“Are you sure it’s not all in your head?”

5 Mar

“The first wealth is health.” – Emerson

You tell it, son. Ever since I read The Secret a few years back, those are the two words I occasionally remember to chant in my head. Health and wealth, health and wealth.


Rhonda Byrne, the author of The Secret, suggests imagining yourself as an energetic transmitter of the things you want. I imagine myself as a big radio tower, sending thoughts of what I want out to the world. I was advised, however, that *anything* you think of will be transmitted out as something you want to attract, so I try to keep thoughts about debt, singlehood and ASPCA commercials to a minimum.

I’m your average 20-something college grad who paid for school myself. Out of curiosity, I signed up on Mint.com and found

My net worth = a whopping -$60,000.

It actually feels good saying that. Debt is just a number, right ladies?!

I didn’t even go to grad school, mind you. I just had to get that swanky biomedical engineering degree at a private university. It ain’t no thing though; if you are lucky enough to earn an income, it’s easy to put things like student loans in the back of your mind. Direct deposit paycheck in, auto debit loan payment out – like the money was never even there. Blind faith it’ll all work itself out someday, even if the break-even point is in 2030.

The health piece, on the other hand, is harder to be so confident about. With every cramp storms a flurry of questions: “what was it? What WAS it?! The bananna, the smoothie? Were the carrots not soft enough? That one felt a little crunchy… I shouldn’t have trusted my teeth to puree it enough… stupid, stupid, STUPID.” It’s an anxious person’s playground.

And of course we never know the answer. That’s the beauty of all of this. Who knows what could have caused it. Sometimes, I swear to God, I have a cramp free moment where I’m thinking “Man, don’t I feel great when those blasted blasters aren’t here” and then BOOM, immediate onset. Dear ole Rhonda Byrne would say just the thought brought it on.

Which might be partially true. The gut has its own neural network, first described in 1921 as the “enteric nervous system”, which secretes neurotransmitters such as serotonin on its own. Like everything else in the body, it’s connected to the brain’s neurological system too. An October 2011 article in the NY times discusses the question of which comes first in GI disorders: the actual pathology or the neurological psychology?

Anyone who has a GI condition knows that mentality plays into it 110%. And that’s what this article says.

“Clinicians are finally acknowledging that a lot of dysfunction in GI disorders involves changes in the central nervous system” – Gary M. Mawe, a professor of anatomy and neurobiology at the University of Vermont.

Here the west, we’re inclined to say “Sorry Charlie, a gut disorder must be triggered by something you ate. External input renders an internal problem. End of story.” But this is valuable information, the gut and the brain could just play into each other in a vicious Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love kind of way. I’d certainly believe it.

If I had to choose, I'd say Kurt represents the Brain and Courtney is the gut.

And with that, I’m done thinking about this shit for today.

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