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livelaughlove21's avatar

How can I overcome medical issues to alleviate self-esteem issues?

Asked by livelaughlove21 (15608points) February 3rd, 2013 from iPhone

For the past 6+ months, I’ve been having gynecological issues that have kept me from exercising. I’ve gained about 15lbs because of this and my self-esteem has plummeted. Additionally, my sex life with my very young, very horny husband has dwindled to nearly nothing as I seek an answer to my ailment.

Just when it seemed these issues were getting manageable, I began getting headaches, painful muscle tension, and fatigue that the doctors labeled tension headaches. I was placed on lortab, an anti-inflammatory, steroids, and muscle relaxants. The symptoms began to alleviate and I stopped taking the medication (after 2 weeks) as ordered.

I was fine for a day, but I was laid up the next day with muscles that were sore to the touch and a general crappy feeling. My headaches appear to be back as well. I’m a bit better today, but still not much energy.

I have no motivation or energy to do anything at all, and my stress/anxiety is only making it worse. I just want to sit around and do nothing. On the other hand, I feel like I’m letting myself go and I’m worried about my marriage suffering because of it.

I need to lose weight. I need the energy to want to do things outside of the house. I need to have sex with my ever-patient husband. But I feel like I’ve dug myself into a hole I can’t get out of.

I’ve been to doctors. I’m 23 and I feel like I’m being brushed off because I’m seen as “too young” to have a serious disorder worth looking into and my symptoms aren’t particularly severe, consistent, or chronic (as of yet). And everyone around me thinks it’s all related to my anxiety, which it may be, but I can’t keep paying for doctors to tell me there’s nothing wrong with me.

How can I do the things I want to do while I feel so awful? What if my anxiety about it is making my symptoms worse? How could I know that for sure?

Any advice – any at all – would be super helpful.

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20 Answers

josie's avatar

If your doctors tell you there is nothing wrong with you, it only means that what ever is wrong with you, they do not know what it is. So that means you have to take control of your own well being.
I do not care to know the specifics, but I am skeptical about a gynecological issue that keeps you from exercising.
There are all sorts of exercises, and they do not all involve stress and strain on your reproductive organs. My knees and back are pretty worn out from roping out of helicopters, and I can still exercise.
So my advice is universal.
Stop griping and start becoming self interested through exercise. If you are so crippled that you can not engage your dynamic self in some sort of basic exercise, then accept it and do the best you can without griping about it.
Also, other than the normal challenges of existence, what are you anxious about? Are you a target of terrorists? The Mafia? The IRS? What is this great fear that handicaps you?
Anyway, my advice is get busy and do the best you can under what ever circumstances you have been given.

CWOTUS's avatar

My advice would be: prioritize first.

You mention a 15-pound weight gain, “self-esteem” and your husband’s missing out on some hot sex with you as about on par with your physiological / neurological problems, which are certainly real enough.

At your age, if you’ve been generally fit to begin with, a 15-lb. weight gain is a temporary symptom of your current malaise, and something you can address later. You can fix that when you’re feeling better; it’s not worth worrying about at this point, until you get the rest of your problems in order. Your husband seems to be on your side; if you can touch him at all, then you can take care of his sexual needs. Not a problem for you to be concerned with.

I suspect that part of your problem is (maybe) not listening closely enough to your doctor/s. Yes, clearly you have “something wrong”, but a big part of what is wrong may be your generalized anxiety about “other things”. Address your real health concerns. That’s what I mean by prioritizing. Forget the rest of the world for awhile.

HolographicUniverse's avatar

I suggest you visit a specialist to treat your high anxiety and mild depression.

Anxiety usually magnifies a miniscule issue, which is what I see here.

Unbroken's avatar

@livelaughlove21 You may not control your circumstance but you can control how it effects you.

Anxiety is impossible to ignore. Some alleviation of that may come from meditating, music, journaling and reaching out to supportive loved ones.

You will have to face challenges head on and you have your husband for support. But that will make you feel self empowered.

