Saturday, March 21, 2015

Living with less than normal health

I have battled health issues since around 2002.  I wasn't particularly healthy as a child either but I learned to just ignore my body and keep going.  Around 2002, I started having anxiety attacks and low energy levels that started to impact the way I lived my life.  In other words, it was no longer possible for me to ignore my body.  Since then in addition to anxiety attacks and issues with low energy I have experienced bouts of mental fogginess; aches and pains in joints, bones and muscles, some of them debilitating; disturbed sleep; rashes on the legs and the stomach; issues with digestion; intermittent low-grade fevers probably due to inflammation in the body; cramping in the hands and feet; and cataract.  I can't figure out what the cause of the bad health is.  My guess is it's partly genetic, partly due to a poor diet because of a lack of cooking skills and ignorance about the ill effects of processed food, and partly due to stress.  The stress is likely the result of an abusive childhood because of which I did not learn how to create healthy boundaries for myself, while at the same time carrying the burden of playing my part in keeping the family "looking good."

The biggest down side of health issues is lower energy.  Once that happens, the length of the day compresses.  I find that I am able to accomplish 50% of what a "normal" person might be able to, maybe even less.  As a result, the entire life is organized around completing tasks for the career and activities to maintain health.  Days of extreme low energy are often accompanied by escapist activities.

The hardest part about living a life of low energy is explaining what that is like to friends and family.  Most simply do not get it.  They think you are hiding something from them.  After all, since they are able to live a full and productive life, you must doing something with all your time.  Sadly, it is not possible to communicate this with words.  The only way for someone to know what it's like to live with bad health day-in and day-out is to actually have bad health.  This is not something one would wish for someone else, let alone friends and family.

Then there's unsolicited advice from friends and family.  Everyone suddenly becomes an expert on your conditions and has a need to offer suggestions from holistic and energetic remedies to allopathic medication to the latest fad diet.  Some will suggest the health issues are psychosomatic and will recommend things like meditation or a spiritual practice or other "life improvement" courses such as Scientology, Landmark Forum, The Mankind Project, or Huffman Process.  It's interesting how many such life improvement courses are out there, not to mention the burgeoning professions of life coach and health coach.  The advice from such well-meaning folk is not all bad, just that as you try each of one of these and realize that none of them have the magical effect of addressing one's health issues, the disappointment and a sense of despair begin to set in and make one wary of people suggesting any solution.

Finally there's health practitioners.  It is very hard to find honest practitioners that actually care about the health of the patient.  Most are in it for a quick buck.

Holistic and naturopathic doctors often try to get you sign up for a payment plan so you see them regularly.  Because these work slowly, it can be months before one knows whether or not a particular treatment is working.  And then you move on to the next one.  Every one of them will paint a picture of hope, yet, in the US, the first thing that they will make you sign is a waiver.  Many of them require you to fill out pages and pages describing your health history.  Those forms get old, real quick.  Unless you are lucky to find someone genuine, you eventually start to see it a scam.  In my experience, the best practitioners are seldom the most expensive.  In fact the opposite is true--the more expensive the practitioner, the less likely their treatment will be effective.  Many will provide a regimen that is nearly impossible to follow while living a "normal" life.

Allopathic doctors typically perform a series of superficial tests.  If the results of those tests are normal, the first thing that they like to recommend is some kind of anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medication.  They would rather do this than prescribe additional tests to try and see what is really wrong.  If you pay extra for a concierge doctor, they are not usually as bound by insurance, so they may be willing to prescribe more tests.  Coming up with a diagnosis here often involves a process of elimination through a battery of tests prescribed by numerous specialists.  And yet the best that one can hope for is something that will require heavy medication with side effects and that result in a complete loss of one's quality of life.  In the USA, the health care industry is an absolute mess, but I will write more about that in a different post.

I have been using Ayurveda for a few years now.  There has been some improvement of the symptoms but it is a very difficult path to follow because it requires diet and lifestyle changes, and yet I still experience significant ups and downs in health.  The only hope is that it will at least maintain the health where it is at now without destroying something else in the body which allopathic medicine tends to do.  I have also dabbled with homeopathic remedies, acupuncture, acupressure, and getting various therapeutic massages such as lymphatic drainage.  All of them have been helpful, but none to the point where I feel they have help me overcome my health issues.

Ultimately, it is important to remember that no one lives forever, no matter what one may do.  Poor health is one of those obstacles that the universe has sent my way and I must muddle my way through life the best I can knowing that one day I too shall pass.

Update 04/01/2017

Came across an interesting article about why we could subconsciously choosing bad health.  A number of conditions are true for my life.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The father karma

(This is just a one sided story.  I'm sure there's the father's version, and then there's the version that corresponds to what is actually going on which neither of us can see clearly because we color them with our own stories.)

I have a particularly difficult father who ruled the family with fear brought about from the abuse resulting from his bouts of uncontrolled anger.  He used money as way to control and oppress people. Of course, he probably grew up in a difficult family situation (my grandparents), and their parents (great grandparents) in turn were probably a mess.  How far up the chain does this go?  And how does one free one's self from such a bondage?  I have not yet found the answer but hope to find it some day.

The most difficult energy that I have to overcome is that of being able to communicate.  He completely lacks empathy and needs to hear words, usually extracted harshly, to understand what is going on and usually responds with criticism or meaningless advice.

My biggest issue is with his sense of logic.  He has two sets of rules -- one that apply to him and another that apply to the rest of the world (which includes me).  That he has harsh rules that apply to the rest of the world explains why he is extremely lonely and has no one call on him, except those that do so out of obligation or co-dependence.

The logic operates as follows:
  • If he makes a mistake (or even a huge blunder), then it was something that was pre-destined or karmic.
  • If he does something right, then it's because he took the right decision.
  • If anyone else makes a mistake (even a minor one) or behaves in way that does not fit his idea of what they should be doing, they must be subject to criticism.
  • If anyone else gets something right, it was pre-destined or karmic and they deserve no credit for it.
Using the above logic, it becomes impossible to have a conversation about anything meaningful.  Discussions with him are usually on the lines of me receiving a spiritual discourse of his interpretation of the scriptures, the weather, the economy, the political situation, etc.   Sadly, none of these are meaningful to me especially since they will usually be accompanied by some critical judgement.

That said, his psyche was probably built to help him survive whatever it is that life threw at him.  But does that mean I must suffer due to that? Given that I cannot change any of those events, how can change myself to be more accepting and forgiving without at the same time feeling hurt, oppressed and trampled upon, and suppressing my own feelings of injustice which in turn lead to stress-related health issues?  That, in summary, is my life's challenge.  

The closest I can think of as a solution is to rise above myself and see this as a situation involving two people that needs to be resolved in a fashion that is beneficial to both.  Does such a solution exist?

It has been my experience that the father karma extends to several relationships especially how we perceive those in authority.  Difficult father karma tends to manifest itself in relationships with teachers, bosses, and others that we think of as having control over us.  It has been the single defining challenge of my life.

Eric Klein has an interesting cartoon depiction of the father karma.

This is a good article about how to heal from a toxic parent.