Blog

Stories from a life in progress.

Starving

One of the things that anxiety does to me is make me forget to eat.  Which is probably an oversimplification, but not too much of one.  It actually turns into a terrible feedback loop, and I'm not sure which usually comes first -- forgetting to eat, or being anxious.  But being hungry makes me feel anxious, which makes me not really want to eat, which makes me feel worse.

Last week was tough on the anxiety front, between medical tests and doctor visits.  Tuesday was the worst day, and most of the misery came just because I was hungry and I couldn't tell. Physical signals get crossed when I'm fighting with bad anxiety spells.  Physical hunger gets translated into emotional nervousness.  So I didn't eat enough or eat when I should have, and by evening I was in quite a state.  I could finally tell I was both anxious and hungry, because by that point I was in fact starving.

Well.  I say starving.  The actual truth is that I am nowhere near starving.  I am too well fed on a regular basis to be in any serious danger of starvation.  A more literal statement of the facts is that because my mind was playing stupid tricks on me so that I wasn't eating, I can't consciously remember ever being as hungry as I was by Tuesday evening.

I had an answer ready; eat something.  The means were at hand. Eating helped.  I've been trying hard since to make sure I eat.

It makes me think about this, though: there are people in the world who don't have a choice.  There are quite a number of people who feel like I did on Tuesday, not because their brains are being weird, but because they don't have the means to fix the problem.  They simply don't have food.

I have never been face to face with actual starvation.  I don't know anybody who is chronically underfed; which is to say, if any of my friends or acquaintances are chronically underfed, I am ignorant of that fact.

There is a massive problem with hunger in the world, and I don't have any clue what it is like.  One day spent very hungry because of a weird brain gives me just a little example, just the beginnings of feeling what starvation is like.  Only the very edge, and it was hard, and I didn't have any idea of what it felt like until I felt it.  Just like I had no idea how I felt about the idea of being poor, I had no idea what it felt like to starve.

I still don't really know.  But I'm more conscious of my cluelessness.  I'm struck by how little this problem, this massive world issue, has ever been real to me.  People suffer every single day because they are starving, and I'm not sure I've ever really cared, because it's always been theoretical, effectively fictional, part of stories about people I didn't know.  People starve, and I'm disturbed by how little I understand what that means, and how little my behavior says I care.