I am a River, not a statue
I struggled to define wellness for years, mostly because I found myself trapped in a whirlpool of confusion as I waded through the many ways people tried to define my struggles. For example, during some of my most difficult times, when I trusted someone enough to reveal that I saw shadows jumping around my bedroom, heard other people’s thoughts and knew that people were trying to kill me, there was an immediate desire to help me by telling me my brain was sick and that I needed to take medications to get well. It was like they didn’t even hear what I was telling them. I didn’t like seeing, hearing or knowing any of it. I felt unsafe and frightened, however, even more confusing were the contradictions.
When I took a long hot shower, I felt safe, even motivated. When I sat in the warmth of the sun, I remembered things I liked to do, like play soccer. When I played soccer, the action, and life itself, seemed to slow down to a pace I could handle. When I visited and cared for the dogs at the shelter, I smiled and wanted to take them home. Then I would see one of my teachers, another student or a neighbor and I would be afraid again. At night, the shadows would be more aggressive, and as I laid awake watching them, I would discover even more evidence of the harm people intended for me.
Wellness, for me, became something I could search for and practice every day. I realized that I was more like a river than a statue. I discovered this analogy for the first time in a book by Deepak Chopra, MD. In the same book, I read about my own family’s traditional healing practice called Ayurveda and learned that I could find even more ways to breakdown the delusions that I was sick, broken and worthless and let other experiences of my reality, the wellness experiences, take place. The very quality of a river is that it changes. Sometimes I was a powerful waterfall, yet felt isolated and weak as a droplet of water, until I returned to myself in a crashing confluence of energy at the bottom. I can emerge from the swirling waters at the bottom more powerful than ever, and with even more ways to live well than before. Wellness, for me, is knowing and embracing that I am the River.