I am now just coming out of what has been a long, dark season in my life. I have not been very good, in any sense of the word “good.” I need a change, said my brain, but this wasn’t a thought that came to me as a calm, gentle nudge. It overcame me like a tsunami and drew me into a rabbit hole of sadness, heaviness, anxiety.
When these feelings started to arise, my first step was to get to my mat, and quickly. Yoga is supposed to fix us. But my practice eluded me and as I approached it with increasing desperation and intensity, it actually contributed to my frenetic struggle. Thinking my increased, frantic energy needed to be expelled, I increased my running and added lunges and pushups and crunches and other horrible things. Soon I was exercising three hours a day, with such a ferocity that I actually left my workouts angry.
I found myself crying randomly, in bathrooms and in bed. I sought comfort in giant fistfuls of kettlecorn and margaritas, both of which went down with so much desperation I barely tasted anything. I stuffed my depression deep down, like a typical Norwegian, only to then unleash a beast of myself on my poor husband, who felt my perplexing wrath (tears, snappiness, etc.) at odd moments. I consumed hundreds of inspirational quotes from books and Facebook and Google searches, hoping that something would stick and propel me forward. When that didn’t work, my Googling shifted to researching antidepressants and self-help books. I couldn’t stop reading this dismal series of true-life recession stories that only fed my sadness. My lower back developed an achy, crampy pain that lingers still.
I knew that I needed a change, but I didn’t know how or why or what. This led to a frightening mental paralysis: I was immobile, like when your boots get stuck in deep mud, trapped in a swirl of anxiety. I remember feeling this particularly one afternoon, standing at my kitchen sink, as I rinsed a pint of blueberries. I just stared at each berry and started sobbing, and couldn’t stop, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move.
And then. Nearly three months later, those feelings have all but dissipated, slowly, and in the quieter aftermath, I have only the tiniest bit of perspective, not a revolution. When my cloudy mind started on the slow upswing, I started to take care of myself again. I did a juice fast. I got bangs. I started seeing a specialist to treat my back pain. But these things were not what caused me to stumble towards Happy again. These are the effects of starting to see Happy on the horizon, and moving toward it, toward the light. In other words, the end of this “dark period” was not brought about by anything I did or did not do. My spirit was in a tumultuous transition, and I was just a passenger along for the ride.
This is how most of us change: slowly, fearfully, clumsily, poorly.
So, I’m moving on: I am leaving the yoga world and have accepted a job at a company that I am so excited about. I suspect yoga will always be a part of my life, and believe that the skills I acquired through teaching will serve me well. Teachers of all kinds get to experience a profound, unique skill-set: empathy, gentleness, assertiveness, and a love for her students that transcends all other known types of love. I won’t soon forget how the past four years of teaching in New York have been both a blessing and an incredible journey of discovery.
Friends, I wish I could offer some sort of advice for pulling yourself out of a deep funk. I don’t have any magic, and I certainly tried a lot of different things. I’m someone who has to learn things the hardest way possible. Two things I wish I would’ve done differently (maybe these are the secrets then?); perhaps they’ll work for you:
1. Be nice to yourself.
2. Ask for help.
Here’s to moving on. And to change, and challenge, and to just being along for the ride…xx