Let’s begin with diseases of despair.
Alcoholism and suicide are diseases of despair, preventable diseases, and related to unintegrated trauma and Post Traumatic Stress. The Veterans Adminstration Healthcare System (VA) has been instrumental over the past decade in conducting research, leading the way in understanding PTSD, Moral Injury, and their consequences of alcoholism and suicide.
The increase in deaths in nonmilitary due to alcohol and suicide has increased to the point of being identified as the “Diseases of Despair”. Being in despair is a very lonely place to be. Being with someone in despair, is feeling their despair. When a nurse is fully present with someone in despair, the despair is felt. It is being fully present that there is a felt sense of a shift in the nervous system. Both feel this shift and experience being more relaxed and less contracted. This is how we are wired to be in connection. To bear witness to another who is suffering.
When we don’t understand this, we fear suffering.
We fear feeling that despair when in the presence of another who is in despair. Despair is different from suffering. Suffering is part of the deal. It is the fear of suffering alone, of being abandoned in our suffering that brings feelings of despair. We give up hope. One can not live without hope. Alcohol will numb the feelings of despair for a moment in time. Suicide ends it all.
Recently, Pope Francis declared February 11, the World Day of the Sick. Pope Francis asks us to recognize the conditions of loneliness and abandonment. In his words, only a moment of our attention, being moved to compassion within us to eliminate it. That compassion which knows how to pause, approach, heal, and raise up. Cut through indifference and slow down. A new way of moving forward together. Compassion asks whether we truly are companions on the journey or merely individuals on the same path.
The time of separation is so over.
It was a myth anyway. We have never been called to be separate from others, and we do not heal in isolation. We must be connected and in relationship to heal. Fear keeps us contracted in isolation. Fear of abandonment in our suffering is what leads to despair.
Moving away from healthcare as we know it, Self-Care and We-Care is the wave of the future. Our bodies want to heal. Our bodies know how to heal. WE is the medicine for healing. Requirements are time and space, to let that which is unconscious become conscious. To listen, to feel, to be fully present while holding space, a sacred space, for one who is suffering. Let’s get on board together with life affirming practices that allow us to flourish. A community that truly walks together.
If this resonates with you, if you are curious about healing from unintegrated trauma which may be buried so deep in your unconsciousness, with feelings of isolation, please contact me for a complimentary coaching session.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate”, Carl Jung