By Nicole Wasserman
Program Coordinator of the EarthMind Wellness Center
at Honor’s Haven Retreat and Conference
I really want to help people. That’s what I have been telling myself, at least consciously since 12 years old when I participated in the D.A.R.E. club doing skits about not taking drugs at a rave party. But how? How can I REALLY help people?
My parents wanted me to be a doctor, and I did too. In high school, after locking myself in my room for hours upon hours to get straight A’s while training as a competitive gymnast and not allowing myself to have a social life, I burnt out completely. I decided being a doctor was not the way I could truly help people.
During high school I developed anorexia and bulimia, as well as terrible insomnia and stabbing pains once a month in my gut. I was also diagnosed with anxiety and depression, and put on medication; some which made me almost fall asleep during chemistry class.
I started getting C’s and D’s in one of the most prestigious schools in my county where there are no classes below honors level. I saw many people around me going through their own struggles and I tried to help: I started a club for discussions about mental health issues, body image and societal ideals of beauty and “perfection”, but I could not even get enough energy for myself.
One day in the middle of physics class I thought, “Why am I even here?” I imagined swallowing a jar full of pills with a bottle of alcohol like I saw in the movies and I thought that was really a false sense of entitlement, so I walked out of the class, went to the guidance counselor and told her I wanted to kill myself. She called my parents and they took me to a hospital where I stayed on the eating disorders unit for two weeks, locked inside with other beautiful “crazy” people. It was an intense but enlightening experience: In a place where I was faced by death, I felt like I found the value of life itself.
After discharge I was homeschooled and finally graduated. Before going to college I had a major panic attack and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder type 2, and this again started a whole new cycle of mood stabilizing medication and outpatient therapies. People told me that sometimes taking antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications together for a long time can cause bipolar symptoms and more research showed that per the survey taken by the National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association (DMDA), 69 percent of patients with bipolar disorder are misdiagnosed initially and more than one-third remained misdiagnosed for 10 years or more. I felt like an animal in a cage being poked and prodded with no real answers or solutions.
After two years on mood stabilizing medication I developed full body tremors, especially at night when my body was relaxing to fall asleep, and I freaked out because my grandma suffered from Parkinson’s in the last twenty years of her life. I became resentful and lost trust in the medical psychiatric community. I tried so many medications, therapies and techniques but I felt placated, but not healed.
I graduated college well with a major in cultural anthropology, and a minor in psychology, I studied justice and human rights issues locally and abroad, I became fluent in Spanish, worked for various nonprofits and community organizations and had a dream to work for the UN, but there was always a belief that whatever I did, I could not trust myself, manage myself or take care of myself. I was constantly reliant on something or someone outside of myself to give me what I really needed; clarity, unconditional love and a sense of stability.
After college I found CGI Holistic Fitness & Spa because I was looking for a chlorine-free pool (they have a beautiful, super clean ionized indoor pool), and I was invited to do the mind-body yoga and Tai Chi classes in their Body & Brain Center. I immediately fell in love with the training. After fifteen years of medication, therapy, and worrying, I finally found a place with instructors that could teach me how to focus on myself, relax my mind, breathe deeply and feel my own existence as something valuable in and of itself, without having to compare, be perfect or follow a rule of excellence. I found true, absolute freedom within myself through this unique, ancient, East-Asian holistic healing practice.
After two and a half years of the mind-body training I went completely off my medication and developed a continuous self-practice that helped me stay on track with myself, and I was given an opportunity as a trainer to help guide other people on their own self-healing journey.
Now, after almost ten years of practicing and seven years teaching, I have found and live the true purpose of my life: to deeply heal people. How? By training their mind and body to come together to heal themselves, to care about themselves and believe in themselves.
As Mahatma Gandhi once said,
“Strength does not come from a physical capacity, it comes from an indomitable will.”
Join me and other great healers at retreats with the EarthMind Wellness Center
at Honor’s Haven Retreat and Conference.
You can heal yourself too. Let us help you.
Nicole recommends these retreats for you to experience deep healing: