WELLNESS WEDNESDAY: What They Don't Tell You About Healing
A few years back, I decided to see a therapist after battling Generalized Anxiety and Depression. As a high functioning individual, I was so used to operating in autopilot I didn’t realize that I was going on a downward spiral.
A month or two prior I was diagnosed with Discoid Lupus, an autoimmune disease that attacks my healthy skin cells. In a nutshell, it's a condition where direct sunlight makes me physically ill and causes my skin to freak out/flare-up in the form of lesions or scabs.
When I first found out, it tore me apart, triggering my anxiety and depression in ways that I could not imagine; it felt like a life sentence. Aside from the physical symptoms of the disease, like skin lesions, chronic fatigue, joint pain; I was also dealing with the mental and emotional ramifications that came with it.
As President of the “doing too much” ministry, I figured I could go to my regularly scheduled programming and bounce back like I never left, but my body had other plans.
Not long after my diagnosis, I was on the phone with a close friend, when I can feel my entire body shaking. I begged her to keep talking, so I can focus on her voice and keep myself focused. This weird feeling that came over my body was all too familiar and mimicked the same signs that I had experienced the day after I gave birth to my son when the doctors told me that I had a seizure.
I tried to keep it together, like we always do, until I couldn’t hold out any longer and had a full-on panic attack.
I did not know what I needed, or how to ask for help, something that many of us can attest to.
After countless visits from different specialists, I was prescribed medication to help treat the symptoms and relied on google to help me cope and adapt to this new lifestyle.
I had two distinct marks on my forehead above my left eyebrow and experienced hair loss. I had to go through great lengths to protect myself when going out like wearing sunscreen, hats, and/or avoiding prolonged sun exposure.
It was taxing on my body and my spirit.
I would cover my face with makeup to mask the marks on my face in an attempt to not draw attention to myself or have people ask me a bunch of questions about what happened.
Every day was a battle.
My pride was crushed because I had allowed myself to get to the point where I lost control.
I wasn’t used to giving myself the mental and emotional space to feel. Feeling made me feel weak and helpless.
Numbing the pain was easier than dealing with it.
I kept telling myself that I was strong and that I didn’t have the luxury of breaking down. Everything else and everyone else was my priority, and when I had energy left over, then I would make time to breathe, process, and rest, just not now.
I wish I knew that healing was a lifelong, ongoing process of learning and unlearning behavior patterns.
There’s no magic pill.
The only cure is the unconditional love of self.
See, what I learned is that its all a matter of perspective, that healing starts with the mind.
You have to surrender to the process and embrace your scars; and to love yourself at every stage, even when it's painful.
What facilitates healing is giving yourself permission to feel.
I mean really get into the nitty-gritty of your feelings. Go ahead and have a full-on ugly cry. The one where your eyes are swollen, snot all over the place, and your nose all rosy from using an entire box of Kleenex.
I had to take off my superwoman cape and humanize myself.
As uncomfortable as it was, I had to get down in the trenches and ask myself some hard questions; like why did it take something so drastic for you to finally realize that you matter too?
The hardest part was accepting that I had let myself down by putting myself last, and not loving myself enough to make certain changes until my health was in jeopardy.
I had to extend myself some grace and bathe in forgiveness for not knowing that I deserved better, from me.
There is nothing more self-sabotaging than one’s unwillingness to do the self-work to heal.
How can you master your emotions, if you don’t take the time to identify them, better yet, try to understand them?
It’s nearly impossible.
In the words of the homie, Jay Z, “you can’t heal, what you never reveal.”
One of the biggest lessons that I learned is that healing is not easy. It's not a one-time thing. Like motivation, healing must be maintained, and intentional, it’s a life project.
For me, I had to establish a daily routine of making small, healthy choices to replenish my mind, body, and soul.
Eating a balanced breakfast (oatmeal, fruit, and or drink a green smoothie)
Getting my body moving (go for a walk/run, stretch, or dance)
Praying, listening to an uplifting podcast, reciting 3 things I'm grateful for
Recently, I went back to therapy and starting journaling. I have found that sometimes just being able to get my thoughts out is enough because it helps me to release whatever pinned up feelings I was keeping inside.
I'm not where I want to be yet, but I'm so much further than I was before.
Instead of judging myself, I choose to exercise more patience with myself and give myself some extra love and attention on tough days.
I am also more vocal about my struggles, and let people in and allow them to help me.
I used to think that I had to have together all the time, but in retrospect, I realize how counterproductive that it is.
What keeps me going is my faith in God, my children, my personal goals/dreams, and reminding myself that pain has an expiration date.
Even at your lowest moments, remember that these are only moments and that they will pass. I promise it will pass.