Tag Archives: Mental Health

Body, Mind, And Spirit

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It’s all connected…

First of all, I AM NOT A MEDICAL OR MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL.

I recently posted a question on social media regarding the connections among body, mind, and spirit.  The few responses I received were insightful, and in line with much of my own thinking, although from a different angle than I was originally considering.  I have always wanted this blog and its content to be positive and uplifting, but never at the expense of authenticity.  My thoughts on the interconnectedness of body, mind, and spirit were leaning in a different direction when I posed the query.

For months I have been dealing with some health issues in my body.  The tests I had in the fall revealed no major problems, only a diagnosis of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).  I have followed doctor’s instructions in order to treat those symptoms, without much success.  But I’m doing what I can and, frankly, since I am still seeking a full-time job, I am not inclined to go spending a lot of money on more tests that won’t show anything wrong with me.  I am managing the best I can.

But as my body has started experiencing other symptoms in recent months, my mind and spirit have also taken a bit of a beating.  Scripture tells us that we are indeed “fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14).  We are also told that, “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.”  (Proverbs 17:22). I understand that to mean that, among other things, all our systems are connected to one another.  One system cannot be impaired without others also being altered.

My family doctor and I have discussed this delicate balance more than once.  Ongoing physical pain can exacerbate problems like depression and anxiety, both of which I have dealt with for decades, as well as concentration and the ability to learn and retain information.  Conversely, ongoing depression and anxiety (or other mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder, obsessive/compulsive disorder, etc.) can manifest physically, increasing symptoms such as headaches, digestive disorders, appetite changes, sleep disturbances, and chronic pain in any or all parts of the body.  Spiritually, it can become difficult to pray, read and study scripture.  Sometimes a person can begin to question their faith in the God Who made them.

It’s all connected.

The question sometimes becomes like the “chicken/egg” riddle: Which came first?  It can be difficult to figure out.  Does one’s body hurt all over because they are depressed, or is one depressed because they hurt everywhere?

There are no simple answers.  It’s all connected.

The Bible shows us many examples of imperfect heroes of faith.  The prophets Elijah and Jeremiah appeared to suffer from depression (possibly situational, possibly clinical, or even both).  The Apostle Paul talked about his “thorn in the flesh”.  The Psalmist(s) sometimes despaired of life.  And poor Job…that guy suffered in every way imaginable.

I heard someone once say the following:

“I’ve heard it said that we are human beings having a spiritual experience; I submit to you that we are spiritual beings having a HUMAN experience.”

It’s ALL connected.

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Hands That Loved Me

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Healing tears and comforting touches

This time 2 weeks ago we had just said goodbye to Aunt Ruby after spending the day at her bedside, keeping vigil and waiting for her to make her trip to Heaven. It seems both  like a lifetime ago and like it just happened.

 

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I cried little cries several times during that day, as we all did. And I cried when she left to go Home, as we all did. But I have not yet really broken down and had the big cry, the ugly one.

This is unlike me, and it feels like something is wrong. I realize that every loss has its own unique set of circumstances, and that grief follows no specific, or even logical, timetable. Having lost many loved ones in my life, having volunteered with hospice for several years and having completed a ministry course which put me face to face with people experiencing their own losses, my mind knows that I will process my feelings in their own good time.

I just feel…half-dead. I remember the events of the day clearly and vividly, the faces of my family as we all communed together in that sacred space, waiting and watching. I remember all of it. But my feelings have been feeling flat.

This loss hits me in a new place, as each new loss does. But this new place feels foreign, strange and unfamiliar in a way I can’t quite describe. I may need some help to sort this out, in the form of counseling or a major sabbatical from some of my volunteer activities…or both. Or something else. Or all of the above.

Of course, after Mama, (and sometimes even before Mama) the person I would talk to about this kind of thing would have been Aunt Ruby. Aunt Ruby told me when I was younger that it was OK to cry, and to just let my tears roll. She was the only person in my life who ever gave me this permission, and it was priceless. What I would give now to be able to sit at her feet, my head in her lap, and have her comfort me. I can feel her stroking my hair and hear her soothing voice telling me that it will be OK, that God gave us tears for a reason, that crying helps us to heal…to just let my tears roll.

And so they roll now. I didn’t start this post thinking that it would help the crying process to begin, but I am grateful that it has. I can feel Aunt Ruby with me as I sit here, telling me that it’s OK to let go, it’s OK to cry…and that I need to if I am ever going to heal. I don’t know if I will ever meet another person with her wisdom or her serenity, and I am going to miss being able to sit in her presence and enjoy those moments.Image

She possessed an enormous heart, a mind that never stopped wanting to learn, and eyes that always saw something worthwhile in me no matter what anyone else saw. And her hands sewed warmth and care into every piece of clothing and every quilt she ever touched, baked nourishment into every biscuit she ever served, and canned future provision and generosity into more green beans and tomatoes than anyone could begin to count.  She soothed my tears and fears with those hands.  Precious hands…hands that loved me.  Image