I have a question for you. How much of your health is really just luck?
I found myself asking myself this question recently when my skin broke out all of a sudden and all over my face. I figured it was an allergic reaction to something, but I couldn’t figure out what it might be. Then I started to think it might be the beginnings of acne rosacea, which runs in my family.
Even though I do positive body image work for a living, I wasn’t exactly excited to have the worst acne I had ever had in my life.
I was attending a conference that weekend, which meant that I was pretty much eating whatever the other conference attendees were eating, so I couldn’t make any major food changes without an effort that I wasn’t really willing to make. I took some milk thistle (a gentle, liver supporting herb) in case my body was trying to deal with a toxin and in case this was the start of rosacea. I upped other vitamin supplements, including a B complex, C, grape seed extract, and whatever other ones may have come to my attention at that point. I used a more intense face wash than I usually use, which seemed to only make it worse. I dabbed my skin with witch hazel to keep it clean, which didn’t seem to do anything. And I wore more makeup than usual. That’s about it.
A few days later, the new acne and redness was pretty much gone. Hooray for milk thistle!
Or was it the extra anti-oxidants? Or was it sleep? Or was I stressed out about something and the stress was now gone? Or was it genes? Or was it a particular type of pollen whose levels had gone down? Or was it…
In other words, I have no idea why this skin issue went away. I don’t know if it was one of the gazillion things that I did, or a bunch of them, or none of them at all.
I think in our culture, when someone is sick, we often look for something to blame. Fat people know this all too well. Everything from achy joints, to colds, to cancer gets blamed on fat. We hear things like, “Of course she got diabetes, she was fat!” Or, “Of course he had a heart attack. He eats badly!” But the reality is, thin people also get diabetes. The reality is, fat people who get diabetes may be fat because of the diabetes, rather than the other way around. The reality is, plenty of people who eat healthfully have heart problems and plenty of people who eat poorly never have a heart attack.
We live in a culture of cause and effect. We live in a culture of logic, of if-then statements. If you’re this, then this happens.
But in reality, cause and effect are rarely clear in any circumstance. A thousand causes, in a chain or simultaneously, could lead to a single effect.
Here’s what I think. I think we should do what we can to support our healing, but that we shouldn’t blame ourselves when luck (i.e., money, genetics, and a gazillion other things we might not be able to account for) isn’t on our side. Blame is really counterproductive. It makes you feel bad and guilty, which just creates more stress. I think we should love our bodies, and do our best to feed ourselves nourishing foods and move joyously. I think we should all have access to good, non-judgmental health care, alternative and not, when we want it (this part is also hard to control, for many of us).
So what are you still blaming yourself for? Let me know in the comments section below.
Golda Poretsky, H.H.C. is a certified holistic health counselor who specializes in transforming your relationship with food and your body. Go to http://www.bodylovewellness.com/free/ to get her free download – Golda’s Top Ten Tips For Divine Dining!