When I get a sore throat, I pop a Fruit Breezer. When I get an infection, I take an antibiotic. When I have a headache, it’s ibuprofen to the rescue. I take vitamins and try to eat healthy. I try to do yoga to make myself more flexible so exercise isn’t such an ordeal. I struggle with consistency, but it’s important, so I keep trying.
I try to pray and meditate every day. I try to stay in the Word and study what God has to say as much as I can. I try to encourage others with what I learn. It’s important to me, and though I struggle with it at times, I work at it, because I know I need it.
I try to cultivate my creativity whenever possible. I read what others have to say and I read about how and why they say it. I try to take in art and music and other things that make me feel creative. It’s important to me, and I work at it.
So I take care of my body and spirit, even when it’s difficult. It’s important. Taking care of my mind/emotions, however, has always been last on the list, at least until the last few years.
I find, from talking to others, that they’ll go to the doctor when needed, they’ll try to eat right and make an effort at exercise, but if something is troubling them emotionally, they’ll fight treatment of their ailment with all the strength they have. Been there, done that.
Trouble is, our emotions, whether they be healthy or damaged, affect us in body and spirit. I can speak to this personally. By the time I entered my 30’s, I was plagued with a lengthy list of symptoms that, in retrospect, make perfect sense with what was going on so deep inside of me. Personally, I thought I was losing my mind because I couldn’t see the connection.
Here’s a partial list of what I was enduring:
– sleeping problems, mainly intense insomnia
– nightmares, when I did sleep
– panic attacks
– outbursts of anger
– shock reactions when being touched
– self destructive behavior
– comforting myself with food
– control issues
– chronic, inexplicable pains
I could go on, but the above list of outward signs of something horribly wrong inside of me just goes to show that sometimes, to be healthy, we have to dig deep.
Yet so many stuff their emotions down and refuse to deal with them. Taking a pill is so much easier than digging deep to the root of the problem. By the time I faced my internal demons, my life was a mess. Most of my friends took a well deserved hiatus. I was unbearable to be around, and I couldn’t see why. I wouldn’t see why.
Many pray that God will fix their problem, and I believe in certain cases, he does. There are times, however, when he uses other people life to help dig deep and give tools to deal with the demons within. I believe that God has gifted many counselors and others to help the troubled, and they are often under utilized because people are afraid to confront what’s inside of them.
Jene’ finally suggested counseling. She didn’t beat me over the head with it, but when I would ask what’s wrong with me, she’d say, “I think you need to talk to someone.”
I was paralyzed with fear, and I didn’t know why. Like I said, I thought I was losing my mind. The nightmares had become so frequent and my back hurt so badly I could hardly sit down, but I still refused to go to counseling.
Finally, Jene’ confessed she had started praying for God to get a hold of me “in a real and personal way,” and my back got so bad I had to resort to crawling across my floor because I couldn’t stand up.
I made the appointment, and my life is so much better because I took that first step. Like I’ve said before, I have a long way to go, but I’d hate to think where I’d be if I hadn’t gone to counseling.
Yes, I’ll admit, that first six months, I was a mess. I was digging up all sorts of garbage and dumping it out and learning how to heal from something so traumatic, I’d repressed it for a couple of decades. In the midst of it all, I found God’s mercy, and an understanding of these traumatic events and how they make me, me.
I will never be a clean slate. This abuse I’ve suffered will always affect me. Triggers still surprise me. Though I am no longer in couseling, I still seek to improve my understanding of what makes me tick, and I collect tools of how to deal with the storm within. For the most part now, though, the storm within doesn’t control me anymore.
Am I a counseling advocate? Yes. Absolutely. It’s emotional surgery that I think for many is essential in the breakthough to a wholeness that few can understand unless they take the steps to heal.
Currently, I know someone who is in counseling. At first, she was reluctant to go. The only advice I could give her was that it would be tough, she would be a bundle of raw emotions for a while, I would be there for her, and when she got to the other side, life wouldn’t be perfect, but it would be better. She’s had a tough time of it, though, and sometimes she’s backed off, but she’s a fighter, and she keeps going, and the lights of clarity are coming on for her. I am so excited for her that when she shares with me what she’s learning and doing, I literally jump up and down in celebration. She’s going to make it to the other side, and she’s going to emerge victorious. We’re survivors and we have to stick together and encourage each other.
I feel an immense sadness for those who know they need to do some emotional surgery and they refuse to get help. They spin out of control, they internalize their madness, and then they wonder why their physical health and their spiritual lives are a wreck. I feel this sadness, because that’s how I used to live. I even ask Jene’, “did I do that? Was I like that?” and she nods, yes… and I wonder how I ever survived knowing what I know now. I’m amazed she’s still friends with me, but because she is, I try to stick by those who are where I once was as much as I can without being pulled backward into their spiral.
I am not perfect… I occasionally have setbacks. What keeps me going is having the tools I need to help me when I stumble. I get back up again, dust myself off, and continue going forward.