Tag Archives: body

Mental health? It’s in the mind and the body, too | Rachel Kelly

Something is stirring in the world of mental health and for once the news is positive. This month, British scientists began testing a radically new approach to treating schizophrenia based on emerging evidence that it could be a disease of the immune system. Meanwhile, scientists are investigating the possibility that low levels of chronic inflammation may be linked to depression.

Oliver Howes, a professor of molecular psychiatry at the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences and a consultant psychiatrist at the Maudsley hospital in south London, is leading the schizophrenia research. “In the past, we’ve always thought of the mind and the body being separate, but it’s just not like that,” he says. “The mind and body interact constantly and the immune system is no different. It’s about changing the way we think about mental illnesses.”

Hear, hear to that. For a while, I’ve believed that we need to stop splitting mental and physical health. The mind doesn’t exist outside the body. A body without a mind is a corpse. In a way, this is a return to an old way of thinking: a “healthy mind in a healthy body” was the main component of the ancient Greek Hippocratic philosophy. But since Descartes split mind and body, arguing that the two were distinct, we’ve been living with the consequences.

The NHS distinguishes between mind and body – and can use the division as an excuse not to fund mental health services. And I used to embrace the split, too, until I was afflicted by two severe depressive episodes. I was astonished by how physically unwell I became. I couldn’t sleep. My heart sped up. I felt nauseous. Every bit of me hurt. I was suicidal, because I felt so rotten.

Try this for a moment. Take a deep breath. Let your shoulders drop. Close your eyes. Breathe. Enjoy that moment of physical relaxation. And notice something interesting. When we become physically relaxed, we become mentally relaxed. It’s impossible to be physically relaxed and mentally tense. Equally, if you feel stressed and tense, your body follows.

In repressive cultures where expressions of the thought are not allowed, the mind can manifest itself in symptoms of pain. Those who have suffered intolerable trauma, such as childhood sexual abuse, often have a wide range of physical symptoms. Equally, any doctor will tell you that the physical body breaks down when the mind can’t take any more trauma. Thyroid disorders, psoriasis and arthritis are all autoimmune illnesses that can develop at times of emotional stress.

Once we accept the union of mental and physical health, a few things become clear. First, we should ditch the term “mental health”. From now on, we should talk about someone’s health – all in. We would lose much of the stigma that still surrounds saying we are “mentally” unwell. We’re not. We’re just unwell.

And it follows we should embrace a new way of treating those with mental illnesses once we accept that mental illness can be embodied in this way. The split between mind and body has poorly served us, both in terms of diagnosis and in treatment. First diagnosis. We need to look more to underlying causes for why we often feel so glum, many of them physical.

We don’t exercise enough. We eat junk food. Many of us suffer from chronic high levels of inflammation, with inflammed guts leading to stressed bodies – and low mood. We lead hectic lives. We live in cities. We are divorced from nature, and each other. We are glued to our phones. We are not compassionate to ourselves, or to others.Second, treatment. What promotes good cardiovascular, endocrine and musculoskeletal health also promotes good mental health and vice versa. When I look back at my own battle with the black dog, I wonder if I might have recovered more quickly, or been less ill in the first place, if I had understood more about the connection between my mental and physical health. It seems I’m not alone – and hooray for that.

Mental health? It’s in the mind and the body, too | Rachel Kelly

Something is stirring in the world of mental health and for once the news is positive. This month, British scientists began testing a radically new approach to treating schizophrenia based on emerging evidence that it could be a disease of the immune system. Meanwhile, scientists are investigating the possibility that low levels of chronic inflammation may be linked to depression.

Oliver Howes, a professor of molecular psychiatry at the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences and a consultant psychiatrist at the Maudsley hospital in south London, is leading the schizophrenia research. “In the past, we’ve always thought of the mind and the body being separate, but it’s just not like that,” he says. “The mind and body interact constantly and the immune system is no different. It’s about changing the way we think about mental illnesses.”

