Exactly 11 years ago I had a successful grownup life: I had my own business; I’d been living with my boyfriend for 7 years; I had a very engaging social and cultural life; I lived in a very good neighborhood in one of the most exciting cities in the world (São Paulo); I had everything most people struggle for: a solid career; a very nice relationship; a comfortable life, etc… Of course that I had to work from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. 6 days a week, but who didn’t? Then, one morning the alarm clock went off at 5:30 and when I put my right foot on the floor I felt like someone was stabbing me on my back. I had to sit down and I could barely breathe. That was the beginning of a year full of doctor’s appointments; extensive tests; bad diagnosis and wrong treatments. At the end of that year, I was finally diagnosed as having a degenerated disc in my lower back and was sent to a new program in one public hospital in São Paulo. I was shocked when my physician told me to go to a public hospital and spend a week there, but he convinced me to give it a try. The program consisted mainly in alternative, nonconventional medical treatments. First of all they took the time to explain each one of us what was the physical source of our pain and what could have caused it. Then they taught us how to sit, sleep and work comfortably. They recommended acupuncture to help with the pain and then they started bringing different professionals to teach us how to relax and have fun. They showed us that we had to learn how to deal with the stress in our lives in order to be able to have a life without pain. So I started taking acupuncture; seeing a psychologist and found some time in my tight schedule to “have fun”. The acupuncture helped me to deal with the pain and the psychologist helped me to find the cracks in my flawless life: I realized I had a life I didn’t want to have: I didn’t want to be a business owner and have all the responsibilities I had; I liked my boyfriend but I didn’t love him (being with him was very nice, but I had settled down. I found out that I’d rather be alone for the rest of my life than keep myself in that situation) and although I’d always loved São Paulo, it was time to move out. The life I had seemed perfect, but I was a very boring and bored person living a very boring and stressing life. Besides working long hours, the “fun” I had wasn’t really fun. I used to go to the movies twice a week but I usually watched dramas. My boyfriend used to say I had my own system of rating movies: If I’d have shed a tear the movie had been OK; If I’d have shed many tears the movie had been good; if I’d have cried my eyes balls out the movie had been excellent. The same system was used for the theater and for books. I used to subscribe to at least 2 newspapers and one news magazine and I watched the news in Portuguese, English and Spanish every day. I love to learn languages, but I was taking Spanish, Italian and French lessons at the same time. I tried to cope with that life for a while, after all if everybody thinks your life is wonderful and you are the only one that does not, you start thinking that maybe you are the problem. One day, however, I decided to change everything: I broke up with my boyfriend; I sold my business and I took a 3 month vacation in the northeast of Brazil. I didn’t have any plans. I stayed a month doing nothing in Jericoacoara (Ceara), and two months in Pipa, Galinhos, São Miguel do Gostoso and Natal (Rio Grande do Norte). When I arrived in Natal I met a friend of mine who is a business owner and I was offered a job. I’ve lived in Natal since 2001. I’ve had a simple but comfortable and healthy life. I totally changed my attitude towards life. I had read about Norman Cousin’s laugh therapy and I decided to give it a try: my rating system nowadays goes like this: one smile – OK; many laughs – very good; LOL – excellent. I still watch the news, but not every day and I never ever watch or listen to the sordid or bloody details. I started watching cartoons again and I love them (Tom and Jerry; Ed, Edd and Eddy and Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends are some of my favorites). I always watch sitcoms: Seinfeld and Frasier are classics that I’ll never stop watching, but I also like Two and a Half Men (Charlie Sheen’s or Ashton Kutcher’s); How I Met Your Mother; Los Caballeros las Prefieren Brutas and Los Simuladores. I love comic books and jokes. I’ve been following the Humorous Dispassionate blog (http://alsanda.wordpress.com/) for some months and it has been a great source of laughs. I know that the question is if the therapy has worked out or not. The answer is yes, but don’t think it has been easy. When you decide to live a life that’s not the one everybody approves and/or desires you will be looked down; you will be regarded as “eccentric” or “difficult”. I really don’t care and I never regret the choices I’ve made. My degenerated disc is still in my lower back: from time to time, it says “hello”, but it has never stopped me from doing anything again. I’ve never felt that excruciating pain again. I’m not a naïve person and I know that life can be a bitch. I’ve chosen not to worry about it and live it the best way I can: having fun.
Fotógrafo/Photographer: Stefano Paterna (direitos reservados/copyrighted)