Thursday, March 10, 2016

When Looking at Facebook Hurts

This morning as I looked at my Facebook page, I felt pain. I continue to see people posting pictures of themselves in the perfect yoga poses, and today it hurt. I've been sick with an infection for a long time, my body has become weak and my depression has gotten much worse, my yoga practice has suffered. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that it hurts to see people physically progressing in their practice as mine continues to deteriorate. I don't want to be the person who resents other's strengths and accomplishments and yet, right now, I am that person.

While I watch other people grow stronger as I grow weaker, I forget what I teach my students and I forget what yoga is really about. The physical practice of yoga is one very small part of what yoga actually is. Yoga is a way of life, a philosophy, an ethical system. Yoga is the cessation of the wanderings of the mind. Yoga, ultimately, is union. I've forgotten those things and been sidetracked by flashy yoga outfits and nearly impossible yoga poses.

I feel as though life is passing me by and sometimes it's hard to stick around here. This week I attended a bipolar support group, my husband came along. We talked about how I've used social media to give hope to others. What I didn't say and wish I had said is that, unfortunately, I don't think it is appropriate for everyone to be as open and honest as I've been on Fb, blog, etc. But it is the right thing for me to do.

When you feel diminished by other people's achievements, know that you are not alone and try not to beat yourself up for feeling envy or jealousy. I'm not going to conclude this by wrapping it up nicely and placing a red ribbon on top and saying to bask in your own accomplishments, because quite honestly that's not how I feel right now.

I'm not sure why I'm here, or what motivation there is to stick around. All I know is that I am here, alive on this earth, and often times it's a real bitch to stay. The only thing, other than friends and family that comfort me, is knowing that I am not alone in this struggle and I am grateful for those people who also strugge and make the decision, daily, to stay alive. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Beauty and Blessing of Mania

The day after I was admitted to the psych hospital, I woke up full of emotion, tears flowing from the deepest part of my heart. I realized how much I love the world and I ached with the realization that I had voluntarily left the world behind to be locked up on the third floor of a psych ward. The first time I saw sunlight, I was brought to my knees with gratitude. My mind was filled with all of the things that I wanted to do after my discharge. I wanted to learn to cook and sew, take another editing course, play tennis, write, teach yoga, plant flowers and the list went on and on. Only now, a year and a half later, with hindsight, I can see that all of that passion, drive, and raw emotion was a product of my manic mind.

So, my mind was racing and I was manic, but does that mean that my experience should be discounted? This morning is when I realized that my tears and passion were coming from mania. However, along side that, I have the awareness that there was something about that state of mind and the heightened sense of gratitude that I was experiencing that brought me closer to my Source. Yes, most of what my mind was producing was useless nonsense. But the sense of gratitude and aching to live my life wasn't a dance with madness, it was dancing with the Divine. 

There is great pain and beauty in my illness. My emotions run deeply, probably deeper than the average person. And that depth is both blessing and curse. As I write this post, both emotions are at war within my mind and body. I can only hope and pray that the awareness of blessing wins out today.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Music

When I was discharged from the hospital, I was afraid to listen to music. During the time that I had been manic, music was a trigger. Music sent me soaring through the sky; music gave me the powers of a super hero; music made me want to explode in ecstasy. I haven't been manic since that time, so I haven't really thought about my brief experience of being afraid of listening to music.

But today, as I briefly touched hypomania, I could hear Freddie Mercury singing, "I'm burning through the sky, yeah...", and I remembered the ecstasy, the explosion of energy coursing through my body as I heard his voice sing those words. It still feels unbelievable that there could be a time in my life when I would be scared to listen to music because of the torrent of energy it could unleash within me.

Right now, if I were to listen to certain songs I could be filled with bliss, which would feel delicious. However, that bliss wouldn't dance with madness as it did before. Yes, at present I want to talk a lot and I have many ideas and, yes, I feel that what I have to say is terribly important and everyone should read and hear it. But, no, I am not swaying side by side with madness as I once did. Now, I am safe with Queen and Brian Wilson, they don't hold any sort of power over my mental state and for that I am both saddened and relieved.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

What is a Successful Day?

I attended five yoga classes this past week, which is a big deal for me as I've been having trouble making it out of the house to do the things I'd like to do. Also, I went to a meditation on Wednesday night. For people living with a mental illness it can be difficult just to get out of bed in the morning. This past Tuesday, I had to get up before 7:00 am to make it to a yoga class that started four hours later. I knew that I would need those four hours just to make it from the bed to the shower.

My meds have been adjusted and I'm feeling better, I want to take advantage of this time and go to as many classes as I can and to live more fully. I haven't been living at all for a couple of months. For many years, I thought that this was how everyone felt. I thought that people were terrified to go to work and that they were so tired from depression that it was hard for them to accomplish anything. Sometimes I would be amazed by what other people had achieved, I couldn't understand how a person could be productive when they lacked motivation and a will to live. One day I asked my husband if he was frightened to go to work and he told me he wasn't. He might not want to go to work always, but it wasn't because he was scared. I asked him other questions about things I had assumed every one felt and learned that all people don't have trouble with daily functioning . It was a happy revelation for me. Life doesn't always drain people, just certain people.

