In Honor of Mental Health
I’ve often been outspoken about my personal mental health struggles. Writing has always been my outlet, travel has always been a fresh start, and trusted friends were my sounding board.
These tools <mostly> worked until there was simply too much to clear without support.
I had a few different astrology readings at the beginning of 2019 and they all pointed to my 37th year being the year of my career, the year that everything really starts to take off in the direction of my soul’s passion.
What I experienced in March of that year was more like: heartbreak, loss, backstabbing, and falling apart in all the ways.
Although not the easiest year, I found myself in a JOY-full state much of the time. I was fully committed to my own magic, and wasn’t afraid of the unknown road ahead. I made time for daily walks to the park, swings on the swingset, and time in observation of birds, squirrels, and dragonflies. In a time where much of my foundation was crumbling, I trusted in the path ahead.
My spring of 2020 was lined up with magic and love. I had a retreat, a training, and multiple opportunities to meet new folks in new communities. When the world shut down, and then stayed closed, I was fresh out of resilience and snapbacks. I felt like I had nothing left to (re)build on, that my new foundation wasn’t strong enough to handle this new stressor, with daily loads being applied.
Compounded grief + trauma + stillness
and without my favorite tools (routine, community, yoga classes)
When YogaOne shut down, it was the straw that broke this camel’s back. The one place that I never thought would go away, was gone. Living across the street from the location made it challenging to process this ending. I moved to Florida for 2.5 months to create space between what had been, and whatever was next.
The intensity of that time still resides in my cells, and I can feel it as I relive it enough to write about it in this moment (almost two years later). I remember making bargains with myself to get through the days, taking long social media breaks, and reading “Waking the Tiger” by Peter Levine while having repressed childhood memories coming into clarity. I hit rock bottom multiple times, even being super close to the beach.
I found myself looking back at 2019 me with envy and admiration.
AND one of the most powerful things I did was to ask for help AND to stay committed to that ask.
One thing I’ve learned is that asking for support requires strength, energy, and determination. Healing isn’t a one a done, and it often takes time to find the tools that will work.
<I’ve found that often the tools that work evolve right along with me. The things that work today, may not be the ones that work in a few years...Le Sigh>
My first therapist wasn’t the best fit for me and my needs, which took some time to figure out. My current therapist took WORK…phone calls, long holds, and always having to explain my needs to strangers.
EXHAUSTING when already struggling.
CHALLENGING when I’m tired to keep advocating for myself.
EMOTIONAL to keep (re)telling my story to get where I need to be.
and I AM WORTHY of this effort.
I’ve been meeting with my therapist <almost> weekly for over a year, and I just met her face-to-face for the first time last week. One upside of the pandemic is the acceptance of telehealth into the mainstream. Having access to a therapist from Greensboro with the specialized skill set that I need has been life-affirming.
Things I’ve gained by committing:
A diagnosis - although not my whole story, it’s been super useful to have a name and awareness of patterns
A friend - knowing that someone is in my corner is EVERYthing
Accountability - sometimes sweet, but often sour, and always grateful
Reclaiming resilience - slow and steady wins the race
One of the biggest things that I’m working with is to embrace the natural rhythms: myself, the seasons, and the days. And also recognizing what throws me off: poor sleep, not prioritizing eating, and abrupt schedule changes
This surrender can be challenging when I agree to show up as a yoga teacher 5-6-7 days a week. I recognize the tremendous amount of energy it takes to teach without co-opting public class time as the space to work my shit out…I’ve definitely witnessed teachers using their public class space as an opportunity to process…highly DON’T recommend.
Some days <hours> are meant for work that requires my attention and details, others are meant for dreaming, and some are simply for rest/reading/being/recovery.
While no substitute for professional support, here’s a few things I feel pretty comfortable with sharing as tips for moving through:
Honor your setbacks. They happen. The practice is to be with yourself in these moments too.
Communicate your needs with others. Sometimes I need space, others I need comfort. If I don’t know the difference, then how can I expect others to know either.
Notice your patterns. Mine is to want to escape. You name it, and I’ve probably wanted out of it in times of personal crisis.
Give yourself grace. Possible words to substitute: compassion, love, trust, time, permission to fall apart completely
Baby steps totally count. Making a list counts. Cleaning up counts. Showering counts. Looking up info on that thing you’ve been meaning to do…yep, also counts!
Let yourself rest. And not in the pursuit of later productivity. Allow yourself REAL rest…the kind that nourishes your soul, mind, and body.
“The carousel never stops turning” Grey’s Anatomy
Recent news of compounding tragedies and death + personal life happenings and grievings + my always delicate balance between moods…
The carousel truly never stops turning. The life-long practice is to choose the horse (or other magical creature) that can help support your ride, and then hang on tight. Sometimes you are up, and sometimes you are down. Sometimes you have spun in pretty directions, and others not-so-much. Other times, we may let go completely and get drug underneath the ride while getting trampled on and dirty. And then there are moments where we climb ourselves to the top of the ride, and can see the bigger picture.
Support requires access, and access often requires support...I went for many years without health insurance and access. I stumbled upon Open Path Collective which created opportunities for me, and many others to receive help.
This path to healing isn't for the weak, it's wayyy easier to stay right where we are, and so so soooo worth it to begin, and to keep going.
Rest is a necessary part, and often overlooked.