pktechgirlbackup: (pktechgirl)
[personal profile] pktechgirlbackup
The surprisingly socially aware Cracked has an article on stupid habits you develop being poor. I had two thoughts when I read it: One, that's not about low income, it's about volatile income. Two, that's perfectly describes what I do with whatever you want want to call the combination of energy and focus that allows me to get anything done, ever.

I really, really identified with the feeling that whatever you do, you're going to end up tired (broke) again soon, so you have to spend this energy (money) as soon as you can. There's no concept of prioritizing because that will slow you down, and no concept of saving because it never seems to stay saved. Logically I know that can't be how it works, but my energy levels seem so exogenously determined that it breeds learned helplessness.

This suggests that ADD meds are useful beyond their primary effect of giving me energy. By providing a chemical reassurance there will always be energy, they create an incentive to use it carefully, the same way a guaranteed income could (theoretically) improve quality of life through increasing stability without costing much.

While we're using financial metaphors for health issues, let's talk about debt. I had a huge amount of physical and emotional debt stemming from a lifetime of malnutrition. Depending on how you count I started trying to pay that back 3 years ago (with cortisol and an artillery of vitamins) and started doing so effectively nine months ago (with HCl, and some vitamins). In many ways food/nutrients felt a lot like money and energy, in that my gut believed every morsel could be the last, and it needed to be spent as quickly as possible. This worked better than you would think, because my body listens to Dave Ramsey and its panicked spending took the form of paying down debt. It's not always the optimal thing to do, in health or in money, and I may not always have picked the optimal debt to pay, but it helped some and there was no chance of making myself worse off.

But I think that recently I paid off that debt, and am ready to start investing. The problem is that bodies are like old-timey economies; there's no bank that is happy to accept exactly as much money as you have for arbitrary, unspecified periods of time. There isn't even a mattress to store nutrition under. Either you invest it now, or you let it go. But investing takes commitment: if you get halfway through a project and run out of money/nutrients, you've not only lost everything you put in, but probably more besides. Potentially a lot more. And then once it's built, you have to maintain it. You'd be stupid to build anything unless you knew you'd continue to have the income to support it.

While I was in debt I could get away with throwing vitamins around haphazardly, knowing there was some decrepit organ somewhere that could be propped up with them. Now that I'm out of debt, I have a much more difficult task: convincing my body the nutrients will keep coming forever, or at least until the new structure has paid for itself. This is a very different challenge.

PS. I would like to state for the record that however challenging my medical issues have been, there are lots of people who have it as bad or worse in addition to being poor, and that is a lot harder than what I lived through.
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