Four deep questions about mental health arose while talking to my sister about healing recently :

1. Do therapists heal you?

The short answer is no, they don’t — you heal yourself.

Overwhelmed by all kinds of fears, insomnia, endometriosis, food addiction, and overall dissatisfaction with my life, I too hoped that someone or something would heal me — would make me feel whole, at peace.

I still do, on a certain level.

First, it was dieting and reaching career goals, then it was yoga, meditation, therapy. Reading books, listening to podcasts, doing online courses. Setting up the perfect morning routine.

Piling on stuff I thought I had to DO in order to feel satisfied.

Now I know that’s not what healing is. You don’t just go to a psychologist, shaman, therapist, nutritionist or whatever other –ist and they heal you. What they do is facilitate. They hold space for you to heal yourself.

They ask the right questions, create the right environment for YOU to do the work.

Cause healing works, believe me. Healing requires effort, focus, and will. And it looks different for everyone. I perceive it like shedding layers of trauma. Much like cabbage or an onion — whatever vegetable comparison you prefer.

2. Who needs healing?

Things happen to us when we grow up that are imprinted in our tiny brains as traumatic events. Might just be your parents losing you in a crowd. It’s enough for your brain to interpret it as abandonment if that’s how you felt at that moment.

You get the drill: there’s no need for something society deems “a major traumatic event” to induce trauma in your brain and body.

And we all have some kind of trauma.

It can manifest in our lives as addiction (anything from substances to food, shopping, and work), insomnia, panic attacks, auto-immune disease, inability to leave toxic relationships, co-dependence, insecurity, etc.

3. How does healing occur?

That’s the hell of a question.

For me, healing occurs when I stay with myself. When my mind is focused on ME, not on doing something in particular. It happens when I let go of a layer.

And I do so by crying.

I envy of people who can have a good, intense cry. Throughout my life, I made a point out of NOT crying, because I perceived it as a sign of weakness. I worked so hard on abstaining that I ended up not being able to cry even when I wanted or felt the need to.

So now I need a facilitator to help me cry. It happens when I write about certain things or during therapy.

Just the other day I had a really intense session: I went back to the moments when I felt unworthy.

And boy, did I cry.

For all those times I felt worthless, but didn’t allow myself to shed a tear.

Deep in meditation (which they call hypnosis, but it’s actually just a guided meditation), my therapist told me to assure my younger self that she was worth it just because she existed. That she didn’t have to prove anything to anyone in order to be loved.

My chest shuddered as I said those words to my 20 something-year-old self, riding alone in a night bus. I couldn’t believe it was true. I couldn’t believe I deserved to be loved just because I am. That I don’t have to DO something in order to be worthy of love.

And in that moment, I felt a layer coming off. I felt one step closer to my essence. To who I am without all the limiting beliefs, patterns and destructive programs instilled in my brain and my body throughout my life.

4. Is healing ever complete?

I think so.

All those layers will come off one day — it’s a firm goal of mine. I want to meet my spirit — that part of me which is pure, untainted. I know it exists, I can feel it.

But I also know that I have a lot more tears to cry and layers to shed before I get there.

And I’m OK with that.