Talking About Health
We spend more time talking about “how important it is to take care of yourself” than we do actually taking care of ourselves. People are announcing New Years resolutions about going to the gym, and other people are trying to “educate” those people about how to behave in the gym. Working out is great. Eating right is a constant challenge, but doing it is great. Getting your steps in is great too. Drink more water, they say that’s the key to everything. Get more sleep, or get better quality sleep. All of those things are fantastic, and if you do them all then you should be the pinnacle of health.
Mental health is brought up a lot now too. Not just when there are school shootings, but it’s even become trendy to say “mental health is an issue.” Or “taking care of your mental health is important.” There might be some followup tips like how to meditate, organization methods, journaling, or suggestions to find a creative outlet. Weirdos on YouTube and kids on TikTok seem to have all the answers these days…but they’re just saying things for clicks. Perhaps some of the ideas espoused are valid, but is that really the key to getting 100,000 followers? Probably not. Does that bring people fulfillment? Maybe…but probably not.
What about emotional health? Is that just lumped into mental health, because it’s not physical? I think it’s somewhere in between. Putting those 3 together is what I’d say is the all encompassing term of “health.” It can be good health, bad health, maybe it’s just ok health…and maybe it varies day to day. Physical health is the easiest to address and the easiest to recognize with other people. Mental health if harder to judge…and emotional health, well, good luck. But judging other people’s health doesn’t help you. Taking care of yourself is the overarching theme of all the chatter, even if the people doing the talking…aren’t actually taking care of themselves.
How I Hit Rock Bottom
I didn’t think I was necessarily in “poor health” this past year before I got sick. Sure, I was stressed out…aren’t we all? I ate more fast food than I should have. I think most of us do that too. My exercise routine was morning walks with my wife, our daughter, and our first four legged child…I thought that was pretty good, all things considered. I didn’t have the time for daily workouts. I didn’t have the need for meditation, or journaling. My creative outlet was here, but I wasn’t writing anymore. That had been replaced by graphic design…but I wasn’t doing much of that anymore either. I didn’t have the time.
Then I got sick. I had all the time in the world, but I didn’t have the energy for anything. Turns out, I had been sick for a long time, but didn’t have serious enough symptoms to warrant further investigation. I also didn’t have the time for a bunch of doctors appointments about intermittent stomach problems that went away after a few days. Life moves fast and I was busy trying to keep up. We all know how that feels. But then…life almost stood still. I spent weeks where I was barely even moving around the house. I was absolutely exhausted and didn’t want to get out of bed. I lost over 60lbs, which is about a third of my normal body weight. The doctors had told me “bear with us, we’ll get you back to normal but it’s going to take a long time.” It seemed like an eternity.
Not being able to bend over and pick up our baby girl was crushing. I was too tired and worn out to worry about the depression I knew was setting in. There probably wasn’t much I could have done about it anyways…it’s kind of something that you just have to clean up once the mess is finally done. After all the tests, and then all the waiting, I finally got the confirmed diagnosis that the doctors had suspected all along. That was a little bit of a relief, mentally. Getting started on medication was (hopefully) going to get me some relief physically. But I was still pretty fucked up emotionally. Over the next couple of months I steadily got more energy (the anemia was damn near debilitating for awhile), which let me get more exercise, which got me feeling better and let me start to work on my mental health a bit more.
Life With a New Focus
I started journaling, and I started doing daily workouts. When I first started that morning routine, I was pretty embarrassed that 3lb weights were actually giving me a workout. Gotta start somewhere, and I was trying to come back from damn near rock bottom. I’m still using those 3lb weights, but have added more exercises and more reps to my routine now. Maybe I’ll step up to 5lb weights soon…but I’m in no hurry. The clarity that I have now when I look back on this ordeal is that I have always had all the time I want, to do what I want. I just wasn’t using it properly. My health and my family became my primary and sole focus, and even as I am getting closer to a full recovery each day, I need to maintain that focus.
Spending time with our baby girl (who’s 1 year old now, and getting very bossy with her finger pointing at things she wants) is something that I will never get tired of. Sure, when she’s not feeling well or is just throwing a tantrum, it gets old, but then eventually she’s going to giggle, or make a sarcastic grunt noise, and all the frustration fades away. I’ve been using photography as a new creative outlet, and I am so thankful for the photos I have taken of our baby over the past year…I guess it helps that she’s really fucking cute, but I rarely have a bad photo of her. Writing every morning has been good to get my mind right for the day, but I know that I need to do more. Maybe I’ll get back to meditating. and writing more.
All the Time in the World
This has turned into a rambling rant so I’m going to wrap it up with this…make the time for the most important things in your life, and make the time that you need to do the things that let you enjoy those things. You have all the time in the world, how important is health?