It is only natural that when people hear the term “holistic” it conjures up notions of hippies and herbalists, tree-huggers and voo-doo. But consider these definitions:
1. Characterized by the comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole
2. Characterized by the treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the physical symptoms of disease
"Emphasizing the organic or functional relation between parts and the whole"
These are pretty accurate in describing the personal journey I have been on for several months now. It has nothing to do with herbs or sticks and twigs or hippies. Rather it is the examination of myself as a complete unit of body, mind and spirit. For a few years now, somewhere between two and three years, I have encountered stress upon stress, and it has taken its toll on me. (Reference “If You Really Want to Know” for an introduction to this.) Finally, at the end of 2011, it reached a peak from which I could not climb down on my own. A family trauma left me reeling and broken emotionally, and opened my eyes to years of manipulation, and finally led me to seek counseling for the second time in my life. Meeting with a counselor led me to getting a complete physical, which revealed exorbitant levels of cholesterol and blood sugar, and extreme deficiency in my Vitamin D level. (This is actually a pretty chronic thing among Americans, this D deficiency. I highly recommend people get their levels established and do the research as to why this is important.) Worst of all, depression had left my high and dry, physically and spiritually. I had no desire to do much of anything, let alone try to connect with the God of the universe and maintain a relationship with him. I was languishing in the desert.
When we moved onto this property at the end of 2010, we brought with us stuff we had collected over the years at the previous place, plus junk we had collected at the place before that (aka Hell House). From day one I said, “I will not move this crap anymore,” and started throwing things away, re-homing other things, and really examining why I was hanging on to belongings that only made more work for me and less time for things that were truly important. To say it was liberating to let go of stuff is a major understatement!
Once I started counseling, though, the analogies hit me like a ton of bricks. Okay, sure, I was hauling around with me a bunch of useless garbage that only weighed me down and robbed my joy. But boy oh boy, the emotional baggage I was hauling around!!! The trauma inflicted upon me by a close family member left me reeling in shock and absolutely heart-broken, but through the pain lucidity prevailed, and things I had chosen to ignore and allowed to happen were revealed in perfect clarity. It took me several weeks to process it all, and a patient and kind counselor, but I was finally, in the end, able to put down emotional baggage I had been carrying with me for decades. I only needed to open my eyes to the burden I had allowed to be placed upon me to finally realize that is was not even mine to be carrying. Talk about liberation!!!!
Though clarification was mine, years of stress and depression had left me depleted. I made the decision to begin anti-depressants for the first time in my life. I never wanted to before, and I have come through bouts of depression in the past with good counseling and spiritual renewal. I came to realize, though, that sometimes you can just get so low, biologically speaking, that recovery is doubtful without medical support. I take an antibiotic when I have an infection; I felt my mental state warranted some assistance.
The state of my body and my diet has been deplorable for several years. I don’t even understand how I got through the summers of landscaping work like I did. My diet was terrible, high in comfort foods and foods eaten to unwittingly boost my endorphins and adrenals. The result is being overweight, over-cholesterol, over-sugared. There was no way I was going to exercise the way I needed to if I didn’t feel like it. There was no way I was going to feel like it unless I felt better. Vicious cycle, right? You betcha. But test results don’t lie, and are a huge wake-up call. Reduce my sugar levels, lower my cholesterol, make my heart and body fit again or risk serious, life-long health debilitation.
Meds helped me feel better emotionally, and started bringing my mental state back to normal. Feeling better allowed me to set aside the foods that would comfort me, which, in turn, also made me feel better physically. Feeling better allowed me to WANT to be healthy, and inspired me to exercise and reduce my calorie and cholesterol intakes. Finally, feeling better helped me remember what I was missing in my walk with God, or LACK of walk. I craved Him, not food. I craved the spiritual peace that comes from fellowship with Him. The more time I now spend reconnecting with God the more my life-paradigm shifts back to proper balance. Mind:body:spirit.
So my journey to wellness again is circular in a way I can’t even fully understand, but I accept it at face value. I have a lot of work yet to do, but I also understand that the journey is about learning and growing and not about “getting there;” at least as long as I am a part of THIS realm. I have cleaned out so much physical junk from my basement and shed and drawers, but just when I think I am done I come across stashes of detritus. Literally and figuratively I will continue to seek those pockets of rot and get rid of them; for I am on a journey, a journey to wholeness.