We live increasingly in a world that loves the one-size-fits-all medicine. Depressed? Take this pill. Heart troubles? Have this operation. The wrong thing out of control in your body? Here’s the chemo. Can’t sleep, digest your food, settle down, have the energy you need? Have we got something for you. Don’t worry about the side effects. We’ll play some nice music and pair it with uplifting images so you don’t have to notice what’s actually happening to you.
But it’s not working. The observable evidence is everywhere. You do not even need to wait for the research to know this. Instead, look to your own life. Look to the left and to the right of those standing next to you. Look forward to those ahead of you, to the older generations. Worse yet, look behind you to the children. What’s going on? Why is there so much dis-ease? With all of our pills, procedures and technologies, why has it become so common, so “normal” now for so many of us to be so sick? Talk about a devastating new normal.
Many years ago, during a Holistic Health Counseling training, I was introduced to a concept called bio-individuality. A perspective that says, while yes there are universalities to our biology and experiences as human beings, we are all also, individuals. For us to be truly healthy and well, on all levels, inside and out, all of us must be taken into account. Hearing this was like being in the desert for decades, my parched needs unmet, only to discover there was an oasis of understanding and inclusion that deeply resonated with what I most needed. A perspective available that included all of who I am. One that could go to the depths and breadths of the truth of my experience. One that did not deny, exclude or override my truest needs.
This flies in the face of our conventional western model of medicine which has its roots in splitting the body from the mind, while completely ignoring the soul. A paradigm that says the mind is too unwieldy to include; and therefore not applicable. One that sees emotions as too hysterical to be part of the equation; except as they can be medicated away. A model that sees environmental factors as irrelevant. Social connection fine, but not health worthy. A perspective that does all that it can do to exclude the energetics and soul of a human being; with any mention of it being viewed suspiciously. One that separates us from the very fabric of the natural world and our ancestral lineages; believing they have no basis in real medicine.
That’s a whole lot of us left out. Not to mention the interactions and the interplay between all these aspects of a life that would need to be included to offer a full picture of what was going on for someone. But from the conventional model of medicine, all of these things are too messy. Too uncontrollable. Too unknown. Too beyond the scope of doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies. Too much care to manage.
What’s left? The view of body as machine with parts that can be replaced. Where physiological mechanisms, pathways, and our genetics can be altered and fiddled with, without consequence. Body as machine requires its mechanics. It requires technologies that are superior to Nature. And it runs on a level of money, expertise and influence we do not possess. Nor ever will. So, of course, we must follow their mandates. What else is there?
But the Truth with a capital “T” is that our health is not separate from our thoughts, how we feel, what we eat, how we move, where we work, the environments we find ourselves in, and the company we keep. It is not separate from our past, from the times we are living in, from the media messages we receive, from the fear we hold and the disappointments we harbor. It is not separate from how many hugs we get, whether or not we feel safe and whether or not we are engaged in Life in a meaningful and satisfying way. It is not separate from how we breathe or whether or not we sleep well. It is not separate from a personal sense of sovereignty when it comes to the agency we experience over our own health and well-being.
There is not a single thing we experience that is not part of the equation of a healthy, or sick, human being. This is not acceptable in a system that puts the expert at the center of the equation. It is not welcome news in a system that promotes the quick fix, the 7-minute office visit, the inputting of date into a machine, the proper codes for what insurance companies will pay for and what they will not. None of this fully considered in a system where the experts themselves are so uniformly un-cared for, that they themselves have no basis for what real health is. Basically cogs in a machine that must go on. No matter the cost. No matter the level of pathology.
It could feel daunting to consider breaking away from such a system. Or you could feel excited by the possibility of what it might mean for you to be part of something where all of you was considered. Where all of us were considered. Can you imagine it? Health care that was actually based on health, and not pathology, what’s covered, or conflicts of interest? One that recognized and honored the exquisite interconnections that make you who you are? One that said I see you. All of you. And I will surround you with the support you really need as you make your way into your remembrance of wholeness.
Could you open to that? Could you step beyond the force-fed, shame-inducing model that says “Do this or else?” Could you as the person whose body and life this is begin to insist upon health care that invites you further into yourself while aligning with real biological, psychological, social, emotional and spiritual truths around what it is that a body, mind and soul actually need to be well? One that had no hidden costs or agendas?
This would take some re-imagining. But here’s the thing. You’re worth it. We are all worth it. Our children are worth it. We deserve better.
Try this. Take out a piece of paper and in the center draw a little stick figure. That’s you. All around you put the names of the things you do and need each and every day to be alive. Put the things you must have to feel supported. Write down all the encounters you have. The places you go. How you feel. What you think. Put down your hopes, your dreams, your fears. Include your ancestors and your past. Write down the things you worry about, and the things you feel inspired by. Jot down how you move, eat, sleep, breathe and relate. Include it all.
Look at how much impacts you. How could a drug ever begin to do justice to all of you?
Use this exercise to begin to create your own personal model of health. What are your must-have’s? What would you get rid of? What would it be like to create something that honors the totality and the preciousness of who you are and what you need? What would it be like to claim your basic sovereign right over your own health?
You do deserve better.