If you can get out of bed in the morning and get yourself dressed and do the things that you need to do, I hope that you will rejoice in your good fortune because it is a fortunate state to be in. I know that we all struggle, but some of us are struggling just to function throughout the day.

For those of you who struggle with bipolar, depression,etc I hope that you are able to get out of bed today, brush your teeth, shower, and feed yourself. And if you can only do one of those things I think that you have succeeded in living a better life today.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Bit of My Fantasy World

I read books that take me into enchanted worlds. I love the whisper of magic. At some point I stopped using my imagination because I was ashamed of how much time I spent lost in imaginary worlds; that was about fifteen years ago, and now I want it back. I want to live in reality with everyone else, however, I also want to escape into beautiful worlds and visions of myself that fit my dreams.

Up until I was 19 years-old, I had an imaginary boyfriend, his name was David Michael or Michael David depending on my mood that day. I was watching Live Wire on Nickelodeon and I saw I guy in the crowd that I decided should be my pretend boyfriend. I realize that most 17 year-olds have real boyfriends, but I didn't, so my beautiful imagination created one. David was half Jewish, half Italian and we lived together in a Brooklyn brownstone. We had posters of Barbra Streisand on the wall, a turn table and lots of albums. David never spoke, I had no need for him to. I just wanted to know that I had a handsome ethnically mixed boy on my arm.

Now I have a real husband and child, a family, and I no longer live in my fantasy world. But I wish I could still create worlds inside my mind. I'm 46 and I create worry, which is nerve racking but not terribly interesting. What if I could imagine that I am going to play practice later today or that I am going to Washington Square with my Mac Book to start my tenth novel.I would wear black tights and an A-line skirt, perhaps even a beret. Maybe I should bring paper and pen instead, my mind is brimming with brilliant ideas, almost too many for me to fit in my little notebook. I have page after gorgeous page of notes about characters, settings, plots, and delicious dialogue.

Now I'm going to a yoga class, I'm really going and it isn't in New York and I'm glad it isn't. I haven't completely given up dreaming, but for now I'm almost happy where I am.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Facing My Fears

Lately, I have been having a hard time getting out of the house to do new things. Today I went to a yoga class that I've been wanting to go to for months. I've been too scared to go on my own, so it feels like I made some real progress. And I feel like I've found a new home to practice yoga. I've missed going to the same studio every day and feeling my feet touch the studio floor. When you battle depression or any mental illness, stability is incredibly important, and feeling hard wood floors under your feet can be grounding and stabilizing.

When I was manic last year, I wasn't scared to meet people, I'm not sure what I was scared of other than being locked up and having my freedom taken away. On my release papers, from the hospital, it states that I was "hyper-verbal". During that period it was like I never met a stranger. I talked to people, strangers, wherever I would go. What a wild and wonderful feeling that was. Even after I came home from the hospital, I was still manic and I continued going out and making conversation with whoever crossed my path.

My husband is at work this evening and I am at home alone. I know that there was a time when I loved being alone, I just can't remember when that was. I don't want to move backwards, but I would like to be able to enjoy spending time by myself instead of wanting to constantly be around people. I'm not scared to be around my friends, it's just been new people that I have been nervous about meeting.

I think that I will try to relax into my body, breathe deeper and enjoy the company of my little maltipoo, Django, and live with the comfort and excitement of knowing that tomorrow I will, once again, place my feet on precious hard wood floors and know that I am safe and at home.


Monday, December 14, 2015

Lessons

I'm realizing that although some situations didn't turn out as I'd planned, or wanted them to, maybe there is still a lesson for me even in the midst of my disappointment. I keep asking the same question over and over, not sure of the final answer. But maybe there is a bigger picture than the one that I see. And although I might not have gotten what I wanted, it doesn't mean that some mysterious force isn't at work in the chaos.

I lost three yoga classes that I had been teaching for the past four months, and I've been struggling with the situation every day. Today, for the first time, I realized that the classes were never really mine to begin with. Although I didn't enter the situation planning to be a substitute teacher, that is what the universe had planned for me. It helps me, somehow, to realize that the classes were, merely, on loan to me and their original teacher was always supposed to come back to them.

With the loss of income I worry about many things, one is being able to afford the advanced yoga training that I signed up for that starts in February. I want to become a better yoga teacher. I want to expand on what I know. I want to further myself as a teacher, period. Some how, some way, I think I may be able to do that. I'm starting to feel a sense of peace.

I pray for the doors to be open for me to grow and deepen. Time really does help wounds to heal, if you're open to healing, and some times when you don't realize that you need to be healed or to look at something through a different lens. Staying open and listening for the answer to my questions. Things aren't always as they appear and that, my friends, is what I have learned on this sunny day.