For the first time in, oh, slightly over ten years, my health issues are not seriously obscuring my ability to deal with life.
Mostly through learning about the body, and getting stronger, but also adjusting the way I do things, and my expectations… I’ve come so, so far from the places I once was.
I was telling a friend, a week before the election here, that I was beginning to feel my ability to pay attention to politics and the world at large return to me.
For so long, my health problems forced my gaze to become myopic. Suddenly, it seemed like 95% of my energy and will to live, really, was going towards simply getting through one day to the next. Putting one foot in front of the other– even walking from one room to another became a huge task.
My mind was clouded by thoughts of pain. Forget about work, grad school– I couldn’t think straight. Sometimes I was in so much pain it was all I could do not to scream. The daily annoyances of trying to do even the most basic of tasks when my body couldn’t function piled up like a brick wall, blocking my attention from anything else.
So I stopped paying attention. I checked out, and did what I needed to do to overcome the cards I’d been dealt within my own life.
About month ago, I finally felt something finally click into place again. I guess it was pretty easy, right before the election and all of the emotions it stirred up for everyone, to begin to feel passionate again. But I felt the old me come back– the me that couldn’t tune it out, didn’t want to tune it out.
And then I opened my eyes again, to find the whole world seems to be on fire.
This post isn’t supposed to be about me. I want to tell you all of the things I’m thinking, now I’m tuned in again. But quite frankly, I’m not sure I’m ready to deal with angry Internet commenters on here.
I’m not sure where to start, but I need to do something.
I guess I’ll begin by sharing a few thoughts:
First, I will remind myself about how we all can play a role in helping each other, in creating a better world. That there are many ways to contribute.
And that there is simply, utterly, no time in judging ourselves for the problems that we do have.
I struggled for a long time with the fact that my health problems were not “that bad.” That other people had it worse. Even my former-favorite doctor said the same thing to me once: “I see other people with worse problems, you know.”
For so long, I felt guilty, selfish. I had all the time in the world to devote to my health. I had a roof over my head, a family that supported me. Was it all in my head– was I making a big deal out of nothing?
Yes, other people have “worse” problems than I had. But if there’s anything I’ve learned in all of my studies of the body, it’s that sometimes, even if one little thing goes wrong, it can have far-reaching effects.
The problem is there; pretending it isn’t takes away energy that could be going to actually solve it.
And if it is a “small” problem, isn’t that all the more reason we should be taking steps to solve it and get it out of the way?
When I look back, I know that if I had managed to redirect half of the energy I spent judging myself towards doing my own research and getting second and third opinions, I probably would have gotten to the point I’m at now a lot sooner. The point where I am able to pay attention to the world at large, and hopefully do something to make it a little bit better.
Instead of thinking of a problem as “small,” maybe we should be thinking of it as “more likely to be solvable.”
Life is too short, and too precious, and there is too much time going on, to judge yourself for an experience you didn’t ask for. It is what it is– take time the time, do you what you need to do to find a solution, because you need to move on.
Because other people have problems worse than you.
Because the world needs you.