on-going mostly unedited stream of thoughts

making sense of health

I would like to lose the weight I feel whenever I publish anything on the internet. There is an automatic self-consciousness, the idea that people would judge me. You would think that after writing publicly about having chronic suicidal tendencies I would lose that self-consciousness, but it is always there, lurking.

I think it is difficult to be rid of that sensitivity, especially after a lifetime of feeling that sensitivity because there was so much fear of experiencing shame. I do wish to actively work on this, because I’ve been thinking about the impermanence of life a lot, and I don’t wish to wait till it is too late to do what I want to do.

Apart from self-consciousness I’m limited by my health. I can no longer look at a computer screen for too long. Back in 2015 when I first started experiencing eye pain I thought it would be temporary until I made a full recovery, but it seems till date there is no longer such a thing as full recovery for me. I do get good periods when I don’t experience any pain or discomfort but they are far and few in between, and I don’t know how to prolong these periods. This month I was optimistic because I experienced very little PMS symptoms compared to the usual, but right after my period I started having what I call malaise – the most obvious and common symptom is brow pain, like a little dull knife carving behind my brows. Sometimes they are so mild I don’t consciously notice a pain until I press them, but I feel a deep fatigue with the inability to look at the computer screen without feeling as if my face is cramping.

Just like right now, my face is mildly cramping, and if I don’t finish writing this soon, it may develop into a migraine.

I have no idea what’s really causing all of this except my lifelong inability to regulate stress is causing these chronic symptoms. I wish I knew what to avoid and what to do to manage these symptoms, but I don’t, so I can only do everything that science has taught me to: exercise, eat a moderately healthy diet, get regular sleep, drink enough water, eat some recommended supplements.

The good news is even though I’m chronically unwell, I no longer experience terrible bouts of pain that used to make me suicidal. For now. It is a slippery slope because every time I go off my disciplined regime the migraines come back again. But I do get self-policing fatigue, so now I’m trying to see if I can have some cheat days stashed in between the tightly policed ones.

Since this is such a long journey I have learned a lot, so much that my GPs have no idea what I am talking about when I wanted to test for several blood markers, and also that what we’ve been taught through the mainstream about health is mostly wrong. I am also learning about new things all the time as I go deeper into my research and self-experimentation.

When we just dip your toes slightly into the subject of health one will quickly realise everything is systematically connected. Well, except many doctors who prefer to treat each symptom in their own silos. When one is experiencing chronic symptoms like me, you will quickly learn that we must be our own advocates and many doctors cannot be trusted with their outdated knowledge. Someone I know has pre-diabetes and her assigned nutritionist from the public healthcare system told her to eat five meals a day including one before bedtime. This is the opposite of what the latest science is saying about diabetes, insulin resistance and fasting.

art by @launshae

It frustrates me to no end because this is very real damage we are talking about. We can’t just prescribe eye drops to people with dry eyes or painkillers to women with PMS symptoms and tell them to suck it up and there is no hope of getting better. PMS symptoms are often a precursor to much more serious issues because every hormone causes cascading and ripple effects to other hormones.

Just one hormone – insulin, is able to wreak havoc on anyone’s health. Just one factor – stress, can cause a severe hormonal imbalance. Yet we are taught nothing about this.

The other day I was thinking about my mortality especially in the light of Covid19, and despite being somewhat nihilist I asked myself what would I like to complete the most before it is too late. I would like to document my journey and learnings in an accessible manner. So a couple of weeks back, I started collating my writing and books into a notebook. It makes no sense yet, because I have no clarity yet on how to format it in a way that would be useful to both the public and myself.

Today co-incidentally I came across Laura Deming’s Longevity FAQ (thanks Conor!) and I was excited that something like this exists. However, I’m personally not interested in longevity but rather the optimisation of well-being – I would rather live a very healthy long enough life versus a chronically long but unhealthy life – in general. I think something like this would be the simplest implementation on what I have in mind, though if given the time, space and health, I would probably experiment with a more exploratory interactive format once I am able to nail down the basics.

I wish we would have more systemically-linked content than time-sensitive posts. But there is very little incentive to make permanent content in a recency-obsessed society.

I’m not sure how long it will take, or if this is something I’ll ever complete. I can only work in very short spurts before I literally need to lie down. I also go through lengthy periods when I can’t do a single thing except maybe read. But I do hope that every tiny iteration can mean something.