Sunday, January 21, 2018

Mental Health, Disconnection, and the End of a Yoga Teacher

I'm in a state of disconnect from my body and my life, and, sadly,  I'm disconnected from people. The beginning of June, I entered a five month state of mania, I have forgotten a great deal of how unpleasant it was. My usual coffee dates with friends came to an end, my yoga practice stopped, and my rhythm of life came to an end.

After the mania came a period of depression that did not last as long as I would have expected, this is thanks, in great part, to a new medication that helped get me out of the funk and get productive. How productive is too productive? It really depends upon the person. I'm not sure if, for me, I was productive beyond my usual capacity. Or was it that I finally felt healthy?

As I was preparing a busy schedule, I felt good and I had something to live for, and then I stopped. I didn't have a desire to climb higher upon the ladder of scheduling workshops at yoga studios. I reached a place ,within, that felt satisfied and that was ready to stop striving and competing. I had not only reached out to yoga studios, during my time of productivity, I had gone back to my roots as a social worker and reached out to therapeutic and social work agencies, as I wanted to use whatever gifts G-d has given me to help as many people as I am able to reach.

I miss people being in my life; I miss coffee dates. But I don't miss them a great deal, and that is a problem. So much has happened to me, and through me, in the past half year and now nothing sounds better  than to cocoon, stop and go within myself and figure out who I am and what I need.

I'm a rapid cycler, which, simply,  means that my mood can cycle, more than once, through mania and depression throughout a year. I'm sure that's not the correct definition of a rapid cycler, but it's mine.

If I'm honest, it's not easy to be as honest as I would like to think I am. For now, at least, I feel that I do not have anything left to teach my yoga students. I want to be in a position to sit back, for a while, and listen to their voices, which happens when I give workshops. Workshops are a give and take experience, everyone has a voice if they choose to use theirs.

At 4:00 today, I go to teach my last Sunday afternoon yoga class. I'm not sad, my whole being has already moved on. And that's a sad way to go in to teaching a last class.
I had a friend who told me that she, teary eyed,told a group of her students that she had nothing left to teach them. She is a teacher with great integrity and, for years, I have admired the honesty and boldness it takes to be that transparent and authentic as a person and as a teacher.

Today, for practical reasons, I teach my last Sunday yoga class, but will I have the bravery to speak my truth and admit that as much as I love them all, I have nothing left to give? At least on the level of physical yoga, I'm burned out and done.

My life is rapidly shifting and I have to be willing to admit that the change has come from both a healthy and a not so healthy place within my self.  I have to show up for my work life, at least, in a new way, and I must figure out how to show up for my private life. For many months, there have been an abundance of opportunities and events that I have wanted to reach out for and engage in, but every time, I am stopped in my tracks, due to my own fear. Life has been passing me by and I've been so paralyzed that I've been unable to stop it from happening.

Disconnect. May I find connection at least for one hour this afternoon, as I say goodbye to my students and bow out for the next teacher to step in and take my place.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Hold Lightly, Let Go, and Fall into the Arms of Trust

I've been itching to write, yet as I sit here, laptop open, fingers on keys, my stomach tightens. This morning, I feel good for the first time in a while. I've been physically sick and depressed, and my bipolar has been rapid cycling, which means that my mood is highly unpredictable. I'm holding tight, scared of losing my little piece of clarity and happiness that I have been gifted for today, knowing that within seconds, everything can shift and I could tip over into depression or extreme guilt and anxiety.

A couple of days ago I was hypomanic. Hypomania is a place where everything tastes like your favorite flavor ice cream and you are wrapped in soft cashmere. All senses are awake and alert in hypomania, and life feels simply delicious. However, I have bipolar I, which means that my hypomania can easily go over the edge and become mania, which doesn't, at least for me, feel like a place where I want to stay very long.
 So, I hold on to this day with a light grip.

Yesterday, as I was thinking about all of the, hopefully, positive changes that are ahead of me in the coming year, I realized that I don't want to compete any more. In recent years, I became aware of how competitive I feel inside. Frequently, I feel as though I'm competing with other teachers, friends, etc, although, those people, more than likely, don't feel that they are in any sort of competition with me. They may not feel it, but I sure as hell do. Someone else is always prettier, smarter, more likable, and the list goes on. It's a miserable frame of mind to live in.

I don't want to strive any more, striving takes on a negative connotation, at least it does for me. I want to do my due diligence, and then I wish to sit back, relax and trust that what is mine will come my way, and whatever does not belong to me will fall away. Living with such a loose grip requires humility, faith and trust, and I'm not sure that I am good at experiencing any of those.

