Our secret medical history

by Matthew Brown, Registered Nurse, Perth, Western Australia

Most of us have seen a GP or been to hospital at some stage, and have had our medical history taken. The usual questions cover a range of illnesses that include most parts of our body. Commonly asked questions are related to blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, heart and lungs, any previous surgery and what type of medication we are on, which may provide a clue to anything else we may have ‘forgotten’ to mention!

I call this the public medical history, the one that is carried around like a backpack, that informs all health professionals just what type of body they are dealing with. These are the problems that are often managed with medication, and the more you are on, and the higher the dose, the greater your problems are.

But there is another history we keep hidden. This secret history is the one we keep really personal and generally don’t share with anyone, or maybe only one other person. These secrets are the vital evidence and the foundation of our ill ways, ill health and poor decisions. They may at first seem irrelevant or even minor, but they are crucial to understanding the person as a whole, and hold the clues to the kinds of events, illnesses or injuries that happen to people.

Those things that we keep secret are the things that we find embarrassing or personal; that we would never share with another. They could range from anything from early childhood all the way through life. There is often a hurt of some kind that holds us back. It may prevent us from either admitting it is there, or we may find a way to completely ignore the feeling associated with it.

They could be things like how shy you are, or how little confidence you may have. It may be that you always feel a little anxious or uncomfortable in crowds; that you overeat or maybe feel sad at times, with feelings of loneliness, or even that you get angry quite quickly. It may be that you find it difficult to sleep at night or hard to get to sleep.

Whatever they are, we keep them secret or we consider them irrelevant. Could it be out of fear of what others may say or think about us? However we soldier on, as we try to put on a public face that all is well.

Living with these fears or anxieties disrupts the natural harmony in the body. Our heart rate is affected, and our blood pressure may increase. Not to forget our nervous system that is always ‘on’, which causes stress and tension in our muscles, our connective tissue and also on the endocrine system. So we can see how issues we consider minor, irrelevant or embarrassing affect the whole body. But this is not seen as a medical issue, because it hasn’t presented itself in the body as an illness yet, even though it is actually already there. It is a medical issue and it is the genesis of sickness. How this expresses itself in the body is characterised by the individual and their own life choices and make-up. It could end up being diabetes, heart disease or cancer, or any number of illnesses, addictions, or relationship problems.

This is what creates our public medical history, the one that is eventually expressed as illness. Why wait until it’s too late?

Most of us are functioning people, we have a job, work, go out, share meals and have friends, so this private history is kept simmering in the background with a range of coping mechanisms that get us through life. We all have our way of ‘getting through the day’ and our body does try to rebalance and compensate, but it can’t do this forever.

As an example, let’s say someone was living with anxiousness, just enough that it is brushed off as maybe being nervous or shy, but ‘normal’ for that person. This subtle wash of feeling that is always there, affects every decision that is made. Often other people know some of these ways, but just accept that it is just the way people are and so don’t question it.

Other examples are the everyday things we live with, like

  • not having a loving relationship with our wife, husband or partner
  • getting frustrated easily
  • getting angry at the cars that speed
  • secretly gambling or watching porn without our partner knowing
  • daydreaming about meeting another man/woman
  • not really feeling motivated to do anything
  • constantly having to keep busy
  • moving from relationship to relationship or not wanting to be in a relationship
  • getting bored with our job
  • not getting on with work colleagues.

These are all clues to something that is brewing in the background.

Where to from here? We avoid, hide or ignore the signs and symptoms and keep them secret.

As a result we binge drink, smoke, overeat, sleep around, fight, overwork or don’t work, exercise or play sport to name a few, all to not feel the effects of not addressing the secret history. 

The truth is, we compromise our body and our lives through the choices and decisions we make, which reverberate in a harmful way through our body.

We generally don’t share many of these secrets with our GP, or anyone for that matter, but they are essential in being able to understand us. Our lifestyle and the way we live each day are the precursors that affect our public medical issues and highlight the consequences of this private medical history we keep so secret.

This secret history will cause the lifestyle choices that we make, to hide or suppress these feelings and fears that mould our life. How do we hide and suppress these feelings? We numb ourselves with foods, drinks and all manner of behaviours, and sugar coat our life to show that everything is ‘good’, whilst every choice is tainted and loaded with the energy of hiding and suppressing this secret history.

This secret history contains the gold nuggets that have the potential to allow a person to truly live, and this is where we really need to start if we are to seek true healing. If we wait until it manifests into a physical issue, it is then so much harder to treat. But even before this, a willingness to look at this secret history of ours can offer us the opportunity to see and deal with our old hurts and open us up to the possibility of living a truly healthy and joyful life.

 

Read more:

  1. We use medicine but don’t live it.
  2. The Roseto Effect – a lesson on the true cause of heart disease

 

 

769 thoughts on “Our secret medical history

  1. It is true in those unmentioned feelings we have running through our body which we carve a life around in order to cope with them and life, and potentially try our hardest not to trigger the unwanted response in the body, is the hidden gold within us. Because once these are addressed it changes our whole perspective on life, and then we go on to see other things in our life that we have been managing and not dealing with.

    1. Yes, it is a cascade effect and I wonder if there is a part of each of us that knows the end game and so we create roadblocks along the way to divert us away from that connection, it’s crazy isn’t it?! How many roadblocks do we create to stop us being all of ourselves?!

  2. Thank you Matthew this is perfect for me to read today as I have an appointment with my GP later (a rare event for me) and am inspired to be more open with what I share.

