Discover more from The Way I See It by Marcia Ramirez
The Important Work of Healing
Our Vessels Matter
Last week I watched a wonderful documentary on Netflix called Living To 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones and I highly recommend it to anyone. For those of you that don’t know, the Blue Zones are pockets of communities all around the world that have an extraordinary amount of centenarians. I was discussing it with my friend/hair dresser at my latest appointment and somebody from another chair across the room chimed in and said, “Who wants to live to 100? I sure don’t!” Ha. Well, there’s THAT — but I think we would all like to live to 100 if we were still thriving at that age, and that’s what is happening in the Blue Zones.
We often hear our bodies called “vessels”. It is the physical carrier of our souls, minds, spirits - all the things that make you, you. Many cultural messages talk often about how crucial it is to take care of our physical health. But lately, I’ve become acutely aware of how important it is to take care of our mental health as well. If our emotional and mental health is a mess - then what good is it to walk around in perfect physical health? Are we really helping the world be a better place for those we love by being the perfect weight or having 15% body fat, or excellent muscle tone? I mean, we can have perfect cholesterol levels, but if we aren’t happy, loving, emotionally healthy people, I’m not sure we are living our best lives.
The Way I See It by Marcia Ramirez is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
I honestly don’t know anyone who has lived any length of time on this earth that doesn’t have some kind of trauma that they need to work through. It’s pretty clear there is a mental health crisis in this country. People are filled with pain, anger, fear, and grief, and it’s showing in so many ways. As Father Richard Rohr says, “If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it—usually to those closest to us: our family, our neighbors, our co-workers, and, invariably, the most vulnerable, our children.”
This is why it’s important to work on ourselves. Because what we put out into the world matters. We can be vessels of healing or vessels of harm. Healing ourselves first is really the only way we can be light and love to others.
I have been a bit hesitant to talk about my own mental health journey. After all, it’s kind of... well... embarrassing. It’s hard to admit to the world that you are struggling. However, since I’m a habitual over-sharer anyway, I figured I’d just go ahead and spill it. Over the last couple of years, I have been having bouts of serious anxiety, panic attacks, and clinical depression episodes. I’ve been managing with help from loving family, good friends, and a great therapist. But it hasn’t been easy. I actually had such a bad episode last month that I have started on some medication to help. My therapist says medication and therapy should go hand in hand. The medication is like the life-preserver that gets thrown to you to keep you from drowning, and the therapist is the one pulling the rope to get you back in the boat. Makes sense, although I’ll admit I was really, really, hesitant to get on the medication.
Why was I so hesitant? Probably just pride. I thought I could handle it on my own. However, my husband reminded me that I’m always encouraging others who are struggling to take meds to help, so why wouldn’t I take my own advice? Sigh… I hate it when he’s right. Ha. (Spoiler alert, he’s always right. I married a smart man!)
I’ve learned just a few things from my recent struggles about healing that I’d love to share, because I’m going to bet that there are others out there in the same boat. Maybe a different storm, but… same boat. And if we can’t help others after going through difficult parts of our journey, then what’s the point, right?
Ok.. here we go:
Healing is HARD. But not healing and letting the trauma cause you to repeat harmful behaviors, either to yourself or others, is hard too. So, choose your hard.
Don’t be afraid of medication to help. You may not even need to stay on it long-term, but there is help out there to give your mind some relief so that you can process therapy easier. Another reason I was hesitant to try medication was because I had tried THREE others in my past that didn’t help or had bad side-effects. This latest one has been helpful. I’m glad I kept trying until I found the right one for my system.
Carefully pick your therapist. I had a wonderful one for a few years that passed away. After she passed, I went through several different therapists before I found the right one for me. If you go to a therapist for a few times and don’t feel like they are a good fit, don’t be afraid to try another one. Also, some of them specialize in certain treatments so finding one who is right for YOU, is crucial. No two are alike.
Exercise really does make a difference. There is science behind this to prove it’s a natural mood-booster, also helping with concentration and alertness. Of course, when you are depressed, the last thing you feel like doing is exercising, but my husband and I recently got some e-bikes and our daily bike rides have really been good for my mental health - as well as my physical health too. Win/win.
Don’t be ashamed to talk about it. Maybe you aren’t a chronic “over-sharer” like me… lol… but my therapist encouraged me to at least tell my closest people so that they can check on me and support me as I heal. It really has been great to know I’m not alone in my healing process.
Soul care matters. In my experience, having some kind of healthy spiritual practice is a big part of healing. Connecting with God, my Higher Power, offers another crucial piece of the puzzle that creates over-all wellness.
One more important thing to note: For healing to take place, you have to actually be ready and willing to heal. That may sound funny to some of you, like… who doesn’t want to heal? But I think we can sometimes over-identify with our pain. It becomes who we are and healing feels like we might be losing a part of ourselves.
When we heal, we have to let go of those grudges we have been carrying.
Are we ready?
When we heal, we have to forgive ourselves of mistakes and failures.
Are we ready?
When we heal, we let our trauma become part of our past, not part of our present.
Are we ready?
When we heal, we truly learn to love ourselves, scars and all.
Are we ready?
Our stories are our stories. We can’t erase what has happened to us, but we can heal from it. And when we heal from it, we are much better equipped to help others heal who are in the trenches now. Actually, as I’m typing this, I should probably substitute “when we heal” to “as we are healing” because I honestly think healing is a journey that we work on forever. If we aren’t careful, I think we can easily fall back into bad patterns if we aren’t consistent with our mental health choices. Just like our bodies will become unhealthy if we stop eating a healthy diet or regular exercise, our minds and emotions need consistent care, nurturing and love too.
Our vessels matter… our whole vessels. Mind, body, and soul.
If you are struggling, you aren’t alone. Many of us are. We’ve just spent years covering it up. So get help. Start healing. Because I really think when we heal ourselves, it’s ultimately how we heal the world.
Much love to you…. M