Hear, hear to that. For a while, I’ve believed that we need to stop splitting mental and physical health. The mind doesn’t exist outside the body. A body without a mind is a corpse. In a way, this is a return to an old way of thinking: a “healthy mind in a healthy body” was the main component of the ancient Greek Hippocratic philosophy. But since Descartes split mind and body, arguing that the two were distinct, we’ve been living with the consequences.

The NHS distinguishes between mind and body – and can use the division as an excuse not to fund mental health services. And I used to embrace the split, too, until I was afflicted by two severe depressive episodes. I was astonished by how physically unwell I became. I couldn’t sleep. My heart sped up. I felt nauseous. Every bit of me hurt. I was suicidal, because I felt so rotten.

Try this for a moment. Take a deep breath. Let your shoulders drop. Close your eyes. Breathe. Enjoy that moment of physical relaxation. And notice something interesting. When we become physically relaxed, we become mentally relaxed. It’s impossible to be physically relaxed and mentally tense. Equally, if you feel stressed and tense, your body follows.

In repressive cultures where expressions of the thought are not allowed, the mind can manifest itself in symptoms of pain. Those who have suffered intolerable trauma, such as childhood sexual abuse, often have a wide range of physical symptoms. Equally, any doctor will tell you that the physical body breaks down when the mind can’t take any more trauma. Thyroid disorders, psoriasis and arthritis are all autoimmune illnesses that can develop at times of emotional stress.

Once we accept the union of mental and physical health, a few things become clear. First, we should ditch the term “mental health”. From now on, we should talk about someone’s health – all in. We would lose much of the stigma that still surrounds saying we are “mentally” unwell. We’re not. We’re just unwell.

And it follows we should embrace a new way of treating those with mental illnesses once we accept that mental illness can be embodied in this way. The split between mind and body has poorly served us, both in terms of diagnosis and in treatment. First diagnosis. We need to look more to underlying causes for why we often feel so glum, many of them physical.

We don’t exercise enough. We eat junk food. Many of us suffer from chronic high levels of inflammation, with inflammed guts leading to stressed bodies – and low mood. We lead hectic lives. We live in cities. We are divorced from nature, and each other. We are glued to our phones. We are not compassionate to ourselves, or to others.Second, treatment. What promotes good cardiovascular, endocrine and musculoskeletal health also promotes good mental health and vice versa. When I look back at my own battle with the black dog, I wonder if I might have recovered more quickly, or been less ill in the first place, if I had understood more about the connection between my mental and physical health. It seems I’m not alone – and hooray for that.

Mental health? It’s in the mind and the body, too | Rachel Kelly

Something is stirring in the world of mental health and for once the news is positive. This month, British scientists began testing a radically new approach to treating schizophrenia based on emerging evidence that it could be a disease of the immune system. Meanwhile, scientists are investigating the possibility that low levels of chronic inflammation may be linked to depression.

Oliver Howes, a professor of molecular psychiatry at the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences and a consultant psychiatrist at the Maudsley hospital in south London, is leading the schizophrenia research. “In the past, we’ve always thought of the mind and the body being separate, but it’s just not like that,” he says. “The mind and body interact constantly and the immune system is no different. It’s about changing the way we think about mental illnesses.”

Hear, hear to that. For a while, I’ve believed that we need to stop splitting mental and physical health. The mind doesn’t exist outside the body. A body without a mind is a corpse. In a way, this is a return to an old way of thinking: a “healthy mind in a healthy body” was the main component of the ancient Greek Hippocratic philosophy. But since Descartes split mind and body, arguing that the two were distinct, we’ve been living with the consequences.

The NHS distinguishes between mind and body – and can use the division as an excuse not to fund mental health services. And I used to embrace the split, too, until I was afflicted by two severe depressive episodes. I was astonished by how physically unwell I became. I couldn’t sleep. My heart sped up. I felt nauseous. Every bit of me hurt. I was suicidal, because I felt so rotten.

Try this for a moment. Take a deep breath. Let your shoulders drop. Close your eyes. Breathe. Enjoy that moment of physical relaxation. And notice something interesting. When we become physically relaxed, we become mentally relaxed. It’s impossible to be physically relaxed and mentally tense. Equally, if you feel stressed and tense, your body follows.

