Have you ever been so anxiously depressed? I'm not talking about feeling bummed because your sports team didn't win or the job interview never called or that Tinder date turned out into a disaster.
I'm taking about the consistent nagging "I feel sad and hopeless because life just REALLY, REALLY sucks" kind. I'm talking about forcing yourself to get out of bed, carry on with the day with a heavy heart and rolling with the punches just to "survive". I'm talking about looking at your reflection in the mirror and all you see is a dark, bitter and empty soul.
Have you ever experienced it? I did. And it's so NOT fun.
I've always had depression tendencies during life's low points... PMS, heartbreak, homesickness, family or friends feuds, quarter and midlife crisis, work issues, breast cancer diagnosis and all the shit that came with it... who wouldn't be, right? It's human to feel MEH at tough times.
But it's a different monster if it's a constant feeling that's starting to affect your daily life including eating and sleeping habits, job performance, people interaction, self-esteem and the way you perceive the world.
After publicly sharing my early stage breast cancer recovery for 2017, I unconsciously expected WAY TOO MUCH from myself for 2018. I wanted to prove something SO BAD since I was given the privilege to live longer. I was so desperate to EXCEL at something. JAYMEE WINS right? So I better achieve GRAND things, look insanely HOT, make a HUGE impact and make everybody proud. (Thanks to social media pressure!)
I want to figure my life out ASAP that I impulsively signed up for a corporate job that looks so perfect on paper but very toxic for my soul. I did it because it is what's expected in the real world... grow up, get a stable job and secure the future. I did it thinking maybe it's the formula that works to achieve some sense of purpose.
But as I drove myself to work, I was slowly getting sucked into that dark depression hole. At first, I thought it's just me transitioning back and adjusting to work life. I kept brushing the emptiness off with shallow distractions... until my shrink told me in one of our sessions that she is noticing something worrisome about my down behavior and negative words... that she would like me to see a psychiatrist.
FIRST THOUGHT: A psychiatrist?! Seriously?! Am I cuckoo now?!
(NOTE: In the Philippines, seeing a psychiatrist has a stigma that you're crazy. Hence, my initial reaction.)
But I went anyway. After a consultation and some tests, I was told that I'm showing symptoms of a mild case of bipolar depression. The first thing we discussed is if I would like to take medication for it. I hesitated and said I need time to think and do research.
At this point, I knew I needed to make some drastic changes in my life.
I freakin' survived breast cancer and have a full life ahead of me.
I have an awesome medical team fully covered by insurance in the US. I still have complete natural body parts (yes, my boobs are still here!) and I look good.
There's always food for me on the table.
I have a warm place to live in and a comfortable bed to sleep on.
I have family, friends and social media followers who support and care.
I have no dependents and financial responsibilities.
SO WHY THE HELL AM I DEPRESSED?!?
And no, I am NOT convinced that taking some pills will make the sadness go away. I had to dig deeper to the source of my depression and address my issues from within.
(NOTE: I am not an advocate of anti-depressants and the likes especially if it's a mild case. I still believe in finding natural ways of coping. But in severe scenarios like thoughts of suicide, doing something reckless or illegal or harming one's self are already being entertained, then by all means, consider taking them as per doctor's advice.)
After many sleepless nights of deep contemplation combined with bouts of denial, anger, cries, doubts and loneliness, I made the bold move to let go of my job that doesn't give me a sense of fulfillment and refocused on myself and how I truly feel, I reached out to people for support and prayed harder to the Creator.
My gut is not sold on the idea of taking some medication just to feel "okay". Taking another drug is the last thing I'd want in my system. I'm already maxed out from chemo goddammit! There's gotta be another way.
I can't exactly pinpoint when yoga came into the picture but it re-introduced itself to me in full force while I was in the desperate search for natural ways to fight off falling into the depression hole this year. We've always had an on-and-off relationship ever since. I was just never consistent and never took it seriously before as I felt like there was no need to. I was young, beautiful, strong and flexible. So why the hell do it?
But as I was recovering from chemo, light yoga was the only exercise I could do aside from walking because of the hardcore fatigue my body was going through from being infused with all those toxic drugs.
I practiced with a private teacher along with my breast cancer intimate support group. I didn't feel comfortable going to a public yoga class bald and pale. I did it only when I had a bit of energy and motivation in me.
But this time around, after leaving my "comfort zone" job and in the persistent quest to find my passion, yoga marched back into my life in full swing... saving me from spiraling down into depression and anxiety and I've been hooked ever since.
"Seek and you shall find," as the saying goes. The Creator must've heard my anguished SOS for a natural way of coping with my inner demons. One idle day, I just found myself driving to a yoga studio and signing up for a one week free trial of yoga classes they are offering. The next thing I knew, I was going everyday at it and eventually paid for a one-month unlimited classes.
As I'm writing this, I've been consistent with my practice for only 2 and half weeks now and yet it's done so much wonders for me already.
The nagging anxious thoughts about my uncertain future was replaced by focusing on the beauty of the here and the now. The empty and worthless feeling was converted to appreciating the fact that I'm breathing great, I have body parts that can hold a downward facing dog, tree and happy baby pose, and that I'm able to show up in my mat and find time to focus on ME and my wellness.
As I drove to the yoga studio and surrendered myself to each pose, I was feeling lighter, stronger, healthier and sharper each session. And one day, I had a clear vision of what gives me joy in the NOW... social media blogging and yoga. So here I am... writing after a hot yoga practice!
As I mindfully breath in, it's as though I'm inhaling positive energy to carry on in the pursuit of my joy and purpose and I breath out, I feel the depression slowly detaching from my system... dissolving into thin air.
I still have a long way to go in my yoga journey as I've just started my serious commitment with it. But I know that we are now officially IN A RELATIONSHIP and we'll stay together for awhile.
I'm still a work in progress as I'm not as balanced, strong and flexible as I was in my younger years but I have faith that my body will eventually pull through. All in consistent practice. All in the right time.
If yoga was able to kick my depression's ass naturally with just 2.5 weeks of practice, imagine what it can do after a year? I can't wait to see how it will all unfold. Meanwhile, I'll carry on, learn and enjoy as I go and share the journey with you.
FUCK OFF, anxiety and depression! There's no place for you in this strong, healthy body and resilient, WINNING spirit. You so chose the wrong woman to mess with. Now get the hell out as you are disturbing my shavasana.
[TO YOU READING THIS: Take very good care of your body. And a major part of that is exercising. Find what works best for you because it does help you not just to look good on the outside but in feeling great from within as well. Seek a physical activity or class that you enjoy doing. Something that doesn't feel like a chore. Something you're actually excited about trying and responds naturally well with your body. You are only given one body in this lifetime. It's worth investing on. After all, it's the temple of your soul. So give it all the lovin' it deserves! NAMASTE.]
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