Wellness is something that is sought-after by all, but yet, truly difficult to define and even attain. It is always changing, moving and guiding us to take the right path. We look for beacons of hope; people with examples of resiliency to lead us forward through the struggles of life and into much better days. Noah is one of those people. As a young child in Uganda, he was victim of the hardships that war brought to his country, his village and his family. He lost his sister to the war and thenafter his two brothers to addiction. His father also suffered from addiction, leaving Noah with in a very difficult place as a youth growing up. He has taken his traumas and experiences and transformed them into healing, and after a short career in Aviation, he has been devoting his life to helping others on his path. Read on to be inspired by this BLK BOSS.
You believe that “everybody deserves to be well”, can you dive a little deeper in this for usand tell us what this means for you.
In my book titled: Restored and speaking from Mental health and trauma-informed perspectives, I speak of “wellness not being the absence of illness but rather how you and I are confronted and cope with daily demands and stressors.” From a psychological,
physiological, and spiritual level. And I must add, in all aspects of humanity and possibly any living creature, are all created to grow and change – a sense of loss in other words.
Growth takes courage, nurturing, care, support, nutrients, sunshine, water, etc. A crooked
tree or branch bent in its infancy stage, may break when a farmer tries correcting or putting it right. What do I mean by this analogy? When one learns and grows in an environment, with a set of behaviors and influencing factors, the growth and wellness of such an individual can be partly affected positively or negatively. Wellness is rather on a continuum not static. Wellness changes and can grow. Wellness can be celebrated individually or collectively. And there are many ways to evaluate and deepen wellness types such as personal wellness, relational, professional, financial wellness, and environmental.
Can one’s wellness be affected or improved? What factors may cause one’s state of mood to
change, shift, or deteriorate? All of the above and many questions may cross both yours and
my mind about one’s wellness. There is no magic answer to these questions however, I must assert, the wellness of your mind, body, and spirit can make a difference in your overall wellbeing; and the best cheerleader for such wellness is none but yourself. Start now, one step and day at a time. When having difficult feelings such as anxious or depressive symptoms and the stressors of life, taking a step back to catch a fresh breath of air during a 15 minute meditation and relaxation breathing technique could make a difference.
This motif of growing and leaning towards one’s wellness involves changes, understanding of seasons, and at times, opening up to cherished memories and a sense of gratitude or self-compassion. This calls us for an active obligation, dedication, and self-discipline, in order to attend to the needs of our bodies, mind, and spirit daily.
Why did you decide to become a trauma and addictions Psychotherapist in Toronto, afterworking in Aviation management as Flight Operations and Air Traffic Officer for many years in United Arab Emirates? What is it about being a BLK BOSS that drives you?
“Healed people heal others”. It was from this conviction that I decided to switch careers. To
enhance my awareness, in order to better take care of myself and coping better; especially
with those past scars and triggers of trauma endured in my childhood but more importantly; to be a beacon of inspiration, to empower those in need, which led to the creation of a trauma-informed safe space (Toronto East Psychotherapy & psychological Services). If I needed a hand then and most times in my life now, then someone next to you or next door may be in that very need that you or I can render a hand up or offer support. The agonizing feeling, any human being can ever go through is to feel alone and scared.
What drives me is coffee. Seriously, what drives me is the notion of yearning to become a better version of myself as a human being each day, for the betterment of those around me and of course, personal growth.
You’ve lived through many atrocities as a youth in war-torn Uganda. Can you tell us a littleabout how you overcame these challenges to become the man you are today?
First, I truly believe that life is a gift meant to be cherished, celebrated and shared. When my life seemed turned upside-down from my early years, it was the support of those close figures that stood by me; God bless individuals like my mother Veronica, the community support, the missionaries that rescued me and many orphans after the war in Uganda in late 80s. At a very young age, I learned quick enough to be independent, yet uncertain of what both the wellness and stability of my family would look like. By holding on to hope, life was more bearable. I held-on and persevered every day.
I strongly believe in not allowing my past to determine my now or future but rather rely on my creator’s terms or will. The giver of the same air you and I breathe. And so long as “I breathe, I move.” That was the anchor, which kept me grounded and focused on the big
prize, the journey of life faced every day with its ‘visitors’; invited or not, curses and blessings, negatives and positives, joys and tears, a conversation with a stranger or ‘rising with the sun’ in a self-aware and meditative state. The gift of life celebrated together, no matter the situation such as this Pandemic – Covid-19.
Your recent book “RESTORED : A Journey Towards Forgiveness and Healing” is an incredible memoir, self-help/Mental wellness tool and we highly suggest it to anyone dealing with Mental illness needs such as living through chronic stress, scars of trauma, or fighting an addiction. Why did you decide to put pen to paper and share your story?
Having had a rough start in my childhood, I thought I might as well share about my family of origin challenges, obstacles confronted and navigated, resilience and tenacity gained along the way but more so; being a voice to so many child-soldiers around the world with stories yearning to be expressed, shared and told. A mother in Toronto, doubting if her daughter battling an addiction to street drugs and alcoholism will ever make it to another day. A young son confronted with domestic issues at home and finally, a refugee stranded in a United Nation’s Camp in Darfur Sudan. These and many stories I can relate to and world issues that require of each and every human being taking a part in making tomorrow a better world for those after we are no longer here. We as a people live, experience, and breathe stories, all have a story to share, just a few are published. Therefore, just keep sharing for its what matters, rather than grappling thoughts in your head or bottled up in a bottle and coping in maladaptive ways. Instead, seek help, speak up, and stay connected.
How is it possible to heal the world – Would you go back to Uganda and treat people, likeyourself, who went through so many of the same traumas?
To answer the first part of your question, I am reminded of John Lennon’s “Imagine”; the world needs healing indeed now. Without pointing any fingers or keeping a blind eye to the very issues and challenges of our time, the Pandemic, anti-racism, and institutional biases; which continue to suffocate the wellness of our communities and cities. And I haven’t mentioned of corruption, wars, food insecurities (hunger) or the environmental protection concerns. Being truly human requires all of us to taking care of each other and caring for mother-nature – our shared environment in Ubuntu.
If someone is in a position that he/she wishes to follow a path into Psychology orPsychotherapy as a private practice, what would be the single most precious advice youwould give to become their own boss in this field?
Listen to every advice you can, but be careful and listen to your own voice; for its what makes you go or stay, start or stop, remain stuck or change. Don’t fear to fail but also don’t fear to try either. Remember that saying? Practice…. before things better, falling and raising up may be part of the game, just remember to practice what works and change what’s not. Any skill learned needs practice before confidence, competency, improvements and quality can be realized. Know your strengths and areas of growth. Have a mentor if not a role model. Deepen your roots in spirituality for it can be a steady foundation to be anchored, in terms of sways and hurricanes.
You are always growing and learning or creating – what is next for you?
Growth and learning are an everyday thing for me, and I look at each day as having its own sweetness taste or bitterness. Self-care and raising my beautiful daughters are my first priority, the growing needs of our practice and changing clientele our focus; which keeps me as the clinical director connected and engaged with our communities in Canada and North
America but also in the diaspora networks as well as back in Africa. Creating Uganda’s first
trauma-informed Centre for addictions and Mental health (UCAMH) is an ongoing campaign, which I am privileged to be a part and I invite anyone listening or reading this text to consider supporting.
Who is Noah Mugenyi?
Simple. Ugandan at heart and a Canadian citizen, known as a trauma/PTSD and addictions specialist and a community Mental health advocate. An educator, speaker, and Author.