Also if you have a feeling that something is wrong with you medically follow your instinct. Do your own research. Journal all symptoms triggers details etc. Whatever is pertinent. Sure some component may be anxiety but you seem over all rational and well no one is in tune with your body the way you are.

Best of wishes, keep us informed.

Aethelwine's avatar

Those who have never had any gynecological issues don’t know how difficult it can be. The discomfort with some issues can be terrible, if not debilitating. Take care of yourself and try not to stress. Stress will only make your discomfort worse. Eat healthy and get the sleep you need. Your husband loves you. He’ll wait patiently.

2davidc8's avatar

Ask your doctors if you might be experiencing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. See this article and this one .

livelaughlove21's avatar

@josie Wow. I’m skeptical about how telling someone to stop whining is going to help them. The gynecological issues were painful and any movement (even mere walking) exacerbated the symptoms, and sweating magnified them. Simply going about my day became a struggle because of the discomfort, and no cream/pill/etc would alleviate it. That’s why any helpful exercise (ie. cardio) was put on hold.

Additionally, my anxiety has no logical basis. I know this. But that doesn’t make it less real. I’ve had anxiety since I was a child, holding onto particular fears and letting it plague my life. Most of my fears are related to my health (ironic? Probably not) and I’m constantly convinced my symptoms are indicative of something more serious than they usually are. This is a mental health issue and “stop griping about it” literally solves nothing. I should probably be on medication and/or in therapy for it, but it’s never been quite this debilitating before now.

Unbroken's avatar

@livelaughlove21 I had some of the same fears you spoke of through childhood and early life well before I was diagnosed.

I am probably projecting here but how I handled my fears was to label them all irrational and never go to a doctor until it was emergency priority.

Turns out my fears were founded and had I listened to myself more things might not have reached the level they did.

But my issues weren’t something a gp would pick up on. I needed a specialist. I would ask for a recommendation to an internist.

What I am saying is you gynecological issues sound very real. The rest of it probably is too. Just because they are illusive or other people can’t see them doesn’t make you crazy.

I don’t mean to cause you further anxiety I am not saying I am absolutely right, and by no means am I unbiased. Just that it is information to consider.

Specifically look for triggers a symptom emerges what were you doing before hand. Does a pattern emerge?

gailcalled's avatar

What about considering dealing with the anxiety? See a therapist and see whether you can start to sort through those issues, including those generated in your early childhood. Trying to unsnarl the physical and the psychosomatic is going to be complicated. After I had five years of therapy, I learned something about stress management and was able to deal with chronic lower back pain in quite a different way.

I haven’t even taken an advil in months. I use an exercise program deslgned for me by a physical therapist, yoga, meditation and my cat as my medications of choice.

wildpotato's avatar

Wow, this sounds a lot like me five years ago. I have IBS and also suffer from anxiety and depression. It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that in my case these things are interconnected. I hated it that many doctors were dismissive of my problems by attributing them to anxiety, but this has ultimately been the (partial) truth of the matter. Which is not to say that the pain is all psychosomatic, but that it’s a self-reinforcing cycle of both mental and physical etiological factors. But I’d bet you already know that part, so I’ll move to what I’ve done to help myself:

I saw a new gynecologist, one that took a different approach. After ruling out lactose intolerance and celiac disease, he didn’t worry so much about why I was experiencing what I do as what I might do to treat the symptoms. This was mostly suggestions for a restricted diet, which I have followed to great success. It felt vindicating to learn that I had a medical condition that was at least in part non-psychosomatic (inability to digest certain things/gut flora imbalance), and empowering to find that I could control my symptoms to some extent.

I started psychotherapy to treat my anxiety and depression. Mixed results GI-wise, but definite improvement in mental health and self-esteem.

I tried new sports until I found one that I’m really passionate about. It made such a difference when working out stopped feeling like work and started feeling like the most joyful way I could possibly spend my leisure time. Hopefully there is something out there that your body will know it’s been born to do, and you just haven’t found it yet.

