Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Voyage of My Body Through The Depth Of Stress


When I was 16 I was well on my way to being a full-blown hypochondriac. I had spontaneous shooting pains in my abdomen which required the fetal position and desperate breathing. We went to see a trail of doctors who couldn't find on exam tables or x-rays the source of the spasms. Finally they slapped the label "IBS" on me and I've used it to get out of situations ever since.
"I can't. I have IBS."
(I just learned from Wiki that the etymology of hypochondriac was originally used to describe unidentifiable stomach pains.)
Of course, now I know that I don't have any viable irritated bowel. In my life, IBS stands for I've got a Bout of Stress. And unless I don't smooth my life out, my digestive system shuts down and I become weepy and dishonest. Which means that I cry and tell lies.
Everybody has some reaction to stress. Insomnia, cold sores, gorging on pickles.
I used to buy into all the hype about health. I read articles that basically said "If you don't do this, you will most likely get this." The well-meaning medical field had me running scared. At night when all was quiet, I'd hear my stomach make squishy sounds and I just knew that meant I was diabetic. One time I almost collapsed because I had an in-grown hair that was a bit infected. It was a tick with some insane disease! It had to be!
A disastrous nine-month marriage when I was 23 cause me all sorts of strange ailments, some of which I am still attempting to overcome.
And when pregnancy didn't arrive for me within three months of trying I was sure I had no uterus. Then it was that I had inefficient Fallopian tubes. Then it was that I was allergic to my husband's hard-working sperm. All along I quietly knew, and know, that my body is fine. It's possible that I am as fertile as the next sincere female, it's just not the time.
I had to stop blaming everything bad in my life on my body.
Two years ago, I came to a big fat fatty realization, that my body a entity of health and healing. I didn't give it near enough credit. Remember, remember of all God's creations, it's the most brilliant. I never get any telling test results back because there is nothing to tell.
When I feel sick I can trace my steps to see that I had encountered stress and didn't take care of the situation, or myself. Bad relationships, pressures of life, insecurities give me the flu. It's not a thing that's "going around." Also: I become over-weight.
This is me.
When I quit my job last month, I decided to focus on coping mechanisms as a means of prevention. I am doing okay so far. Um, let's see I lost it last night when I got home late to a fully loaded in-box of e-mails that I am anxious to respond sincerely to but haven't had the time. So I ate a tray full of fries and went to bed.
Here is the card I keep by my person at all times:
When You Encounter Stress (Will Happen Daily) Do The Following:
Try to Resolve the Stress
And if that doesn't work try the following:
Take a walk
Take the dogs for a walk
Take a bath
Meditate
Breathe
Pray
Write
Read
Study a concept
Take pictures
Do spontaneous service
Remember whose team you are on
And if none of those work:
Make cookies.
No really, cause making cookies is very therapeutic, especially if you eat enough dough that you don't want the cooked outcome.
One more thing I know about me: being sick doesn't always means that I am a neglectful steward. This is big for me because I get pressured into feeling ashamed for having a physical ailment. I don't want to go to the doctor because
1.) I always cry and feel absolutely vulnerable at the doctor's office
and
2.) I don't want him/her to ask me a trillion questions that make me feel like I deserve it. Do you drink 8 glasses of water a day? Do you take you take your fab fourteen vitamins every half hour? Do you floss? Are you eating meat? How often do you have sex? Are you perfect? Why aren't you perfect? No wonder you are sick!
Remember, remember being under the weather is like taking the garbage out, I don't want to do it, but it's a part of humanity I can't escape.



Now that one was healthy analogy. I might write a book. If I don't say so myself.