How other medical conditions affect my mental health

by Tammy Ozolins

Coping with a mental illness like bipolar disorder can be tough and I have had to make some hard decisions in my life as a result. I’ve also have had to deal with other medical problems on top of this which can add to my rollercoaster of emotions.

When I first started my cycle, I would get severe cramps and would often throw up the first day. I remember missing school for a day or two when my cycle would start and lie on the couch with a heating pad to calm down the cramps. My cycle would last anywhere from five days to weeks. One of my cycles lasted for 25 days straight and I became anemic. 

My Senior year in high school, I noticed a lot of pain in my lower abdominal area and my mom took me to the gynecologist and the ultrasound showed an ovarian cyst they said would pop on its own but that never happened and I had to have surgery to remove it. What was supposed to be a simple procedure with minimal pain was anything but. It turned out I had Polycystic Ovaries and I had endometriosis all over the place–on my uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes which explains why my cycles were so bad.

They explained to me that the endometriosis would most likely come back, birth control might help control it. To make a long story short the birth control did not do much, I still had long, painful, cycles four more laparoscopies. After this, I had to make one of the toughest decisions in my life and at the age 30 I decided on a full hysterectomy.

Coping with this medical issue and the pain while coping with my mental illness added to my stress level. I would not be able to give my parents grandchildren and that was hard, because my brothers all have done that. For me, the hysterectomy turned out to be the best decision I ever made.

A few years later I was having problems with my stomach and the acid reflux would not go away. Ultimately, a trip to the GI specialist and an ultrasound revealed an abnormally large mass on my. Fast forward through more diagnostic tests and they discovered it was a tumor and would need to be removed so I had a 4 hours surgery and half of my liver had to be removed with the growth which thankfully was benign.       

This medical issue also caused stress which caused my mental health to go on a rollercoaster.

People don’t understand that when I fight illnesses it seriously affects my mental health. They physical issues were grueling at times but it was the mental aspect that got me. Depending on how sick I was it would drastically affect my moods which would go way up or way down because that’s how it is with bipolar disorder.

If I was in pain and could not sleep, it would turn into a mania. Or the opposite.  I would get upset and it would send me into a depression.  When I had to take medicine it would interact with my mental illness  and trigger unpleasant side effects. I fought these battles tooth and nail.

I just want people to understand that even though it seems like a simple medical issue, I have to fight it on two fronts, the physical side and from a mental health perspective.   

    

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