The Symptom Snowball Effect


Snowy Mountainside with Rocks

Why am I writing this blog? I’ve been categorizing my symptoms, outlining them, and magnifying them. And partly this is to convince you, and partly to convince me, that I have an illness. It’s not very cheerful, and I’m sorry about that, but it’ll get better, I promise.

The issue is that my symptoms were, and are, indistinct. I don’t have appendicitis, where there’s an obvious pain in a particular place. I guess you’d call appendicitis acute. I don’t have something that is immediately life-threatening, and I don’t need to be rushed to the hospital. As far as triage goes, I’m way down on the list. And I didn’t think my complaints were important for that reason. I didn’t think I was sick. My health was way down on my own list for the same reason.

But I have been working toward eating healthier since I graduated college and could afford to spend money on real food. And I still felt bad. I was cranky. I was achy. My head hurt. I couldn’t breathe well. I was itchy all the time. I had a hard time sitting still. I was tired all the time, and had a hard time making good food decisions.

Which of these is a medical condition?? Which symptom could I take to a doctor and ask for treatment?

I obsessed about wearing comfortable clothes and tennis shoes and seeing sunlight and eating candy bars and junk food. I was constantly dissatisfied with what I was doing. I was impulsive. I wanted to be writing, exercising, reading, listening to music, and I was stuck in an office wilting under fluorescent lights and the glow of a computer screen. But in my free time, I spent very little time doing what I wanted to do. I kept asking myself why I wasn’t doing what I said I wanted to do. And I decided the answer was that I wasn’t ready.

My complaints were non-specific. But they added up to misery for me. How could I be creative when I was spending so much energy being miserable? It took so much effort just to be breathing and upright. I decided I would keep trying to do what I wanted to do (since I really couldn’t stop trying), but I would also try to clear away the crud that was in my way.

And that’s why I started seeing doctors, exercising, changing my eating habits, and researching.


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