Posted in Of Psyche

Of Treatment

Stomach Pain

I’ve been ill since last Wednesday. I was at a conference, listening to a psychoanalyst, when my stomach started paining really bad. Maybe it was the subject matter of his paper, maybe it was the way I’ve been psychologically programmed for years, but I blamed that incessant, shooting pain on anxiety. Like I’ve been made to believe everything that is wrong, is due to what’s wrong with the emotional part of my brain.

Despite that, I asked him a question. A simple question. I asked him where does the layman, the potential patient, go when s/he has a problem. Lately, things have started to lean towards taking an integrated approach, despite it being double the cost, where a psychiatrist and a therapist work together to, not presume to cure, but help the patient cope better. I asked him what his thoughts were on this, whether the patient should go either to a psychiatrist, a therapist, OR to a psychoanalyst.

Yes, I asked a long, rambling question (what else do you expect from me?) despite the fact that my stomach was killing me.

He got enraged. He said, most patients he gets are addicted to psychiatric drugs, have more problems because of taking them. He said Clinical Psychology is tosh, and anybody can become a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, just by taking a six-week course. He said, therapists aren’t interested in the root of the problem, aren’t interested in human consciousness, and Psychoanalysis is the only way to go.

I’m not exaggerating. I’m slightly paraphrasing (I could have transcribed from memory the enraged bits, but I choose not to), but the above are the points he made.

I didn’t have a microphone, I was in excruciating pain, and it would have been inappropriate for me to argue, because we take respecting elders (especially the extremely learned kind) seriously here.

Now, I’m not an expert on mental health, but I’m not a complete hack either. I did a minor in Psychology, have been interested in the area for years, and I do keep in touch with what’s going on. I would have studied it, had it not been for the desperate artsy side of me that went for literature instead. I read Philip Roth’s Everyman recently where his main character saw all kinds of doctors for his stomach pain, including a psychoanalyst who diagnosed him as having issues from the past, until he was rushed to the hospital for an appendicitis operation. His pain was gone.

This is not an attempt to use a literary giant to get back at the afore-mentioned psychoanalyst. Well, it could be, but a similar thing happened to me as well. I lived with the excruciating pain, thinking it was my anxiety (and unhealthy ways of coping with that anxiety) for three days, missing work and my somewhat passable sanity.

Until I saw the doctor on Saturday, who said it was a really bad infection.

There’s information all around. Tons. Back in the day, when I was in school and wasn’t allowed internet at home, I used to look up encyclopaedias and old Reader’s Digest issues to understand what’s going on. Because doctors can often be condescending, and I just wanted to understand what was wrong with me. It didn’t make it better, but I feel those in the business of treatment can often miss out on the fact that it is the patient who has to make the decision. Who has to pay for it. To suffer for it. To regret mis-diagnosis. Of course, s/he would want to learn up on things. To anticipate what will happen.

To use information on making the right decision in the first place.

The medicines I’ve been having since yesterday have been awful. I’ve always been sickly, but even I have a threshold pain point. I feel better today. The pain’s lessened. I have to go to work tomorrow, because I don’t think people care much about The Girl Who Cried Stomach Ache Too Many Times.

Gilmore Girls

Also, I got a Netflix subscription yesterday to watch Gilmore Girls, because Gilmore Girls is the kind of wholesome goodness which is equivalent to having dessert (and you know how much I love dessert) without having any. It has helped work things out psychologically, by being the only good thing that has happened these past few days.

I don’t have the answers. That’s why I asked that question. I don’t know what to do when I have a stomach ache. The psychoanalyst also talked about health, about working on what’s good as a way to make the bad better. By that logic, I should get eye-drops for my okay eyes, because it might help my toothache.

It’s all very good to blame EVERY PROBLEM YOU CAN POSSIBLY HAVE on what might be wrong with you emotionally, but sometimes you just want, no, need a fix. A real, solid solution.

There is so much wrong with the mental health culture. I’m a 100% non-expert on it, but I know that it is a culture, that blaming everything on a few buzzwords (“Oh, my hands are dry because I don’t like to keep them dirty. I’m a little OCD that way.”) has become so internalized, as well as externalized, that we can’t even see the problem with it. Let alone, do something about it.

