In the beginning, this was all a desperate attempt to not die young.
After I was diagnosed with PCOS in 2005, my doctors explained to me that I was now high-risk for various diseases, some of the big ones included: diabetes, different types of cancer, and heart disease.
I was young, and while their words frightened me, I was far more concerned about keeping my lifestyle comfortable rather than risk change. A brief study abroad in London realigned my priorities when I found myself struggling to stay awake in class, out of breath after climbing the three flights of stairs to my room, and experiencing chronic back pain from my weight as I walked around the huge city daily.
I came back to Utah and decided to change my lifestyles. I joined a gym, ate better, spent more time outside, and began to enjoy living in a way I’d never done before. And yeah, I did lose weight, but that was more a perk than a personal mission at the time.
Fast forward a few years. I went to grad school, met and fell in love with the man I’d marry, stopped moving as much, spent more time inside at my computer than exploring the world around me. Generally, I still enjoyed life and I continued many of my healthy habits, but I gained much of my weight back and my PCOS symptoms returned. Such is the nature of the PCOS beast.
I’ve started to adjust my goals once more: get my endurance back, move more, lower my stress levels, pursue more things that satisfy my soul, and, yes, lose some of the unhealthy pounds that compromise my PCOS maintenance. The problem, as I mentioned last week, is this complex – this drive to create myself into a superhuman.
There are several things I’ve seen at the root of this complex:
1. Flawed Body Image. Much like Capt. America, I feel that if I change my body’s composition, my problems will be solved. While I don’t want to enlist like Cap, I still look in the mirror and see myself as fundamentally flawed. If I could just lose weight, get rid of my symptoms, etc. I’d be happy.
2. Fear. Not the fear I feel – at least, not on the surface. No, this is the crazy-person desire for the fear that I want people to feel when they see me in my element. The awe-inspiring control I could exude that elevates me above my peers so that no matter what group of people I’m with, everyone will know not to mess with me. Crazy? Yes. Unfounded, I’ll argue not, but that post will come later.
3. Pride. I’m pretty sure this is at the root, root of my complex, but let me just say that my desire to puff myself up reflects my underlying fear that I will be judged, pushed around, and left wanting; the last to cross that finish line while people point at me saying, “Isn’t that the former healthy girl? What happened to her?”
Okay, enough crazy for today. There is obviously a lot to unpack and pursue, which is the ultimate goal of this series.
What about you? I’ve heard from a few of you already that my initial post touched a cord. Great, I’m encouraged because I don’t think we’re in this alone. These are topics we should talk about with one another so we can illuminate these issues that hold us back from living life to the fullest. So talk with me, which of these do you struggle with most? Is there another aspect that you’ve discovered while wrestling with your own Captain America Complex?