I used to start every morning by opening MindBodyGreen, a platform that posts health and wellness related articles. I would read multiple articles that would convince me I had one health ailment or another. The funny thing was that it was finally an article on there that got me to stop. The article talked about how sometimes you can’t figure out your health problems and that’s okay, but remember that you are not a doctor. No matter how many articles you read, Wikipedia pages you look through, and even books you read, mostly likely, you’re still not going to be a health professional unless you go to medical school or naturopathic school.
I found that one of the most dangerous things you can do is self-diagnose. Sometimes you’re right, but much of the time, you’re wrong. And even if you are right, you should check with your functional medicine doctor. I currently live in the capital of self-diagnosers, Boulder, CO. The people who live here follow all the food fads religiously and sometimes to the detriment to their own health. Now, Boulder is definitely not the only place where this occurs. This goes on in many places where people start to realize that they can’t always trust their western medicine doctor and they’re finally listening to their intuition. But when we read all these articles online titled “10 Ways You Know You Have A Candida Overgrowth” or “Here’s What You Need To Heal Your Gut” many people become obsessed with a health diagnosis that doesn’t even apply to them. Fatigue, brain fog, constipation, stubborn weight gain, and anxiety are symptoms that almost everyone experiences from time to time, and while they can definitely indicate that you have an underlying health condition, you might just as easily have just overindulged on cookies the day before, didn’t get a good enough nights rest, or been going through a rough patch in your life. We’re still so stuck on this western idea of getting a “quick-fix” that if we just figure out this ONE thing that’s wrong then we will cure everything wrong with our bodies. That idea doesn’t come from a holistic perspective when we’re just looking for the ONE thing wrong.
The internet is full of a lot of junk, please be conscious of the information you consume.
Our bodies and minds are complex and unique and we must respect that by not self-diagnosing ourselves. And like I said, sometimes you’re right. If you feel wholehearted that something feels off in your body, see a doctor, see a naturopath or functional medicine doctor. Take a few days to write down all your health-related symptoms and questions that are specific to YOU, not what you saw that article the other day or your friend told you that you’re feeling. When we read these articles, we can convince ourselves that’s how we’re feeling. You do not want to manifest symptoms you do not have. The internet is full of a lot of junk, please be conscious of the information you consume.
As we evolve and grow our view of health care, we must be aware of old ways disguised as new. We must look at systemic issues in our own health as we look at our society as well. I hope to bring together a community and safe space for those who have struggled with their health, but we must remember that our own physical, mental, and spiritual paths are our own and we must look within before looking for validation from external sources. While that seems contradictory to what I said earlier about making sure to see a doctor or other licensed health professional, it’s still important to look within yourself to hear what your body’s telling you and that most likely will not be found on the internet.
The other day I had a wake-up call when I read that maybe the person you know who believes they have every new ailment in the book might not be very in touch with their own body. And I kind of gasped because I thought to myself, “oh no, that’s totally me recently”. It was easy for me to believe every new ailment that gained popularity related to me because I just overall felt shitty most of the time. So when whatever I would read said “Do you feel shitty all the time? Well, [enter name of ailment] could be the cause of it!”, I would say “OH OH OH I feel shitty!!! This must be the cause! Thank goodness I finally know the answers to my struggle!”. Then I would shout to the heavens about how this was what caused my pain, my fatigue, my lack of feeling good. Then later I would find out I was wrong, it wasn’t that particular ailment, or if it was then it was just a small piece of how I was feeling. And I must give credit to the wonderful writers of these articles because they definitely do know what they’re talking about and it can feel extremely validating to hear the stories of other people who have also struggled with their health (and they even can create a sense of hope to know I can find answers to my own health mysteries too). But while the stories of their own healing journey can be helpful in certain ways, it’s when we become obsessed with finding answers for our own health in their stories that it can become destructive. Many people have found themselves orthorexic and having toxic relationships to food this way. I have been there too, I have created toxic relationships to food, I have felt an enormous amount of shame around my health.
Now I’m learning to listen to my body for answers instead of looking to the internet for those answers. And maybe you’re not like me and these articles have only helped you, then I say keep on reading them to your heart’s delight. But if you sense that they are not helping you, or you have started feeling toxic obsessions around reading about health and the body like staying up till 3 am on a Wikipedia binge with 20+ tabs open related to your skin biome (yes I really did that lol), then I encourage you to stop for a couple weeks and see how you feel. You might be infinitely more in tune with your body.