Fight the tendency to medicalize Humanity

Health, People & Relationships, The Self


huggingSurely, we’ve taken great leaps in the medical field when it comes to understanding how our body and mind work. These have enabled us to cure illnesses and come up with different ways to alleviate suffering. On the other hand, though, I would argue that these have also led us to medicalize many things that are just parts of the package of being a human being.

Life is beautiful, but it’s also a mess. No one hands us an idiot’s-guide-on-how-to-live. Even so, each of us experiences life in unique ways. No one can fully understand how it feels like to be in our skin. Likewise, there are no rehearsals in life – we go through it on trial and error. It’s not difficult to understand how this can trip us off and shake us to the core.

I have been clinically diagnosed with chronic depression and have been under medication for two years. Many people have asked me if the meds were necessary and for the Nth time I would tell them “Yes, they have helped me recover and get back on my feet.” My opinion about it hasn’t changed. The meds have helped me get my sense of control back, just enough so I could regroup and move forward in the direction I wanted to go. But without conducting a complete inventory of my life choices and habits, I wouldn’t have gone far. Without the love and support of my family, none of my progress would have been possible.

There is definitely a need to confront a situation and categorize it as a medical one when the situation calls for it, so that appropriate solutions and care can be provided. I would argue, though, to be mindful of the tendency to immediately brand something as medical. We need to be careful in jumping to conclusions and not be too easy on shoving all sorts of pills and intrusive procedures on ourselves and on anybody. Sometimes we find ourselves just an inch away from the thin line that separates what’s fucked-up-but-still-average-human-behavior from totally-sick-and-in-a-risky-situation.

There is a need to give ourselves that space to go through difficulties because they are indispensable to our growth and they are a natural part of life. Sometimes, medicalizing what we are going through robs us off our opportunity for transformation. It can also lead us to believe that we are defected in one way or another, which is not empowering at all and can lead us even more to a downward spiral.

Sometimes we are just going through a temporary rough patch even if it feels like literally going through hell. This can squeeze out all our strengths and weaknesses. We can totally go bonkers, even. But I would argue, that more often than not, we can go through it if we only let ourselves fully go through it – with all our flaws, failures and difficult feelings. Sometimes, medical assistance is not what we need the most – but human love and understanding from those who truly care about us. It may simply be a friend who is willing to lend a compassionate ear. It could be a significant other who’s got the patience and strength to be strong for us when we can’t. It could be our kids who bring us joy just being their candid selves.

Sometimes what we need is simply the uninterrupted presence of someone we love. On the other hand, sometimes what we need the most is solitude – to own our right to surrender.

Sometimes what we need the most is spiritual connection. Sometimes what we need the most is a safe place to be authentically ourselves. Sometimes what we need the most is to live our purpose.

What about those kids who were born with “special” needs? Those with conditions science can’t explain yet? Those with “illnesses” that cannot be “cured”? What about those who seem to be different from most of us? Medicalizing what’s natural to them can lead us into having a twisted view and shun them because they’re less of a human or we can also end up forcing all sorts of “treatments” on them so they can become more like the majority, that could only end up killing their spirit and all their beautiful possibilities.

Medicine and science are good, and they have pushed our society forward in many ways. But maybe sometimes, what we really need in order to improve life for all of us is not to have further advances in these fields but to reshape our culture, upgrade how we interact with ourselves, with each other and with nature and redefine the discourse on what it means to be a human at this point in time.


It deserves its cliche status – Health is Wealth

Health, The Self

needleplantWhile descending the Lion Rock peak in Hong Kong, and in between gasps for breath I’ve realized the truth of the cliche – Health is wealth.

I’ve always taken it for granted that I’m healthy and fit. I used to think that other things would make me feel wealthier or happier. But without these I won’t be able to experience many amazing things like climbing mountain tops (which makes very happy). I’ve got no idea what other unhealthy people would give just to do what I can do.

It’s a liberating and grounding feeling. As I continued to descend I thanked my senses and body parts one by one for working perfectly and helping me make my way to the top and back down again. This realization has given me more motivation to keep up with my healthy diet and regular workout routine.

