Many of us living with mental illness have other chronic illnesses. Often we are not treated for our “physical” illnesses, as many doctors dismiss them as psychosomatic. “Mental” illnesses ARE “physical” illnesses, and “physical” illnesses affect our “mental” illnesses. We are not just our brains, just our bodies, just our minds, just our feelings, or just our souls. The more we learn, the more we understand interconnectedness and comorbidities.
The ALPIM Spectrum
In the Spring 2015 issue of the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, researchers proposed The ALPIM Spectrum:
P = Pain (fibromyalgia, migraine and chronic daily headache, irritable bowel syndrome, prostatitis/cystitis);
I = Immune disorders (hypothyroidism, asthma, nasal allergies, chronic fatigue syndrome); and
M = Mood disorders (major depression, Bipolar II and Bipolar III disorder, tachyphylaxis. Two thirds of patients in the study with mood disorder had diagnosable bipolar disorder and most of those patients had lost response to antidepressants).
We conclude that patients with ALPIM syndrome possess a probable genetic propensity that underlies a biological diathesis for the development of the spectrum of disorders. Viewing patients as sharing a psychological propensity toward somatizing behavior essentially denies patients access to care for the diagnosable medical conditions with which they present.
My son has missed WAY too much school this year. He’s attending a private school where he gets one-on-one attention and learns at his own pace, so he simply falls behind and the charges for missed classes just keep adding up.
He had gastroenteritis earlier this year (which we all had and which we all still have lingering GI symptoms from). This morning he complained that he had a migraine. I do not know whether he truly has a migraine, for his symptoms are not as severe as they were before he took preventive medication.
Our psychiatrist has told me that I should stop taking Matthew to health care specialists, that he needs to learn to live with migraines, and that I am enabling him. Hard to have your child live with chronic, cyclic pain and vomiting. Those in the mental health profession tend to pathologize physical symptoms as “somatic” and dismiss very real suffering and pain. I, too, have been guilty of doing so in the past with both my son and my husband.
Yes, I’m at a loss as to what to do, as to how best to care for my son and myself.
My son struggles with multiple health issues: migraines, cyclic vomiting, weak immune system, allergies, eczema, depression, and anxiety. The newly defined spectrum syndrome ALPIM (Anxiety-Laxity-Pain-Immune-Mood) describes his constellation of symptoms, but does not yet give us answers as to how to cure or treat the underlying genetic disorder.
Monday, August 31st would have been my son’s first day back to high school after summer vacation. Unfortunately, he was unable to get out of bed to start the school year. He spent last Sunday night and early Monday morning vomiting. No doubt he is stressed out. He said he was worried about throwing up at school. He was probably stressed out about making up his incompletes from last semester. At the end of the school year he was sick and missed taking his finals and completing missed assignments.
I gave my son the option of enrolling in an online high school program, which he chose to do Monday morning as I tried to wake him for school. So last Monday I enrolled him in a k12.com school, California Prep Academy San Diego. My new job is to be his “learning coach,” supervising his progress. We’ll see how that goes. It’s an ongoing process for the two of us.