I should have known it was coming.
Last year, around Halloween, I had an allergic reaction to a bite of food. It’s not my first bout with anaphylaxis. Thankfully, I was able to apply good self-care and survive the very scary episode. But I knew something like this was coming because my body was completely inflamed for a few months beforehand.
How did I know that it was inflamed? Well, I was slow and sluggish. My body was in pain for no reason. Running was challenging and sometimes nearly impossible for no apparent reason. My skin was a mess, and I had gained 10 lbs.
When my throat started to close, I wasn’t surprised that I had an anaphylactic reaction. Mostly because nothing surprises me. Trump? The FBI? Russia? Anaphylaxis? Whatever, man. It’s just another part of the story that makes life so interesting.
In retrospect, I brought this on myself. I was drinking too much, my diet was horrible, and my behaviors were expressions of the larger inflammation in my personal life. I was not taking good care of my emotional health. I was justifiably upset with people in my inner circle but unable to express my unhappiness in a normal, mature way.
On top of that, I was angry with myself being so stuck. I felt like shit, so I mindlessly ate shitty food that my body obviously cannot digest. In the short term, it made me feel good. But instead of getting enough rest and drinking enough water, I woke up early and stayed up late drinking too much champagne while sitting on the couch.
I’ve now come to see that you can’t run the marathon of your life when your body and mind are in a chronic state of inflammation. You also can’t run a real marathon — or go to work, create art, enjoy life — when your body and mind are always recovering from chronic abuse and misuse.
So, have I flipped the script and overhauled my life? Yeah, well, not entirely. Nutritional science is hot garbage, but I’ve been on the anti-inflammatory diet and experimenting with different foods to see how they make me feel. I’ve tried to avoid trigger foods that send my body into a state of bloated shock. And I’m trying to calm my brain so that, when I’m angry, my wrath is justified and not part of an ongoing and unhealthy way of living.
Adulthood sucks, man. I want to go out for dinner, eat whatever the hell I want, and drink myself into a coma. I also want to tell everybody how I feel with no consideration of how draining that is on my heart, on other people’s emotional wellbeing.
But inflammation is the trigger for the most common illnesses that kill people over the age of 40. Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and suicide are byproducts of physical and emotional inflammation. So if I want to experience more of adulthood — and run the New York marathon in November — I need to calm down.
For so long, my life was like a bonfire. Inflamed, uncontained, potentially uncontrollable. Now, as I get a little older and slower, I’m looking for a nice little firepit on the beach. I could do worse than live a life that’s welcoming, warm, and contained.