The First Rule of Eradicating Illness

Last weekend, my boyfriend and I visited a local indie theater for a 20th anniversary showing of Fight Club. The movie is brilliant, disturbing and complex. Every time I watch it, my mind starts spinning and doesn’t slow for days. There is so much nuanced commentary in the film, from societal value systems and consumerism, to mental health and the pursuit of happiness. Whether or not you’ve read the book or seen the movie, I’m sure you know: The first rule of Fight Club is you don’t talk about Fight Club.

To shift briefly, ten years ago, I took a Master’s level class on Positive Psychology. Two years prior to the topic going mainstream, I had already begun practicing meditation, keeping a gratitude journal and fostering the core values that are objectively linked to increase happiness. I’d read every book on the topic, contacted every leading researcher in the field and begun laying the groundwork for my future as a PhD candidate. The winds caught my sail and I was carried on a different course, but my deep passion for exploring happiness and meaning has never wavered.

I’ve been talking about Fight Club since Saturday and I’m certain my boyfriend is losing his mind with all of my questions, theories and ways in which the themes may be just as relevant (if not more so) today than 20 years ago. I’m not going to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen the film and plans to, so continue on. A character names Tyler Durden creates this primal, underground boxing club, which he dubs Fight Club. The first (and second, and third) rule of Fight Club is you don’t talk about Fight Club.

With my abundance of health issues, I’ve been thinking a lot about the Positive Psychology course. I took thorough notes on all five happiness books that were available in 2009 and have revisited them religiously since. While I can’t necessarily change my circumstances, I do have the power to change my response to those circumstances. I can look at abnormal labs and scan and then say, “Okay. I understand. Now, what can I do to repair damage, mitigate risk and regain my former capabilities?”

I can eat healthfully, exercise in ways that feel good to my body, supplement to bridge nutritional deficiencies, minimize stress, maintain positive social relations and otherwise foster a lifestyle conducive to meaning, happiness and fulfillment. Our minds are intricately linked to our bodies, so when we express fear or anxiety, the body may manifest more of the same to ensure that our thoughts align with our reality. If I talk about being sick on a daily basis–even in the context of wanting to heal–how will the inner-workings of my being know that illness is not actually what I desire?

Perhaps, the first rule of eradicating illness (or otherwise worsening one’s circumstance) is to not talk about it. When we direct our attention so something–anything–it brings about more of the same. Fear begets fear. Nervousness brings about more anxiety. Thankfulness multiplies gratitude. Practicing love spreads the kindness. And talking about being sick, perhaps, prohibits healing from taking place.

I may be mistaken, but shifting my perspective on things can’t hurt. Instead of lamenting a broken body, I can instead focus on all the things I can still do. Instead of worrying about whether my reproductive system is permanently damaged, I can make all the jokes about built-in birth control. Instead of complaining about the exorbitant cost of healthcare in America, I can be more discerning about where I choose to direct my money. I have the power.

I’m am sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, so I’m going to stop talking about everything that’s wrong with me unless I’m in the presence of a doctor who I have deemed worthy of my hard-earned cash. I’m done. I don’t want to hear myself talk about it, and I am sure you don’t either. There is nothing more for me to say until my body is fully healed and recovered. There are so many other areas of life to explore and I’d rather focus my energy on those topics that brings feelings of joy, accomplishment and hope.

10 thoughts on “The First Rule of Eradicating Illness

  1. I love this. I’ve been struggling with picking myself back up. Just now, I read your post on vulnerability and it really was beautiful. I’d love it if you’d read my writing and give feedback. It would mean loads to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wise words, as ever! Your strength continues to amaze and inspire ^ ^
    There’s a tiny typo – built-in is built-it – don’t mean to be rude, I always hate when I miss typos and a few people have pointed mine out for me, wanted to pass it on ^ ^ ❤

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  3. Great post. I’ve come to the same conclusion. It never makes me feel better to talk about it. I don’t bring it up for the most part, unless I need to explain why I can’t leave the house. And I also found the movie Fight Club fascinating.

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  4. I probably have more of an ‘all emotions are fine in moderation and reasonable circumstances’ approach to emotional health, but I really hope this helps. I very much relate to the I’m-sick-of-being-sick-let’s-just-go-do-a-fun-thing-already thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I would generally agree, though the current not feeling well paired with talking about not feeling well is just plain exhausting. I think I will almost certainly creep back towards the “anything goes” approach soon enough, but at this stage the stepping back has been a breath of fresh air.

      Liked by 1 person

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