Over the last few days I haven’t been feeling very well. I’m not saying this because I want you to feel bad for me and try to make me feel better. (Well, okay maybe a little.) After all I don’t have a man flu. But as I was trying to get a little rest yesterday, I found myself thinking in a familiar pattern.
I started thinking, “Well maybe I’m not eating the right stuff and that’s why I’m sick. Or maybe I’m not feeling well because I have too much repressed anger. Maybe this is because I didn’t get enough sleep.” And in my rambling way, I went on to think, “Maybe it’s nobody’s fault I’m sick. Maybe I just AM.”
I remember now that I used to often think that if I lost weight I wouldn’t be sick any more. I used to think that no matter why I was ill, it was my fault because I was fat. And then for a while (like a minute) I got thin. And you know what? I still got sick. And so did all of the rest of the thin people I know.
And you know what else? While it’s a great idea to do everything you can to be healthy there are no guarantees. You will still get sick from time to time. While it can be tempting to believe that we can control whether or not we get ill we can’t. We can give ourselves a good chance of being healthy by doing healthy things–but we are still likely to feel lousy from time to time. And unless you’re talking about a hangover, or going without sleep for four days, you aren’t going to know exactly why and there isn’t much point worrying about whether or not it’s your fault.
It’s especially important to get this straight in our own heads because there are plenty of people out there ready and waiting to tell us that it’s our own fault for being sick or even that we deserve to be sick because we’re fat. They rail about the costs we “add” to their health insurance. Doctors do the slow, sad head shake and tell us that we wouldn’t “have this problem” (whether it’s strep throat or carpal tunnel syndrome) if we weren’t so darn big. Our friends and family seize on every illness as “proof” that they are “right” about the fact we need to lose weight. And before you completely lose your Zen and want to stop talking to these folks, let me remind you of something. Remember when I said, it’s tempting to believe we can control whether or not we get ill? Well it is. It’s comforting to think that if we don’t drink too much and we don’t smoke and we don’t get fat and we eat our broccoli that we will never get sick and we will live forever. We know intellectually and rationally that this isn’t true. But who the heck is going around being intellectual and rational all the time?
The truth is that people get sick and while there are certain issues that make certain populations more likely and less likely to be sick, nobody knows for sure why we get sick when we do. After all, one of the greatest risk factors for illness is getting older but I’m not sure the alternative is a health path I want to follow.
So my little chickadees, by all means eat your broccoli. Sleep well and go out and play with your friends. Do your best to manage stress and anger even when your friends and family drive you crazy trying to “help you lose weight”. But when you get sick, and you will get sick at some point, my prescription is to stop worrying about who’s fault it is and just worry about feeling better.
The Fat Chick