I was fortunate to have my writing published in Holstee’s Mindful Matter publication this month. I wanted to share what drove me to submit my writing to Holstee, and why I feel their work is important.
Most people who already know them, know their manifesto. Though it was released in 2009, it crossed my husband’s desk last year, and he came home from work that day, excited and inspired.
He shared it with me, then sent it to me, and I downloaded it. I read it. I stared at it.
I loved it, and it bolstered me, because I was in the middle of making another hardest decision of my life. I say “another,” because with growth, one thing is certain—they just keep coming.
I’d decided to quit my career in healthcare, and on bad days, it didn’t feel like growth. It felt like quitting, being too small for something, and/or suffocating. On good days, it was still terrifying. Somewhere beneath all those feelings, I was learning to breathe differently.
But when you are drowning, you flail. You gulp, and gasp, and grab.
I grabbed for inspiration, encouragement, and reassurance. Through that transition, I used Pinterest, in addition to professional help, to cope. I named a board “Edible Words.” It holds 447 bits of sweet wisdom that carried me softly through hard nights.
I made a private board, and named it “No Need to Sparkle.” It contains 117 tiny acts of self love. I made it private, because in the end, even when we are loved, our anguish is ours alone to incubate.
I reached out for help, little calls to loved ones and friends, when I felt the floor beneath me tilting too far, and especially when I felt there was no floor at all. Reaching out when I couldn’t self right was the hardest, and yet I did it often.
The alternatives—far worse. Physicians complete suicide at a rate of 400 a year, on average. This is just the tracking of physicians; there are nurses, and physician’s assistants, and nurse practitioners, and many, many other healthcare providers to fathom.
And this is only the information on suicide. I imagine there is also data on drug and alcohol abuse, divorce, domestic violence, and all other measures of demise.
The work is so good, and it is so hard. The business that healthcare has become makes it harder. We work and work, no matter the mess, for there is little time to stop and eloquently address a system so complexly diseased. There’s often not even time for lunch.
I found I could not continue to deliver a service predicated on listening, relationship-building, and the thoughtful application of evidence-based interventions, under the crunch of auditors and data point templates.
I could not overlook that there is more than one evidence-base in medicine, nor that all of them have value. This too, is hard to fit into a template.
I could not ignore that when someone is deemed “treatment-resistant,” it might be because we have not yet found the treatment that is right, for him or her. There are so many. So many.
Managing all this dissonance is the grind that wore me down. The arrival of Holstee’s tidy manifesto, and other permissive, kind, and action-oriented words, made all the difference for me, at just the right time.
I found a middle ground, a path that is working (at least for now), and if you know anything about human psychology, this is one of a number of things that leads to hope, and light at the end of an otherwise dark tunnel.
So now, I am helping others in gentler ways. There is more of me to go around. I am happier, though not completely free of the self-doubt that follows downshifting. I think I’m getting close.
Holstee helped me, with their clear, decisive words. I’ve always found simple to be most profound. I have noticed, though, we have a way of hurdling right over that which is old, and classic, to embrace that which is reshaped, resurfaced, and new. I am doing that less, these days.
In our world, setting intention, practicing mindfulness, and diligently working to clear that which is not meant for us, are as important as ever. This, I learned in my nine years of psychiatric practice—observing both myself, and others.
I understand that the time was not wasted, and the body of work is not lost. It is mine, and it will fuel the next adventure beautifully. One day, this will be a part of my amazing story, rather than the thing I struggle with.