Friday, November 21, 2008

You -- Becoming Your Disease

I attend a lot of trade shows and health-related events, and in some of those I speak about herbs or supplements. Recently, I had a chance to talk to a Texas man about his situation. He's had a chronic health concern for many years, and he approached me to talk about whether a particular herb might be good for him.

Whenever I am approached for medical advice, I do two things. First, I make sure that person knows that I am not a doctor and that medical advice should come from their MD, Naturopath or a trusted advisor like a Chiropractor. Secondly, I tell them that supplements like herbs and vitamins are not sold with health claims for a reason. The FDA and the FTC do not allow supplements to be sold with claims that a packaged herb "cures this disease," or "treats this ailment." Products like these are dietary and nutritional aids that, in many cases, can make a great improvement in quality of life. They support your body in healing itself; they aren't drugs, and anyone who makes such claims is breaking the law.

When this fellow I was speaking with didn't seem to get this message, I asked him to simply tell me a bit more about himself; not medically, but just to talk with me about his day-to-day life. As he did so, I began to notice what the author Eckhart Tolle mentions in his book "The Power of Now." This fellow had actually become his disease. His chronic candida infection had become his entire self-identification.

Tolle's book describes this phenomenon, and I have met many people who have this same identity issue. For one reason or another, a person can become so consumed with her health issues that the disease actually takes over the persona. Instead of being Jill, the accountant in Spokane, that person becomes Jill, the cancer patient. (My analogy doesn't work all that well, because Tolle would say that Jill's self-identification shouldn't be "the accountant," either. But I think you get my point.)

The path to true health and happiness lies in seeing oneself as separate from any health issue. Don't let health issues and concerns become "you," because that's a sure path to continued pain and anguish.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You, sir, are right on. To the extent one can avoid sickness-reinforcing "support groups" et al and just get out there and do the best that one can, the more likely the afflicted one will rise above the bad hand of cards. This sounds awfully harsh, but the "poor me" identity yields nothing but more pain.