For some there is cavernous distance between faith and the practice of psychology. Psychology, the scientific study of mind and behavior, can be viewed as ego centric and self centered at its base. Three and and a half years ago when I was hospitalized I was asked to focus on myself. Think about myself. Prioritize myself.
It felt so contradictory to the faith that I had been raised in, where thinking of others and sacrificing self for those in need was the priority. Balancing those two schools of thoughts had me feeling like a plate spinner at the circus. How can such opposing views spin in the same space without crashing into one another? How do psychology/psychiatry not come into conflict with selfless living?
However, I discovered that by not focusing on my own mental, emotional, physical and spiritual needs I became as useful as a wet log on a fire. I was soaked in fatigue, overwhelmed by trauma, mine and others, and dripping with stress. My life had become one where I ran from one person’s crisis to another and served my family with what energy I had left.
I no longer view psychiatric medicine with suspicion or as an enemy to the soul because it is allowing me the space to see myself in renewed light. These medical practices and practitioners have given me the tools and insight to live where I can love others with a fullness of life that does not abandon my own soul. I now view self care not as selfishness but preparation for me to love myself and others well.
Daily I write/journal, exercise, take my medication, meditate or read to feed my soul, and try to do something recreational or creative. I work to keep a schedule of rest and sleep. Weekly I see a therapist and attend meetings with others who are going through the same struggles I am. These pillars, this work of self care, have become a life giving stream of soul that is wide and deep enough to nourish not only myself but also those whom I love in more effective ways I ever imagined possible.