Let’s explore the cycle that affects your body, mind, and relationships from chronic health conditions.

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Chronic Conditions

You can always tell when your body isn’t working like it should be.  We all hope a quick visit to the doctor will provide us with the medicine that will fix us, but sometimes symptoms require more testing and can result in a diagnosis that does not have a cure.  It can be overwhelming to try to find solutions to the different symptoms but let’s start with understanding what you may have.

Fibromyalgia:  a condition that involves muscles and joints that is diagnoses by tender spots (trigger points) identified throughout the body.  It can cause fatigue, achiness, and pain.

Autoimmune disorders: This wide-ranging category includes rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, chronic hives that affect the muscles, joints, and skin.   Other autoimmune disorders affect the organs such as diabetes (pancreas/nerves) or  irritable bowel syndrome and Chron’s disease (digestive system). Autoimmune means the body is sending immune cells to attack another body part as a defense mechanism.  Current research shows a strong link to the brain stuck in a fight/flight state that causes this immune response.  

Chronic pain:  After repeated injuries or surgeries heal you might have pain that persists.  Recent studies show it can  involve complex signaling issues between the brain and body that does not allow for the inflammatory process to resolve.  Also,  scar tissue  that builds up around the site of injury or surgery resulting in pain in muscles, joins and organs.  Chronic pain can spread from the point of injury/surgery  to other nearby body areas because of how the brain signals can get crossed so there is an explanation if you hurt all over.

Pelvic pain and bladder/bowel conditions can be difficult to treat because the pain can come from muscles, organs or nerves.  This can happen after a hysterectomy, C-sections, episiotomies, colo-rectal resections, or cancer removal that can form scar tissue and also cause injury to the muscles in that area.   Nerves can also be involved from the low back area which can change signaling to the bladder and bowel that can cause leakage or lack of control. 

Headaches can be caused by many factors:  hormones, blood pressure, nerve signaling, allergies, environmental changes and chronic headaches can limit you from your daily life.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)  can be chronic conditions that can have long term effects on your health.   Herpes can result in outbreaks with sores from lowered immunity.  Human Papillomavirus (HPV) can result in pelvic pain and inflammation and increase risk of cervical cancer when active

All these chronic conditions affect multiple parts of the body and starts  a cycle that makes changes in the mind, emotions and relationships

Inflammation

Inflammation is often viewed negatively and medicines are designed to decrease it.  However, inflammation is the process of how our body heals.  When there is an injury, bacteria, virus that the body sends defender cells along with fluid to start healing.  A healthy body should have inflammation for a short time until the illness or body part is healed. 

Chronic inflammation is when the brain thinks the illness or injury still needs help and keeps sending fluid/defender cells in a perpetual cycle, sometimes to the point  the body does not even recognize its own cells.  This chronic inflammation is seen in hardening of blood vessels, heart issues, digestion issues, joint inflammation (arthritis), or muscle spasms.   When these body systems are inflamed it will also increase pain.  

Lowered Immune System

If you have inflammation for years, your body is working overtime to try to keep healing itself without any results.  This exhausts your immune system and upsets the delicate balance of your hormones made by different glands.  This can decrease your energy, cause sleep issues,  worsen digestion problems and cause hair loss.  Lowered immunity  also can cause vaginal dryness, allergies/sensitivities to foods and the environment as the body  struggles to have energy to protect all body areas.

Increase Risk of Infection

If your immune system is not working well, you have lowered defenses against bacteria and viruses.  The lymphatic system normally helps clear your body of toxins and unwanted foreign bodies but if it is sluggish and not working well, more infections and illness will happen.

There is more risk of getting sick like the flu or other illness that can be shared among people.  Also, you can get infections from even the bacteria on your skin like rashes, hives, urinary tract infections, vaginal yeast and fungal infections.   It’s not uncommon to just treat these infections without getting to the root of the issue in the immune system which only puts you at more risk of getting sick again.

Mood and Mental Changes

By this point, you can see how all body systems are connected to each other and without treating them as a whole can keep you from healing.  The amount of time to research and manage all the symptoms can be overwhelming, especially if you spend the time and money to try different treatments that don’t work.  Add on the changes to your hormones that can change your mood, you might feel anxious and/or depressed. 

The brain is trying to organize a flood of signals coming from the different body areas that are not doing well and this can make it work less efficiently which looks like lack of focus or memory loss.  Your brain is sending distress signals that need rewiring so you cannot just think that fixing the symptoms in your body will be enough.

Relationship and Intimacy Changes

When you add the stresses on your body and mind together, it can leak out in how you interact with the work, school and the people you care about.  You might try to “push through” the pain or illness but might feel frustrated if the cycle of not feeling well doesn’t stop.  It might limit you in what you can do at home and work or feeling stripped of your purpose or enjoyment in life.  Even with support from family and friends, chronic conditions put a strain on relationships when each person needs to adjust to constant changes. 

When the body and mind have some many balls to juggle, it will put intimacy low on the list of concerns which looks like loss of desire, pain during sex, reduced sexual function in men and women.  You might be afraid your body cannot respond in a pleasurable way when it is focused on all the symptoms.    Sexuality is part of being a healthy human and should not be ignored.  In fact, true healing includes connecting with a partner intimately and repairing these relationships can also mean an improvement in mood that can help kickstart improved healing in the body.