Yoga Didn't Fix Me

Alright, I fell off the blog bandwagon. But here I am, I’m back.

LOTS has happened since my last blog, Landslide. On that same day, yet another heartbreak took over my heart & body. It took me a minute to pull my shit together.

Well, it’s not all back together, but I’m up off the floor. Oh, maybe this is where I should tell you that I deal with depression & anxiety. Sometimes, it’s crippling. For a hot minute, it got the better of me this time.

I’ve always dealt with this, not well. For a LONG time, I was ashamed to consider or admit that I struggle with depression.

I just needed to ‘get happy’.

If only it were that easy.

For a long time, I attributed it to my marriage and my job(in another life, I was a retail store manager). If I fixed those, there would be no more depression. It took me a long time to change those situations, and in the mean time, my mental health deteriorated. The depression was worse, but anxiety completely took me over. I had no control over my thoughts, constantly fearing what I had screwed up now, not sleeping, and feeling as though I only had power if I numbed out my body, and did what I had to do. So, I numbed out. Closed off, finding comfort in isolation. But, my thoughts were still my enemy. The fear was the only thing I felt in my body. And that’s how I lived, for a very long time.

Around this time was when I found yoga. My favorite part of class was that I did not have my phone(that’s the rules!). I had an hour that I didn’t have to immediately respond, or be berated, and there wasn’t the moments of pure terror and anxiety if I received a message or call. My phone is still a trigger for me. That may start to shed light for those of you who are so frustrated with me that I am pretty terrible about replying.

I was FREE!

For one hour. So I started going more. 6-7 days a week. All driven by the glory of not having my phone for one hour. Ok, I liked it too, but in full transparency, the phone ditching motivated me the most.

As I started to know what I was doing a little, I was able to start paying attention to me. And then, I became that girl in class who cried every damn class. I wasn’t sure why I was crying. I felt crazy. But I liked trying to breathe. I liked how I felt after. I liked that I would have different thoughts during and after class. Not the same loop of the terrible, awful, hateful dialogue I was feeding myself. I may have been crying, but I showed the fuck up, every damn class.

I started to question yoga. I liked the physical sensations. I liked what it felt like to breathe. BUT, the crying? I couldn’t handle that. I didn’t want to be that girl! Yoga makes me cry, so maybe I should stop going. It was then, as I almost stopped going to yoga, that I realized the magic. Yoga wasn’t making me cry. Yoga was un-numbing me. Yoga took me out of my survival patterns, and was forcing me to deal with myself. I was thawing out years of unresolved pain, trauma, and my depression.

Here’s where we take a turn. In many circles, including yoga, the use of medication and chemicals to treat mental health is frowned upon. There is a certain shame from ‘society’ about using pharmaceuticals to treat depression. Do everything naturally. Don’t put chemicals in your body. Which, I’m not totally against. I do agree with this thought process sometimes, but not always.

I started thinking about talking to a doctor. I didn’t have one, I never went to the doctor. But, yoga had taught me to pay attention to what my body was telling me. Yoga taught me to listen. I needed help. But I was adamant that I was not going on medication. I didn’t want to be judged. I didn’t want to actually confirm that I was suffering from something beyond my control. I didn’t want to officially have a condition that I needed medication for. A strong person could figure this out on their own. But I knew that I had needed help.

Went to the doctor.

Didn’t talk about the depression.

Still in shame. Talked about the anxiety. I made the decision to start taking medication (Effexor to be exact) If I wasn’t going to deal with the depression, I needed all the help I could get.

Here’s where shit actually gets real. I took a lot of shit from friends, family, yoga teachers about taking meds.

The seemingly enlightened society, ESPECIALLY the yoga ‘society’, was FULL of opinions about how toxic these medications were. I was poisoning myself, when all I actually had to do was meditate more, practice everyday, journal, practice self care, and, abracadabra! You can handle anxiety and depression naturally.

BULLSHIT!

Seriously. BULLSHIT.

I tried. I tried really fucking hard. I went off & on the meds a couple times, I always went back on because the withdrawal process of coming off anxiety pills is no fucking joke. I still wince when I think about those weeks. If you’ve done this, you know. You know. But, I followed all the yoga rules to get to relief from depression. But it never came. Maybe I wasn’t trying/working hard enough. I beat myself up because I could not figure out how to heal myself without medication.

