• Jacqueline Loiacono

What's Good for the Goose Isn't Always Good for the Gander

“Health is a crown the healthy wear, but only the sick can see.” – Imam Shafi’ee

I’ve been thinking a lot about health and where sickness comes from. As a clean freak and a Kindergarten teacher, I realized that those two words couldn’t be more polar opposites. Our whole lives, Doctors have been telling us to wash our hands to fight germs and our mothers have been telling us not to go outside with a wet head or else we’ll get sick. Which one is it? Weather or germs? I’ve come to the conclusion it is STRESS. A six letter, dirty word we all have in common.

Not only does STRESS cause us to incubate these germs, but it gives them a feast welcoming them to stay and make themselves at home. When I left the DOE, I was so stressed that I gave myself Gastritis, lost 20 pounds and was on antidepressants. I realized that my career was killing me. This was a vocation that I loved and where I felt true unconditional love from children who didn’t care that I wore glasses or had messy hair or that I was sick with a virus on a daily basis, they loved me because I cared for them. The stress we put on ourselves while caring for others, especially mothers, has a detrimental effect on our bodies day in and day out. However, taking yourself out of a stressful situation can only alleviate the stress and unhealthiness because stress will still come and find you wherever you are. It takes different shapes and forms and comes when you least expect it. Stress comes when you realize progress reports are due or that you need to clean the fish tank, stress comes when you forget to send your child’s lunch money to school, it comes when you get a new haircut and look at yourself in the mirror disgusted and horrified, it comes when your dog throws up on your new comforter, it comes when you check your bills and forgot that you didn’t notice that one credit card balance went up and now have a thirty dollar interest tacked on to your account for three months. Stress is everywhere and in everything.

Stress is NOT just negative, it can come in the form of happy and positive things like getting engaged, finding out you’re pregnant, planning for a wedding, getting a new job, finding a cute outfit, trying on new clothes, or going on vacation. Why do we add stress to our lives even when we are in the midst of laughter and love all around us? Sometimes I wonder if it’s only me. I’ve always been plagued with stomach issues, headaches and nausea. I get constant infections, allergies, viruses and feel run down. I know I work with children, but it just doesn’t seem right when day after day I smile and feel loved at my workplace, by my family and in my relationship; but still feel stress and unhealthiness. I turned to healing crystals and reading about mindfulness and showing my gratitude for what God and the Universe have given me. The strength that I gained from changing my life brought me to a new plateau of feeling ill, because I’m in constant search of feeling peace. I realized IT’S NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN. And that is OK.

My mother told me that everyone feels sick most days, but many of us don’t talk about it. Mental health more often than physical health, is something that people don’t talk about because they think it makes them look weak. But it is only human to feel sick and sad. We all can’t be like Superman with only one thing that is our downfall. God created us with free will and that means yes, I overthink and worry, yes I put my dirty, germy fingers in my mouth to bite my cuticles, yes I go to bed late sometimes and don’t get enough sleep because I just want to relax and do things that are not required of me by family, work or extra curricular activities, but just what I WANT to do. We’re always preoccupied by what we HAVE to do, instead of what we want to do.

I’m also a victim of shaming myself for not working out on the days I don’t feel good or am tired. I pushed myself last year as far as I could in Taekwondo, going to Nationals to win a gold medal at the age of 33 as a Black Belt, overcoming fear and depression as best as I could and beginning a new job at a place I love and feel appreciated every day. But now, I feel like this year I’ve finally reached the point where my body is rejecting anything and everything I’m trying to do to it to stay healthy. All the extra sleep, vitamins, jumping jacks, healthy foods and elderberry doesn’t do anything anymore. I had realized one thing, I NEED to shut down. Just like a computer with so many tabs open needs to be restarted because it gets slow, we need to shut down and just BE.

We’re so used to making ourselves feel guilty for eating that last cookie, or failing our stress test at the cardiologist, or not working out at the gym, not finishing lesson plans on our day off or forgetting to hand in our child’s signed report card that we have brought on stress and the sickness that comes with it. We have to remember that being human means making mistakes. Now I’m not saying eat a bag of Oreos or walk into work late everyday of the year (which I’m guilty of at one time or another), I’m talking about giving ourselves a healthy balance of yes, I deserve to stay home and rest tonight or yes, I can eat that bagel for breakfast instead of yogurt today. Because we deserve it. Women more often than men seem to have this problem with stress since they are the caregivers, the ones who are relied on most given the most responsibilities.

But if we don’t learn to take care of ourselves, we can’t be the caregivers for the ones we love and the very first love should be us. If we do not recognize the stress and unhealthiness we put on ourselves, we will never feel healthy and continue to go through a constant cycle of sickness and depression getting ailment after ailment, spending money on doctors and vitamins to help our immune systems grow stronger when in reality, we have to work on ourselves to help stay healthy in our minds and in our hearts. For now I think I will start small and stay home tonight to watch HGTV and do lesson plans while I nurse the cold that I feel coming on, all the while reminding myself it’s ok to feel sick. It doesn’t make me a bad person, it just makes me human. Let me still write a reminder post it to still ask my students’ parents to send in Clorox wipes


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