Facing the Storm- Pain and Mental Illness by twinklev

Facing the Storm
Pain and Mental Illness
by TwinkleEKV

Mental Health, a most fascinating area of study, but are all diagnosis’ correct? A diagnosis relies on symptoms, or should I say, for a doctor to give a diagnosis, he must rely on symptoms and underlying factors before making such a determination. Can a doctors determination of said illness be based simply on assumption? How about a pre conceived idea or notion that the symptoms are obvious to a specific illness or disorder? Perhaps you know someone that experiences mood swings, altered behavior, or sudden changes in personality with bouts of highs and lows without notable warnings and you probably never even see it coming. This seems to be a tell tale sign of a widely known and diagnosed disorder and before I mention it, many of you will already know where I’m heading.

Depression is defined as sadness, gloom, dejection. A condition of feeling sad or despondent. In Psychiatry it is defined as a condition of general emotional dejection and withdrawal; sadness greater and more prolonged than that warranted by any objective reason. A disorder characterized by an inability to concentrate, insomnia, loss of appetite, anhedonia, feelings of extreme sadness, guilt, helplessness and hopelessness, and thoughts of death. Also called clinical depression. In Pathology, a low state of vital powers or functional activity.

Mania is defined as excessive excitement or enthusiasm; craze. An excessively intense enthusiasm, interest, or desire. In Psychiatry, manic disorder. A manifestation of bipolar disorder, characterized by profuse and rapidly changing ideas, exaggerated sexuality, gaiety, or irritability, and decreased sleep. Violent abnormal behavior. Insanity. Excitement of psychotic proportions manifested by mental and physical hyperactivity, disorganization of behavior, and elevation of mood; specifically : the manic phase of bipolar disorder. An irrational but irresistible motive for a belief or action. A mood disorder; an affective disorder in which the victim tends to respond excessively and sometimes violently.

Lets take a look at this again. Depression equals low and mania equals high. Common sense would lead us to believe that a “normal” mood would be at the center of both and in studying mental illness and Bipolar disorder, we would be correct. Imagine a pole, any pole, even a telephone pole. At the top is mania, in the middle is an even stabalized mood and at the bottom is depression.

Lets take a peek at hypomania. A mild to moderate level of mania is called hypomania, which generally does not impair a persons daily functioning and includes an enhanced mood and productivity.

A manic depressive is called Bipolar 1, the less severe form of Bipolar 1 is Bipolar 2, who’s characteristics include hypomania, instead of full blown manic episodes and then there is Unipolar, which by definition means that there is a depressive phase only.

Hmm! Wouldn’t that simply be depression? Lets review for a moment.  Bi means two, Uni means 1. Bipolar 1 and 2 move up and down the pole, Unipolar means 1, it stays at the bottom. It’s said that mixed episodes do not exist in Bipolar 2, on the contrary, they do exist. It is but a mixed state of being, fluctuating, deflating and back again.

Have you wondered by chance where I might be going with all this? Let me introduce you to pain.

Pain is defined as physical suffering or distress, as due to injury illness, etc. A distressing sensation in a particular part of the body. Pain and ache usually refer to physical sensations (except heartache); agony and anguish may be physical or mental. Pain suggests a sudden sharp twinge. Agony implies a continuous, excruciating, scarcely endurable pain: in agony from a wound. Anguish suggests not only extreme and long-continued pain, but also a feeling of despair. A pang, twinge, stitch. afflict, torment; trouble, grieve. An unpleasant sensation occurring in varying degrees of severity as a consequence of injury, disease, or emotional disorder. Suffering or distress. A physical discomfort associated with bodily disorder (as disease or injury). A state of physical, emotional, or mental lack of well-being or physical, emotional, or mental uneasiness that ranges from mild discomfort or dull distress to acute often unbearable agony, may be generalized or localized, and is the consequence of being injured or hurt physically or mentally or of some derangement of or lack of equilibrium in the physical or mental functions (as through disease), and that usually produces a reaction of wanting to avoid, escape, or destroy the causative factor and its effects. Basic bodily sensation that is induced by a noxious stimulus, is received by naked nerve endings, is characterized by physical discomfort (as pricking, throbbing, or aching), and typically leads to evasive action. A symptom of some physical hurt or disorder. A somatic sensation of acute discomfort.

Now I’m going to propose a thought for others to think upon. When physical pain developes in a person, at some point emotional distress will take over. This is not an assumption, but fact. I don’t even need to get into information explaining the chemical imbalances that play a part in mental illness. Of course, it’s true. What I want to discuss is that when someone is in pain, acute, severe, mild to extreme, it takes so much energy inside ourselves that mental dilemma’s will develop. This can happen over a short period of time or a longer period of time. It might depend on strength, hope, the will to live, the ability to fight off the discomfort, attitude and a minimal level of stress.  Stress increases pain, pain increases instability, instability creates lack of peace of mind. Thoughts of no longer wanting to live and exist expand and increase, however, there is a difference between suicidal ideation and suicidal intent.

On a good pain day the individual may have their high, creativity, feel happiness, smile and laugh, bounce around in a positive manner, demonstrate self esteem, feel excitement, desire, feel optimistic with the emotion that “no one can hold me back”.  Mania?

On a bad pain day the person may feel hopeless, worthless, no longer have the will to live that they had on their “good pain day”. Lose hope, cry, feel agony, sadness, have no drive to get out of bed because either the physical pain or emotional pain has them beat. It is that the physical and emotional has grabbed them up once again. Depression?

On a so so day, he or she may feel fatigued, but flash a smile, hurt, but want to survive, their mood may be that of feeling “okay” considering what they endure through their day to day lives and hope flows through them. A stabalized mood? The center of that pole!

