The last post I published here was about my recent test results. Everything out there is better than it was before, huzzah! My male sex hormones are down, and my female sex hormones are up. My fasting insulin is improving, and my thyroid levels are inching normal, too. Perhaps best of all, however, is that I have a libido again. I have consistently clear skin for the first time in three years. I have a curvy but fit body that maintains its weight naturally. I don’t have to monitor calories. Things aren’t perfect — but they are leaps and bounds on the rise.
What has facilitated this recovery and rise?
Part of it has been diet, absolutely. The specific troubleshooting I did within the paleo template was also crucial. A big part of my problem was fiber (more on which in future posts). The amount of fiber I ate contributed to inflammation, which piggy-backed onto hormone flucutations and gave me cysts on a regular basis. I also added magnesium back into my life, which has been a godsend if there’s ever been one.
Another part of it has been stress reduction in my life as a whole. My living environment used to be stressful. My academic life carried a high amount of worry and stress. My life as a health advocate had its own troubles. Having a project such as The Book hanging over my head didn’t help, either. Working on all of those things has done enormous things for my wellness.
But I have come to believe that the most important part of my healing has been healing my relationship to healing. Let me explain.
As I moved forward with my acne, my hormone problems, and my concerns about my body in general, I was attached to what I achieved. I focused on the results. I wanted clear skin. I wanted libido. I wanted menstrual cycles. Every time I tried a new tact and didn’t achieve what I was looking for, however, I became more frustrated. I got more afraid, more angry, and more disheartened. “It’s been years, mom!” I have whined several hundred if not thousands of times in the last stretch of my life.
Then, whenever things started to improve, I got even more anxious because I didn’t want them to go away. If I managed to have clear skin for a week, I’d have an unhealthy amount of hope about it sticking. I’d be a freak about it. I’d do my best to stay away from mirrors and such, but I couldn’t help but always be on the lookout for more acne, safeguarding myself against that demon that had haunted me for so long.
And I was stressed about it, and it hurt the quality of my life, and also my physical body, I am sure. I didn’t want to stress about it, but I know it sat in the corners of my brain, haunting me silently.
I wanted to heal, and I wanted proof of healing. Now.
Today, I have “healed.” I have hacked the things that needed hacking in my body and in my life. I have seen a lot of improvement. It’s tempting to become attached to my clear skin. It’s tempting to get invested in my slim body. A part of me feels a strong pull to put all of my happiness and confidence into those things, and to fall back on my own model of feeling sexy, healthy, and happy because I was meeting some standard of health and appearance. Who doesn’t want to look in the mirror and see a stereotypically hot woman staring back at her?
The thing is, however, is that I have realized as I have healed that the most important thing for my wellness right now is not being attached to those things at all. The acne will not be perfect. I will probably always get some breakouts. I might even fall back into serious skin issues. More important still are the truly inevitable things. My body is aging every day. I will not always been the young little thing flying around the dance floor. Some day I will lose everything my physical body has to offer. We all will.
Most of you know I am a student of philosophy of religion in my “real life.” Most of the world’s religious traditions speak to what I have been wrestling with on some level, and one of my favorite strands of thought on it goes something like this:
We are here to delight in the good things we have, but we must be able to let go of them. Just as the leaves fall every autumn, so nothing good or bad lasts forever. This is an inevitable fact of being alive.
With health, relationships, statuses, jobs, and just about anything else in our lives, we are always in relationship. In these relationships, we have the choice to stitch our skins to the good stuff and bleed when inevitably torn apart, or we can hug and kiss and nuzzle them with loose, loving, and forgiving arms.
The more I learned to accept that the good, fun things like six pack abs and good health I get to delight in will not last forever, the more peace I developed in my healing and my maintenance of good health. I can do my best, but I cannot maniacally monitor, shape, and control everything that happens to me around the clock. More importantly, I cannot base my happiness on my clear skin. If I did, then I would be hurt by the stress of maintaining it and by the stress of (maybe) losing it.
Instead, if I base my happiness say on my gratitude for the good health I get to have now, and on my relationships, and on my purpose and on all of the beaty and love in the world, then I can delight in the good stuff without anxiety and be happy. Otherwise I’d just walk around worrying all of the time. Someday it might all fall to pieces, and I have got to be okay with that happening.
I remember after paleo fx this year I wrestledsignificantly with the question of what we were all doing there. Why bother troubleshooting health so vociferously? Why keep looking for perfection in a body? Why keep optimizing? I think this sits at the heart of that trouble I had. Physical health is so important, but it has got to be folded into healthy minds and healthy hearts, at peace with existing no matter what instability and tremors live within them.
At least for me. I love your thoughts, as always.