Monday, May 19, 2014

Don't wait for the Bottom

Human nature is a funny thing. Lately I have been giving a lot of thought to the notion of change and how difficult it is for most of us and that in most cases it takes some sort of a crisis in our lives to catapult us into a new way of living. Even the smallest changes seem to require some catalyst.

And so, those of us who adhere to the glass half full philosophy in life, view crisis as a good thing. It can be the only thing sometimes that creates or rather forces change upon us. This requires living consciously and being able to interpret the crisis into a positive rather than dwell upon it as a negative event in our lives. Don't get me wrong. I am not diminishing the pain of life altering events. Death. Divorce. Illness. Not at all. What I am saying is I think it is crucial we don't let these things bury us. 

This leads me to wondering why, when we know that things like death are inevitable, do we wait until the last possible moment to forge ahead and do what we know we have to do. Are we such an apathetic species that we think it is OK to just sit around and wait for things to happen? Clearly we know that if we want things to change, it requires full participation. We don't wake up one morning, step out of bed and walk into a new life. 

No, instead we hem and haw and analyze and fret and research and hope and pray and maybe even wait for divine intervention depending on the change that needs to take place. Maybe a pill for instant weight loss or an aid for smoking cessation, or a tonic that replaces drugs or alcohol will turn up at the local pharmacy and suddenly your problems with addiction will vanish in the blink of an eye. But as we know, this is not about to happen any time soon, as much as we wish it would. 

What does present itself more often than not however is the crisis. The rock bottom moment. The last straw. Call it what you like. It will eventually come unless you wake up and nip it in the bud. Oh sure, there are some folks that abuse their health their entire lives and we look at them and wonder why they are not dead yet. You all know one. The smoker who lives to 100. The morbidly obese gal who needs a dozen pallbearers to carry her casket to the cemetery at 90. Keith Richards, for gawd's sake. There are those who manage to beat the odds. But in reality, not many. We read about those human miracles because they are just that. Miracles. We find it fascinating. How could a human being endure such abuse and stay alive? It gives us a little justification for our own smaller abuses.

Just as often we read about the health nut who croaks at 47. That allows us to sit back and say, "Yeah, it's a crapshoot alright. You never know when your number is up." And that is often true as well. We all know someone who led a pristine lifestyle and never smoked or drank or did drugs or gained an ounce after their wedding and we watched while Cancer came down and swooped them up before their time. That one scares us. We need a reason. If they were doing everything right, how did that happen? That leads us to wonder if we should even bother trying to eat right and exercise and avoid toxic life choices. But what else can we do? Live a life of reckless abandon and take our chances? Would that even feel good? Sure, the idea of stuffing your face with chocolate cake and ice cream everyday has a certain appeal, but the reality is, after a few days you would feel like crap. Eventually you likely would experience a health crisis and then the time you did have left would be of miserable quality and not worth living anyway.

I just read about another musician the other day - Avril Lavigne's ex husband - Deryck Whibley of Sum 41 fame, a young man who nearly drank himself to death and now, having hit his rock bottom, claims he will get better and start to write music again. His doctor told him if he has one more drink he will  likely die. If that is not incentive to quit the self abuse, well, nothing can save him. Which leads me to wonder if doctors don't need to be more aggressive with their advice to their patients. I have a bit of an issue with that. Most of them are afraid to present the cold hard facts to their patients in my experience. Case in point. At a doctor's appointment years ago after I had gained a lot of weight, I had a glance at my chart when the doctor left the examination room for a minute to get something and I read the description of me. I saw the word 'obese". I knew I was overweight. No question. But, obese? That really had an impact on me. Seems my BMI had crept over 30 and that is the definition of obese. The doctor never said a word to me about my weight. Did she think she would insult me? Why would she keep that information to herself? It would have been a good kick in my fat ass to do something about it. Had I not read that, I might never have taken the steps I took to lose the weight. That word scared the shit out of me. Maybe they wait until the diagnosis is "morbidly obese, or super obese". Those are the next stages. That was my rock bottom. And the battle rages on. 

Once again, I have allowed some of it to creep back on. There is a price to pay for my gap year of indulgence. I have had a headache for two days now as I withdraw from caffeine, sugar and wine. Time for a break from all three. One thing I have learned. I don't ever want to hit rock bottom again. 

This time I don't need a health crisis to motivate me. 

Seems I have evolved a bit.

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