Forgive me for not writing last week about this week’s International Recovery Perspectives: Action on Alternatives conference at Hart House, as I had promised.
Sometimes life interrupts your best intentions. Last week, it wasn’t life, but death. Two deaths. One was the suicide of my neighbour, a sweet, gentle, caring man who was very ill. He lived across the street.
I ran out of words.
Then, on Saturday, at the First International Conference on Integrative, Complementary and Alternative Medicine (ICAM) and Mental Health on “Creating Hope in Mental Health,” I found them again. I came home inspired and uplifted, stimulated and excited.
Today, I’ll start with three. Simple words. We hear them every day.
Communication. Respect. Compromise.
These three little words define healthy relationships. They’re synergetic, too. The interaction of the three produces a combined effect greater than the sum of their individual effects.
As human beings, we are all about relationships. With each other, our families, our friends, our life partners, our children, our pets, our colleagues, our environment, our bodies, our minds and all those people with the experience, knowledge, wisdom and skills to help us to heal.
This conference is the brainchild of Jean Antoine Boodhoo, a dynamic Medicine Hat-based, British-trained psychiatrist who envisions a world where conventional and alternative healthcare practitioners work together in their healing.
“Healing is a journey, and if we care about each other, it’s important to be able to work with each other,” said Boodhoo. “Despite medical advances in both traditional and alternative medicine, Canadians are increasingly suffering from emotional and mental health problems.”
His vision? Combining conventional medical approaches and widely practised alternative medicine that dates back thousands of years.
In what he calls “a movement” to see conventional medical healthcare providers and alternative and complementary healers “working together for the benefit of mankind,” Boodhoo gathered the most prominent North American medical doctors with expertise in alternative and complementary medicine.
In treating mental health problems––depression, bipolar disorders, anxiety, ADHD, and a range of other conditions––they combine psychotherapy and psychopharmacology with nutrition and nutritional supplements, chiropractics, Ayurveda, traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, naturopathy, aromatherapy, spirituality, hypnotherapy, herbalism, light therapy, aboriginal healing.
“You need healthy relationships to do that and it takes communication, respect and compromise,” Boodhoo said. “I don’t always agree with what others are doing but I won’t denigrate or degrade them, as long as they do no harm.”
I often wonder, sitting in a medical doctor’s office, especially a specialist’s, how much he or she really knows about my big picture, my whole organism? Modern medicine with all its specialties and subspecialties seems to have forgotten that we, as human beings, are synergetic, too. We’re greater than the sum of our parts. We’re all unique. We’re not just a collection of organs in isolation.
That’s where complementary and alternative medicine have much to share. They’re holistic. That’s what healing is all about.
Maybe they could have helped the man who used to live across the street.