The sex life bit has been the most difficult part for me. I have experienced a lowering of my general level of desire since the start of my symptoms, and when I do feel randy my guts often hurt too much for intercourse. Recently I’ve been working on this by reading a lot of Dan Savage and trying to take his advice to be GGG, especially the last “G.” This has led me to some interesting new places, such as this book – which actually has a lot of good information on GI tract and pelvic health, as well as suggestions for improving your sex life. The author’s thesis is that these two things (health and pleasure) are inextricably connected. My research and experimentation have really paid off in my relationship, sex life, and level of self-esteem.

augustlan's avatar

I’d definitely get the anxiety treated, pronto. Once that is more under control, you’ll be able to focus on any physical symptoms that are still present, and know they are actually real (wondering about this just makes you more anxious right now, I’m sure.) Please keep us updated on your situation.

Shippy's avatar

If you have seen so many doctors, which is quite a few, go with what they are saying. Anxiety is a strange and inexplicable thing at times. I posted yesterday how my body is aching. Which seems to be common in BPD apparently.

I recall your question regards the gynecological issue a while back. I recall Googling quite a few things and it appears it is common in anxiety. (If all other possibilities are ruled out).

Of course feeling as though your husband is losing out, can also make it worse. As you love him and want to please him and have a happy normal marriage. So it could be a circle you are in? There are for now other ways to please him :)

In the meantime perhaps do investigate the anxiety issues more.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Go to hubby and explain 100 percent what is going on and what it’s doing to you. You seem pretty passionate and I’m guessing he is too, so if he’s got a pair of nads, I’m guessing he’d be a good guy to have support you. You’d be amazed how much that helps. Then see a specialist in OB/GYN. You’re too young to miss out on what life offers when you get things squared away.

wundayatta's avatar

To deal with the anxiety, people typically use meds, therapy, and mindfulness practice. You don’t mention if you are being treated for the anxiety at all.

I would suggest you get a book about mindfulness and see what you can learn. There are often stress reduction classes at hospitals or medical centers and in yoga centers and they can teach you techniques and philosophy that will help you cope with anxiety better. These things help you whether or not you have other medical problems. I would encourage you to find this training if you can. There are many things you can do without moving. Although, if you can move, they are even more effective.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Stress causes a lot of physical problems with some people, I had bleeding ulcers age age 20, so you need to get it under control now while you’re young, as I did.

Husband can deal with it, or you can be lazy intimate, don’t worry about him while you feel poorly and are stressed, that’ll make it worse.

josie's avatar

If your anxiety has no logical basis, then try using logic to defeat it. Which was my point. No medication or therapy is going to make you rational. Why waste your time and money.
As to your gynecological problem, there are all sorts of exercises that do not require to you challenge your uterus, bladder etc. (recumbent stationary bike comes to mind, but there are others). Anyway, I only gave may opinion. You don’t have to accept it, and I can live with that.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@josie Are mental health issues such as anxiety or depression ever logical? If they were, they would be a lot easier to treat. My guess is that you have little experience with mental health, so I digress.

As for the exercise, I’m not sure what you mean when you mention my uterus and bladder (which, by the way, is part of the urinary – not reproductive – system), but my problem is not inside. It is some sort of vulvar skin disorder, so just the seat of a stationary bike (if I owned one or had the luxury of a gym membership) would irritate it. Any friction at all caused me a lot of problems. And, again, sweating exacerbated the pain.

I’m at the point now that it is manageable, so I can now exercise with only minor irritation. This is where the anxiety and health concerns come into play.

wildpotato's avatar

@livelaughlove21 You should totally try kayaking when it gets warmer, or now if you live someplace balmy. No leg motion involved, and it’s such a blast.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@wildpotato I’ve actually done that a few times. In the Pacific off the coast of La Jolla, CA. So fun! I live in South Carolina so, while the weather is good, the nearest place to kayak is about an hour and a half away. Bummer. :/ If I had a gym membership, a rowing machine would be comparable, but alas…

At this point, ANY physical activity would be an improvement. I just need to get off my fat ass and do it I guess. :)

HolographicUniverse's avatar

If you like, feel free to pm me regarding Web based therapy rather than traditional (should you desire)

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