By Lori Grant
With huge fear and trepidation a client asked me a question in group. I could see and feel her fear. I could see her panic rising as she prepared to ask me something. I could tell the question was terrifying her, but she probably was more concerned over what my answer might be. It was barely a whisper, “Can I be cured?” Tears rolled down her cheeks as she hastily wiped them away. She did not want anyone to know how scared she was.
I was stunned. Stunned by the question, and the emotion behind it. I responded quickly, as if it was fact. “Yes, yes of course. Of course you can be cured. I absolutely believe it. If I didn’t believe it I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t be standing in front of you every day, teaching you different coping skills to use to make you feel better, showing you different ways to be, to ’Cure’ your diagnosis, depression, anxiety, etc.”
I think she was certain it was a lifelong diagnosis, a life sentence. Sadly this is what I think most of the clients I work with at the Partial Hospital Program feel. It saddens me. Unfortunately western medicine and psychiatry tend to believe a mental illness diagnosis is forever.
I believe the work I am doing shows that it has become a lifestyle for them. The Clients hate the diagnosis, but don’t have hope that it can be different so they don’t take action to make it different. Sort of “what’s the point? I still have it” thinking. No one tells them they can do anything to shift it, or cure it. They are given pills and told that will help. The pills numb them, exhaust them, and if they are lucky the pills will actually relieve some symptoms. That may be a great stepping stone of the healing process, but that is all it is, a stepping stone. It is not and should not be the end of the journey.
The work required to heal is hard, but as I tell my clients daily, it is worth it.
I realize that I made a mistake in saying, “Yes, it is curable”, because the truth is I don’t believe there is anything to cure to begin with. I believe the “mental illness” becomes a habit for most people stuck with that label. We learn it, because it serves us when we need it to. We don’t know how to handle certain feelings when they come up, so we bury them. We had to bury them to survive at some time; we had to cover up our feelings to get through some frightening emotions in life. And stuffing or burying our feelings works, until it doesn’t anymore. Our feelings come out sideways after a while, as anxiety, depression, addiction, etc.
I don’t believe these symptoms (anxiety, depression, etc.) are an illness to be diagnosed, I believe they are a coping skill the body and mind came up with to help them, and it no longer serves them.
This question was so emotional for me, that I actually recorded this blog into my phone after I left work.
It is making me step into my power, my belief system, and not fall into what I think is appropriate and okay according to the “medical system”. I admit I was very cautious and nervous not to upset the apple cart when I started coaching in an outpatient program. I knew how I felt about the meds and how backwards I think the psychiatric field is, but I didn’t want to offend anyone. I didn’t want to risk losing the program or getting fired. I lead my coaching groups and I mentioned energy work on occasion, but not in great detail.
The next day, I told the entire group that “I don’t believe you have to be cured, because that implies that you are “sick” to begin with. I don’t believe that from the very bottom of heart.”
They are my clients, not patients. They are the people that I work with; I see their hearts, their souls, their confusion, their misunderstanding about who they really are. They feel lost. That is what needs to be healed. They have been living a lie for so long. Lies of what is expected of them and what they are supposed to do, instead of what they want to do, what they are called to do. That is what is making them “sick.” So yes, they can be cured, but not in the typical way that western medicine thinks of curing someone. They can be cured, by owning who they really are, by loving who they are and acting and treating themselves with love and respect. To not expect who they are won’t change from one day to the next. And not to be judged on the fact that they might change their minds.
I honor and am in awe of the people that come through the door of where I work, for their courage and their strength. When they are absolutely terrified, and sometimes hopeless, believing how they are now (depressed, anxious…), is how they are going to be for the rest of their lives. When they enter the program and I work with them, honor them, and hold space for them, we (all members of the group) allow them to have all their feelings, including fears. We give them permission to be who they are without being wrong, without having something labelled as wrong sick. So they have an anxiety attack, big deal. It does not make them broken, it doesn’t make them need to be cured, it makes them human. It shows them how unaware they are of what they have been pushing away, stuffing down, and not dealing with. That is what I believe creates “mental illness”. What we push away, what we shut down, and what we do to please others.
As I look around the group, my heart is filled with love for them, and for their willingness to put themselves out there and to shift. I am also filled with angst for them, because they have to deal with a medical system that is so backwards, so damned backwards. Psychiatry has forgotten all about the humanity, the person. Everything is a symptom and all symptoms result in a prescription. There is nothing about what created the symptom to begin with. I am still shocked that prescriptions are written and if the “patient” doesn’t want to see a therapist they don’t have to. They can just go check in with a psychiatrist monthly or quarterly and get their prescriptions renewed. No working to clear anything, just a pill. That is what I think is backwards and horrible; beyond horrible, it is unhealthy and dangerous.
I know I am in an uphill battle, but I am willing to take the battle on. Not because I am so altruistic, but because I know that on the other side there is a human being that is so lost and confused that they buy into the story that others tell them about their inadequacies and their failures, of their sickness.
My goal is to remind them of their strengths and inner qualities. To let them know they may have to work at it, maybe harder than others, because so many people in their lives have convinced them that they don’t have any strengths.
So today, I realize there is no cure, because they have nothing to cure, in terms of medical illness. . They have simply lost their way. It is my job to help them find it again.
I help them by clearing their energetic blocks, so that they can fully embrace who they really are without fear of judgment, from themselves or others.
I show them the light, the light they have, the light they have always had. They buried it so deeply, they thought they didn’t have it.
I am grateful, grateful beyond words that I can do energy healing work with so many and help them in a way that no one has ever worked with them before. I am no longer shying away from my calling, I have jumped in with both feet and am doing energy work out in the open with all the clients and have happily gotten great feedback and support from my co-workers. I see a shift in the clients, an excitement, a hope, a willingness to do things differently.
It truly makes my heart sing.