In repressive cultures where expressions of the thought are not allowed, the mind can manifest itself in symptoms of pain. Those who have suffered intolerable trauma, such as childhood sexual abuse, often have a wide range of physical symptoms. Equally, any doctor will tell you that the physical body breaks down when the mind can’t take any more trauma. Thyroid disorders, psoriasis and arthritis are all autoimmune illnesses that can develop at times of emotional stress.

Once we accept the union of mental and physical health, a few things become clear. First, we should ditch the term “mental health”. From now on, we should talk about someone’s health – all in. We would lose much of the stigma that still surrounds saying we are “mentally” unwell. We’re not. We’re just unwell.

And it follows we should embrace a new way of treating those with mental illnesses once we accept that mental illness can be embodied in this way. The split between mind and body has poorly served us, both in terms of diagnosis and in treatment. First diagnosis. We need to look more to underlying causes for why we often feel so glum, many of them physical.

We don’t exercise enough. We eat junk food. Many of us suffer from chronic high levels of inflammation, with inflammed guts leading to stressed bodies – and low mood. We lead hectic lives. We live in cities. We are divorced from nature, and each other. We are glued to our phones. We are not compassionate to ourselves, or to others.Second, treatment. What promotes good cardiovascular, endocrine and musculoskeletal health also promotes good mental health and vice versa. When I look back at my own battle with the black dog, I wonder if I might have recovered more quickly, or been less ill in the first place, if I had understood more about the connection between my mental and physical health. It seems I’m not alone – and hooray for that.

Mental health? It’s in the mind and the body, too | Rachel Kelly

Something is stirring in the world of mental health and for once the news is positive. This month, British scientists began testing a radically new approach to treating schizophrenia based on emerging evidence that it could be a disease of the immune system. Meanwhile, scientists are investigating the possibility that low levels of chronic inflammation may be linked to depression.

Oliver Howes, a professor of molecular psychiatry at the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences and a consultant psychiatrist at the Maudsley hospital in south London, is leading the schizophrenia research. “In the past, we’ve always thought of the mind and the body being separate, but it’s just not like that,” he says. “The mind and body interact constantly and the immune system is no different. It’s about changing the way we think about mental illnesses.”

Hear, hear to that. For a while, I’ve believed that we need to stop splitting mental and physical health. The mind doesn’t exist outside the body. A body without a mind is a corpse. In a way, this is a return to an old way of thinking: a “healthy mind in a healthy body” was the main component of the ancient Greek Hippocratic philosophy. But since Descartes split mind and body, arguing that the two were distinct, we’ve been living with the consequences.

The NHS distinguishes between mind and body – and can use the division as an excuse not to fund mental health services. And I used to embrace the split, too, until I was afflicted by two severe depressive episodes. I was astonished by how physically unwell I became. I couldn’t sleep. My heart sped up. I felt nauseous. Every bit of me hurt. I was suicidal, because I felt so rotten.

Try this for a moment. Take a deep breath. Let your shoulders drop. Close your eyes. Breathe. Enjoy that moment of physical relaxation. And notice something interesting. When we become physically relaxed, we become mentally relaxed. It’s impossible to be physically relaxed and mentally tense. Equally, if you feel stressed and tense, your body follows.

In repressive cultures where expressions of the thought are not allowed, the mind can manifest itself in symptoms of pain. Those who have suffered intolerable trauma, such as childhood sexual abuse, often have a wide range of physical symptoms. Equally, any doctor will tell you that the physical body breaks down when the mind can’t take any more trauma. Thyroid disorders, psoriasis and arthritis are all autoimmune illnesses that can develop at times of emotional stress.

Once we accept the union of mental and physical health, a few things become clear. First, we should ditch the term “mental health”. From now on, we should talk about someone’s health – all in. We would lose much of the stigma that still surrounds saying we are “mentally” unwell. We’re not. We’re just unwell.

