Mental Health and the Medicine Wheel

I feel anxious.  The last two weeks have been overwhelming and busy for me and I notice that my head goes wild when there is a lot on my plate. I feel incredibly stuck in my thoughts.  But everyday, I walk out onto the land.  I watch the sunset over the vast mountainous landscape.  I put my feet in sand.  And I say some prayers.  In this experience, I recall times of great anxiety in my life: sleepless nights, the desire to do and the discomfort of waiting, the unsettled gut feeling, my appetite being altered, etc.  It became part of an internal conversation, asking, what could possible help me not feel this way?  Therapy?  Medication?  How can I seize this discomfort?  And this is not the only type of incident stimulating this inner dialogue.  I think of life phase experiences that stimulated feelings and actions of depression, avoidance, drug/alcohol use or pleasure seeking and even moments of being immersed in spirituality that can feel ungrounded.

When I was therapist, and even now as a Guide, I have had many clients/participants with stories of diagnosis.  Declaring these labels as part of their identity.  “I’m depressed.”  “It’s because of my ADHD.”  “I’m too anxious do that.”  Are diagnoses made into excuses for behaviors?

This breaks my heart.

The mental health system seems to be limiting people!  Don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer in therapy and the benefits of this important work, and I know of the benefits of medication (used well) as a tool to support people in experiencing their best self when struggling with these big feelings.

I think we can all agree that the medical model, adapted by the mental health world, is one that is a straight line.  Problem/symptom to diagnosis/treatment.  I acknowledge the benefits of this model while also wanting to offer a big YES, AND…(it’s not a no/but/or) there is another model too!

The medicine wheel offers a different view, a circle.  Within the wheel, you can find pleasure seeking, addiction, depression, anxiety, ungrounded thinking, noting that these are all part of the larger human experience! And these are deeply connected and coupled with playfulness, body-connection, deep introspection, insight, self-discovery of core gifts, planning and giving to the community, and connection to something bigger than ourselves.  In this understanding of experience, we are never stuck; we go around and around constantly, in an hour, a day, week, month, year and life: a cycle, on a cycle, on a cycle simultaneously moving in you.  And if you feel stuck there are things you can do to move you.  If you don’t want to do these things, it is in your nature to move around the wheel whether you initiate it or not.  It’s all okay.  It invites you to be you, in your natural pace, in connection to your nature. 

It may be wild to think this, but these experiences are human nature!  And an important part of balancing all parts of Self.  Most of all, this model suggest these are not labels you wear as your identity but rather elements of being human that you integrate into who you are and how you can live your purpose.

I invited you to learn, play, dance, live, and experience the wheel in your life, feel your human nature with Oaks Counsel!