Sometimes What We’re Most Fighting is What Brings Us the Most Relief

“I will not take ibuprofren. I do not want to take pharmaceuticals. All those people I’ve been reading about have cured themselves of cancer through homeopathy, a plant-based diet, and chemical free living.”

This is how I’ve been thinking for the past four months or so. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that train of thought, but I’ll (unwillingly) confess that it’s brought me more stress than solace. I’ve begun to obsess (ooh there’s that nasty little bugger of a word again) over the ingredients in beauty products, household cleaning products, lip balms, medications, food, you name it . . . I’ve begun to freak myself out. I’m torn! I’m a balanced person (HA okay that’s kind of a lie at this point in time, but it’s an affirmation, as it is what I am becoming, therefore I say with full conviction I am a balanced person!). I’m reading about people so immersed in their wellness quest that they bring their own food to restaurants so as to know there are only organic ingredients, only vegan ingredients, only gluten free, soy free, non-GMO blah blah blah ingredients…I don’t judge. To each their own. If someone has overcome a grim diagnosis and fought off a deadly disease, they’ve earned the right to be picky. I am just a healthy girl, though, with the deepest of desires to live a pure, balanced, clean and wholesome life. I follow a plant-based diet, and my body loves it. It works for me. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it does for me. Does it pose a little bit of a challenge when traveling and eating out? Slightly, yes. But how hard is it to say, “Hold the cheese please!” or “Extra veggies.” Not hard at all. How hard is it to travel when one requires everything that comes in contact with their body organic, purified, non-GMO, vegan, what-have-you? Hard. Harder than I imagine, probably. And not pleasurable, I would assume! 
Is the purpose of life not to be happy, balanced, pleased by the little things? If there’s so much to be afraid of, what’s the pleasure in that? My grandmother lived to be 90 years old, healthy as a horse almost the entire way, and my grandfather is in his mid-nineties. They ate healthfully, took regular exercise and lived moderate lives. Isn’t that the best prescription for me? To follow their example? I’ve naturally put my own spin on things, the plant-based diet, the heavy environmental awareness, the “medicine woman” ways (as my mom calls me, with my mess kit of all-natural, DIY products/meals/cures). But for the most part, remaining fairly “middle of the road” seems a safe bet for self-preservation as well as stress relief.

What brought me to this post was my unwillingness to take a freaking half of a pure, prescription ibuprofen pill. Mind you, I was not always this anti-medicine human being. I’ve never taken any medicine heavily, as my body has no tolerance for even a whole prescription ibuprofen pill, and would only take something when I really needed to. In fact, my mom would often say to me, “You’ve been complaining about a headache for days, have you even taken anything for it??” To which I’d guiltily reply, “…no….” I avoided medicine but was not afraid of it. If it made me feel better, I’d take it, and then when I was better, I’d stop.
A little something that has to do with my pharmaceutical aversion is not such a “little something” at all. It’s huge. It’s tragic. It was life-altering. My incredible grandfather was prescribed a pain patch in 2007 and it killed him. A medicinal pain patch took down a nearly 300lb, 6’5″ retired US Army CSM in his sleep. A brilliant, otherwise healthy as a horse man who was only suffering shingles was killed by a prescription medication.

It’s horrific and devastating and medicine scares the living crap out of me now. 

That being said, I’ve taken my anti-medicine kick up a couple dozen notches in the past few months. I think it’s fair enough for me to have an aversion to pharmaceuticals. It is not sensible, however, to ignore the fact that all of my homeopathic remedies are not doing a damn thing to help my increasing joint pain. Just as I wrote last night about my unwillingness to take rest from my active lifestyle and yoga practice, I was also unwilling to introduce prescription ibu (which was prescribed to me, along with rest, FOR this godforsaken patello-femural syndrome! Golly, these icky confessions don’t get any easier…) for a little while to see if it helped with the inflammation. 

Well, today is Friday. I began my rest on Wednesday, and took one little dinky half of an ibuprofen yesterday. I woke up today feeling better than I’ve felt in a month.

Gulp.

Could it have been the day of rest? Could it have been the walk I took? Could it have been the stretching and restorative poses in which I indulged? Could it have been the taping technique the physical therapist used? Could it have been the half an ibuprofen? Could it have been the physical therapy exercises I diligently did? Could it have been the 30 minutes I spent with ice strapped to both knees? Was it a combination of all these acts?

Or perhaps it was the fact that I surrendered

I surrendered to the necessity for rest. I surrendered to the truth that I take such holistic care of my body that some prescription ibuprofen will likely help me in this scenario rather than hurt me. I surrendered to the truth that I was growing obsessive, and dabbling in some extremist mentality (gulp, that word makes my stomach turn, literally). I surrendered to the affirmation, “It is NOT all or nothing in this life. It’s not black and white.” 

I fall victim to black and white thinking a lot. It’s either this way, or it’s that way; there’s no in between. 
False.

I took some ibuprofen. I am going to take more today. I’m taking the rest of this week off, at least, from yoga practice even though I am feeling better. I’m prescribing to myself a set of healing acts, and I’m dedicating myself to them. No, I won’t need medicine everyday and no I’m absolutely not turning my back on homeopathy. In fact, I’m more interested than ever in homeopathy and eager to learn as much about it as I can. But I don’t have the money to pay a naturopath’s $300/visit price tag right now. I have insurance that allows me to seek practitioners of Western Medicine for free. For that I am grateful. I intend to seek as much knowledge and education in homeopathy, acupuncture and Eastern Medicine as I can in the future.

I also intend, however, to prescribe the regularity of more caring rituals in my daily life. At least a day per week dedicated to rest. Diligent completion of my physical therapy exercises. Ice every day. And when the pain is gone, I will remind myself of this experience by keeping up with my self-care tactics. Do not wait until rest is forced upon you, choose rest. Rest your body, your mind, your adrenals, your heart, your spirit. Curl up with a book, sit down and write, run a bubble bath, brew a cup of tea, call your mom or best friend. The downside of being a “go getter” is it’s hard to know when to stop. We blow through that yellow light and only stop when it goes red. 

As for the medicine obsession, calm yourself sweet child. Perfectionism has no place in my life. It never has. It has only caused me ills. It has caused me to feel not good enough, to place unrealistic expectations on myself. While I admire those who “never take medicine ever,” it’s important for me to come out of this month healed and ready for my teacher training. Nothing is perfect because nothing is meant to be perfect. Is my natural lifestyle tainted by some medicine? No. Is it tainted by drinking tap water? No. I am my healthiest Self by following my own bliss, by making my own rules (rule one of which says there are no rules!) and by knowing that moderation is the key to longevity.  

I nourish myself, my life and my planet in my own ways…by writing, talking everyday to my loved ones, keeping a “less is more” mentality, using natural products, making everything that I’m able myself, cooking my meals almost exclusively, recycling, eating a plant-based diet, walking and biking instead of driving whenever I can, using natural alternatives as often as possible…

I will not let perfectionism permeate the aforementioned doctrine of Body Karma. Perfectionism only plants seeds of doubt. There’s nothing about my intention that I doubt. My intention is for peace, joy, health, wellness, wisdom.

Surrender.

Because sometimes what we’re most fighting is what brings us the most relief. 

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