When Mary saw a suspicious text message on her husband’s cell phone, she suspected he was having an affair and later that evening she confronted him. He reluctantly admitted he was having sex with a woman he met at work but told her he was going to break the affair off immediately. Mary became livid and asked her husband to leave the house but when he started crying, apologizing and telling her that she was the love of his life, she decided to let him stay. Yet that evening and the following days, angerbuilt up inside of her. She didn’t express it, keeping it bottled in, continuing to smile at her work and trying to be nice to her husband at night. The following days, things continued to simmer inside of her. Stress built up. Part of Mary wanted to express her anger at her husband while another part of her wanted her to remain well-behaved, and to exhibit the socially acceptable behavior her parents had always taught her to have. Two weeks later, she got sick. An acute pharyngitis (sore throat) developed, coupled with depression and fatigue.
Mary was not unique in getting sick after bottling up strong emotions.
Originally Published on Psychology Today
© Dr. Chris Gilbert, MD, PhD