I never wanted to be a naturopath

Growing up, I wanted to be a doctor.

I grew up want­ing to help people heal.

As a child, I thought that being a med­ic­al doc­tor was the only way to do that.

Of course, there are so many oth­er ways to help people heal. I learned we have a body, a mind, and emo­tions that require many dif­fer­ent ways of healing.

When my own phys­ic­al body star­ted fail­ing in ways I could have nev­er pre­dicted, I went to my doc­tors. They had no answers. I star­ted read­ing for myself, and becom­ing my own per­son­al detect­ive and advoc­ate. I paid atten­tion to my hunches, and car­ried out my own exper­i­ments. Lots of them failed, but some of them worked.

I found out that the body has spe­cif­ic ways it likes to oper­ate; that it needs a cer­tain type of nutri­tion, that it likes to heal in cer­tain pat­terns, and that cer­tain treat­ments worked bet­ter for me.

I also found that many lot of those philo­sophies and ways of heal­ing were cent­ral to natur­o­path­ic medi­cine. There was a flex­ib­il­ity and fluid­ity with­in appoint­ments and treat­ments that worked for me.

Knowing little more than the hugely pos­it­ive effect natur­o­path­ic medi­cine had on me, I jumped in and went pur­sued it as a profession.

Five years into my prac­tice as a ND, I real­ize this title actu­ally is a bit of a pris­on, not from its true defin­i­tion, but the per­cep­tion of it.

I had hoped that my role would a be a health mentor.

I had no idea what people really thought of their own health and heal­ing; that there would be so much fear of what may or may not be wrong with them, and what it ulti­mately “means” to who they are, which in real­ity is very little.

I did not know that many people don’t see health as a mosa­ic of approaches, but a “right” or “wrong” way.

It sur­prised me that the unknown could cre­ate such ter­ror, not only of the not going with the status quo, but that there would be a res­ist­ance to try­ing anoth­er way. And this res­ist­ance grows the more you try to show anoth­er way of thinking.

I had no idea that the suf­fer­ing of my patients would make me suf­fer in ways that I could not artic­u­late, and I would nev­er be able to fully explain. That some­times my attempts to make it bet­ter would not make it bet­ter; that I could rarely fix it all.

I did­n’t real­ize my own heal­ing jour­ney would be start­ing anew while wit­ness­ing suf­fer­ing, and that I would have new lessons.

I learned self-com­pas­sion. How to say no. When to say the hard stuff. When to lean in. When to step back. And how to teach.

The truth is, the idea that any­one in any health pro­fes­sion can heal you is a myth.

Naturopathy is a hat, or an arsen­al, or a tool­box of things that might get you back to your­self, but also, it may not. It’s only one way of look­ing at your health.

You as a whole per­son know that, and you alone. No one — not even me — can tell you what is best for you, body, mind, or soul.

Health is heal­ing as a whole per­son. That can mean drop­ping that cof­fee addic­tion and drink­ing water. That can mean say­ing no when you would have nor­mally said yes. That can mean tak­ing a bath rather than going for a run. That can mean tak­ing med­ic­a­tion, not pre­scribed by yours truly, but by your oth­er health pro­fes­sion­als. That can also mean hav­ing a good cry rather than lash­ing out. That can mean head­ing to yoga, or tai chi, as part of your phys­ic­al routine.

The trouble is, are you will­ing to truly be still to listen, to find out what really makes you tick, and facil­it­ate your own heal­ing? It’s only one of the most chal­len­ging jour­neys you will ever take, and for that, I’m grate­ful I became a natur­o­path­ic doc­tor. My own medi­cine was a tough one to swallow.

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