The practise of treating the whole person : body, mind and spirit ignited a passion for me way back in the 1980’s, when I followed a new path in life.
After suffering a mental and physical breakdown in 1984 whilst studying for an English and French degree, I found myself an in-patient in a private Psychiatric hospital. The Occupational therapists’ and Yoga Instructor’s recovery – focused work inspired me to change direction to follow a Therapeutic training course, then, Beauty therapy, years later, Aromatherapy and later Indian Head massage, when my son was very young.
The word ‘Holistic’ can have various connotations; for me the meet of Eastern philosophies with some Western ones can blend together to support the individual in a way which is wholly unique to them.
Humans are born to receive physical contact, the nurturing a baby usually receives, sustains and nourishes his or her whole being. Most of us have healing hands, often it can be detected as a feeling of energy in the palms. Touch and massage, whether the hands, feet, face, shoulders, head, are a connection between energy centres. The physiological benefits of massage most of us appreciate; oxygenation of the blood and the resulting clarification of the skin, the increased flow of lymph, so promoting detoxification and elimination.
The nervous system is a dimension in itself; the soothing of the senses whilst aroma oils glide over the skin, the connection with the spirit, a Oneness, can be so profound, it is difficult to convey in mere words. The very hint of the healing effects of touch should surely be applied within the current confines of mental health practices, for both in and out – patients. The complement of yoga, breath work, and meditation, (not just that buzz word ‘mindfulness’), without a doubt helps one to rediscover or even discover the very essence of being, which may renew their inner strength. It is often the one who finds yoga or other Eastern practises, who then becomes a clean eater, or even a vegan. Thereby nutritional quality further nourishes, weight is usually more ideal, confidence and higher energy levels can then result.
Others may crave green space; nature is so often a healer, the connection with something bigger than our human form. The vitamin D, produced from sunlight, we know, can alleviate depression, and can counteract SAD. Those who have had their liberty taken will be reunited with the space to breathe, to just BE, to maybe plant, and see the change in form of all floral. The chemical that is present in earth will be naturally released helping wellness and recovery. It may be one of these patients who gives up smoking, who starts up jogging or cycling.
Others will find uplift and joy with music, even dance and mindful movement. Allopathic (Western) Medications have their place; in my experience their Therapeutic levels differ massively from one to another, many can be toxic to many people, and most as in-patients certainly seem hugely over medicated. A blend of therapies will surely reduce the need to prescribe such high doses, and their use may become less whilst therapies build..
My hope is that true resilience can be worked on in mental health environments, through holistic recovery pathways. This will not in my view cost more, since patients will be far less likely to be re-admitted, since recovery will have started from the inside, and will radiate out.
These coping mechanisms and healings should of course embrace Carers. A short word but one that applies to both the suffering family, and also to all medical support staff.
It is when recovery and resilience develops that many patients in turn find a sense of their lives and their moments of hell itself, to make brighter a day for others, whether it be voluntarily or in a career capacity. Peer workers would save the NHS much money and help create a collaborative support network. It is often those who suffer who can in turn help others who also suffer.
It is only through going to depths that we learn to fly.
Nicola Fay Petch