Healing is such a personal process. There is no “right” way to heal. More than likely you’ll have to try on a few different healing styles to see what fits best. As someone who has taken part in a variety of healing methods, I like to think I know a little bit about a lot of different healing methodologies. It has been nine years of saying, “well, it’s worth a shot.” That sounds a little casual but when you’re consumed by mental illness you want that pain to stop and you want relief, so you say “fuck it, let’s try this treatment path too.”
Now I’m not going to sit here and tell you which path of healing to try or my general opinions on different methodologies. I felt there was a more powerful direction for this piece. I want to share with you the lessons I learned during my course of various treatments, the things that guided me through a process that is often messy, frustrating, overwhelming, and ever-changing. So let’s get to it because you are so worthy of healing. Here are my top five tips for engaging with your healing:
Enter healing with an open mind:It is difficult to start the healing journey with a closed mind. There are modalities of treatment that may sound silly or childish or outlandish to you but sometimes you need to drop preconceived notions and be willing to just try. Take me starting expressive arts therapy 18 months ago where I was forced to draw my emotions and experiences. My therapist commented on the look of discomfort on my face every session she made me draw. At first, I found this method of therapy unhelpful until I realized my therapist’s intentions. I was being pushed out of my comfort zone in therapy. Nobody had ever consistently forced me to engage with my discomfort like that. Outside of my sessions, I found I was willing to push myself outside of my comfort zone during other life events. It created the shift I needed. Disclaimer: my art skills have not improved even incrementally, but my life has opened drastically.
Be patient: Healing isn’t an overnight process. I know when you’re in a place of pain you want immediate relief. Unfortunately, illness doesn’t usually occur overnight so wellness isn’t going to happen overnight either. Be willing to stick treatments out even when it feels like nothing is getting better right away. That’s not to say stick out a treatment that is causing more harm than good but often it’s in the willingness to stick out the discomfort that we start to see incremental change.
Try to approach it with a sense of humor: This is something that came with time. I take my treatment seriously but I think it’s okay to approach healing with humor. It eases some of the heaviness that comes with unpacking your illness. I remember when I began acupuncture I would send selfies covered in needles to friends and ask if they thought I looked pretty. I knew I was facing a treatment course void of medication due to health issues and that I was getting desperate for relief. Rather than putting that kind of pressure on this new form of healing, I made it fun for myself (and horrifying for all my friends who received pics and hate needles). It made the experience infinitely more pleasant to have the ability to laugh during an uncertain time.
Do your research. Ask your questions:I think it is really important for you, or someone who is helping you navigate treatment, to take the time to do some research. There is power in knowledge. You want to be informed about what you are going to be taking on or taking in. If you have questions, ask them. If you’re not being heard or getting the answers you need, be persistent. Get a second opinion. Read articles, medical journals, and books if you can. There isn’t a more empowering feeling than knowing you’re taking the reigns of your recovery.
Find a way to be held accountable: One of the most difficult pieces in healing is consistently showing up to do the things you need to do. This work is not easy. It is exhausting. It can feel easier to just not. I’ve found that setting up a system of accountability for yourself is really beneficial. Find someone who will work out with you. Put sticky notes up to remind yourself to take your medication. Find apps that help keep you meditating, journaling, or practicing positive self talk consistently. Whatever your healing modality is, find methods to keep you practicing it with consistency. Growing up on a field/court, I was regularly told if I didn’t practice I wouldn’t see improvement. Occasionally I rolled my eyes because it was often said after a grueling two hour practice, but the sentiment is true. Change happens when you’re consistent.
With an unabashed zeal to heal,