The integrated approach has worked so far. A combination of antibiotics and Gilmore Girls has helped me type this, and be slightly less scared about showing up to work tomorrow. I don’t know if that’s acceptable to the experts. But, I currently don’t have anything more to report, or muse over, because I am the ignoramus, uh, patient who is recovering. Hopefully.

What do you do when you have a stomach ache?


Writer, Blogger, Kate Bush Fanatic

12 thoughts on “Of Treatment

  1. I hope you feel one hundred percent better real soon! And I love Gilmore Girls, too! My kids go back to school in a couple of days, which has been making my stomach feel all twisty inside. I get this way every year they go back. Like I’m nervous for them, but I shouldn’t be. So I’ve been chewing a lot of gum lol Because that is my go-to when I am feeling nervous about things. And I’ve been watching a lot of Breaking Bad on Netflix, too 🙂
    Hope you feel better soon! Take care!

    1. Hey Tamara, long time no speak! Hope you’ve been well, other than feeling nervous for your kids. I feel my stomach churning in fear every morning before going out, and usually they are unfounded! Except last Wednesday, when I really didn’t want to go, and got sick when I did anyway.

      I think the best way to deal with it is just be positive. Music always helps me cheer up. Or watching something really feel-good. Maybe do something fun with your children before school starts? Other than watching Deadpool, of course!

      I only watched the first season of Gilmore Girls back in the day. It used to clash with something my parents watched Season 2 onwards. Am just so glad to finally be able to watch it! Lorelai is so much fun!

      Btw, I published a Canada-inspired poem last week. Here’s the link:

  2. Do you like chamomile tea? It really helps me when my belly is a little off. With honey (and milk or cream– if you like!) and a few pinches of lavender flowers, it’s especially yummy! I recommend making a whole pot and drinking the whole thing, and see if it helps! Chamomile and lavender are also antibacterial besides being calming to the nervous system. Can help with anxiety too. Some people find it makes them sleepy but it just relaxes me without the sleepy affect. Worth a try– tea and honey is a lot cheaper than going to the doctor!

    1. Hi Elka, it’s been a while since we last spoke. I got worse, had to get surgery as well, but I’m feeling better now. I still haven’t gone through all my mail either, but I do promise to go through all the lovely things you sent me!

      I do occasionally have chamomile tea. Can’t say I like it a lot (I’m yet to have an incredible cup I suppose!), but it definitely feels nice to have it before going to sleep at night.

  3. The medical system can be interesting. It’s trial and error as far as psychologists go, you have to be willing to stick it out, I think?. It’s just like with a doctor where you have to find somebody that you trust and that you “click” with. .Sometimes you just don’t have the patience.

    1. Yes, it is trial and error. Also, I think as a patient, you really have to feel ready for it. Open to it.

      Sorry for being late in replying. I was ill for a while (had to get surgery as well) though I’m getting better!

  4. I’m sorry I did not notice this post when you first published it. I hope you are feeling better soon. I have nothing to add to your points, but to answer your question, I have always suffered from a nervous stomach in the mornings. Even when I was little. I just think I have a dread of the day to come. It doesn’t happen when I’m on vacation, or really excited for something that may happen that day. But on typical days my stomach is in knots. The only thing that works for me has been diet. Where I used to eat heavy things in the morning, or at least a roll with butter, I now go plain as possible. A banana and a granola bar typically, which seem to keep my stomach calmer. Odd I know, but thats what works for me.

    1. Hey, Robert, I’ve been going through the comments I missed reading while I was ill. I’ve had that nervous stomach/dreading the day thing too. I think you’re doing the right thing. My parents have always been big believers in big breakfasts, but I find eating light easy things like a fruit better. I prefer the 6 small meals regime as opposed to 3 large ones myself. Though I am partial to caffeine. It is a difficult habit to kick!

      I watched in a documentary that the reason people who get nervous have stomach problems is because that area has the most number of nerves after the brain. On top of that, adrenalin lowers blood circulation there, and no wonder you feel like hiding in the bathroom at times even if you don’t need it!

    1. Hey, Sourgirl, just going through all the comments I missed reading while I was ill (getting better with each day!). Thank you for your concern. I really appreciate it.

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