Last October, I experienced a pretty dramatic dip in my mental health (something I accredit to unresolved long-term issues and high levels of stress). I’d had warning signs in the months preceding, particularly physical symptoms such as repeated trapped nerves in my shoulders, yet I dismissed these flare-ups as basic manifestations of stress and pressed on through a number of commitments without really addressing the root cause. It’s super easy to endure when it’s all you’ve ever known- to actually stop and face issues, grappling with the extent to which they take hold of your physical and mental health involves a lot of patience, stamina and often emotional drainage. Taking time out is very hard and often involves becoming comfortable with the term ‘no’, for a person like me, this can be very hard. I like to please people and I like to challenge myself when my anxiety surges, kind of a self-destructive ‘fuck you’ to the terrible demon. In the short-term, you function. However, in the long term, you cause irrevocable damage by learning negative patterns which further trap you in your negative place. Inevitably, at some point, it really all has to come out and it will do, whether by your own volition or your body’s sudden rebellion/cry for help.
For me, it was the latter. After all the years of resistance and ‘managing’, it suddenly became apparent that I was not doing this at all. When the faeces really hit the fan and subsequently left me no choice but to get help and start to tackle demons head-on, I took advantage of a business card I’d had buried in my purse for almost a year. Whilst working at Holland & Barrett, I’d been handed it by a familiar face and kept a mental note to utilise it someday. When I’d finally become tired of a routine that involved glugging CBD oil, popping Naproxen and crying with helplessness, that day had finally arrived.
I contacted Sam, a lovely bloke I’d met through mutual friend a few years prior, to enquire about his holistic services delivered from his home studio with his partner Emily. I decided to book myself in for a massage, hoping to alleviate some of the tension and inflammation in my shoulders. This was not an ‘easy’ decision as I felt immense guilt for spending money on a massage when I’d recently become unemployed, additionally, I’m super uncomfortable with the prospect of being touched by even people I’m close to and so I was naturally hesitant about the idea of freaking out or being super ticklish.
For most people, a massage could be deemed a luxury experience (both as a result of the stereotype that it’s super pricey and also our societal stigmatisation of self-love/relaxation as an evil in a world that prioritises capitalistic efficiency). I was one of those people, no doubt about it. But I want to make something very clear: my treatments with Sam have been invaluable and even with the weight of a Master’s thesis looming overhead and various other life struggles, especially mental health related, the massages have aided a sense of commitment to a better wellbeing, recovery and growth. Despite my initial anxieties, I arrived for my first massage and was welcomed into a loving and positive home (even given a lovely cup of tea). It took me a while to ease into the fact that I was there and deserved to be- when I accepted this somewhat, I had a completely transcendental relaxation experience unlike anything I had ever anticipated before.
The intimacies of a home studio, the aroma of incense, the sensation of warm oils, the powerful ring of the gongs and soothing meditative music, the ultra-calm demeanour of very professional and comforting masseuses. These are the components that make Kamayati Conscious Healing a brilliant avenue for anybody who needs to prioritise some self-care.
Ever since October, I’ve had monthly massages and even ventured into the realms of full-body massage (FYI, it transpires that you can carry a lot of tension in places that you don’t think about/feel like your ankles. OMG the pain/simultaneous satisfaction when that’s wrestled out), Thai massage, aromatherapy massage and Reiki. I’m open to trying anything that aids me because I, Pip, am an important project as much as any thesis, career or relationship. And also because I have experienced an elusive full sense of relaxation on that massage table- a state that I honestly can’t say I’ve ever experienced before in my life (stress-heads can’t turn off).
I’m currently a case study for aromatherapy, which I definitely believe is testament to the notion that ‘everything happens for a reason’, as the two treatments I’ve had so far have facilitated a lot of emotional release and a surrender to taking time to get better. I haven’t had a trapped nerve since October! That is because I have been taking care of my body by listening, wearing a wheat-bag as if it were a scarf every damned day, drowning my body in soothing bath salts & oils as well as regularly seeing Sam for an intensive massage. Obviously, I am not cured of all my ailments (Sam is excellent but also a mere mortal so it’s a bit unrealistic to think he could just absolve me of all my baggage) but I am able to dress myself independently every morning and not sit, swearing at myself, because my shoulder is totally out-of-action. That, my friends, is what I consider to be a victory.
When you’re physically in pain with a chronic condition, it permeates aspects of your life that you don’t even realise. Depression and anxiety are cruel, they seep in and make simple things hard. They mess with your gut, your muscles, your energy levels and essentially everything else, too. I’ve started to think of the two as tangible presences because I can sometimes literally feel the heaviness of them, like that Vicks advert where that phlegm gremlin is holding onto that poor guy’s chest. The gruesome twosome cut you off from people and tell you that you don’t deserve to feel good. Every time I get a massage or meet the yoga mat or use my Calm app for those amazing beach sounds, that’s me making a firm point to whatever fuckery is happening in my brain: you may think you have me completely but you don’t. And please don’t get too comfortable because some day, when I’m better, I’ll reign you both back: don’t get too cocky and power-hungry just because you’ve kicked me down for a bit. This is temporary and you’ll know your place again, one day.
I’ve written this because writing is helping me at the moment- I am writing everything! I haven’t published anything thus far but I wanted to release this because the work that Emily and Sam do is incredible- this is a massive thank you because your names are often featured within my writing. I am so grateful for all your positive energy and for all the tea, chats and therapies you’ve provided over the months. I really can’t encourage people enough to look into the services they provide and to give them a go. I’ve attached a link for their Facebook page so please, please, please give them a look!