And it follows we should embrace a new way of treating those with mental illnesses once we accept that mental illness can be embodied in this way. The split between mind and body has poorly served us, both in terms of diagnosis and in treatment. First diagnosis. We need to look more to underlying causes for why we often feel so glum, many of them physical.

We don’t exercise enough. We eat junk food. Many of us suffer from chronic high levels of inflammation, with inflammed guts leading to stressed bodies – and low mood. We lead hectic lives. We live in cities. We are divorced from nature, and each other. We are glued to our phones. We are not compassionate to ourselves, or to others.Second, treatment. What promotes good cardiovascular, endocrine and musculoskeletal health also promotes good mental health and vice versa. When I look back at my own battle with the black dog, I wonder if I might have recovered more quickly, or been less ill in the first place, if I had understood more about the connection between my mental and physical health. It seems I’m not alone – and hooray for that.

Mental health? It’s in the mind and the body, too | Rachel Kelly

Something is stirring in the world of mental health and for once the news is positive. This month, British scientists began testing a radically new approach to treating schizophrenia based on emerging evidence that it could be a disease of the immune system. Meanwhile, scientists are investigating the possibility that low levels of chronic inflammation may be linked to depression.

Oliver Howes, a professor of molecular psychiatry at the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences and a consultant psychiatrist at the Maudsley hospital in south London, is leading the schizophrenia research. “In the past, we’ve always thought of the mind and the body being separate, but it’s just not like that,” he says. “The mind and body interact constantly and the immune system is no different. It’s about changing the way we think about mental illnesses.”

Hear, hear to that. For a while, I’ve believed that we need to stop splitting mental and physical health. The mind doesn’t exist outside the body. A body without a mind is a corpse. In a way, this is a return to an old way of thinking: a “healthy mind in a healthy body” was the main component of the ancient Greek Hippocratic philosophy. But since Descartes split mind and body, arguing that the two were distinct, we’ve been living with the consequences.

The NHS distinguishes between mind and body – and can use the division as an excuse not to fund mental health services. And I used to embrace the split, too, until I was afflicted by two severe depressive episodes. I was astonished by how physically unwell I became. I couldn’t sleep. My heart sped up. I felt nauseous. Every bit of me hurt. I was suicidal, because I felt so rotten.

Try this for a moment. Take a deep breath. Let your shoulders drop. Close your eyes. Breathe. Enjoy that moment of physical relaxation. And notice something interesting. When we become physically relaxed, we become mentally relaxed. It’s impossible to be physically relaxed and mentally tense. Equally, if you feel stressed and tense, your body follows.

In repressive cultures where expressions of the thought are not allowed, the mind can manifest itself in symptoms of pain. Those who have suffered intolerable trauma, such as childhood sexual abuse, often have a wide range of physical symptoms. Equally, any doctor will tell you that the physical body breaks down when the mind can’t take any more trauma. Thyroid disorders, psoriasis and arthritis are all autoimmune illnesses that can develop at times of emotional stress.

Once we accept the union of mental and physical health, a few things become clear. First, we should ditch the term “mental health”. From now on, we should talk about someone’s health – all in. We would lose much of the stigma that still surrounds saying we are “mentally” unwell. We’re not. We’re just unwell.

And it follows we should embrace a new way of treating those with mental illnesses once we accept that mental illness can be embodied in this way. The split between mind and body has poorly served us, both in terms of diagnosis and in treatment. First diagnosis. We need to look more to underlying causes for why we often feel so glum, many of them physical.

We don’t exercise enough. We eat junk food. Many of us suffer from chronic high levels of inflammation, with inflammed guts leading to stressed bodies – and low mood. We lead hectic lives. We live in cities. We are divorced from nature, and each other. We are glued to our phones. We are not compassionate to ourselves, or to others.Second, treatment. What promotes good cardiovascular, endocrine and musculoskeletal health also promotes good mental health and vice versa. When I look back at my own battle with the black dog, I wonder if I might have recovered more quickly, or been less ill in the first place, if I had understood more about the connection between my mental and physical health. It seems I’m not alone – and hooray for that.

