How Dealing with an Unhealthy Body Affects Daily Life
I have been resistant in writing this blog for a while for a variety of reasons. In an attempt at transparency, I am uncomfortable with people knowing my struggles because I’m not looking for sympathy. However, I’ve been requested to write this blog and I am willing to be completely transparent in this writing. In hindsight, I wasn’t “well” when my husband and I met. (And in further hindsight I have NEVER been “well”), but in an attempt to get healthy it seems as if the flood gates have been opened on the toxicity of my body. I struggle with issues ranging from Lyme disease to Heavy Metal Toxicity, and likely including Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome and so many other things in between.
Typically my blogs are filled with solutions, but this blog is more designed to increase the awareness and understanding of the people reading this blog. Not just awareness and understanding of what I’m going through, but the reality that everyone is going through something!
In my Coaching practice (and in my Psychotherapy practice), I have worked with countless people who are living in an unwell body. Maybe that un-wellness takes the form of a physical illness or maybe it takes the shape of a mental illness. Regardless of the form the illness takes, their experiences are very similar. Below is how dealing with an unhealthy body affects daily life.
- The Meaning of Commitment Changes: I remember many many years ago (when I had a much different access to my own energy, and less connections with my physical body) when I prided myself on keeping each and every commitment I made. When you are living in an unhealthy body, however, the meaning of commitment changes. My main commitment is to my healing and honoring that. Therefore, every agreement I make to be some place and do things is always contingent upon how I am feeling. One time my friends were having a sock hop type of party. At the last minute I knew I wasn’t going to be able to go. Therefore my husband and I drove an hour one way to just drop off the food I had made. We then went to prompt care where I was diagnosed with cellulitis in my face and shingles in my throat. Today, my commitments are made much more cautiously.
- Contemplating, Evaluating and Using Energy: When I was at the height of my un-wellness, I would sit in my car while parked in the parking lot of my office building. I would have to figure out a place to gather my energy from to walk from my car to the office. I would have to strategically use the bathroom (when walking by, or coming in from the car), and didn’t have the extra energy for things like grocery shopping, cleaning my own house, or carrying my laundry. This was a complete game changer for me, and I now realize it’s a very real issue for so many people. Before I go spend time with friends, I make sure I don’t have too many clients scheduled that day and that I have allowed myself to rest.
- Food Becomes a Big Deal: I know so very many people who can’t eat gluten, can’t do sugar, can’t do carbohydrates, or one of the millions of variations in all of this. For me personally, I can’t do any night shades which in the beginning was a hot mess nightmare. When at a restaurant, I would look at the menu and carefully examine it for anything night shade relevant and then I would carefully order my food. Imagine my shock when five bites in the pain, inflammation and other night shade response symptoms had kicked in, only to discover something silly like the mustard had paprika in it.
- People Feel Entitled to Offer Their “Helpful” Suggestions: Whenever the average person learns that another person is unwell, they develop a very strong desire to help them. Many times these people begin offering them the latest and greatest cures for whatever ails them. I remember very vividly, when someone had approached me with their version of the latest cure and my exact response was, “Thank you! This makes perfect sense to me. Because while my doctor who has extensive training and has actually viewed my test results has been unable to come up with a “cure”, I’m sure that you are correct. Especially considering you have not looked at my test results and have no medical training.” It can become overwhelming when being constantly bombarded with people’s suggestions. So much so that many people just opt to not share what they are encountering physically.
- Smells Translate Into Toxins: For whatever reason, the majority of people I know that reside in less than healthy bodies have an impeccable sense of smell. Some of my friends can only handle being in certain stores for a few moments because of all the sprays people spray into the air. Other people have to limit their interaction with people who wear strong perfume, cologne, or even deodorant. Fortunately, most of my in person clients don’t bathe in those things. However, a smell that I’m particularly sensitive to is tobacco smoke. It doesn’t even matter if it’s first hand or second hand. I actually have a HEPA filter in my office to protect me from the smells of some of my in person clients. I have forgotten what it’s like to just be able to go into any environment regardless of what was done in there just before I walked in.
- Physical Restrictions: If someone has spent some time smoking in their home, I just honestly can’t go in there. If a person’s home or a restaurant has mold in it, I can’t allow myself to spend any time in there because it creates massive migraines, body aches, and weight gain. I am massively blessed that my family is more than willing to make arrangements if one of these issues presents itself. I truly understand not everyone is this blessed. I can’t begin to explain to you the amount of thought and planning that goes into leaving the house for so many of us at this point.
- Activities Have Changed: Again, I will tell anyone that asks how amazingly blessed I am! Both of my bonus kids understand and don’t question why I need to use a wheelchair when we go places anymore. But we don’t always travel with it daily, and this presents some issues for us. I would love to stop at a grocery store on the way home and pick up some groceries for the family. However, if I attempt to walk through the store I won’t have any energy left by the time I get home to cook the food I bought. I’m not currently comfortable using an electric wheelchair cart on my own, so I have eliminated going to the grocery store on my own. I can’t even remember the last time I went to the mall, let alone walked through it. As much as I long and desire to do these things, my body is not currently healthy enough. Therefore, I no longer go shopping with my daughter or my friends. This has reduced the amount of things I can participate in as well.
- Sleep When the Body Desires: This is a concept that I have only recently embraced. Despite all of my specialists telling me that sleep is healing, sleep is healthy, sleep is good. I just couldn’t navigate actually sleeping during the day. I know many, many people with unwell bodies who sleep during the day, some even talk about how that’s when they get their best sleep. Recently I have begun allowing myself to take a small nap in the middle of the day. I have even allowed myself to sleep in because I’ve become so in tune with my body that I know what it wants, prefers, needs and likes.
- Receiving the Constant Judgment of Others: People judge what they don’t understand or don’t know. They judge what they fear as well. I am unwilling to wear a sign that says, “Hey! Just to make you feel better: I don’t over eat and I’m not lazy! However, I look fat because my body is filled with inflammation” You would be surprised at the amount of shame and judgment unwell people are exposed to for a variety of reasons. I typically use my handicapped placard because my energy is very precious and this, in and of itself, seems to result in rage for so many people.
- Say Goodbye to the Impeccable Memory: In the past I used to pride myself on having an amazing memory. I could remember every word of situations, conversations, and discussions. And now I many times struggle with how to get home from work, or where I put my car keys, or what I did with the chicken I took out of the freezer to thaw. There are a variety of reasons this happens to people living in unwell bodies. Sometimes it’s a neurological condition, other times it from high cortisol, and sometimes it’s brain fog. Whatever the reason I encourage you to be understanding to people about their lack of memory.
I literally could have made a book out of this particular blog. I’m very curious to know how living in an unwell body impact you or those you love and care about. Please feel free to email me at Jenn@JennBoveeLCSW.com and let me know how this issue impacts your daily life. I would love an opportunity to personally support you. If you are interested in gaining more support please consider joining my Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Bodyunwellness/
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