The mind/body connection: unresolved trauma, shingles, and the process of healing and integration!
Updated: Jan 28, 2022
I have hardly written anything on here recently, as I have been struggling to overcome the rather unpleasant symptoms of the shingles virus.
What appeared as a small rash about ten days ago now, morphed into the most hideously blistered, sore, & itchy nightmare imaginable!
So in the interim period between writing, I have been trying to prioritise my well-being because there is an obvious link between stress and shingles, and although I thought I was moderating this, I obviously wasn’t doing a great job - and here is the evidence!
The stress / shingles link
Although I’m meant to be convalescing and taking some time out, I couldn’t resist looking this stress/shingles link up on the internet.
According to DispatchHealth:
“Shingles, also known as the Herpes Zoster virus, certainly takes a toll on an individual’s body—as does stress. And while stress may not directly cause or trigger shingles, there is a link between the two. Large amounts of stress can wear away at the body’s immune system, lowering its ability to defend against all sorts of viruses—shingles included.”
Mind, Brain, Body Connection
I do find it fascinating how our minds, brains, and bodies are so intricately connected; there is so often a knock-on effect that one can have on the other.
This is why treatment for psychiatry needs to be ‘holistic’ because at the current time they only seem to want to treat the brain with drugs which are often ineffective and have a detrimental negative effect, not only on the brain and mind, but on other organs of the body too.
This is all evidenced in my book which addresses many of the contentious themes surrounding psychiatric care today.
But this is also why I’m having a nightmare time with shingles at the moment because writing the book has made it necessary to analyse and identify some of the ‘root causes’ of my illness.
This has meant revisiting some highly painful events from my past, writing them into a spellbinding book proposal, thinking about them, and then suffering the aftereffects!
Integration is painful
Anyone who gets to the point that I’m at now (for those new to the blog – miraculous remission from double-decade bipolar nightmare) is going to have a lot of reconciling with the past, healing, and ‘integration’ work to do when they get better.
Not many will understand what I mean by all of this because most have not suffered to the brutal extent that I have, and not everyone that has suffered deeply develops this profound understanding.
But I know that all of this is of the highest importance, which is why I’ve written it all down.
I just need others to get behind me now!
Confronting past trauma
The truth of the situation is that; as well as dealing with the psychological scars from the failed treatments and hospitals, I am having to integrate parts of my life which, over twenty years ago, were bulldozed out of my mind in self-protection.
What happens is that when we experience deep trauma (which can lead to mental illness) we block it out of our minds as a means of ‘self-protection’.
But this does not mean that the trauma has gone away!
If you go down the traditional psychiatric drug route (the only route available in the current NHS pharmacological approach) then the brain is basically ‘disabled’ by the drugs so that you cannot ‘feel’ anymore.
This makes working through trauma, processing emotions, and integrating those elements of your past back into your life for healing purposes, totally impossible!
I have only been able realise this since finally getting off the antipsychotic medication which was forcibly injected into me four years ago in hospital!
Having now had the correct treatment (see here), I now understand both the biological basis to my mental illness and the psychological one too.
The crux of the whole thing is that 'mind' and 'brain' are two separate things (some appreciate this already but I’m saving this one for another day).
Identifying the root causes has been painful but also essential and I am now in the process of integration and deep healing.
Once I have done this, I will finally be able to move on!
However! Because I know how important this story and information is for others, I’m determined not to just ‘walk away’ once I'm done.
I’m not going to leave the friends I’ve met in this psychiatric horror story, to rot in the psychiatric wards.
I’ve told them – once I’ve dragged myself out of the ‘treatment resistant’ mental illness ditch, I’m pulling you lot out with me too!
Taking time for self-care and compassion
As anyone who has been through either mental or physical trauma will know, allowing yourself time to heal and recover is of the utmost importance.
But not everyone appreciates the amount of patience and time that the brain/mind needs to recover from the trauma of a twenty-year illness.
There is often the unrealistic (and insensitive) expectation that you can parachute back into life, which isn’t very fair because there is always a lot of unresolved scarring to work through which can be highly painful and can take a lot of time to process.
The only way I can get through to these people is by comparing it to physical problems – if you were lying in hospital with your leg smashed to smithereens would you expect that person to get up and run a marathon the next day? And for those who berate themselves: would you expect a person with a smashed leg to be lying there saying to themselves ‘why can’t I just get over this and run my marathon tomorrow, I’m so weak, pathetic etc, etc, etc?'
NO of course you wouldn’t! Mental wounds can take a lot longer to heal than physical wounds - so take time, be patient, and attach no guilt or shame to doing this either!
The shingles virus has retaught me this valuable lesson.
The trauma is literally blistering and coming out of my skin!
It is time to practice some serious R&R, self-care & compassion which is exactly what I propose to do this weekend!
Thanks for reading,
Speak to you soon,