Getting Through Tough Days

I’m packing to move.
I’m applying for a mortgage.
I am applying for medical insurance, because my old insurer doesn’t insure in Arizona.
Had enough? Me, too.
All day long, people tell me ‘no,’ make me do useless paperwork, and push me into a corner. I haven’t seen a doctor in a year, so I must be hiding something. If you have seen a doctor in the last year, you must be sick, so we’ll deny you coverage. The last doctor I saw retired, and I have to track him and my records down. I have to lose 10 pounds by Wednesday.
In short, getting health insurance is hard if you own your own business.

Frustration, from igerardftw.com

Frustration, from igerardftw.com

So what’s this about?
I’m amazed at how many people are giving me advice I didn’t ask for.
And worse, I’m amazed at how I’m letting them engage me.
Need to lose 10 pounds in a week? One person told me to take laxatives and diuretics. Another told me to “just not eat.” These are not stupid people. These are people who want to be helpful.
So they say the first thing that comes to their heads. The idea that these suggestions are not safe, and could wind me up having to see a doctor doesn’t occur to them.

So my answer can’t be “Are you STUPID? I’m trying to get HEALTH insurance here!”
One friend told me that I had chosen everything I put into my mouth, so I could not complain that I was overweight. She, of course, is whippet thin.

How am I getting through the day without strangling all these helpful people? By realizing that they are just saying anything at all. This is not advice, even if it sounds like it. And it’s not helpful. If I yell, I will just offend them. So I’m acting “as if,” an old coping trick I learned years ago from a friend in AA. I’m acting as if they are helpful.
“I could try that,” I say, knowing I won’t. But it makes them feel as if they are helping, which is really what they want to do.

If I yell, I’ll feel bad afterwards. Not like me. So that isn’t an option for me.

I’m receiving unwanted advice on how to pack, how to carry boxes, how to manage my time. And instead of being angry, I’m saying, “Thanks for the advice.” This is not what I want to say. I want to ask them if they think I’m an idiot, that I don’t need their advice, that a real friend would bring me supper and keep their mouth shut. But that is not what they have to offer. What they have to offer is glib words that will make them feel better.

And what I have to offer is not yelling or taking it personally. It’s just yakking. So I’m steering through these dangerous, emotionally difficult times by remembering that these people are trying to be helpful. This is not about me. I won’t take it personally. No, I willlll not.

If you are stressed, try remembering that all that advice is not about you. It’s about the fixers in the world who must fix your problem at any cost, even if it isn’t a real fix. Even if it is what they wish they would have done. It sounds good to them. And it is not about you.

And if you are dealing with someone who is stressed, before you offer one word of advice, ask. Go ahead, ask, “Do you want my advice?” And if the person says, “No,” or even “Sure, go ahead,” laugh and say, “You’ve had too much advice already. How about I’ll bring you take-out Chinese tonight? Here’s a take out menu. Circle what you want, and tell me what time you want it.” If you can’t manage that, simply say, “This hard part will pass.”

–Quinn McDonald is stressed over her move and the amazingly Byzantine twists and turns of the medical insurance world. She wants the move to be over soon. (c) 2008. All rights reserved

9 thoughts on “Getting Through Tough Days

  1. I’m sad you’re leaving my area, and even sadder that I didn’t get to see you one last time – guess I should have offered to bring over dinner instead of to help pack!

    —-> It was a highly emotionally charged time for all of us. There were tears and temper, and a better idea will be to either come visit us when we are settled or to meet when I return to DC. I have clients and travel. You are a dear, kind person no matter where we meet! -Q

  2. I’m sorry to say, misery loves company! It was great reading you’re moving, only because I am moving too and so could identify!! “You need any help?” and you know they mean well, but really don’t want to carry your stuff or pack.
    My sister is a size “o” and remembers me thin too.Hey, I got Dad’s genes not Mom’s!! She wants me to diet during this. I’m
    in Florida dealing with a “sinkhole”…I NEED
    chocolate!!! See you at S.A.G.E in Sedona??

