Posts Tagged With: talking about uncomfortable topics

I was never happy with the way I looked

A few months ago, I was listening to A Prairie Home Companion which is a public radio program most widely known for their Lake Wobegon bit where “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.”  I catch this show occasionally on NPR when I am driving on the weekends, but I never got around to finding out specifically when it aired.  I enjoy the happenstance of it because I love the show and I am always entertained, so it’s like a fun surprise when I find it.  My favorite bit is when they tell a story and pair it with sound effects that are incredible to listen to.  Really makes the story unfold before your very….ears.  One of the funniest I’ve heard is titled “Rhubarb” which ruthlessly makes fun of Californians, our bizarre eating habits and food allergies.  I know my mother-in-law will enjoy that one a little too much.  ;)  You definitely have to listen to it rather than read it.

One prose poem series struck a deep chord with me though and I haven’t been able to shake it since I heard it in November.  It was a four poem series read aloud by the author, Louis Jenkins, and they were each incredible.  The final poem resonated with me so much that I have since found myself approaching my self-image in a completely different way.

If you would indulge me and watch the video….rather, if you would click on the video, then close your eyes or turn the image off somehow and just listen to the poems, it will be much more powerful.  The video is distracting of where your mind can take it.  All of them are great, but I am going to reference the last one.  So if you can’t spare 5 minutes to hear the whole thing, then you can start at 4:10…..I would suggest you do yourself a favor and listen to them all.  :) Here are the poems:

I love these.  Each of them is funny and thought provoking.  However, while I was listening to these real time in my car and heard the line “I was never happy with the way I looked” I was immediately overcome with tears and sadness.  How many people go through life this way?  And for what?  I think it’s not exclusively women, either.  I think for most of us, self-image is intricately tied to our self-worth.  And the negative crap we pour on ourselves day in and day out is exhausting.  I don’t like my thighs or my hair is too oily or my face is so covered in acne that no one will want to look at it.  I’ve recently watched videos of myself when I was 10 years old and while watching, I started having negative self-talk about how I looked in the video!  At age 10!  What kind of sickness is that??

I don’t know where this overly critical negative self-talk started or how I got so sucked into it, but ever since I heard that line from Louis Jenkins, I have been seriously reconsidering how I consider myself.  I cannot think of anything more sad than never liking how I looked, ever.  To have that as a final reflection on my life…..I don’t know, the thought kills me.

It is a practice to look in the mirror with clothes on, clothes off, whatever and directly say “I like how I look today”.  It’s a strange feeling being okay with yourself.  I’ve felt it emotionally before, and even felt it physically (on the inside) by being “okay” with my colitis.  Trying it on with external physical beauty was a whole new and awesome feeling.

Okay, of course, you also don’t want to go around like “Gosh, I’m the prettiest thing ever and I am so much better than everyone since I’m SO gorgeous.”  Obviously there’s a balance.  It’s like yoga: a non-judgmental look at yourself with zero expectations.  You don’t have to hate yourself or how you look; that’s not a pre-requisite for being a good person.  Here’s a kooky idea: try on being happy with how you look, even for five minutes.  Just as an experiment.  Then maybe you’re happy with it for an hour.  Then for a few hours.  Then maybe, one whole day goes by where you are happy with how you look!  Now that’s crazy talk.

At any rate, I still struggle with this concept but whenever I am feeling particularly scathing toward myself, I think if this poem and it puts me back in a better frame of mind.  Now if I could only remember what it is I came down to the basement for….

ALISA’S RECIPE CORNER

Instead of music, I’ll mix it up today with a recipe for plant-based lasagna.  Plus Vegetable Lasagna always makes me think of Seinfeld and laugh.  I made this the other day for a potluck and it was actually good!  Took a lot of time; this is not a “quick and easy” recipe because you have to create the noodles by hand from the squash.  But it was delicious.  FYI, the “cheese” recipe makes way too much for this lasagna.  Do not pour all the extra cheese on the dish…I did that and it overwhelmed everything.  Use the directed amount and I’m sure you’ll be fine.  There’s a lot of other fun, less time-consuming recipes on the YumUniverse website you can check out too.  :)

Vegetable Lasagna recipe

Advertisements
Categories: Self-care, Self-love | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

Go tell it on the mountain

Hello wonderful friends and family and random internet stalkers,

I received an email yesterday as part of a mailing list from a guy named Adam who runs a website called ihaveuc.com.  His site has been a functional and emotional resource for me.  It’s a chance to read about how others are dealing with UC and ideas for things I can do.  Adam is a very down to earth person and just enjoys running the community.  Anyway, his email reminded me of why it’s good to talk about colitis and to be more open about what’s going on with me.