Mental health? It’s in the mind and the body, too | Rachel Kelly

Something is stirring in the world of mental health and for once the news is positive. This month, British scientists began testing a radically new approach to treating schizophrenia based on emerging evidence that it could be a disease of the immune system. Meanwhile, scientists are investigating the possibility that low levels of chronic inflammation may be linked to depression.

Oliver Howes, a professor of molecular psychiatry at the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences and a consultant psychiatrist at the Maudsley hospital in south London, is leading the schizophrenia research. “In the past, we’ve always thought of the mind and the body being separate, but it’s just not like that,” he says. “The mind and body interact constantly and the immune system is no different. It’s about changing the way we think about mental illnesses.”

Hear, hear to that. For a while, I’ve believed that we need to stop splitting mental and physical health. The mind doesn’t exist outside the body. A body without a mind is a corpse. In a way, this is a return to an old way of thinking: a “healthy mind in a healthy body” was the main component of the ancient Greek Hippocratic philosophy. But since Descartes split mind and body, arguing that the two were distinct, we’ve been living with the consequences.

The NHS distinguishes between mind and body – and can use the division as an excuse not to fund mental health services. And I used to embrace the split, too, until I was afflicted by two severe depressive episodes. I was astonished by how physically unwell I became. I couldn’t sleep. My heart sped up. I felt nauseous. Every bit of me hurt. I was suicidal, because I felt so rotten.

Try this for a moment. Take a deep breath. Let your shoulders drop. Close your eyes. Breathe. Enjoy that moment of physical relaxation. And notice something interesting. When we become physically relaxed, we become mentally relaxed. It’s impossible to be physically relaxed and mentally tense. Equally, if you feel stressed and tense, your body follows.

In repressive cultures where expressions of the thought are not allowed, the mind can manifest itself in symptoms of pain. Those who have suffered intolerable trauma, such as childhood sexual abuse, often have a wide range of physical symptoms. Equally, any doctor will tell you that the physical body breaks down when the mind can’t take any more trauma. Thyroid disorders, psoriasis and arthritis are all autoimmune illnesses that can develop at times of emotional stress.

Once we accept the union of mental and physical health, a few things become clear. First, we should ditch the term “mental health”. From now on, we should talk about someone’s health – all in. We would lose much of the stigma that still surrounds saying we are “mentally” unwell. We’re not. We’re just unwell.

And it follows we should embrace a new way of treating those with mental illnesses once we accept that mental illness can be embodied in this way. The split between mind and body has poorly served us, both in terms of diagnosis and in treatment. First diagnosis. We need to look more to underlying causes for why we often feel so glum, many of them physical.

We don’t exercise enough. We eat junk food. Many of us suffer from chronic high levels of inflammation, with inflammed guts leading to stressed bodies – and low mood. We lead hectic lives. We live in cities. We are divorced from nature, and each other. We are glued to our phones. We are not compassionate to ourselves, or to others.Second, treatment. What promotes good cardiovascular, endocrine and musculoskeletal health also promotes good mental health and vice versa. When I look back at my own battle with the black dog, I wonder if I might have recovered more quickly, or been less ill in the first place, if I had understood more about the connection between my mental and physical health. It seems I’m not alone – and hooray for that.

Mental health? It’s in the mind and the body, too | Rachel Kelly

Something is stirring in the world of mental health and for once the news is positive. This month, British scientists began testing a radically new approach to treating schizophrenia based on emerging evidence that it could be a disease of the immune system. Meanwhile, scientists are investigating the possibility that low levels of chronic inflammation may be linked to depression.

Oliver Howes, a professor of molecular psychiatry at the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences and a consultant psychiatrist at the Maudsley hospital in south London, is leading the schizophrenia research. “In the past, we’ve always thought of the mind and the body being separate, but it’s just not like that,” he says. “The mind and body interact constantly and the immune system is no different. It’s about changing the way we think about mental illnesses.”