    —I think I can get through all of this if I keep thinking of SAGE in Sedona, indeed! A sinkhole? Oh, no! Quick, get the chocolate! -Q

  3. oh, yeah, I AM a rabbit in heat–it’s over 100 here and my nickname is rabbit. So how come I’M not losing weight?!
    All those freaks who give you weird weightloss advice just don’t get it. We need to lose weight in a way that is not going to trigger health problems, not in ways that makes things worse, and there IS no way to do that. The ones who advise you to watch what you put IN your mouth should watch what comes out of their own.

    Good luck with the move; it’s a rough go but you have good survival and coping skills (and besides, just think: you’ll have cats and a hubby to snuggle!).

  4. I deeply sympathize with your moving trauma. My last apartment move was 19 years ago, and as far as I’m concerned, that wasn’t long enough ago. I got a tiny (micro, really) taste of moving when my wallet was stolen yesterday and I have to move into a new, unfurnished one. That’s all the trauma I can take right now. And I’ve forgotten about all the ancillary rigamarole like change-of-address notices, new insurance and what not.

    As for the weight loss, I hate the advice you’ve been given, as you seem to also. I don’t have an answer, but I’m fighting the same battle. Of course, it’s a battle so many of us fight that a whole industry has grown up around it. A major branch might be called the “make your bathroom scale smile” branch, which involves not drinking, diuretics, or clothes that make you sweat. Hadn’t heard about purgatives. Water is heavy, but losing it, while making the bathroom scale smile, is dangerous and not really weight loss.

    The rest reminds me of Nancy Reagan’s anti-drug campaign, Just Say No. Sure, just don’t eat. It’s easy. You just need will power. People still come up with this 19th century simplistic crXX, sorry, nonsense. We are slowly learning about motivations and how the brain works, and Just Say No simply Just Don’t Work.

    —> As you get older, it’s harder to lose weight, unless you have the metabolism of a rabbit in heat. Yes, I’m overweight, but I walk 3 miles a day, and I eat an amazingly healthy diet, so my bet is that I’m healthier overall than the snarky woman across from me. The wallet thing is actually worse than moving, which is just physical exertion. Wallet theft is invasion of trust.
    -Q

  5. I can’t resist offering one more piece of unsolicited advice: keep on writing, Quinn. You are one of the funniest people I know and I always enjoy hearing your reactions to the world around you! This one made me laugh out loud.

    —> Writing is my sense of humor. I quit writing, I explode. And NO one wants to clean that up.
    -Q

  6. Will keep my fingers crossed for you.

    All those feelings are so legitimate..

    Don’t forget to look in the mirror at the end of each day and give yourself a big compliment for you moved mountains again.

    —> Thanks, it’s an important thing to remember. We look at what is not done, where looking at what is done is really satisfying. -Q

  7. If you want, I’ll cast a pox on your whippet-friend. For free.

    Sorry things are so tough right now. Moving is bad enough without the health insurance wrinkle. Chasing after health insurance in this day and age is a task best left for Olympians. Unfortunately, most of them are in China at the moment, so it’s mere mortals that must now do the work, eh?

    —> hee, hee. Maybe I can distract myself with the Olympics. If they can shoot them through the smog. The whippet thin friend was a trifle too smug in her predictions. Particularly since she was eating a hot fudge sundae and I was drinking a cup of coffee. And she said it because I use whole milk. I would have used half and half, but they were out. -Q

  8. BTW, whippet-resembling ‘friends’ are not allowed to comment on weight issues. Simply not allowed. I think it’s against all humanitarian regulations.

    —> She’s been thin all her life, too. Alas, she remembers me when I was thin as well. -Q

  9. Ah – packing, money, and health insurance. All monsters, to be sure! “This too will pass” – imagine doing a few laps in your pool in November. Ahhh! That sounds like a great reward for all this hassle. I’ve always wanted to swim under a starry sky myself.

    —>Swimming at night is a big thing in the SouthWest. We have pool lights, but I think I’ll be swimming under the stars.
    –Q

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