in my head, why do I hurt so much?” Confusion comes when health problems are uncovered. Stomach ulcers are real. Stress illnesses are real. Tension head aches are real. Sadly, once I was diagnosed with PTSD doctors stopped looking for health issues and blamed PTSD. I learned that I have a difficult challenge balancing ignoring health problems and becoming a hypochondriac egged on by PTSD. Emotional flooding causes real physical symptoms. Sorting out what is caused by stress and which are rampant germs or sometimes more serious issues like bleeding ulcers and cancer takes advocating for myself. I actually joined Toast Masters in the hopes of overcoming my fear of talking to people, especially doctors. I am faced with my doctor I trusted for 20 years taking care of me retired. Now, I have to go through the process again of finding a medical doctor that will treat me with respect. It isn’t easy.
I do have a favorite quote from Harry Potter, smart lady J. K. Rawling:
Harry Potter: Oh, and sir?Professor Albus Dumbledore: [turns and faces Harry]Harry Potter: Is this all real..? Or is it just happening inside my head?Professor Albus Dumbledore: Of course it’s happening inside your head, Harry. But why then should it mean that it’s not real?