I am at the belief that pain is misunderstood and since many pain syndromes currently have no cure that many people are mis-diagnosed with a mental illness, namely Bipolar disorder as a means to justify that which cannot be accepted or explained.

I urge you all to think about this, I certainly do.


© 2006 twinklev – Unauthorized duplication is prohibited. May be used by permission and with viewable credit to author.

7 thoughts on “Facing the Storm- Pain and Mental Illness by twinklev

  1. Um, one thing to give us pause. I would like to dismiss bipolar II as a pertinent diagnosis, only to realise acutely that whenever I go back on lithium I notice a radical levelling out of my very perceptible manic “spikes”. I’ve asked my shrinks many times what effect the same dosage of lithium that I take therapeutically would have on a non-bipolar/non-manic control person and they assure me, none whatsoever. So somehow the chemistry reacts in bipolar people. Admittedly this diagnosis is over-applied like some kind of psychiatric generico wallpaper, like waaay too often to a lot of unruly students etc etc, but please don’t take away from my active suffering with this ailment. It’s something that has me wondering daily when I may need to go on permanent disability due to all the f*(£”ed up stuff that keeps happening on the job, for instance.


  2. Greetings Mike

    I certainly didn’t mean to take away from your suffering as I struggle in a state of inability and despair often. What I was trying to emphasize is that people who suffer from chronic pain diseases and disorders have many if not all of the same symptoms as those who are Bipolar.

    The very best of wishes to you.



  3. See what you make of this-I’m 59 years old, 60 in 6 weeks-I have RSD in my left knee (leg) from a total knee replacement in 1999-(osteoarthritis)-Just recently got an 80% disability rating from VA Bipolar II Depression, cervical spine and chronic kidney stone(s)-The prosthesis in my knee has worn out to the point that I’m told I need
    to have another replacement as soon as possible-The next pre-op surgery clinic in ortho is Jan. 2011-I’ve had 2 prior cervical fusions, and have another bulging disc now in C6/7, so there is chronic pain down my left arm and hand-I have on average, 1 drop attack per year, with no loss of consciousness, but still very scary when they happen-The cause is idiopathic, ie; they don’t know what causes them-I hear swooshing sounds in my ears from time to time, every day, that are perfectly timed with my heartbeat-Occasionally,along with the swooshing, there will be a sensation of the lights being turned off and on, again perfectly timed with my heartbeat-(Scary)-I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome acute enough that it cost me my job as Sales Manager 2 years ago-My company car had a tracking device, and my employer thought I was shopping and goofing off during the day, when I was forced to stop at stores that I knew would have bathroom(s) close to the front, like WalMart, grocery stores etc. I had so many problems that the company insurance rates were drastically raised, and I lost my job-Yes, I sued-I’ve only had 1 kidney stone attack this year, so far-I can’t remember whan I got more than 2 or 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep-VA has not prescribed anything yet but Trazodone, Flexeril, and Phenergen-I’ve made a claim for 100% disability with VA based on Individual Unemployability-(Who’s going to hire me?)-Ive also made a claim for Social Security Disability which is pending (12 months)-Yes, I have suicidal thoughts on an almost daily basis-I’m scared to go out of the house sometimes-Have you ever seen so much going on with one person? I’m open to suggestions-Thanks-


  4. The comment above was submitted by me, last night-Naturally, I forgot a couple of things-
    I have revolving epdidymitis, which by itself, will take the starch right out of you-When I get
    this, I literally cannot walk, and must find a sofa or something to lay down on-Imagine playing baseball,
    and getting hit in the testicles by a ground ball-Very painful-
    I also have chest pain(s) more often now than say, a year ago-Not a terrible crushing pain, but more like a
    slow burn type of pain that will usually last 5 to 10 minutes-It’s not unusual for this to happen more
    than once during the course of the day-
    I bring all these things up because of the “comorbid” definition-All these problems I’m trying to cope with
    on a daily basis are taking a heavy toll on me-Don’t these doctors understand that it’s bad enough to have
    any 1 of these things, but to have them all while trying to convince myself that I’m not going to drop dead
    at any minute is a struggle beyond description-The way they play off each other pain-wise, and the medication(s)
    that interact with each other is just becoming very difficult to cope with-
    If anybody reads this, please try to let me know if I’m doing the right thing by describing all this as
    comorbid interaction-Thanks-


  5. Afternoon Jerry

    Your plate is spilling over for sure. I wish you weren’t going through all of this. As the years progressed from the original injury that caused my CRPS (Jan 2001) to current, I’ve been diagnosed with so many secondary illness. I’ve had degenerative disk disease now for a few years, diabetes, osteo, arthritis, tendinitis, plantar faciitis, depression, my bones have been deteriorating for years, the atrophy is consistant as at the moment I’m maintaining my flesh from thinning even more by trying hard to move it or lose it. So much more.

    I often wonder if there’s a connection. Most of the medical profession maintain RSD is an isolated incident and that the percentages are small for spread.

    The fire has spread through me.

    I’d like to invite you to a group that I moderate

    An RSD Support Forum @ MD Junction


    (any with RSD/CRPS are welcome)

    It may offer you a place to vent and be around others who understand.

    my ID there is rsdcrpsfire

    I wish you pain eased days and nights,


  6. I do Agee with every single word of this Twinkle. Actually seeing a psychologist – psychiatrist 5 yrs out of the 8yrs of this life. Yes, I have to keep my disease of RSD just a part of my life to deal with, along with the extreme mood swings…I felt so alone until I found kind souls like yourself that actually puts it all perspective. Even better than all the professionals…just another soul who actually understands. Thank You.


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