I have a new word.
At the beginning of this year I chose the word “Open” to focus on this year. To see where it led me. It has had surprising twists and turns, but I think it was spot on for my journey this year.
Until today. Today I heard the word that I’m going to focus on for the rest of this year. Because it’s just that good.
A doctor said it. How important it is. How good it is to have balance. Out of balance? Bad. Very bad. I’m thankful we didn’t find out how much worse out of balance could be. Suffice to say, I wanted to wrap my heart my arms and my whole being around that word and make it mine, to make it ours. Our whole family.
I came down off my high horse today y’all. It was a quiet moment but it knocked the breath out of me. Probably no one else even noticed, but I knew. And I have spent a day in remorse.
Years ago someone I cared about very much had an anxiety problem. He went to a physician who gave him a twenty question test, diagnosed him as depressed, and put him on medication. He didn’t warn this patient against drinking with the medication or recommend that the medication be partnered with therapy. Just “here’s your medication–take good care. Be happy again.” I knew something wasn’t right then, but it was five years later when I was in the Marriage and Family Therapy Masters Program that I realized why it didn’t sit well with me. I believe in treating the whole person. It’s a pet peeve of mine for doctors to prescribe psychotropic medications but not also refer the patient to a therapist. They need both.
Unfortunately, I let the pendulum swing too far. I became a huge advocate for therapy–for friends, for family. I believe it’s every bit as important to have an emotional checkup/check-in as it is a physical one. But I forgot one thing. The opposite is also true. It shouldn’t be one-sided either way. The best therapist in the world (and I know him) can’t help if the body isn’t doing okay. The body can’t do what the body can’t do.
And if things are wonky in the body, how in the world do we expect the emotions to be stable?
And yet we do. Or, to be perfectly honest, I did.
Today, as I sat listening to a doctor describe imbalances in hormones and body chemicals, it hit me. I had forgotten, in the midst of pushing for therapy and “talking it out” and mind over matter-ing it, that the body has a role in this too. In the well-being. In the wholeness and BALANCE of life.
Whoa. Beep beep beep. Back it up.
Something that should have been so obvious, probably is to most of you, had just flown right over my head and my firm belief in therapy. And I almost messed up big time. But then I heard the word balance.
As in, Tara, balance between mind and body. Physical and emotional. Thoughts and feelings. Work and play. Rest and activity. That word is a part of every single part of our day. Or it should be.
I’ve said it before. We live in a very broken world. Emotional illness and mental illness is all around us, yet we tend to make it the elephant in the living room that no one really wants to talk about. We’ll talk about all kinds of physical diseases and ailments all day long, but we forget that as the creatures we are, it all is interconnected. One is related to the other. An emotional imbalance has at its root a physical issue. Balance between mind, body, and soul is imperative for good health. And good living. Unfortunately, hurting people hurt people, including themselves. People who have nowhere to turn, whose bodies can’t right themselves often find their health issues manifesting as emotional or mental problems. And then where can they turn? Many are afraid they might be called crazy–many might think they are crazy themselves. If we don’t speak out on behalf of people and whole health–BALANCE–this world is just going to get more and more broken. And I don’t know how much more this world and its precious people can take.
Tonight I am thankful for good therapists and good doctors. We need both. And for a healthy respect and cooperation to exist between them. I am thankful for friends and family who leave no stone unturned when it comes to the well-being of someone they love. And I am thankful for a doctor who respects balance and seeks it–for his patients and for himself.
Balance. Here we are at the onset of what can be the best and yet most stressful time of year. People are already sharing posts and pictures and emails about how many shopping days left until Christmas. (*major Mike Wazowski eye roll here* Please people, stop the madness.) For so many, whether for financial, emotional, relational, or physical reasons, the time approaching the “family” holidays is just plain hard. Things can get harried and hard fast. So yes, balance. In quiet time and activity. In contemplation and action. In work and recreation. In speaking and in listening. In celebrating and in remembering. Balance. I think it’s the perfect lens to focus and view life through over the next three months.
May balance affect your vision and give you clarity as well. And if it doesn’t, it’s ALWAYS okay to ask for help. Sometimes balance is best illustrated by a seesaw. And you can’t keep one of those balanced by yourself. You have to have help. It’s okay to ask for it AND it’s okay to offer it.
Love to all.