If I were my own best friend I would reflect quietly on a quote…
The sorrow which has no vent in tears may make other organs weep.
–Henry Maudsley, MD 1835-1918
***I am switching gears today to reflect on something a little more serious than the previous post.
The above quote has haunted me ever since I read it a few months ago. Not in a creepy or frightening, keeps me up at night kind of way. Instead as a reflective, makes me think about life and pause before I find myself making assumptions about something or someone kind of way.
I am intrigued by the idea of pain presenting in different ways. Pain is not just a physical sensation but an individual and very subjective reaction to that sensation. I spent some time working as a hospice nurse and I saw so many different types of pain and so many different ways it affected people. It may be emotional or physical or spiritual or psychological or some combination thereof. And it may not present in a way we are expecting it to – in ourselves or in others.
I was curious about Henry Maudsley, the gentleman who wrote the quote, so I did a quick search on him (sometimes I just love the internet). He was a British psychiatrist and apparently quite a famous and influential one. I did not find a specific reference to this quote, but if I had to guess, I suspect during his time he saw a number of patients with unexplained physical symptoms that were actually related to psychological pain. He probably recognized that if certain mental pain is left untreated the body will find a way to make it known, perhaps through a completely different organ, like the heart or lungs or gut.
I see a lot of ill people in my line of work. I see a lot of suffering. And sometimes I am left wondering if there is much much more to the story, then the physical report I am able to get. What else is going on in their lives? What else is causing them trouble or pain? Yes, they may be having chest pain, but is it really from their heart? Or could it be the death of a husband and the stress of living without him? Could a job change or a major move lead to a painful bowel? What about a messy divorce or a sick child – how much does that affect headaches?
So what I want to say today is if you have some sort of pain, some sort of ache in your soul that needs healing, some kind of stress you are ignoring – then consider doing the hard work to heal it. The road will not be easy and the healing will take time, but based on Maudsley’s observations, that ache in your soul will eventually find an outlet elsewhere and perhaps not a good one.
I wish you well in your journeys and hope if you are struggling with something that is causing you pain you are able to get the help you need to heal. Take care.