I don't want to get teaching jobs, wondering if my clothes and hair are right, or if I have the right "brand" for a studio. I don't want to compete with my fellow teachers. I just want to do my own thing and see what happens, who is with me and who falls away. And I want to know that it's okay no matter how events and situations turn out.

Hold lightly, let go, and fall in to the arms of trust.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Screw Grammar and the Beauty of a Rainy Thursday

What if today I could throw out the rules of grammar and write from my heart? No editing, no thoughts of parallelism or what the hell parallelism means. Fragments, comma splices, split infinitives. My language is lost, I can't remember all the ways I can transgress through the use of grammar. Grammar makes my creative life feel, at times, like shit. I look back on rich pieces that I wrote a few years ago, and all I can see is, well, the lack of parallelism. How many beautiful pieces of work are lost, or dismissed because someone put the comma in the wrong place, or maybe they didn't use a comma at all. Should we use the Oxford comma or can we follow in the steps of the New Yorker and drop that burdensome comma that is added after the "penultimate item in a list of three of more items, before 'and or 'or'?

Grammar is a bitch who stops me in my tracks. I become tongue-tied on the page because of the effing commas, subjects and verbs. What the hell is a predicate? I was a professional editor and I once asked someone to clarify what they meant when they asked me what pronoun I use. In all seriousness, I asked "what's a pronoun?"

Grammar aside. It's a lovely rainy day in Georgia. I love the rain, it soothes me and helps me to feel okay about my daily need to cocoon. I've had social anxiety lately to such an extreme that it's wrecking my, well, it's wrecking my social life. So the rain says to me that I can forget about that yoga class that I waited all week attend and I can hangout on the couch in my pj's instead. Today, the rain reflects my mood. I'm sick with a cold, which is reason enough to stay in and the blessed weather helps to assuage my guilt. Are you tired already of reading about my guilt and shame? I'm getting damn well tired of it myself. I have often been told to write what I know and, if I'm true to that, I write about dreary emotions when I feel yuck inside.
I don't always feel "yuck", but chances are on the days when I feel yummy, remember we're throwing out grammar rules here, I'm not going to pull out my laptop and write. When I feel good, chances are, I'll be in the midst of a flurry of activity sending out proposals or silly messages to friends; however, I won't have the discipline to sit down and write.
As I'm writing this, I just received a decline on a workshop proposal, and damn it, I'm not used to getting those anymore. Although I feel a tinge of irritation, I can let it go, because a boatload of goodness may be coming my way. I love a rainy Thursday in the suburbs of Atlanta.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Workshops, FB Numbers and the Occasional Need for an Exorcism

An abundance of goodness awaits me. The past month I've worked hard to make dreams for my work life come to fruition. Amazingly, doors that were once closed to me have now swung open.

 I give workshops, and you always run the risk that with any class or workshop that you offer, no one will show up. My mind is capable of twisting anything good and making it a negative. I'm embarrassed to say that I have obsessively checked FB to see how many people are interested in going to my current workshops. My face is turning red as I type the words on the page, but I've decided that I'm all about transparency. This morning, I realized that I have to let it go of the checking.

 I've convinced myself that I have now jinxed my workshops by my obsessive worry. Do you see how I manage to screw around with basic facts? The fact is that I'm giving a few workshops in the next three weeks.  My feelings of ruining my workshops by worrying about attendance is merely self-doubt dressed up as some warped view of universal blessings and curses.

If I dig deeply enough, it looks as though I believe that a wrathful god is out to get me. Dig deeper still and what I'm experiencing is a tremendous lack of belief in my own worth as a human being. It was recently pointed out to me that my not claiming the fruit of my actions isn't coming from a place of "piety", but a lack of self-esteem.

If you don't know me, which, chances are, you don't. I'm not a person that sits around talking about sin and punishment or godly rewards. It's just not part of my nature. I think I may be a spiritual person, but not really religious. So, I have to wonder where all of these debilitating thoughts about G-d smacking me down for feeling good about myself come from.

It's hard to extricate my bipolar symptoms and what is my natural personality. I think that I am a mixture of confident and self-critical, paralyzingly shy and outgoing. My personality is built on extremes. At my best, I believe that I can do anything and unwaveringly go after whatever it is that I may want. At my worst, well, read the previous paragraph.

As I'm writing this, I realize that I need to write to try to distance myself from the negativity. I'm throwing up on the page. I'll be damned, the word that came to mind is exorcised. Damned and exorcised, I didn't even grow up in a home where exorcised was ever used, unless my mother was telling me that I wasn't allowed to watch The Exorcist.

