Monday, July 30, 2012

Being Healthy While Not In Crisis

It’s been over two years since I was diagnosed with hypertension. When I was first diagnosed, I was definitely put in “crisis” mode. The symptoms that had brought me to the doctor for that diagnosis included an episode where I just couldn’t breathe--thought I had asthma or some such, but it turned out that my lungs were filling up with fluid because my heart couldn’t pump enough blood through my system to keep everything properly oxygenated. It was scary, and kind of sadly debilitating emotionally, especially in the way that it came upon me right as I turned 40.

I’ve rarely been in what anybody would call “great” physical shape. I made various attempts--weight training in high school, a conditioning class in college, and, most recently, a three-year period where I was in the best shape of my life. This was around 8 years ago now, right after what was pretty much the worst breakup experience in my life (so far!)--I hit a deep depression, and it turns out that exercise was life-saving for me; it helped me manage my depression, made me feel more attractive as I gained some muscle and lost some fat, and gave me something to do that didn’t allow me to continue to brood, at least for the few hours in the day that I was exercising.  The most positive aspect of the whole thing was that I just felt better, overall. At that point I was exercising almost every day.

It’s fascinating to me that, as my heartbreak lessened with time, my desire to exercise lessened with it. It’s kind of a cliche that people take better care of themselves when they’re not in a romantic relationship, but for me it’s a truism that has (so far) been based in reality.  I don’t see it so much in the context of in-a-relationship/not-in-a-relationship though; for me, it was more about feeling that I was in crisis. I felt similarly when I was first diagnosed with high blood pressure--CRISIS! I made all kinds of changes to my diet and exercise regimen, but almost none of it stuck, once I was medicated for hypertension and the crisis seemed less crisis-y. But of course hypertension, even when medicated, is still a problem--it has just shifted to a long-term problem, from a short-term crisis.

When I was still a young kid, my aunt related an Anton Checkov quote to me (without divulging its origin, I will note):  “Any idiot can face a crisis. It’s the day to day living that wears you out.”  I’ve lived a good deal of my life in crisis-mode, and now that I’m learning to not treat everything as if it were a crisis, I’m finding some room to do things like take care of my health without doing so as if the sky were falling. And it’s an interesting thing, to enjoy the process of learning to eat more healthily, and feeling my body change as I begin once again to exercise more.  

We’ll see how it all works out.

1 comment:

Lisa Sandrock said...

Motivations are tricky, for sure. I struggle with much of the same. Am I doing this so that I'll feel better? For someone else? So I don't die? Because I'm supposed to...meaning...other animals do, we were built to...and so blablabla. I'm glad you're finding a space outside of crisis mode to take care of yourself. I'm doing the same and it feels really good. We should compare notes sometime.