  3. Many valued and important points you raise here Matthew. I know from my own experience talking to someone and being honest about what is going on is the first step to healing, in fact the art of sharing can really give you insight and clarity into what is the emotional cause in the first place.

  4. So much in effect gets said in our silence, in other words so much gets said in the way we talk about something rather than the words themselves that we might use. Our body has a language of its own that if heeded and seen and listened to reveals so much more than words alone.

  5. As a natural medicine health professional, I have discovered that there is an art to gathering a person’s medical history…There are of course many direct questions that need to be asked and the answers annotated, but this is just the beginning, for from here we get to feel where a persons true healing lies – there are times when a person shares what is going on for them on a feeling level that can open up true healing for them, and this part of the conversation is no lesser in importance to the factual evidence and the numbers. When we feel safe to express and share those things that lie deep within, then we are also given an opportunity to let go and re-imprint, in other words learn to do things in a different way, a way that is honouring of our delicate nature.

  6. Fascinating Matthew, and from one who knows. But in truth we all know, for we are all masters of our secret medical histories well before they become public. We just don’t read (or want to read) what we see unfolding in us.

  7. You have brilliantly exposed Matthew, the underbelly of all the circumstances and choices that are going on moment by moment in all our lives, which actually lead to the exact geographical map that becomes our public medical history. This should be a lecture for all medical courses!

    1. I agree Lyndy, this blog needs to be a lecture in medical and nursing schools, in fact in any area that people are dealing with Health.

  8. Holding onto our secrets seem to be a strategy to avoid further shame and being exposed, but in reality it only keeps us stuck in the past, recreating more suffering, our medical history included.

  9. What you have expressed here Matthew is a wonderful reminder for us all, and so very true;
    “The truth is, we compromise our body and our lives through the choices and decisions we make, which reverberate in a harmful way through our body”.

  10. People can often state how many units of alcohol they drink per week to their GP but wouldn’t it be interesting if they were then asked why they felt to drink ? It would give a greater insight into what’s really going on..honesty goes a long way into understand ourselves more.

  11. Matthew, this feels really important; ‘a willingness to look at this secret history of ours can offer us the opportunity to see and deal with our old hurts and open us up to the possibility of living a truly healthy and joyful life.’ I have found that I feel more joyful and more vital because I have been aware of and worked on my own self worth and generally how I feel about myself, I am much more loving and understanding with myself now and this has felt very healing, I find I have a lot more energy at work as I am not constantly trying to prove myself and wanting acceptance, I feel more at ease and confident in my abilities and in myself.

  12. It’s great to come back to this blog to ponder on our secret medical history. It seems that we are great at treating ourselves once we get ill, but don’t ever consider treating our choices and actions that made us ill in the first place.

  13. Our secret medical history, if we have one, is the one holding everything that we don’t want people to know. We must then consider ourselves likely to be judged by others if we hold back this information. When we bring out the skeletons from our own closet it is incredibly healing, not just for us but for everyone. We discover that we are not alone in our “misdemeanors ” and when held (metaphorically speaking) by a Universal Medicine Practitioner there is no judgement. We are offered the space to explore what lies underneath our past choices and go to the deepest place of honesty or truth that we can in that moment.

  14. We like to believe that we can get away with things but the fact of the matter is that our body goes everywhere with us and experiences everything that we do. When the body then shows us signs that all is not well, for example, the slight anxiety we might be experiencing then we really ought to listen to it.

  15. Every choice we make impacts our body so it makes sense that our medical history weaves a clear story of whether those lifestyles choices are loving or not.

  16. Coming back to this article I love what you say here “But there is another history we keep hidden. This secret history is the one we keep really personal and generally don’t share with anyone, or maybe only one other person. These secrets are the vital evidence and the foundation of our ill ways, ill health and poor decisions. They may at first seem irrelevant or even minor, but they are crucial to understanding the person as a whole, and hold the clues to the kinds of events, illnesses or injuries that happen to people.” And we all know we each have a secret history – and even in medical, healthcare or dental consultations there is a knowing that this is there, but it is usually not probed. While it stays secret we are not taking responsibility for what is going on in our lives, or for truly getting to the bottom of our ills.

  17. We need to truly re-connect with our body messages and whatever we feel to understand our inescapable involvement into our health

  18. I asked for this blog today. This is what I am understanding as the root of true healing. Because the illness hasn’t manifested in the body I never think to go to a doctor about it, but I know support is needed. The key is to find a practitioner who has experienced this and can support through it rather than brush the seemingly ‘normal’ behaviour off. The behaviour is simply masking a feeling we don’t want to feel and having the support to feel it and be OK with feeling it would be groundbreaking in terms of addressing addictions in our lives that hold us back and keep us from the connection to the stillness of our soul.

  19. Along the way to becoming really unwell or becoming dis-eased there are usually signs alluding to the fact something is not quite right, some very subtle, others not so, some chronic and persistent….. but annoying rather than debilitating. Other signs can be emotional or psychological rather than physical, and yet we rarely stop to consider these signs. Often it is not until we are really unwell that we take any notice of our body and what is occurring. Taking the time to stop and check in with our bodies regularly before we become unwell would allow us to become familiar with how our bodies are feeling, enabling us to notice any changes or niggles, early on, alerting us to the fact that something is a bit off, thereby giving us the opportunity to take notice of what is needed to bring balance and harmony back to both our bodies and subsequently our lives before things get out of hand.

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