Physical Health Influencing Mental Health

Kimberly Tyler Health Guide
  • For the past month, my physical health has been greatly influencing my mental health. I have ovarian cysts that rupture. About every two years, I experience two or three in a row that rupture and this creates an excess of progesterone in my system. Perhaps I could say a flood of progesterone in my system...


    Progesterone is a naturally occurring hormone that is released into the body in higher levels during the last two weeks of a woman's menstrual cycle. Too much progesterone is known to cause depression; and, alternatively, too much estrogen is known to cause irritability. For many women, the monthly rise and fall of hormones shows up as PMS.

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    I happen to be one of those women out there that is very sensitive to hormones (both the naturally occurring kind as well as any type of synthetic hormonal substitute). I have both endometriosis as well as a condition where my ovaries create cysts that rupture. I do not meet the full list of criteria for a diagnosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) although my body does create excess ovarian cysts that burst. While initially painful, the more lasting result is the excess of progesterone in my body due to the cysts as well as a feeling of "toxicity." I drink a lot of water in an effort to flush out my system.


    For the last month, I have been in a pronounced depressive state. My motivation is low. My moods are all over the place. My patience is leaving, and my need for bottom-line information for what someone wants or needs from me is very high. I do need to give myself extra time for sleep (as I am unable to tolerate painkillers, and sleep means time for healing due to increased pain levels) but I also know the difference between what I call "pain sleep" and "depression sleep." The need for "depression sleep" is calling louder to me than "pain sleep" and this is my red flag. I would really like to just stay in bed rather than struggle so hard.


    I have spoken to my therapist about this as well as my ob/oncologist. There may be a blood test next week to check my hormone levels. There is also an ultrasound scheduled as there is a third cyst growing and may need drainage before it can rupture too.


    My anxiety is increasing now too because my brain is having trouble focusing, and it takes three times as long to get anything accomplished. I have been canceling out on social activities just to keep pace with life responsibilities. I do not want this to be happening. Such physical issues influencing my mental health issues are maddening.


    One aspect of who I am (or was) is starting to show up again, and it is an aspect I do not like: I went through years of being labeled "sick" because of my hormones, the endometriosis, the early stage ovarian cancer and the surgeries I needed at the time. This was the time period of when my complete disability began. I am reminded of how my life used to be--everything about me was sketchy due to health concerns, but the most troublesome issue was my inability to participate in both work and social activities. My regular abilities (or rather, I should say what I have grown accustomed to in recovery) are now on hiatus. It takes a hurricane of energy to clean my dishes or to make it to an appointment on time. I know it is so easy to slide right back to the mindset of where I used to be and what I thought of myself (wasted space/a body riding out its needs/useful to no one).


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    At least now I know that something is occurring at a chemical level in my body. There is reason to believe that in time (less than a month) all will be back to normal. The option of increasing my anti-depressant right now is not in the cards: I can only take my current level of medication if I also take an anti-seizure med with it. (I went through a period several years ago where I needed to alter how I took my anti-depressants to keep the same effect without the added side-effects.)


    During this time period of riding the situation out, there is a part of me that feels like I have fallen into years past, and another part of me that knows this is only temporary. I am holding on to the idea that this is temporary. What I know now about myself and my body is so different from what I used to know, as are the beliefs that I used to berate myself for feeling the way I currently do. I look around me and notice what I have accomplished and a small part of me wonders if I will really return to that person. (I know the doubt is the depression talking...guess I just wish it would stop talking so loudly!) I am again reminded how amazingly fast what just one month of markedly increased depression and anxiety can do to a person and the fight to hold on to their sense of value.


    In all honesty, I have been fighting this feeling of increased depression and anxiety and kept trying to write it off as part of the increased pain. But it is more than the physical pain. (I have had the physical pain on many occasions before without the additional drape of depression coinciding to such heightened extent.)


    I know I am walking a line right now, and I desire to stay on the healthy side of it. Yes, I look forward to the resolution of the physical issues. In perhaps greater measure, I look forward to the return of what I have come to expect to maintain my mental health. This latest curve ball of chemical reactions in my body is putting my knowledge and perseverance to work much more diligently.

Published On: January 14, 2008