Sickness Is Healthy? / by Michelle Cowan

Sometimes, circumstances thwart us from doing what we want or hope to do. This happens on large and small scales, but no matter what is at stake, those situations can be incredibly frustrating.

Right now, I’m a bit under the weather, and as a result, many things I would like to do are out of my reach. I get bursts of energy during which I can do a load of laundry or clean the kitchen, but after about thirty minutes, I’m dragging again. I could take this as an irritation and inconvenience, but instead, I’m choosing to see it as an opportunity to think beyond my usual schedule.

Incapacitations lead to creativity. When a human can’t do something one way, that person usually finds another way to do it or is led to another interest. Sicknesses and inconveniences are essential for me because I tend to get so bound up in routine; only something at least moderately severe can break the chains of my own tightly-controlled regime.

Illness works for me because it slows me down. I get in much better touch with my body and my emotions during illness. Eating disorder thoughts lessen because my notions of food start to center around what will get me better (or what will help me survive, if I feel that terrible). Sickness is a good thing (at least under my usual, non-terminal conditions). Funny that I spend so many borderline obsessive/compulsive moments scrubbing things and washing my hands to avoid it ;)

I can even extrapolate this perspective when looking back on my entire history with eating disorders and recovery. I would not be who I am without that struggle. My inability to “fit” in certain ways has led me toward new ways of living.

In this moment, however, my aching body needs to rest, and I’m doing to jump on the opportunity to adhere to that early bedtime I’ve been trying to move myself toward for months! My to-do list is no match for this kind of exhaustion.