Good morning on this fine Thursday, where I am linking up with Amanda to share some of my most recent thoughts with you. This week, I’m thinking about how wonderfully complex each one of us is.
My favorite social work professor in college had a catch phrase that she said often: “People are complicated.” Although I have agreed with this statement for quite some time, entering into recovery has solidified my belief that people are, indeed, complicated, and we deserve to have our complexities honored. My first naturopathic appointment this week served as an excellent reminder of why it is important to look at people for more than just one aspect of their identity. When I left the naturopath’s office this week, I was reminded of how refreshing it feels to be seen not as a symptom or diagnosis, but as a whole, complex, and unique individual.
Western medicine has helped me many times, but I do have one chief complaint with how I am treated when I enter a doctor’s office. When I have a doctor’s appointment, I feel like a diagnosis. I feel like the doctor seeing me is interested in treating a specific problem for which I have a complaint, and treating said problem as quickly as possible, without taking time to look beyond what is present at face value. My experience with a naturopath was worlds different from this attitude. As the naturopath and I sat across from one another, she simply asked me to talk about myself. Of course, she was interested in the issue that brought me to her office, but I felt that she saw beyond my immediate complaint in ways that a doctor never has. I was in her office for over two hours and she did not rush the appointment whatsoever. She took her time to speak with me, asked me dozens of follow-up questions, and chose a method of treatment based on all of the information that I had given her. It felt holistic, like she saw me not as an anorexic with a missed period but as a living, breathing person with a history that goes beyond anorexia or obesity.
When I was overweight, I felt that my only identity was fat. When I was underweight, I felt equally as pigeon-holed by my disorder. When I saw doctor after doctor in middle and high school without getting clear answers, I felt like I was ten walking diagnoses at once. Through all of this, the message that I received was loud and clear: there is something wrong with me that needs to be fixed.
The reality is that none of us can be described in one word. We are not only survivors of anorexia, of sexual abuse, or of cancer. We are not only overweight, underweight, or somewhere in between. Each and every one of us has a past, a present, and a future that contributes to the beautiful, unique individual that we are. We deserve to be seen for all that we are and all that we have come through, not as unidimensional problems that need fixing. I loved my appointment with the naturopath because it embraced the mentality that my social work professor so simply stated: people are wonderfully, beautifully complicated.