How My Struggles With Mental Health Have Made Me a Better Health Practitioner
A lot of my students come into our Herbal Apprentice Program thinking that when we're health practitioners, (herbalists, massage therapists, psychologists, you name it) we're supposed to be perfect all the time.
We're supposed to be "ENLIGHTENED, all knowing, holistic beings."
And since we know all the things we're supposed to do, we're supposed to do them ALL THE TIME. That is not actually how the world works!
My Healing Journey
I started my healing journey in massage therapy, because my back went out and through that "healing crisis" my life began to transform.
We talk about a healing crisis (whether it be emotional, physical, or illness) being something that happens to us and becomes an opportunity for us to:
Learn better self-care, and
Come to a higher state of healing
My back going out caused me to get into massage and start looking into how to take care of my body.
The same has happened with my mental health, too.
My Struggles with Mental Health
I grew up a very happy, optimistic person. I'm lucky that most of my life I have had a sunshiny temperament.
However, right after herb school, I got very, very DEPRESSED.
I was finally doing what I wanted to do in my life.
I had just finished herb school
I was going to move back home
I was FINALLY going to start my own business helping people with herbs
But when I moved back to California, I couldn't get a job. I didn't have a support system (or have any idea of what that was) and was going through a hard falling out with all of my old friends.
I slowly began to realize that helping people heal can be a double-edged sword.
The more that you want to help others, the more you have to take care of YOURSELF!
I had to learn this lesson in a really hard way.
I knew I wanted to help people. But when I couldn't figure out how to:
Be a part of a community
I fell apart and I felt like an absolute FAILURE!
But the truth is, I couldn't help anybody because I couldn't help myself.
I got severely depressed and I started losing more friends.
But, something magical was happening at the same time. Every time I gave a massage or talked to someone about herbs or nutrition, I felt INSTANTLY better. It was just amazing seeing the ups and downs that happened.
As soon as I felt I was being of service to others, like I was truly fulfilling my calling, my life and attitude instantly changed!
VITALISM: Your Life's Purpose as the Path to Healing
There's this concept in western herbalism called vitalism.
Here, the primary purpose of a health practitioner, instead of being able to heal someone, the ultimate goal is to help our clients get back on their path to their life's calling.
Through being on your path, or doing your life's work, you will rise to a better state of health & healing.
This happens easily, with little hesitation, as if the universe opens up and everything lines up perfectly!
And so, that's exactly what happened with me.
I figured out that I want to help people. That's my path.
When I was helping people, I took better care of myself.
When I wasn't on the path or felt like I wasn't on my path, I was eating terribly. I was hiding. Binging off of food, drinking more alcohol, watching more TV, feeling more alone, getting more depressed... the cycle went on and on, and on.
What's Your Path?
For everyone on their healing journey, whether or not you're an established practitioner, have dealt with imposter syndrome, or simply struggle with finding your path...
All I want to say to you is: you're probably exactly on your path!
My path has not been a straight line. Most healer's journeys are not straight lines. It's the spiral, the ups and downs, lefts and rights. Because that's process. The more sideways my path has gone, the more tools I have gained and the better I am as a practitioner.
If I had figured it out instantly, then I wouldn't be able to walk people through how to deal with their own struggles.
So, instead of being perfect, I could be very imperfect and let those lessons be learning points for my clients as well.
JAM Scholarship Opportunity
If you have a passion for mental health, we have a scholarship fund just for you: our Jeffrey Arthur Miller Scholarship Fund, or JAM scholarship. This scholarship was started to help support students, like you, to find your way with holistic health and healing.
If you've struggled with mental illness or know someone that has, you can donate to the fund, or apply for the scholarship.