Health is weird.
There are so many different opinions and definitions of health. It’s been over 10 years since I first went to counseling for disordered eating. During the decade, I have read about and tried many different versions of “health”, trying to figure out what was correct.
The most basic definition of health is to be free from illness and disease. This seems too simple, ableist and problematic for those with chronic illness. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.’ While that adds a bit more complexity, it still feels limited.
There has to be a step beyond both definitions which looks to the individual’s specific experiences and if they feel they can engage in and enjoy life.
During my eating disorder days, I probably looked like I was healthy. I was very active and ate a “good” diet. I was free from any obvious disease or illness. However, during this time I became extremely anxious, unable to make basic decisions and would have episodes of intense stomach cramps.
I was not able to engage in and enjoy my life.
Now years later, I am heavier, less active and not restrictive in what I eat. I also enjoy my life and can confidently say that I am healthier now than I was before.
I am so grateful that health is complicated, nuanced, messy and dynamic.
Writing about health has been helpful for me to process this shift in thinking. My hope is that I can encourage other people to maybe broaden their definition of health as well.
I chose the name CaringHealth Journal for my blog for two reasons.
First, I wanted to play on the term “healthcare”. Being a nurse in the ICU, I have seen healthcare at its finest. My team helped save people’s lives in emergency situations while educating and supporting their families. However, I have also seen healthcare be rigid, dismissive and even cruel. By moving the “caring” part to the front, I wanted to emphasize that care and compassion are essential to health.
Next, I chose “Journal” because it can refer to scholarly writing or private reflections. While my writing often discusses health, it is also deeply personal, authentic and vulnerable.
I’m excited to continue exploring these topics. While health and wellness may feel straightforward, they are not. Health is weird, messy and nuanced. What works for one person won’t work for everyone. So, what is the correct definition of health?
I have no idea. I believe that is for each person to decide.
Lastly, I think it is important to remind myself that health is not the most important thing in my life; health helps me enjoy the most important things in my life.
Thanks for reading!