I did find moments of relief. When I found Forrest Yoga. I still stand by my stance that yoga didn’t fix me. But, I will say, with love and respect, Forrest Yoga saved my life.

Ironically, the moments of relief became more frequent and long-lasting when I started teaching. As I became more comfortable teaching, I started to realize that when I was teaching, my depression & anxiety were muted. Just temporarily. I finally was fully comfortable with just being Me.

The real Me.

I decided to make soul shaking changes to my life, and teaching was a part of the new plan. I made some extreme changes to my life(whole other story, for another day).

I had found my purpose.

I did fell lighter. I know that I am doing the work that I am meant to do. That does feel amazing.

But, the depression & anxiety were still there. More intense now. I still hear & feel the shame of using medication to find relief from these crippling symptoms.

I kept fighting.

I was going to beat this. Maybe I needed to practice gratitude for finding my purpose. That’s why I wasn’t cured yet!

I journaled the fuck out of how grateful I was for moving towards the life I want. I was so grateful for all the things I had. This had to be the last piece.

Nope. shit was worse.

And, here we are today. In a crippling bout with my depression.

The fight to physically get out of bed is exhausting. How heavy my body feels is crippling. How small and insignificant I still feel, even with the understanding that I am making an impact, I still feel insignificant. Thanks to depression.

I’ve been balls deep in what feels like the deepest depression I have ever felt. But I didn’t have the time, energy, or resources to deal with it.

So, I fell into my comforts of isolation, toxic self talk, and hiding this internal war that is ravaging my body.

Yoga didn’t fix me. I am positive of that.

That is a bunch of bullshit they’re selling there.

I was a model student. I deserved it.

Yoga betrayed me. It didn’t fix me.

But, Forrest Yoga taught me to build a relationship with my body that was kind, and loving, and healing.

I get it. I can’t do this on my own. I need help.

I went to the doctor.

I told her EVERYTHING.

She had tears in her eyes as I was telling her my symptoms and concerns. She said she could help me. That this isn’t ‘normal’ to feel. Depression sometimes is so intense that medication is what you need. It’s more than just being grateful and present. It’s a medical condition.

I’m going to treat this as such.

Me & my doctor have built a strategy to feeling better. It does include medication for depression. Along with continuing the anxiety meds. Along with some therapy.

Yep. I don’t actually care who knows, or what anyone thinks. I do actually SUFFER from depression and anxiety. And I am going to do whatever I need to do to feel better. I am proudly taking meds for my depression and anxiety. This shit needs to stop.

Yoga didn’t fix me.

But experience and softness have taught me that nothing is ever going to ‘fix’ me. I need to heal my own damn self. And, in this case, I need some pharmaceutical help. And I don’t give a fuck about what anyone thinks of that. Especially the yoga ‘society’.

You can’t ‘yoga’ your way out of everything. That’s ridiculous.

Yoga TAUGHT me how to build a relationship with my body that was’t shameful and hateful.

To take help and support.

To allow myself to feel worthy of happiness.

And to do whatever I need to do to be the best version of me.

So, I’m done being ashamed that I struggle with depression and anxiety.

Even as a yoga teacher, doing what I know I’m meant to do, I struggle.

And I’m taking medication to to help.

If you have an opinion about that, keep it to yourself. I’m no longer accepting unsolicited feedback about my personal health practices.

First of all, no one gets to have an opinion on how I care for my body. Mind your own damn business.

Second, hasn’t yoga taught us that using a prop is actually the deeper option? I got that message. Didn’t you?

Sometimes, you should use a prop.

I struggle with depression and anxiety, and I am using medication to help me.

Maybe it’s helping. I’m writing this, aren’t I?

And, I want to actually enjoy all the amazing things that are happening in my world. Holly Horter Yoga is actually working. I want to be fully available to fulfill my dreams.

Friends, if you are struggling with mental health issues, go to the doctor. Do research. Figure out what is right for you.

Yoga doesn’t tell us to not get help when we need it. That’s the self-righteous yoga douche bags, who should probably seek medical attention more than anyone.

There is no shame in getting help.

And, there’s no shame in a gratuitous plug about Holly Horter Yoga Official Gear! It makes me happy. I’m going to share the shit out of something that makes me happy!

I am showing the fuck up for Holly Horter Yoga!

Holly Horter