Do we make ourselves ill?

I’ve been thinking about why some people get sick and others don’t and about people who seem to catch everything or stagger from one serious condition to the next….because recently I had a very telling experience. I’m fairly sure I ‘made myself’ ill.
I was having a hip replacement and decided that while I recuperated there was much I could do. I was ready with a top up reflexology course, some business planning and several articles I wanted to write. After all I was only going to be resting between exercises to heal from surgery. I wasn’t even having full anaesthetic. I planned to keep in touch with work via emails, see students in my home and minimise the disruption my absence would create.
The first few days after surgery I slept, learned to walk and was thoroughly spoiled by family and friends. Then I decided I’d better get on with stuff…I tried the first chapter of my course book. I fell asleep after half an hour. My students arrived at the beginning of post op week two. It was nice to see them, I’d prepared material. I slept for two hours afterwards, missing lunch and almost tea. The emails were beginning to back up. The number of unread ones kept getting bigger, I couldn’t face them. Conventional post started to build up too. I could read novels, do crosswords but couldn’t seem to get my head round anything else. Instead of listening to my body I began to feel anxious, cross with myself as the weeks passed and I wasn’t ‘ achieving’ anything. Hip was doing well but I began to cough, feel lousy, not sleep. By week five I took myself to the doctor. “I don’t think I’ve got a temperature but I keep feeling hot and cold and I have an awful cough” I told him. “Your temp is 39 degrees: you have pneumonia. Any deterioration in your breathing and we will need to hospitalise you.”
The awful thing is I was relieved…it was as if I suddenly gave myself permission to (a) be properly poorly and (b) allow myself to recuperate. I honestly think that being unable to live up to my own expectations made me ill. My mental attitude seemed to have weakened my immune system. Once I accepted that the tasks I’d set myself were not going to happen, that I should not have even set them, I began to get better.  I booked a holiday and by August I was well again.

Has anyone else experienced so clearly that they made themselves ill? What do you think?

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