I don't know about you, but sometimes I find myself battling with an inner storm of worry, anxiety and frankly rage and anger. Hopelessness seems to take centre stage, as well as inadequacy to solve the many problems of life. Wanting to help others but feeling lack in time, energy, money, skills etc can really hinder the decision making process of, what to do with time on this precious earth, and...how can I truly help?? There seems to be so much going on, so much fear and confusion about so many topics that it can be hard to find focus on what to do.
Sometimes it feels as if I have to do something spectacular to make a difference. That if I'm not fully 'living my purpose' there's no point. However what if our greatest difficulties can actually help us to cultivate a much needed aspect of our humanity?
In 2013, I found myself lying in a hospital bed, unfamiliar sheets wrapped around my body, facing a blank white wall, hearing the cries of one the patients in the corridor outside who had been going up and down the hallways all evening, she had been calling out and singing about Jesus. I rolled over, trying to take it all in.. 'Why am I here? Am I really that insane?' I had only been 1 year just graduated with a first class honors in Professional Dance and Musical theatre and ready to take on the industry, determined to become a 'star'... and was now locked up in a mental hospital, unable to access my regular phone, shut off from the outside world. The morning after I arrived, one of the nurses took me into the hospital rooms to show me around. As we wandered down the hallways I saw a woman painting, she showed me her artwork and we talked about music, another, older lady said she was my spiritual grandma, and would I join her in the hospital church on Sunday, and later that week another guy was meditating in the hallways. I did Tai Chi and Pottery making, and there was a gym and a garden with flowers. For some reason there were moments, I saw this place as a wonderfully bright and colorful new world. In my perception, even though it was frightening at times, I had entered another dimension.
I sat with one young man who had been hearing voices. I was shocked as he seemed so 'normal' a regular guy who could have been my friend, a partner or a brother. A deep sadness came upon me as I realized how mental health can affect anyone.. and including myself. The kind nurse lady was showing me around, she had warm, soft eyes and a kind smile that felt welcoming. As we talked she was able to recognize my sanity. She 'Saw' me. And told my parents and people that 'She's still in there you know.' meaning I still had my sanity buried beneath my apparent 'insane' behavior. (which included going in the shower with as many layers clothes on as I possibly could, and singing endlessly to try to 'heal' myself but also because I thought it was 'a laugh' because.. why not? I had seen joey on friends do it. (Could I be wearing any more clothes in a shower?) I also spent hours sat in what I remember to be a small fireplace area, praying and waiting for a moment where I was suddenly going to be 'enlightened'
Another of the nurses, when I was ready to, took me for my first trip out and walk, and we linked arms and she said 'lets go to the shops Jem.' And we happily skipped along down the road! Because these lady's had took the time to listen, to engage with me, help me to feel normal again. They were able to see the person and that I was still 'There'. And equally because I took the time to get to know the other patients, to chat to them, sing with them, even one, we did some rapping together. He said to me, 'Jemma, you can sing, you can dance, you can act, and you can rap!' Even though I was hesitant at this last one, he would repeat these words daily, installing me with well needed confidence, and dignity. I now had new awareness of how people with talents and hearts can be shunned away by society and labeled as 'insane' simply because they were never given the coping skills to function in a world obsessed with productivity, bottom lines and sticking to 'the status quo' and acting 'normal'. I found myself bursting with compassion and gratitude for these people and the nurses and ..myself. Showing someone compassion in their moment of crisis can literally help turn their life to a more positive future. Showing someone you care about them, that they matter and that you are there for them can impact their mental health immensely.
Not judging our mental health statuses but truly listening to ourselves and others can truly impact our lives and move us forward into a more compassionate way of living.
To find out more about Author Jemma Rosenthal and her work as a Creative Life Coach, Performer, Artist and Healer. Follow this Blog, and Go to the About and Contact sections. You can also follow CreativeHearts.coach on Facebook, Instagram and as Jemma Rosenthal on LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter.