Author: Nichole Champion
When it comes to healing one’s self, the options do not end at western medicine. One’s healing journey is a highly personal process that one can choose and shape. One can find healing through a more holistic approach by trying a few natural approaches mentioned in this article.
Image by Nichole Champion
I always thought I would wait until I was further along to share the story that put me on the path of healing and self-realization. However, I’m learning to fully own my truth and gain the courage to share it with you. My intention with sharing a bit of my story is to inspire and give you hope that healing from trauma is possible.
The Start of My Mental Health Journey
In 2018, my mental health began to completely deteriorate. I went into a deep, dark depression, something I had never experienced before. It wasn’t just a physical and mental depression. I became emotionally numb to everything, lost interest in things I once loved, and disconnected myself from life so much that I began to question my existence. I woke up some mornings feeling devastated that I still was on this planet.
Growing up with a dysfunctional family made me spiral deeper into my depression. There was so much division and constant physical and verbal abuse. My parents were emotionally unavailable to help comfort me. I tried opening up but mental health isn’t something that is taken seriously by my family. They would tease and call me a drama queen. They expressed that I had no reason to be depressed because my basic needs were met and that other people experience worse than I did.
In their eyes, they thought that their words would make me feel better, but it only made me feel guilty and ashamed of my mental illness that I couldn’t control.
Fight or Flight
Despite my parents’ stance, I knew I was sick and needed help, but I didn’t know where and how to ask. My depression began to manifest physically in the form of fatigue, excruciating migraines, trouble getting out of bed in the mornings, and difficulty concentrating at school. I lost all ability to function, and I truly didn’t think I’d ever be all right again. I impulsively started to search for a way out of my misery.
Taking A Leap of Faith
By the summer of 2018, I took a leap of faith and moved to Portland, Oregon. It was in my best interest to move away from home because it was an opportunity to be alone, embrace the unknown, and heal. It was a bittersweet moment because I was sad to leave my family, but it was also exciting to create a life I wanted to live.
Image by Nichole Champion
The Beginning of Healing; Seeking Counseling
Once I stepped foot in Portland, I wanted my life to strictly consist of healing and self-improvement. My grandmother recommended that I seek counseling, but I resisted in fear of being assigned to a white counselor and being put on pills. But lo and behold, my grandmother found Avel Gordly Center for Healing, a healing center that focuses on culturally-sensitive care for African Americans with Black staff, counselors, and psychiatrists.
When I realized I had the ability to seek help from people that looked like me, I gained the courage to go to counseling. After my first session, my psychiatrists diagnosed me with major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorder, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). My psychiatrists prescribed me anti-depressants and high blood pressure medicine, but I didn't feel comfortable taking them. I asked them if there was another route instead of taking medicine, but unfortunately, that was their only available treatment.
Taking a Holistic Approach
I began to look into natural ways to heal my body. Intuitively I was drawn to holistic healing and connecting with my spiritual side. I began to meditate and practice yoga. Connecting with nature and sun-gazing was very healing. After taking hikes, I felt more connected to myself and Mother Nature and relieved of my stress.
I began to indulge in art therapy to harness my depression and release that energy into art. Art therapy is a technique that uses creative expression such as drawing, painting, and sculpture to help process feelings, reduce stress, anxiety, and increase self-esteem.
Painting, photography, and crochet were my favorite creative outlets. They taught me the importance of stillness and patience. They allowed me to sit with myself and observe my feelings. They showed me that healing doesn’t have to be painful but a beautiful creative experience.
Image by Nichole Champion
Coming to Terms with Myself
Taking a holistic approach to heal and manage my depression has helped me to address the impact of trauma that has affected my mind, body, and spirit. It has given me a better understanding of myself and the importance of self-love. Trauma may have been a part of my life’s experience but it is not who I am. I now see that healing is possible for me.
My healing journey is still very much unfolding, and it has been anything but linear. I have learned to surrender to the process of my healing without needing to control it. I allow it to take me where I am meant to go. Transforming into a completely new person has been painful, but it has created a path to my life’s purpose.