Hear, hear to that. For a while, I’ve believed that we need to stop splitting mental and physical health. The mind doesn’t exist outside the body. A body without a mind is a corpse. In a way, this is a return to an old way of thinking: a “healthy mind in a healthy body” was the main component of the ancient Greek Hippocratic philosophy. But since Descartes split mind and body, arguing that the two were distinct, we’ve been living with the consequences.

The NHS distinguishes between mind and body – and can use the division as an excuse not to fund mental health services. And I used to embrace the split, too, until I was afflicted by two severe depressive episodes. I was astonished by how physically unwell I became. I couldn’t sleep. My heart sped up. I felt nauseous. Every bit of me hurt. I was suicidal, because I felt so rotten.

Try this for a moment. Take a deep breath. Let your shoulders drop. Close your eyes. Breathe. Enjoy that moment of physical relaxation. And notice something interesting. When we become physically relaxed, we become mentally relaxed. It’s impossible to be physically relaxed and mentally tense. Equally, if you feel stressed and tense, your body follows.

In repressive cultures where expressions of the thought are not allowed, the mind can manifest itself in symptoms of pain. Those who have suffered intolerable trauma, such as childhood sexual abuse, often have a wide range of physical symptoms. Equally, any doctor will tell you that the physical body breaks down when the mind can’t take any more trauma. Thyroid disorders, psoriasis and arthritis are all autoimmune illnesses that can develop at times of emotional stress.

Once we accept the union of mental and physical health, a few things become clear. First, we should ditch the term “mental health”. From now on, we should talk about someone’s health – all in. We would lose much of the stigma that still surrounds saying we are “mentally” unwell. We’re not. We’re just unwell.

And it follows we should embrace a new way of treating those with mental illnesses once we accept that mental illness can be embodied in this way. The split between mind and body has poorly served us, both in terms of diagnosis and in treatment. First diagnosis. We need to look more to underlying causes for why we often feel so glum, many of them physical.

We don’t exercise enough. We eat junk food. Many of us suffer from chronic high levels of inflammation, with inflammed guts leading to stressed bodies – and low mood. We lead hectic lives. We live in cities. We are divorced from nature, and each other. We are glued to our phones. We are not compassionate to ourselves, or to others.Second, treatment. What promotes good cardiovascular, endocrine and musculoskeletal health also promotes good mental health and vice versa. When I look back at my own battle with the black dog, I wonder if I might have recovered more quickly, or been less ill in the first place, if I had understood more about the connection between my mental and physical health. It seems I’m not alone – and hooray for that.

Mental health? It’s in the mind and the body, too | Rachel Kelly

Something is stirring in the world of mental health and for once the news is positive. This month, British scientists began testing a radically new approach to treating schizophrenia based on emerging evidence that it could be a disease of the immune system. Meanwhile, scientists are investigating the possibility that low levels of chronic inflammation may be linked to depression.

Oliver Howes, a professor of molecular psychiatry at the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences and a consultant psychiatrist at the Maudsley hospital in south London, is leading the schizophrenia research. “In the past, we’ve always thought of the mind and the body being separate, but it’s just not like that,” he says. “The mind and body interact constantly and the immune system is no different. It’s about changing the way we think about mental illnesses.”

Hear, hear to that. For a while, I’ve believed that we need to stop splitting mental and physical health. The mind doesn’t exist outside the body. A body without a mind is a corpse. In a way, this is a return to an old way of thinking: a “healthy mind in a healthy body” was the main component of the ancient Greek Hippocratic philosophy. But since Descartes split mind and body, arguing that the two were distinct, we’ve been living with the consequences.

The NHS distinguishes between mind and body – and can use the division as an excuse not to fund mental health services. And I used to embrace the split, too, until I was afflicted by two severe depressive episodes. I was astonished by how physically unwell I became. I couldn’t sleep. My heart sped up. I felt nauseous. Every bit of me hurt. I was suicidal, because I felt so rotten.

