You’re a Yoga Teacher, You Shouldn’t Be Depressed


Those were the words that I kept telling myself in the beginning when the dark clouds would take over my day. Starting with an irrational thought that would slowly chew away leading to those dreaded feelings of sadness and eventually ending with me not being able to function like we think adults should.

At first, it was fairly easy to turn what I thought was a bad day around. To do something that made me feel better. Call a friend, do some yoga, get outside. These activities usually brought me back to a place of contentment, and I was able to follow this pattern for a couple of weeks.

And then, like a natural disaster that you have seen on the news that is coming your way but you do nothing to prepare for it because you are choosing  to ignore the warning signs, it hit. Like a freight train. Wanting to sleep for days. Sleeping all night and being exhausted the next day. Withdrawing from the people that I loved. Cancelling my yoga classes. Not eating. Not being able to do the things that I knew made me feel better because I simply didn’t have the emotional and physical strength to do so. Living in a fog day after day, going through the motions of a functionally depressed person. Not being able to have a conversation with someone without bursting into tears. Wanting to die. Being angry at myself for thinking and feeling the way I did because I didn’t believe I was entitled to feel the way I felt.

“Why are you sad? What’s wrong?” – a question that my friends and family would ask my time after time, and I had no answer for them, other than the frustrating, “I have no idea. I just am. I have absolutely no reason to feel this way, I should be so happy.” Which was the honest truth. I am so grateful for my life and the people in it. I am married to the love of my life, love the work I do, get to travel the world, am Miguel’s adopted mom, love where I live. Have the most supportive family and friends I could ever ask for. It made me feel selfish and ungrateful not to be able to just simply enjoy and be happy.

All of this was combined with the self-imposed notion that people like me (yoga teachers, energy workers, etc.) are not supposed to be depressed. As a yoga teacher, it’s my job to make people feel good. To teach by example. I am to exude love and light and leave people feeling better than when they came. But there I was: struggling with life’s most basic tasks, like brushing my teeth, taking a shower, eating, getting out of bed, feeding my cat and doing the dishes. I lost 15 pounds in three weeks. Put my yoga classes on hold because I could no longer put on a happy face- I felt like a sham doing so.

If it wasn’t for my husband and family who noticed my unusual behaviour and supported me in getting help, I can’t imagine this situation would have ended well. I was truly at the end of my rope and ready to give up, which was scary to admit.

After a long and intensely truthful visit with my doctor, opening up to him about the things that were going through my mind that would give Satan a run for his money, we decided that we would give an antidepressant a shot.

The next morning, I stared at the little white pill in my hand. I struggle with taking any medication, and I was supposed to believe that this pill was going to alleviate my irrational thoughts and anxiety, my sadness and disconnection from the things I love, and my extreme and disturbing thoughts about life and death. I had to swallow my pride before I swallowed the pill. The first few weeks of being on the medication were a different kind of fog. But it truly did alleviate my symptoms of depression. Slowly but surely, I began to find joy in daily activities again. I stopped having to fake my smiles and laughter. My appetite slowly came back. I began doing some self searching to find what may possibly be the root of my depression – something that I had no energy for before the medication.

I paid a visit to my friend’s mom,  the most amazing massage and craniosacral therapist. (Read more about craniosacral therapy here). After the treatment, I felt different. It had brought up a couple situations from my past that subconsciously I knew created some blockages but didn’t really know how to address them. I felt lighter, less weighed down. We talked about it after and she said something that resonated so deeply with me, that I tap into every day of my life. “Brittany, you are a perfectly functioning adult. You have created a great life for yourself. That isn’t a problem, you have all the skills you need as an adult woman. It’s the little girl inside you that needs consoling. You need to tell her it’s okay, that she is safe, that you will take care of her.” She told me to keep doing my work. Some days it isn’t easy, but it’s easier than feeling like I did in my darkest moments.

I am still taking the medication. Maybe I will stop it tomorrow, or maybe I will be on it for a year, who knows. I take it day by day. Maybe I’ll never have another major depressive episode again, or maybe it will be two months from now. I’m working on not feeling guilty for needing medication. We all need a little help sometimes, it doesn’t make me weak or less of a person. These days, I’ve been really committed to my yoga practice in preparation for my upcoming teacher training. I’ve found peace in writing, reading and journalling. It took awhile for me to start teaching again, but I’m back at it, and I couldn’t be happier.

This morning I woke up, sat on the couch with my fresh made coffee, my cat quietly snoring beside me. The winter sun beaming through my windows. Smelling the fresh cut flowers on my coffee table. I took a second to close my eyes, and let the feeling of gratitude wash over me. Brought a smile to my face. Everything I’ll ever need, I already have.

 

Brittany

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