by Jennifer Zmurchyk – Prairie Sky Wellness
The last few days have been a whirlwind of activity for me which were spent dealing with an illness in the family as well as finally facing my fears to make some major shifts in life and follow my true passion and calling.
Facing our fears is not an easy thing
What if I’m not good enough?
Will I be able to do this?
Am I ‘nuts’ to think that this can actually work?
Is following my heart over my head a good idea?
Should I do what everyone else around me is telling me to do, or should I be brave and do what ‘me’ is telling me to do?
These are some of the questions I have been struggling with concerning a decision I needed to make in regards to my future. Do I take the red pill or the blue pill?
My formal university education was in accounting and environmental sciences, and accounting was my career up until 2015 when I fell seriously ill and was diagnosed with Type 1 Bipolar disorder. At the time I was unable to work anymore and the prognosis I received from the psychiatrist and other mental health professionals was very grim. However, in 2016 I made a decision. I was sick and tired of being so sick! Unable to get out of bed for days during the depressive cycle of the illness, but then switching to the dangerous highs of mania for months at a time.
I made some major lifestyle changes which included looking after my physical, spiritual, and emotional health in addition to my mental health. After a lot of hard work, I am glad to say that I have not had any major Bipolar symptoms since the end of 2017. However, that does not mean that I am complacent. Bipolar Disorder is a serious illness with a mortality rate of 25% and it almost took my life more than once. I know that if I do not take extremely good care of myself that I will be back in those dark pits of hell on earth.
Since I was feeling better, I got approval by my doctor to go back to school. I decided to build on my business degree and pursue a masters degree in counselling psychology because I am very interested in helping other people who are struggling with mental health issues.
However, as the coursework wore on I found that it didn’t really resonate with me. I knew that psychotherapy was helpful for me but I also knew that what got me to the place of living a life that is happy and healthy took a lot more than conventional treatments for Bipolar Disorder. Plus my university classes were $749 Canadian each, so I was facing incurring a massive amount of student loan debt in middle age.
I have been hearing a call to pursue Shamanic training for quite some time now, and I took the steps a few months ago to sign up for my first Shamanic workshop done through the Foundation For Shamanic Studies . The workshop was this last weekend and it was life changing on so many levels. What I learned at the Shamanism workshop was much more in line with what helped me in my own mental health struggles.
When I decided to pursue Shamanism, one of the deciding factors was watching the amazing documentary Crazywise. It completely changed my views on what mental health disorders are and I understood that my Bipolar Diagnosis may be something very contradictory to what I was hearing from conventional western thought. More information about this documentary can be found here on the official Crazywise film website.
Crazy…or wise? The traditional wisdom of indigenous cultures often contradicts modern views about a mental health crisis. Is it a ‘calling’ to grow or just a ‘broken brain’? The documentary CRAZYWISE explores what can be learned from people around the world who have turned their psychological crisis into a positive transformative experienceCrazywisefilm.com
I also have been hearing a call to pursue plant medicine, so today I faced my fears again and decided to do this instead of working towards a masters degree in counselling. Plants have been a major interest of mine since a child and I have always felt an affinity with them, and studying the native plants in my area is a hobby and a passion of mine. Yes Western medicine has a lot of advantages, but using plants as medicine traces back tens of thousands of years through human history in all cultures. I will be working on a Master Herbalist Certification, with the eventual goal of becoming a Clinical Herbalist.
Was this the right decision?
It feels right to me. My intuition has guided me to make these choices, and at this point in life at the age of 45 I have learned to never doubt my intuition or the guidance I receive from God and the Universe.
However it’s also scary, because it is a complete shift from where I thought I was going. I can also imagine what the extended family will have to say about this, but I need to remember that my life is mine and it doesn’t matter what anyone else wants for me. So many of us fall into the trap of living our lives for others while forgetting about ourselves and what our soul is crying for us to do.
Taking this leap of faith has been very challenging, but it feels great to follow my gut and pursue my true passions.