Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

I'm Angry About Getting Sick Despite a Healthy Lifestyle

Life is not always fair.

Dear Dr. G.,

I am a 55-year-old mother of 1 teenage daughter. I have spent most of my adult life preparing for staying healthy as I age. I exercise regularly. I eat cleanly. I don't smoke and rarely drink. I go to my doctor's appointments regularly and take good vitamins. I believe that I am a good role model for my daughter. This has always been one of my top goals.

Nonetheless, I have developed some health issues during the past few years. Most recently, I developed a high cholesterol level and am now on a statin. I can't even believe it. I do not have a family history of heart disease and I am embarrassed. I can't understand what I may have done wrong. All of this strenuous self-care and I have health issues. I am embarrassed and furious. I feel defeated. Is there something else I should have been doing? I thought these sorts of issues were reserved for people who have a very different sort of lifestyle. How do I make sense of this?

A Frustrated Mother

Dear Mother,

I must say that I applaud all of your efforts to take good care of yourself and to be a good role model for your daughter. Please continue everything that you have been doing. I love your comment that you have been preparing for aging for many years. This is a wonderful goal and I wish that more people had your attitude and lifestyle. Your daughter is lucky to have you for a role model.

I understand why you feel frustrated. I want you to consider several ideas. First, imagine how your health and cholesterol level may have been affected if you had an unhealthy lifestyle. Your health may have been considerably more problematic. Second, life is not always fair and I am sure that you are painfully aware of that at this point. Third, the fact that you need to take medicine should not be a source of shame nor an admission of guilt. It is yet another way of taking care of yourself. By being medication-compliant you are sticking to your original goal of preparing for a life that continues to be healthy currently and as you age. Fourth, you should continue to be proud of your lifestyle and continue your good habits. These habits are good for your mental and physical health. Finally, you will encounter individuals who have unhealthy habits who seem to dodge the bullets of ill health. No one knows why this is the case. Perhaps, they are genetically blessed. You are blessed, too: You have the ability to stick to an incredible lifestyle. Keep on doing that. It will pay off in a million different ways.

Please be easier on yourself. There is no reason for you to be such a harsh self-critic. You cannot control every change that occurs in your health as time marches on. Instead, you can do the best you can and continue to have hope that you will reap the benefits. The fact that you are now taking a medication does not mean that you have done anything wrong. It simply means that you have one more tool to help you stay well. I am sure that if you speak to your friends and colleagues, you will find out that you are in good company. Many people are on similar medications. You might feel better comparing notes with others. It helps to know that you are not alone, right?

After some thought and a little bit of time, please get back to me. You clearly need time to process my suggestions.

Dr. G.