As a yoga teacher, at times I talk about Source and the Universe; it's part of yoga speak. I talk about the goodness all around us, and a part of me believes that, too.

Source, Universe, G-d, god, exorcism, damnation, spirit. What a mess of confusing words. My mind is tricky and quite clever, words that I don't use pop up as a way to flagellate my self.
Hmm...I think I've got quite a lot to talk about in therapy tomorrow.

One thing I know for sure: I'm going to stop looking at FB numbers and let the Universe, yes, I said the Universe do it's thing. Let people do their thing and show up or not show up, while trying my hardest to keep the awareness that whether or not they come has, absolutely, no bearing on whether my workshop is good or not. It is good; it's more than good. Three people or thirteen, the workshop has always been amazing, and the participants openness and my facilitation make it work so beautifully.

I already feel better. I love words, they really do hold the power to heal or destroy. Today, I think I may just focus on letting them heal.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

I am Sin

I'm tiptoeing throughout this day, scared of making noise. I have an ingrained feeling that my happiness comes at a cost to others. For me to be happy, surely someone else must pay. In the end it's not worth making an innocent person pay for my sins.
Sin isn't a word that is part of my vocabulary. Sure, I know the definition of sin, but it's not a word that I use, or care for using. However, although I don't have a "relationship" with the word sin, clearly, on a deeper level, if you were to analyze me, at heart I feel that my very being in this world is an act of transgression. This self-loathing part of me doesn't pop into my consciousness on a daily basis, but today, as I closely observe myself, I feel it just below the surface.
I don't know how much of the real me is visible to the outside world. Do I care? Sad to say, absolutely, yes I care. I'm not sure how I want to be seen, but I'm pretty sure that the same part of me that feels inextricably linked to the word sin is the same part that believes that what you think of me determines my value as a human being.
Right now, I feel raw and flawed to the very core. I would like to think that I am in the process of detoxing and releasing baggage, but I'm not sure that's the case. Other people have given name to this dark part of themselves, or, I'd rather say the belief that there is part of themselves that is dark. I don't have a name for the part of me that closes doors softly and ends statements with question marks. She was birthed many years ago, maybe before I possessed the language of words. At this moment, I am her, or is it she, and I am quite scared.
I didn't feel this level of fear yesterday and there's a good chance that I won't feel it tomorrow.
Whoever is reading this, I hope that you have never felt the feelings that I am expressing on the page today.
And those of you who intimately know about the ugliness of which I have written, I hope you take comfort that you are not alone.
I am fragile, breakable, and I am strong. Don't use my vulnerability against me, it takes courage to write these words, today I have chosen to write them. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

My Bipolar Life: Life is a Spiral

My Bipolar Life: Life is a Spiral: My life hasn't always felt or looked okay and, yet, I'm okay. Money is tight, to say the least, which causes stress. There are othe...

Life is a Spiral

My life hasn't always felt or looked okay and, yet, I'm okay. Money is tight, to say the least, which causes stress. There are other day to day stressors that I sometimes think I'll never make it through and, yet, I'm still standing. My life continues on; our lives continue on whether we feel like we're out of the game or not. Somehow we have survived to this point.

I found a beautiful quote which touches on spiritual practice and making progress on your path. The quote reminds me that whatever may be happening right now, three months from now or three years from now I will have moved on. We move on, hopefully, and continue to grow. And sometimes that growth looks more like a spiral than a vertical movement.

Today I opened up and shared my worries with a couple of friends, and although my problems weren't fixed, I felt better knowing that I am not alone. If I speak the words to another person, I have opened myself up to love and emotional support.

The other day, I posted about the recent evenness of my moods and that, more or less, every day has been a good day for the past month. But today is different. Today I've succumbed to the very real stress that is in front of me. It's not a sign of weakness, it's normal to worry when things seem worrisome. And yet my life continues on; my growth as a spiritual being continues on.

Whatever may be happening in this moment, it will shift, move, and change. It may look and feel as though we have stepped backward when trying our hardest to move forward. I think that life is inherently a back and forth process. I also believe that when it feels that we've been knocked down, we rise up higher. It may look like the same lesson keeps presenting itself to us, but I really do feel that if we are self-aware enough we will see the process is like peeling the layers of an onion. Once we've peeled one, we can move on and peel another onion, shed a few more tears or stop and take a bite out of sweet, delicious fruit...we've earned it.