We have heard the phrase “Physician, heal thyself.” It comes from a passage in the Bible, and though I am not a Christian, the phrase has meaning for me and all the other healers out there. When I speak of healers, I am not just speaking of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers, I am addressing all of us who care for others and work to heal them in small ways and big. Be it a bowl a chicken soup from a mother to her son with kisses, or a man bringing roses to the sweetheart he inadvertently hurt, we all have a role in healing. The most important part of healing though is self healing.
Often we as modern people work tirelessly at our careers, homes, schools, and churches. We give and give of ourselves, and in this giving, we both gain and lose. We gain housing, food, our bills paid, and more. But we lose sleep, we worry, we stress, and sometimes we lose a bit of our energy and souls. More frequently we lose a lot of energy and our health suffers. But we can’t let go of those responsibilities that drive our daily activities. Our husbands, wives, sons, daughters, and other family depend on us. We cannot let them down. How do we do the things that need to be done and still save some energy for ourselves? That is the thing I am personally trying to figure out.
The last six months have been tough for me. I have suffered from depression and anxiety for over ten years, and for the most part it has been manageable. There are times though that one or the other, sometimes both, get the best of me. It is then that I withdraw into myself. I go into that protected place where the outside world has less effect, and I can rest a bit. But during that time, things I have enjoyed pass me by. I watch others interact and have a connection that I am unable to maintain because of my difficulties. I am just coming out of one of these periods of withdrawal and reaching out to reconnect with my brothers and sisters of the faith. I hate it when I am withdrawn. My kids and husband get what they need from me, but all those extra things that make life fun have been too challenging for me to manage. My son Gavin is in kindergarten. At the start of the school year, I told myself I was going to volunteer in his class whenever I could, go the extra mile to get to all the birthday parties and events. I haven’t though, and now that the school year is almost over I regret it. What can I do to make it up to myself and to him? I don’t know yet, but I will.
Everyone needs healing, and the healers most of all. As an RN I give my time and energy to the tiny patients I care for in my capacity as a NICU nurse. I don’t only care for them though, I care for their families. I offer comfort and guidance in times of turmoil and stress, often masking my own feelings, and sometimes letting them show depending on the situation and the needs of the family. It is hard. I have been doing it for seventeen years of my life. This past December I lost a primary. In primary care nursing, one nurse is responsible for the total care of a certain patient. That patient is the one we have every time we come to work. We form bonds with the family and try to educate and guide them through the process of growing a premie and getting them out of the NICU. There are so many complications that can happen though, some are preventable, and some are not. In December, one of those complications claimed the life of the little boy I took care of and loved. Though I have seen death, and cleaned up after him before, this death affected me badly. It was so unfair! Many doctors and specialists had tried to find ways to heal him, but it was for naught. It was my very last night of working night shift, and I was the one who had to be there when the life support was removed. I was the one who cried alongside his parents and watched his little life slip away. I was the one who gave him morphine to ease his dying pain. It took a while. Death is not always quick, and during the last hours and minutes of his life, something inside me broke. I bawled and cried and suffered. When it was done, I took his little body, cleaned him up, dressed him, and took pictures to make memories for his family. I was a nurse doing my job. I got through the night and went home. I still haven’t quite gotten over him.
It is now time for self healing. I know I cannot give anymore without being healed myself. I have started the process of professional counselling. It isn’t only for this heartache, but for all the stress and issues in my life, past and present. I need to get back to being me, being whole and happy. I know it may take some time to get there, but I am well on my way.
Healing ourselves is a topic I will continue to explore and write about. I encourage you all out there to look at yourselves and realize that you too need healing, especially if you have the responsibility of caring for others. When you are whole and strong mentally, physically, and emotionally you will be better able to give others what they need, and they in turn will give you what you need. May Mother Sekhmet guide us all in our healing process. Dua Sekhmet!