Stress

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Telling a person that ‘stress’ causes their illness only stresses them out more. It’s a load of garbage.

I’ve had a chronic illness for years and “trying to avoid stress” never once helped my symptoms. Working out to expend energy, following the protocols and making sure to get enough sleep, did. I was at my healthiest when I lived in a poor area in NYC in a high stress environment with high stress work and running a band (managing, promoting, booking, writing, rehearsing) ..singing through my whisper. Every second of my life was taken up by work, band stuff, gym and diets, which I engaged on hyper drive in order to squeeze out any ounce of voice I had left. Sitting on my ass making time pass “less stressfully” always makes my health worse by comparison.

World-wide studies confirmed that the secret to long life is a sense of purpose. As MLK said – If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. But either way, you’ve got to keep moving forward.

Demystifying Illness

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After relying on antibiotics to survive for two decades, I’ve now been antibiotic-free for for a few months – and I’m doing well!
You may ask: why? I’ll answer some of the questions I hear most often.

Q: Did you switch to an herbal remedy, or vitamins or some alternative remedy?
A: No. I’ve tried endless “alt” remedies in the past, but I got sick every time unless I was on heavy doses of antibiotics.

Q: Did you change your diet? Or exercise more?
A: Nope, it’s winter, I’m broke and I’m eating much more crap than usual. As for exercise, unfortunately I’ve been so intent on getting my book out that I make no time for anything else, and I hate the winter so much, I have barely moved or left the house in months.

Q: Did you change your mindset?
A: I’ve always been spiritual, artistic, honest, expressive and attentive to my mindset. One could argue I’m happily married and this contributed to my well being, and I wouldn’t disagree, as it obviously relaxes me to be so in love and so cared for. But.. I was sick for the first two years with him – during some periods, sicker than usual – and was equally happy then. I was also happy when doing my music (not to mention I was also exercising and eating well), but still needed to be on antibiotics.

Q: Ok well, there must be some psycho-spiritual, alternative, Eastern or dietary trick. You MUST have been doing SOMETHING wrong before that you’re not doing now, or else you wouldn’t have been sick!
A: Nope. I have done things right and done things wrong throughout many years of my life, and during several long periods of time, I’ve done more things “right” than I am doing now. However the only thing that helped me was years of heavy antibiotics and the attention of top-notch doctors who specialize in my illness.

I am in no way discounting the importance of healthy food, exercise, a good mindset and a healthy lifestyle. These improvements HAVE helped me in the past tremendously, even if they did not get me off antibiotics. I also believe that being married to my soulmate and being surrounded by beautiful people made a difference, though it’s not the whole story. So, next time you start yelling at a chronically ill person about how doctors are out to get them, medicine is a farce and they should improve their mindset or lifestyle, think of this post. People don’t always get sick because they’re doing something wrong. Oftentimes, the only thing that helps is antibiotics, antidepressants or other medications that attack the physical issue. If that undermines your world view, I am glad, because I write these posts on behalf of fellow sick people who have to endure prejudice about everything we’re doing wrong, and I hope these posts make a dent. You are healthy only because of luck, not because your actions were necessarily superior to those of sick people. I know it sucks having less control over your life than you want to believe you have but, tiz reality. All that being said, I do plan to reincorporate a workout schedule and a better diet because I have music videos to film and I feel most alive when I’m attentive to my body.

Control

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“What’s wrong with your voice?”

Since I lost my voice to Lyme Disease and was left speaking in a whisper, random people at stores or restaurants ask me what’s “wrong” with my voice.  Without missing a beat, they tell me to stop smoking (which I have never done), to try seeing a doctor or drinking tea, or offer other unsolicited advice which suggests I am a complete idiot who brought this “defect” on myself, by neglecting my own health. When people learn that I used to sing, they tell me I must have been singing wrong. In some cases they say it’s karma or a punishment. No matter what I tell them about my diligence and my top notch doctor, they come up with alternative options, paranoia about medication and suggestions… as if I have not tried everything in my power to cure myself.  

The reason they do this is they want to believe they have control over their own lives. The thought that, like me, disaster could strike and leave them crippled or stripped of their greatest passion through no fault of their own, is too harrowing to face. So they have to project their fear on me, by convincing themselves that I deserved my cruel fate, and as long as they do things more correctly than I did, they will fare better.

After 20 years of being asked this question any time I dare to shop in a new store or call a company, it doesn’t hurt me emotionally anymore, but it never fails to remind me how fragile the human mind is, and how lucky I am to have been forced to face major losses and struggles in my early life, so that I could grow stronger. 

Fear of Death

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To my fellow Chronically Ill:

Next time some healthy person gives you unsolicited medical advice implying that you “aren’t trying hard enough” to get better, or some pseudo-spiritual nutjob starts preaching about changing your mindset, here’s a piece of advice:

Look that ignoramus straight in the eye – even if it’s your friend. Look them straight in the eye and say, “Does it scare you to think that a person could take all the right pills, adopt all the right diets, pursue all the deepest psychological healing, and still remain ill? Does it scare you to think this could happen to you? Does it scare you to think that even if you did manage to attain some ideal spiritual enlightenment, you could still contract a physical illness that ruins your life or kills you? Can you look that TRUTH in the eye, and accept it? Accept that your life is not in your control, yet still do your best to do what you can, love while you can and strive for health in the best ways you are able? When you learn to do that, you just might be as spiritually enlightened as I am, and thus you would not feel the need to project your fears onto others.”

Then, forgive them, if it suits you. Know that their suffering is likely deeper than yours, as you have been forced to accept something they are still struggling with. There is no point hating people for their luck, as this hatred will burden you unnecessarily; but this dose of truth may help them to wake up, if they are strong enough to appreciate it.