Symptoms Don’t Tell the Full Story – Why We Need to Look at the Bigger Picture when it Comes to Our Health

Symptoms Don’t Tell the Full Story – Why We Need to Look at the Bigger Picture when it Comes to Our Health

We have encountered a medical world that is infatuated with specialization. I’m a firm believer in the value of doctors, and the value of specialists; but somewhere along the way we have stopped looking at the big picture when it comes to our health. I went to the doctor to talk to him about my weight and the tire around my waist. This doctor KNEW I was on antidepressants, KNEW I had a one year old, and KNEW I was frustrated with my body as well as my menstrual cycles. His response:

Well, honestly you should just do liposuction.

We can knock it out over lunch and resume your daily activities.

Liposuction wasn’t going to solve my problem. The doctor wasn’t asking me about my mental state. A lot of people that are depressed or anxious overeat as way to cope with their pain. This is a personal struggle for me. My doctor wasn’t asking about my diet, or my menstrual cycles, which all WOMEN know can do a number on your body. What this doctor taught me besides never to seek his counsel again was that the best advocate for my health was me.

With my first round of postpartum depression, it took me nearly nine whole months to recognize it. When I finally got some guidance and met with a doctor, I was desperate. I had an easy nine-month-old baby that slept eighteen hours a day, yet motherhood was exhausting and overwhelming. I knew it wasn’t supposed to be this way. It just shouldn’t be this hard. While everyone had chalked my exasperation up to first time motherhood, I knew deep inside that things just didn’t feel right. I was constantly tired; I wasn’t sleeping even though my son was. My weight wasn’t coming off no matter how hard I worked.  I felt terrible both physically and mentally.

Thankfully my doctor took a wholistic approach to what was going on by asking me for a history of my struggle with depression. In all my years in and out of doctors, therapists, nutritionist, etc., no one had ever asked for my story. They were there to solve a symptom not the root of my problem.  When I shared my story, he had the most encouraging response that anyone had ever given me.

It sounds like you had a completely normal response to an extremely difficult childhood.

I couldn’t believe my ears. It took until I was thirty-two years old to hear a medical professional acknowledge that my battle with depression in my twenties was a normal response to the catastrophic experiences of my childhood. Because of my history with depression and my current symptoms he felt confident that I was dealing with postpartum depression – He took a look at the whole picture… not just the symptoms I was experiencing.

He encouraged me that this too will pass and unlike major depressive disorder this wouldn’t cripple my life for years to come. He knew if we started with my brain, then the rest of my body would follow. If we only seek to quell or heal the symptoms the cycle will continue, and the root of the problem will go undiagnosed.   He understood that the weight would come off, I would begin to sleep better, I’d have more energy if we could begin to heal my brain. My body was in survival mode and my motherhood was paying for it.

He understood how much the brain affected every part of my body. He understood this was a beginning of a conversation. He knew I was a mom and wanted to be there for my child.

And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:12-27

While Paul is describing the church body the same is true for our body. If one part of our body is suffering than our whole body is suffering. The body is one body perfectly created by the ultimate Creator, whose many parts work together to create a beautiful masterpiece.

We must see our body as many parts connected to create a beautiful masterpiece. We must evaluate how much time we are spending cultivating a sanctifying faith, how we are fueling our mind, body and soul. We must seek spiritual community with the body of Christ, and wise counsel. While the Fall, has changed the perfection of the body until eternity, we are commanded to be good stewards of our body (Romans 12:1) and mind. (Romans 12:2).  God doesn’t separate our mind, body and soul so neither should we.

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