Mental Health & Wellbeing Matters | Trust your symptoms

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This week in our weekly mental health column, we have a chat about trusting your gut with any unusual symptoms and seeking treatment. 

Hello and welcome to our weekly column where we have an honest chat about some of the more prickly things in life. We don’t offer any miracle cures, but hopefully there’s some help and comfort in this series of articles. 

This week, we’ll chat about trusting yourself and your body. 

A few months ago, I woke up in the middle of the night with a complete stranger shining a very bright light in my eyes. I was annoyed, as one would be in such a situation, but after I woke up properly, I realised the stranger was actually a very helpful paramedic and I had had a seizure, much to the fright of my partner, in the middle of the night. 

I was swiftly taken to an A&E where it was determined that nothing urgent was wrong with me and I would see a neurologist at a later date. Once I did, the kind doctor told me I was probably suffering from a form of epilepsy. I left with a referral for more tests and a prescription for anti-seizure medication. 

This would have been a complete surprise to me if I hadn’t had strange symptoms for years before my first ever proper seizure. These symptoms, which I tried my best to describe, ultimately led the neurologist to prescribe me some medication, which has been hugely helpful. I had tried to tell various doctors about these symptoms for years, but no one caught on that what I was experiencing was actually neurological symptoms, auras in this case. 

In all honesty, my descriptions of the symptoms were vague at best. I told my GP years ago that it felt like someone cracked an egg on top of my head and this strange feeling went down my arms and my body. That doesn’t exactly scream epilepsy, does it? 

After a while though, I began to just tell myself that it’s “just” anxiety, as if anxiety itself didn’t require support or treatment. I brushed it off, because I genuinely believed I was exaggerating these symptoms, that they were just something that happened occasionally and I should get over it. It wasn’t important. 

Well, it turns out that it was important. While it’s easy to get frustrated that no one picked up on my symptoms being something more serious, I’m more annoyed at not trusting my own body when it was trying to tell me there was something going on. 

Take this as a solid reminder that if something doesn’t feel quite right with your body, trust it. You know your body, you know what’s “normal” for it and what feels off. It’s always worth making an appointment to get anything unusual checked out. Better safe than sorry as they say. 

Making appointments can be difficult and you might feel like you’re wasting someone’s time by going in for something you deem not to be a big deal. You’re not wasting anyone’s time by taking care of yourself. You’re valuable and so is your health. 

That’s it for this week, thanks for reading. Take care, this column will return next week. 

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