My name is Heather Salerno and I am an intern from SUNY, New Paltz, interning at Roots & Wings. This is giving me insights into more forms of natural healing. I started to think of how people could combine both natural and scientific medicines. I interviewed my friend, Diane*, who has both anxiety and depression to see if mixing both forms of healing could be helpful. She is in her twenties and is a college student.
There are many challenges one faces when dealing with a disease. Whether it be physical or mental, the strain it causes on a person can be damaging. Luckily, with the advanced science that is available, medications are out there that can help with these diseases. However, there is also natural forms of healing that can also benefit those who are in need.
Diane was given medications to help her deal with the symptoms but came to realize that a holistic approach could also benefit her. She was diagnosed when she was in middle school but she knew she had it for longer than that. “I had trouble getting motivated and was constantly anxious,” she told me. “People don’t realize how this can seriously drive a person crazy…I don’t have the motivation to get out of bed but then I feel anxious knowing that I should be out doing things.” It was hard for her to find balance in her life. However, after she was diagnosed, people started to understand her better. “…people, like my family, started to understand why I acted the way I did,” she explained. They realized Diane wasn’t just being ‘lazy’ but had a legitimate disease that held her back from doing things.
As time went on, Diane came to realize that certain things helped her to overcome these challenges. She pointed out that the medication she’s on does help but she does other things to get her through the day. “I usually try to just get outside as much as I can. Just getting some sunlight helps,” she explained. Diane also came to realize that yoga and meditation could also calm her down when she was feeling stressed. She never had any real formal teaching when it came to yoga but just going through the motions helped her body release stress and clear her mind. She does a form of meditation that involves full focus on her breathing. “I go into my room and make sure everything is quiet,” she said. “I sit on my bed and close my eyes and just listen to myself breathe…It was kind of hard at first because my mind would start to wander. After a while, I got kind of good at it. It just helps me relax and concentrate on the present”. Doing this also enables her to regulate her emotions. This also helps her avoid trying to escape her room and she can now be comfortable being alone with herself.
Diane believes that these things help her just as much as her medications. Without the yoga or the meditation, she would have a harder time to keep her emotions balanced. As long as she keeps moving throughout the day, she tends to feel much better. Even just social interactions will put her in a better mood.
At the end of this interview, I brought up a self-care example from “After Shock: From Cancer Diagnosis to Healing”, that of keeping a personal journal which can be suitable for anyone. This involves writing down one’s thoughts, feelings, and events that happen throughout the day. In doing so, one has the time to reflect on one’s experience. Diane admitted to never keeping a journal before but decided that she would try it out. “It’s always great to see what I did throughout the day,” she said, “and I can see how writing down my thoughts and feelings could be therapeutic.”
* For confidentiality, Diane is a pseudonym.