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.