Try this for a moment. Take a deep breath. Let your shoulders drop. Close your eyes. Breathe. Enjoy that moment of physical relaxation. And notice something interesting. When we become physically relaxed, we become mentally relaxed. It’s impossible to be physically relaxed and mentally tense. Equally, if you feel stressed and tense, your body follows.

In repressive cultures where expressions of the thought are not allowed, the mind can manifest itself in symptoms of pain. Those who have suffered intolerable trauma, such as childhood sexual abuse, often have a wide range of physical symptoms. Equally, any doctor will tell you that the physical body breaks down when the mind can’t take any more trauma. Thyroid disorders, psoriasis and arthritis are all autoimmune illnesses that can develop at times of emotional stress.

Once we accept the union of mental and physical health, a few things become clear. First, we should ditch the term “mental health”. From now on, we should talk about someone’s health – all in. We would lose much of the stigma that still surrounds saying we are “mentally” unwell. We’re not. We’re just unwell.

And it follows we should embrace a new way of treating those with mental illnesses once we accept that mental illness can be embodied in this way. The split between mind and body has poorly served us, both in terms of diagnosis and in treatment. First diagnosis. We need to look more to underlying causes for why we often feel so glum, many of them physical.

We don’t exercise enough. We eat junk food. Many of us suffer from chronic high levels of inflammation, with inflammed guts leading to stressed bodies – and low mood. We lead hectic lives. We live in cities. We are divorced from nature, and each other. We are glued to our phones. We are not compassionate to ourselves, or to others.Second, treatment. What promotes good cardiovascular, endocrine and musculoskeletal health also promotes good mental health and vice versa. When I look back at my own battle with the black dog, I wonder if I might have recovered more quickly, or been less ill in the first place, if I had understood more about the connection between my mental and physical health. It seems I’m not alone – and hooray for that.

Vaginal mesh implants: ‘If I lift my leg my whole body shakes’

Lisa Woodrow, 54, is one of the women who felt compelled to travel to parliament on Wednesday, after suffering serious complications from vaginal mesh surgery that led to her losing her job, partner and home.

Woodrow, a former marketing manager from Thetford, Norfolk, was offered a mesh procedure five years ago and believed she’d be a “new woman” after surgery. After experiencing difficult births – she has two adult sons – she had pelvic prolapse and urinary incontinence, meaning she suffered embarrassing leaks and had to wear incontinence pads. But she was also active, enjoyed life and had recently moved in with her partner.

“I had a good job, I had a good social life, I was fit and healthy. I did my high kicks and everything,” she said. “If I lift my leg now my whole body shakes.”

Q&A

What is a vaginal mesh implant?

The implants have been widely used as a simple, less invasive alternative to traditional surgical approaches for treating urinary incontinence and prolapse, conditions that can commonly occur after childbirth. For the majority of women the operation is successful.

However, concerns are mounting over the severe complications suffered by large numbers of patients, including chronic pain, mesh cutting through tissue into the vagina and being left unable to walk or have sex. Johnson & Johnson, whose subsidiary Ethicon produces one of the most widely used mesh products, is fighting a major class action in Australia. The Guardian revealed in August that thousands of women have undergone surgery to have vaginal mesh implants removed during the past decade, suggesting that about one in 15 women fitted with the most common type of mesh support later require surgery to have it extracted due to complications.

After surgery, Woodrow suspected something was wrong because she had pain radiating from her groin into her back and down her left leg. Two-and-a-half years after surgery she suddenly experienced excruciating pain. She was taken to hospital in an ambulance, unable to walk, and remained there for six weeks. Doctors seemed reluctant to accept that her pain could be linked to the mesh implant.

“They said perhaps you’ve got neurological overload,” she said. “They kept asking if I’ve got a stressful job. They were trying to blame anything but the mesh.”

Her GP suggested back pain might be the problem.

She returned home in a wheelchair and on morphine, and said her five-year relationship broke down soon after. “I couldn’t go to the toilet, all the drugs I was on, that’s very hard for somebody,” she said. “He couldn’t cope. I can accept it now, but it was very hard at the time.”