More to come later, but here’s the email I received.  I thought it was worth sharing.  Some background, Adam was pretty lucky in the grand scheme of colitis and didn’t have symptoms for too long and has been in remission for a few years.  Sidenote: I’m going to an integrative medicine day event at UCSD today which I’m hoping will be fun and educational.  I’ll let you all know how it goes!

————-

ALRIGHT, SO HERE’S THE DEAL,
last night I was over at a friend’s house for dinner (my wife was out with her girlfriends at some Czech meetup group deal in Mountain View) and I had a pretty crazy realization.

Even though I thought these friends knew all about my colitis, and all of the symptoms that go along with it, I was wrong. I must have left some things out.

We were all sitting down at dinner, and somehow the topic of the iHaveUC website came up. My buddy’s wife started asking me about a few things…one thing led to another and I was reading off somebody’s story with an iPad over dinner.(that’s what you’d expect from me right:) Like most of the stories on the website, they start with an introduction, then a section about symptoms.

I started reading “This went on for 2 years, on and off the Prednisone to stop the bleeding, toilet 20 or more times a day, taking immodium just to go to work”, and then I read out a bit more, but since we were eating dinner and looking at iPads, something told me it wasn’t the time to get into the story much longer.

There was total silence.

Then, after a few seconds, my buddy’s wife asked if I also had bleeding when I was real sick several years ago. “UH, Heck Yeah”, I told her. “I was bleeding like crazy for weeks and weeks, of course I was bleeding.”

It’s one thing to be talking about my “old symptoms” now. Of course it’s easy to tell friends and family that things were awful and really bad “back in the day when I was severe”. It’s easy now to talk about it. But what if I was still severe with nasty UC? Would it still be easy to talk about?

The answer might be “NO”, but at the same time, it can also be a “YES”. That’s up to the UC’er.

One thing is for certain. This disease is not something that the average person learns about. Average people who don’t have UC don’t go reading up on google, or youtube, or the iHaveUC site about this funny thing called ulcerative colitis. Outsiders to UC just don’t do that for shits and giggles, at least I hope not right!

So guess what, I’m happy to report to you that getting the real deal message across is our job. That’s right, the UC’ers of the world have some more work to do. We need to let others know what it’s REALLY ALL ABOUT.

Once you explain the bloody details that active ulcerative colitis can often mean blood flying out of your poop hole and into the toilet for weeks and months on end, that type of thing sticks into people’s brains. And especially if you follow up with telling whoever you’re talking to WHAT YOU THINK, and WHY YOU THINK this is all happening.

If you explain the dirty details about active UC symptoms early on, I can promise that when you’re sitting down to dinner several years later, symptom free and feeling great, the person you explained UC to before won’t be asking you “Did you have bleeding like that other UC person…?”

Just like everything else with this disease, the choice is always UP TO YOU. You can tell people the real deal about UC, or you can hide the reality. I think it’s better to educate the whole story. And you know what, your friends are interested in the details…more than you’d think.

Take care, and I hope you’re ready for the next survey, another one is coming up soon.

Warm regards,

Adam Scheuer

ALISA’S MUSIC CORNER

We recently wiped out our Macbook Pro after downloading something weird…plus with the whole java thing and our Babelcomputer acting slow and funky, we wanted to be on the safe side.  I backed everything up on our external drive but for some reason, the new Mumford & Sons album didn’t get saved, I overlooked it.  I just re-uploaded it this morning and am listening to it right now!  It sounds very similar to their last album but I love their last album so I guess it’s a good problem to have.  “I Will Wait For You” gets stuck in my head for days.  FYI, Phillip Phillips totally ripped off their sound with his first single, “Home.”  I honestly thought it was them on the radio yesterday.  Props to him for being the first American Idol winner to be played on our local indie-rock channel though.

Categories: Colitis | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.