I have treated thousands of people over 23 years, add in thousands more if you include my work on the other side of the fence. In that time, I have seen many people invest in themselves, muster up the discipline to follow a treatment plan, and get well. On the flip-side, I have seen a good number of people get consumed by their illnesses/imbalances. Some of these people give an honest effort and seem to do all the right things, but can’t seem to get out of their own way, emotionally/mentally. To be fair, having a chronic illness can be the ultimate frustration and the work needed can be consuming. So, the question is, how does one avoid becoming their diagnosis?
Have you ever heard someone say something like: “Well, MY anxiety has been bad this week?” Taking ownership is not a good sign, but it is very common. Listen to the words you choose. It starts with policing your thoughts. Are they generally negative or positive? Do you complain, often? Do you find yourself doing less, or nothing at all to serve others? When you meet someone, do you genuinely want to know about them or are you chomping at the bit to talk about yourself? How much of your time is spent thinking or dealing with your health issues? (appointments, homework, taking meds or supplements, discussion, research, etc)
There is a fine line between being disciplined and dedicated to finding and following the right treatment plan and becoming lost in the drama and frustrations that come with some recovery efforts. For many complicated health issues, the plan is dynamic, because the path back to balance/health is. It is easy to make mistakes; return to a diet that got you sick, allow negative thought patterns to continue (or arise), not allow the proper time to heal (most people’s schedules are overly full and they don’t say no to enough things), remove enough stressors, etc.
I have to point out, at this juncture, that just become you get angry, frustrated or feel overwhelmed with your health issues getting in the way of life doesn’t mean you’ve become your diagnosis. Key differentiators are: Being stuck in negative patterns, chronic complaining, taking one or two steps forward, then one or two backwards…and this is whether the person is subconsciously sabotaging their care (secondary gain is a commonly identified problem in the health field and involves someone wanting, at least on some level, to stay ill. It may be that it gets them attention from their friends and family, or maybe they don’t like to work and it gets them out, etc) or simply getting too far off the path to wellness with the above mentioned mistakes.
Writing about things like this can stir difficult feelings; anger, resentment, sadness, to name a few, but it’s important not to take things personally, thus magnifying the drama. Be honest with yourself. It is never too late to follow a new path; one where you identify obstacles with your trusted Practitioners as well as with friends/family, and overcome them, keeping in mind that your idea of what you can be may need to be altered. Acceptance of your circumstances is paramount to being as well as you can be. This alone can be a struggle.
Think about what I’ve said above with the perspective of what a year is like. We cycle through a year dealing with this and that, but there are times where we take a step back and reassess, and maybe even change our minds, and thus, our direction. Intelligent people do this. People who are not drama-laden do this. All of us, disease or no disease, do this. It is part of the human experience.
Sometimes it helps to just “go back to the basics.” Have a checklist you create with your Health Practitioner. Establish a good baseline diet, exercise habits, water consumption, sleep cycle, and so on. Are you living a life that brings joy and meaning? Is your support network a positive one? Do you even have an adequate support network? Do you journal? Do you meditate? Do you get out in nature? What are your addictions? (and before you say you don’t have any, I bet I can find one in your life)
The saying: Love yourself first, so you may love and be loved is something I will leave you with, as it is a sticking point for many who become their diagnosis. Their sense of self is weak because they never were allowed to love who they are. They may think they are unlovable. This takes practice and sometimes, professional guidance, but I find it to be another key to success.
So, allow yourself the feelings you feel, be it anger, frustration or resentment, but quickly replace them with gratitude, acceptance and positive thoughts and you’ll find that it is easier to keep the path to wellness clear. There is nothing that clutters this path more than becoming your diagnosis.
Paul Gerst L.Ac. is a licensed Acupuncturist and Natural Health Practitioner of 23 years. He is co-owner of The Balanced Path Wellness Center in Medway. Call 774-283-2726 to schedule and visit www.yourbalancedpath.com for more information.