I wouldn't fully know any of this if it hadn't happened to me. Multiple doctors visits and expensive tests with no real answers. The deep aches throughout my upper back and shoulders were constant as if I had slept for twenty hours in the same position - and the pain in my lower back which was only tolerable lying down. A year and a half ago, I woke up and faced each day feeling so icky, I knew something wasn't right.
I was angry at my internal medicine doctor when I had been to three appointments and he wanted me to go to physical therapy - and prescribed me muscle relaxers which didn't do a damn thing. I went on all kinds of vitamins thinking I had a deficiency. It felt like the problem was literally in my bloodstream. I ordered this special, expensive spiked mat and pillow that is supposed to hit pressure points in the back to relax muscles. I was not going to stop until I figured out what was wrong with me.
Blood work was normal. But I was not.
I was in "OCD Recovery," right? I had been healthy for years - where did I go wrong? Three months prior, I had gone through the worst breakup of my life. I had never had "heartbreak" - I never let anyone that close to me. I never knew what people meant when they said "you'll feel like your world is ending and the person you love died," after your first breakup. Boy, were they right. That's exactly how it felt. I had Relationship OCD show up full force at the end of my relationship for the first time, but I also had reasons for compulsive question asking, clarification and reassurance. It was so tricky. I knew I wasn't making anything up, but I was digging way too far into things - so far that I actually pushed it to the point where the worst thing my OCD imagined happening, happened. It took months to separate that that's just how life worked out - my lack of a compulsion and my OCD had nothing to do with it, but that has been very hard for me to comprehend.
So, I wasn't just grieving the loss of my boyfriend who became my first love and I had unknowingly put my entire identity in him because I trusted him. I was also in disbelief and completely obsessed with the reason behind our breakup. I couldn't even wrap my head around it without shaking, crying, and losing a casual fifteen pounds in two months. I was not living you guys. I was in so much pain mentally, but also physically. What angered me the most was that I was constantly complaining because I felt like my friends and family didn't believe me about the pain since the testing was normal. My father's a surgeon - you either have something wrong that needs to be taken care of or you don't.
I was just starting The Obsessive Outsiders, and I could care less about it or anything else. I was dragging through each day wishing it would end. I didn't call myself depressed - I thought I was just heartbroken.
Fast forward; two major things happened that led me to what I thought was unthinkable - depression. I didn't know depression had physical symptoms. It hadn't even occurred to me. You would have thought I would have figured it out, but this seemed so much more serious than what I thought being depressed felt like.
The first thing was that my parents became extremely worried about my behavior. They believed I was suicidal - and for the first time in my life I thought there was a slight chance I actually could be. I hated the fact I was suicidal over a breakup...is that normal?! I had already been through so much in this life, and my boyfriend was my only sense of real place on earth - and he was gone.
I had two choices. I could go back to my therapist and get "help" or I couldn't be around my parents. I had never consistently been on medication before. I had always believed OCD was a behavioral disorder, and I wanted to handle it without medication.
But this was different.
This was not OCD. This was not me obsessing and performing compulsions. This was anxiety and severe depression. My therapist sat across from us and listened while I sat in the middle of my parents crying at the age of 25 and agreed that a medication could "take the edge off." What had my life come to?
The second thing that happened - you guessed it - my boyfriend reconnected with me and through countless conversations regarding his betrayal, our relationship began to heal and my world started lightening. Slowly, I realized my lower back wasn't in pain - and my aches were getting better.
With time, I was beginning to notice that I felt somewhat...normal?! Was it the medication, the severe deficiency in serotonin I had that was helping? What is because my boyfriend was partly back in my life and I actually felt wanted and a place on earth?
How does that kind of pain just magically dissolve?
One more example for you. A year ago, we lost my grandfather. It had been a long time coming, so we were prepared, especially my grandmother. She was such a champion throughout the whole process, and really handled everything so well and level headed. She was stronger than the entire extended family. Gotta love Grams.
A couple of months ago she started to complain that her arms and legs would ache so bad she couldn't sleep. She was in constant aches and pains. She wasn't sad, she was still playing Bridge and moving forward with what she had left of her ninety-year old life. When I heard this - I immediately was taken back to my case. I told my mom I knew there was a high possibility it could be depression. My grandma laughed when we told her - that is until she went to the doctor and the sweet Physicians Assistant prescribed her Cymbalta. She didn't feel depressed, but she was completely unknowingly, and internally dealing with the aftermath months later that happened to be in the form of physical pain - depression.
I disclose all of this to you because it's real. Depression is real. The physical side of it is real. Keep this in mind for yourself and for those around you next time you hear a story or symptoms similar to these.