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.