As a seven year old, I had a dream. I imagined that it was possible to heal people by touching them with my magic finger. Later, as a doctor, then acupuncturist , educator, mindfulness coach and course leader that dream is still my passion.
It hurts me to know that mental illness is still stigmatised, hidden and a source of shame in people’s lives. How many of us have ourselves been unwell in this way? Or know someone who has?
In the second decade of the 21st century, we are, in our so-called civilised societies, in the grip of a serious but silent and invisible epidemic, mental illness. Stress, anxiety and depression are predicted by the World Health Organisation to be the second biggest cause of ill health in first world countries by 2020.
In this day and age it strikes me as inexplicably uncivilised that we still fear to talk about inner suffering. We can’t touch it, measure it, explain it, or fix it, in the same way as we can a broken leg. Yet it is as real, as tangible and as crippling.
All the more so, because we ‘re not supposed to have it. Shame, guilt, secrecy, stigma and prejudice prevail. Which means that huge numbers of people are suffering in silence.
My commitment is to prove the WHO prediction wrong. It is, after all, just a prediction.
In the 19th century Malthus predicted that we would be knee deep in horse poo if the population kept increasing the way it was. Then the motor car was invented and horse-drawn carriages were no longer the main means of transport.
The tools skills and evidence already exist to make this prediction redundant. We need to teach children, teenagers and adults alike how to master their thoughts and more important, their feelings, to be more emotionally intelligent. The wiring for emotional intelligence and self-awareness is, after all, there in our brains from birth.
I myself was very unwell for many years. I speak openly about my experiences. They inform the work I do now and made me who I am, strong, powerful, and following my passion. Humble, learning and open to growth.
We are all fighting a battle on the inside. We all have feelings and thoughts that cause pain and suffering. What can you do today to bring compassion and kindness to your world and reduce the hurt, your own others’?
The funny thing is, as I discovered, is that when we turn our gaze to the care of another we heal our own pain.
It hurts to be human. Let’s connect more authentically and have it be ok to be the way we are.
Would you like to share your story and inspire others? Get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org