Our Bodies, our Allies

Health, The Self

There are three types of attitude people usually have when they’re sick:

  1. There are those who pay attention to their bodies, listen to what they need and do their very best to provide it. When they don’t feel well their first response is to make sure they can make time for themselves to have a full rest. Their loyalty is to their bodies because they know their bodies are their greatest allies. They comfort their bodies like a mother comforting her sick child. They don’t force them to get well. They don’t even ask for anything from them except to rest without a worry in the world. They assure them that they’ll be staying by their side to look after them.
  2. There are those who ignore their bodies for as long as they can. They would keep on doing their work or even force themselves to get a lot busier, as if to fight against their illness. They would avoid going to the doctor but probably they would self-medicate. They have this attitude that taking a rest to get well is synonymous to accepting defeat, as if they’re enemies with the viruses/bacteria and/or their own bodies.
  3. There are those who directly fight with their own bodies. They force their bodies to get better soon and when they don’t they feel terribly frustrated. They feel embarrassed to be having a “weak” body. They feel imprisoned in their own bodies. They don’t take a rest or go to the doctor or get the proper medication out of understanding and love for their own bodies. They do it simply because they hate feeling sick, weak and shitty. They don’t treat their bodies as allies. They see them as opponents.

Those in the first category usually get better faster than the other two. The time and attention spent on taking care of the body and letting it have a complete rest are not the only things that matter.

Our attitude towards our bodies play an indispensable role. We could either feel united with our bodies or separated from it.  It makes all the difference whether we take care of the body out of love or out of spite.

Our bodies are one of the sources of our infinite wisdom. If we listen to them, we would know more about ourselves and how to transform our lives for our own good. Pain, discomfort, disabilities and illnesses are not just random things that happen TO us. They contain messages, pointers, valuable guidance that we can use to change what needs to be changed or understood and accepted what needs to be integrated in our spirit.

Dis-eases as Doors to spiritual growth

Healing, Health

Learning about a health condition (a dis-ease) is not primarily about discovering that we’re doing something wrong, ’cause for more often than not, we already know that.

It’s actually an indicator that the time has come for us to heal – that we are ready to change.

It’s a door towards a renewed path. We can either proceed and resolve to do whatever it takes to stay on that path or we can simply stand before it – frozen and miserable.

Dis-eases are not punishments. They’re light leading us towards a deeper understanding. They’re doors to spiritual growth.

Any kind of imbalance leads to a certain kind of dis-ease.

If we don’t know how imbalance feels like, how could we know how balance feels like?

Anxiety will only result to more imbalances and then more dis-eases. What’s advisable is for us to go inwards and check what we have been suppressing there which might have caused the imbalance. Let’s try to remember the ways in which we might have neglected and maybe even abused ourselves.

Suffering/dying or recovering from a dis-ease is really the last thing we should be concerned with. What we must focus on is figuring out what the dis-ease is trying to tell us and how to follow the path it’s leading us into.

In our stillness, we’ll receive the inspiration that we need to understand what is being revealed and to take action according to divine guidance and timing.

To an old friend named Depression

Healing, Health, The Self


You used to have so much power over me.

There was a point in my life when I simply let myself see the world through you. Everything was just about you and your unreasonable demands. Nothing could ever appease you. The more you’re given what you thought you wanted, the more unhappy you became.

You came to me at a time when I was feeling weak and alone myself. You became my most available companion. It must be true what they say, misery loves company.

Somehow, you provided the comfort that I needed. It was suffocating in your arms, yes, but at least I had someone with me.

You justified all the wounds that I’ve been nursing on my own. There was meaning to my despair.

There was someone who actually listened, understood and cared.

I was so empty at that time that I let us feed off each other. But even my all was not enough to make you happy.

Fortunately, I was able to rescue myself just in time. I still had the reason and strength to separate myself from you.

I had no idea what’s gonna become of me after that. Would the world welcome me back? I didn’t know. But I didn’t care.

All I felt was exhaustion. I wanted respite from you and from what I have become.

Love made me strong and wise enough to confront your shadows and my own fears.

Depression, I don’t need you now. I have changed. I’ve learned a lot from you. I used to think I could take everything, that I could be everything to everyone. You taught me how to be humble enough to accept my humanity. You’ve helped me map out the hurting parts of me. But I don’t need you now. I’ve become stronger and more capable of living with the painful realities of life.

I have to let you go because I have to step into the light. I must move out of the comfort zone you’ve provided me with. I have to be there for the people I love. I deserve love as well.

I have to show up in my own life.

The darkness you shared with me was comforting for a time. You let me into your home.

You welcomed my darkness when the whole world didn’t want any of it.

Depression, thank you. You only existed because I brought you to life. You can take a rest now. Trust me, I’ll be okay. I feel safe now in my own strength.

You can let me go now.