March 1st, 2019
If you are a reader of my other blog "The Bee Writes..." then you know that I am currently integrating old posts from my previous blogs into my new blogs. I had many but decided last year that I need to "streamline" my blogging.
At first, I only wanted one blog but it does not feel right to "mix up" my self-caring and healing topics with my creative writing. So I am starting to integrate old "healing" posts here. Today is the first with my thoughts on what "being healed" actually means. Please enjoy!
January 8th, 2016
I am on a healing journey from mental health issues due to abuse in my childhood for more than 20 years.
The first time I realised that something was not quite right was when I studied Social Work. I had remembered funny things a few years earlier which I did not take seriously. Images that have appeared of the abuse were just too unrealistic. It could not have happened to me.
Besides, in the late '80s abuse was not as much in the media than it is now. It was still a taboo. And I did not know what it meant. I started studying in the early '90s and abuse was the "hip" topic in Social Work.
Professionals in the healing arts began to realise that many mental health issues had their roots in violence of all sorts. There have been courses to learn about the signs of abuse and what it means but I could not bring myself to take those courses. I did not know why exactly. I just had an enormous disdain for these courses.
It needed a few more years until I did my practical year to finish off my education as a social worker to realise that I was a survivor of abuse too. And ever since I am on a healing journey.
Perception is important
I often spoke of "challenges", "struggle" and about how hard it is to deal with mental health issues like PTSD, depression and anxiety but lately I realise that the way I perceive a situation has a lot to do with how it will turn out.
There are studies that show that cancer sufferers who believe they will get cured have a higher chance of being cured than those who perceive it is the end of their life no matter how good or bad their chances are.
That is why I try to change my expressions for mental health issues into more positive ones. And once I decided that I found a new question:
What does it mean to be healed?
You might say: "That is easy: it means the absence of illness!" But the truth is that mental health issues often are a chronic situation. You can't just get rid of them. Besides healing from abuse is a process ~ often a life-long process ~ that won't have an endpoint or a concrete sign of being cured.
Since I had EMDR therapy in 2014, I often asked myself: What does it mean for me to be healed?" I realised that there were many things I had achieved over the years: Immigration to the UK, finding my soul mate, writing my blogs, publishing a poetry book...
Still, I did not feel like I was healed. And when I finally felt I was cured I had a major flashback which shook me so badly I questioned everything I had achieved so far.
So what does it mean to be healed from mental health issues or being a survivor of abuse?
I believe there are no general answers. We are all individuals who have developed a unique coping mechanism and our way to healing is an individual one.
So, of course, being healed means different things to each of us. It might be that finding working coping mechanisms with a life-long mental health issue is "being healed". It might be not having to wake up with nightmares is being healed. It might be being at peace with how we are is "being healed".
I believe when we first start our healing journey from mental health issues we just want to get out. We just want to get out of the misery and not suffer anymore. However, we cannot precisely describe what it means until we are out of the main crises and have some distance to the trauma that caused our challenges in the first place.
Once we are there, we can start to think about what it is that we want to develop into. I believe this means to change our view from backwards (towards the trauma in the past) to the future and allow ourselves to dream and find what we really want.
That in itself is a massive achievement and in my eyes a good sign for being healed. Yes, there will still be our mental health flaring up but overall we do not let it be our primary characteristic anymore. There will be more than being a survivor or being a "sufferer" of mental health issues.
How do you describe "being healed"?
I am on my way to describe what "being healed" means for me. But what about you? Have you ever thought about what it means to be healed? And how have you answered this question?
Video Source: Rena Romano via TEDx and YouTube