You are worth the time and help you need to heal
This piece is inspired by my reflections from a journal question about healing allies in Lucy H Pearce’s seminal book Medicine Woman.
When it comes to healing from traumatic events, a loss, domestic abuse or an unexpected change in your life, you are worth the time and the help of the healing journey. Your healing journey may involve talking therapies, behaviour therapies or healing modalities like Reiki. You are worth pursuing the help that is right for you.
If you are noticing unhelpful patterns in your daily life such as disordered eating, self-harm, anxiety driven behaviour, substance abuse and/or unhealthy relationships you are worth the time and help from a qualified therapist, doctor and support group. In fact, you are worthy of any healing or therapy modalities you may choose to support you through your recovery and growth.
Sometimes people do not believe they are worth the effort. The fallout from the Covid19 situation will continue to impact our holistic health long after the economy eventually recovers from the damage. Finding a healing community and ways to take care of ourselves has never been more crucial.
Sometimes it takes another person, a healing ally, to help us see that we are worth the time, help and our own self compassion, which are required for understanding the origins of and healing our unhelpful patterns. I met my own healing ally when I began to recover from an eating disorder.
I had spent much of my life searching in the wrong places for the chance to be seen, heard and understood. I had drunk too much booze, taken too much cocaine, dated abusive partners and justified their unacceptable conduct if it meant they would not leave, but underlying all of this was a tug of war between over exercise and counting calories which had been looming since I was a teenager.
Sitting in my GP’s office in South London on a sweltering day I let it all come flowing out. She listened and handed my tissues. She didn’t try to rationalise what I was saying, explain it away as something everybody goes through or that somehow, I was just too sensitive and melodramatic. She waited until I had stopped speaking, until I had sipped some water and got my breath back. Then there was a pause which seemed to stretch out defying time.
I feel the lump in my throat as I write about this nearly 10 years later, knowing that I had spoken the words which left me on a precipice I had never been before. I was exhausted and a tiny part of me was ready to accept help.
She validated me. She told me I was not losing it and it was OK to speak about what was happening with me. She told me I was poorly and needed help to get better. She said it wouldn’t be easy but that recovery was possible. She said the word I had never let myself consider, anorexia. The tears began again. The relief of being told that I deserved to be listened to and deserved to be well cracked my heart open.
I remember my body shaking, releasing the tension of suffering, suppressing, trying to run from this thing but being totally consumed by it was finally out in the open. She told me that whether I believed it or not I had done the right thing, that I was brave for coming to see her because now she could find me the specialist help I deserved.
Is your partner supporting you? She asked. I was silent. Then came loud, gurgling sobs. I told her what it was like to be with him.
That is abusive, she said. I took in her words and validation. You deserve better. I told her that I had tried my best not to tell him any of this because he had made it clear he’d had enough of what he called my outbursts (I now realise these outbursts were panic attacks) and tears in the middle of the night. He would tell me to leave the room if I cried at night. She did not tell me I had to leave him or question why I was staying. This is never helpful for those in abusive relationships, but she made it truly clear that his behaviour was not OK.
Dr Jo was my first healing ally. She believed in me when I could not believe in myself.
She steered me toward recovery while I eventually chose to grab my life back and say yes to getting better. I am beyond grateful to her for gently encouraging me that I was worth it, that life was worth it.
She moved heaven and earth to make sure I could be treated by the right doctors at the Maudsley Hospital. She sat on panels, collated my case notes, asked for a social worker, wrote letters, navigated the red tape required by the NHS to prove that a woman in her late twenties was worth the time and money of treatment to recover from anorexia. Whatever you are dealing with, you too are worth the time and money.
She believed that I wanted to heal, and so did I, for a while though I could not say it out loud because I worried I would fail at being well. I know there are no failures in recovery though because all our paths will look different, sometimes it is one step forward and two steps back. I witness this with those who come to me for Reiki and yoga.
We all need healing allies; GPs, therapists, healers, friends and most importantly ourselves. We need to recognise that we are worthy of time, resources, self-enquiry and help. As part of my Reiki practice I tune into Reiki daily to help me deconstruct and release some of the looped thought patterns that hang around, even after almost 10 years in recovery! Reiki is like a comforting ally which helps to bring one back to the present when the brain's busy or disempowering chatter takes over.
Being well is a right not a privilege and it is not easy for everybody to find their healing ally. People who are part of marginalised communities will have struggled to access care that may be easier to source if one is white and male. If I were a resident of the USA, I would not have been able to afford to pay for my anorexia treatment. It seems that voters in the States believe that health is only for those who can afford to pay for healthcare.
In the UK we can access free health care from the NHS, who have been doing everything to help people who are ill with Covid19. The NHS was there for me when I was recovering from anorexia, but there are also many other therapists who work privately to help people through difficulties by employing modalities which are not always recognised or signposted to by the NHS.
As a yoga and Reiki teacher I believe private practitioners, wellness centres and yoga studios have a duty to make sessions affordable and be willing to negotiate prices where we can, so that health is not just kept for those who can afford to pay out big fees for each appointment. Of course, healers and therapists deserve to be paid for the good work we do (I’m not naïve though, there are charlatans out there) but so do NHS workers who are financially insulted by government after government, especially due to Conservative austerity.
Sadly, due to government restrictions many private practitioners like myself have seen our incomes plummet as we have not been allowed to treat our clients in person when they have needed it most when faced with mounting mental health issues exacerbated by rigid government lockdown laws.
Those wishing to find healing allies in the NHS have faced difficulty because in-person appointments seem hard to come by these days as GPs have been advised to conduct appointments online or by telephone. There is nothing that can match in person, real life contact for helping a person to heal especially someone’s low confidence or low self-esteem have hindered their attempts to find an ally.
You are worth the time and help to heal. No matter how life and this Covid landscape impacts you, please know you matter, and you deserve to be well. You are not a burden, or a time waster and you are not being melodramatic. You are not weak for needing help. Find your ally and access the help you need.