How to Handle New Symptoms of Mental Illness – My Brain’s Not Broken

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After living with anxiety and depression for nearly a decade, I’ve gotten used to the symptoms that come along on my mental health journey, especially since my physical symptoms are showing up fairly prominently. Since my mental health has a significant impact on my physical wellbeing, it is easier to identify and adjust to my physical symptoms. While it has been extremely helpful throughout my journey, it also makes things difficult when new symptoms of anxiety appear. Not only is it surprising to accept, it can be very daunting when new symptoms appear – but there are ways to deal with them.

For me, one of the most frustrating aspects of mental illness is that certain diagnoses can have dozens of symptoms. While it makes it easier to sort out certain symptoms, it means new symptoms can turn their ugly heads right away.

Over the years, my symptoms of anxiety have become much more physical, from sweating and tremors to blinking quickly. But the symptom that has hit me lately is a headache. No matter what you call it (tension headache, stress headache, and anxiety headache could be inserted here), headaches that occur as a result of anxiety are difficult to treat. But a big part of dealing with this headache is fighting the urge to be angry with myself for allowing another symptom to manifest.

I wish I could explain more about why these new symptoms are appearing. But to be honest, I don’t have that answer, and it would be easier to think about if it doesn’t happen right now. Fortunately, I’ve been in this situation before. Over the years I’ve experienced new symptoms of depression and anxiety, and there are a number of ways I manage these new symptoms and include them in my mental health toolkit (see Thursday’s post for more Experienced!).

But before I can get that far, I have to practice acceptance. That said, I have to accept the fact that there are some things that are out of my control when it comes to living with mental illness. Sometimes it even seems like everything is out of my control. That cuts off the core of what I’m not doing well, but that’s okay. Here is an example.

The newest recurring symptom in my life is a headache, which I feel I get every day. Is it good that I am getting this headache? Absolutely not, and I actually have to fight the instinct to blame myself for getting it. But I’ll find a way to manage this headache and limit its power – the same approach that I take with any other symptom of my depression or anxiety. It might not be much, but like other aspects of mental health, it will be enough. And in those difficult moments, that’s about as fine as I could want it to be.

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