I’ve been battling depression since I was a teenager. For those of you who have never experienced it, it’s hard to understand and it can manifest in different people in different ways. For me in particular, I don’t feel interested in anything, I feel worthless, and I just float through my life. Sometimes I have enough energy to pretend like I’m okay, and sometimes I only have enough energy to get what I need to get done and no more.
While I was serving my mission in the North Carolina, Raliegh Mission, and then later the Virginia, Chesapeake Mission, I suffered even more acutely than I had ever experienced before. I was able, by some miracle, to get out of bed every morning and serve the people I had come to see, but every night I would collapse and hope to never wake up.
It was on my mission that I discovered yoga. While I had practiced some yoga before, I think I really needed it then. Practicing mindfulness and exercising my body in a different way helped improve my mood and my outlook. It was by no means a cure, but it was a step in the right direction.
I continued practicing on my own via YouTube videos or workout DVDs and I always felt a little better once I completed a session. It got to a point where I felt like I was going to be okay. I no longer had to attend weekly therapy sessions and I was able to manage my depression.
However, it hasn’t always been perfect. After a sudden broken engagement, watching people that I cared for pass away, and other negative things, depression has reared it’s ugly head several times. And sometimes, going to yoga every day just doesn’t cut it. I’ve had to go back to therapy and now I’ve started taking medication.
While yoga isn’t a cure, it has become a building block in my quest to handle my mental illness. Sometimes it’s almost impossible to get out of bed to either teach or practice. But the days that I do get up and get to the studio or lay out the mat in the living room is a victory. With all of my help, I’ve been feeling better than I ever have before. My anxiety is still sky high, but the sadness has lessened.
I urge anyone who is suffering from a mental illness to at least try yoga. I’m not going to pretend like it’s going to fix everything and that you’ll start to frolick in fields of rosebuds of happiness and unicorn butterflies after just one session (that sounds more like a bad trip). But it can be a tool in your recovery.
Thank you for sharing your energy with me today.