She couldn’t continue her job as a manager of a business that sold bathroom products to hotels because it required her to drive and regularly travel to London. As a result of the drop in her income, she also lost her house and had to move to a ground floor rented flat.

Woodrow had her mesh partially removed a year ago, but requires further surgery to remove the remaining pieces. Her health is better but she is still on pain medication and uses a stick to walk beyond a short distance.

Woodrow said she was given no sense that the procedure was designed to be permanent, recalling that her surgeon even suggested that because of her age she might need to have it replaced in the future. Pelvic mesh is not designed to be removed as it becomes embedded in surrounding tissue to act as a support.

“I wasn’t told that they couldn’t take it out,” she said. “My understanding was that it was just sitting there.”

She believes trial results suggesting that mesh is an effective cure may have overlooked the broader experiences of patients.

“They measure it by the success of you not wetting yourself,” she said. “You’re not wetting yourself, but you’ve got pain.”

Vaginal mesh implants: ‘If I lift my leg my whole body shakes’

Lisa Woodrow, 54, is one of the women who felt compelled to travel to parliament on Wednesday, after suffering serious complications from vaginal mesh surgery that led to her losing her job, partner and home.

Woodrow, a former marketing manager from Thetford, Norfolk, was offered a mesh procedure five years ago and believed she’d be a “new woman” after surgery. After experiencing difficult births – she has two adult sons – she had pelvic prolapse and urinary incontinence, meaning she suffered embarrassing leaks and had to wear incontinence pads. But she was also active, enjoyed life and had recently moved in with her partner.

“I had a good job, I had a good social life, I was fit and healthy. I did my high kicks and everything,” she said. “If I lift my leg now my whole body shakes.”

Q&A

What is a vaginal mesh implant?

The implants have been widely used as a simple, less invasive alternative to traditional surgical approaches for treating urinary incontinence and prolapse, conditions that can commonly occur after childbirth. For the majority of women the operation is successful.

However, concerns are mounting over the severe complications suffered by large numbers of patients, including chronic pain, mesh cutting through tissue into the vagina and being left unable to walk or have sex. Johnson & Johnson, whose subsidiary Ethicon produces one of the most widely used mesh products, is fighting a major class action in Australia. The Guardian revealed in August that thousands of women have undergone surgery to have vaginal mesh implants removed during the past decade, suggesting that about one in 15 women fitted with the most common type of mesh support later require surgery to have it extracted due to complications.

After surgery, Woodrow suspected something was wrong because she had pain radiating from her groin into her back and down her left leg. Two-and-a-half years after surgery she suddenly experienced excruciating pain. She was taken to hospital in an ambulance, unable to walk, and remained there for six weeks. Doctors seemed reluctant to accept that her pain could be linked to the mesh implant.

“They said perhaps you’ve got neurological overload,” she said. “They kept asking if I’ve got a stressful job. They were trying to blame anything but the mesh.”

Her GP suggested back pain might be the problem.

She returned home in a wheelchair and on morphine, and said her five-year relationship broke down soon after. “I couldn’t go to the toilet, all the drugs I was on, that’s very hard for somebody,” she said. “He couldn’t cope. I can accept it now, but it was very hard at the time.”

She couldn’t continue her job as a manager of a business that sold bathroom products to hotels because it required her to drive and regularly travel to London. As a result of the drop in her income, she also lost her house and had to move to a ground floor rented flat.

Woodrow had her mesh partially removed a year ago, but requires further surgery to remove the remaining pieces. Her health is better but she is still on pain medication and uses a stick to walk beyond a short distance.

Woodrow said she was given no sense that the procedure was designed to be permanent, recalling that her surgeon even suggested that because of her age she might need to have it replaced in the future. Pelvic mesh is not designed to be removed as it becomes embedded in surrounding tissue to act as a support.

“I wasn’t told that they couldn’t take it out,” she said. “My understanding was that it was just sitting there.”

She believes trial results suggesting that mesh is an effective cure may have overlooked the broader experiences of patients.

“They measure it by the success of you not wetting yourself,” she said. “You’re not wetting yourself, but you’ve got pain.”