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. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Beauty of Words

Early mornings seem to be a time when I touch that delicious feeling of hypo-mania. I send out silly texts and I have energy, which isn't destructive, running through my body. But within a couple of hours the sillies have gone away and I am left with soul-crushing depression. I don't know how to manage it, I'm right in the midst of it. Amazingly, I am still able to spend time with friends, those are the times when I feel safe, but anything other than going out for coffee is too scary and difficult for me.

If you saw me teaching yoga, you would probably never guess that I am terrified to go out and put myself in new situations. I teach with confidence and for the most part it's the real me that comes out when I teach. Then I come home and I am paralyzed. I stay in bed for most of the day, the bedroom door and curtains closed. I am embarrassed and ashamed that this is my life right now. And I wonder how sharing this with you beneficial to anyone other than myself.

I don't want to fight. I don't want to do battle every day. I just want to live a normal life which isn't plagued by darkness at every turn. Although my words are sad, I still experience beauty when  I go back and read them. That beauty is my light in the darkness. My words are my sword and shield. I am grateful for my fingers fluttering over the keys, this I can still do, I can write and share. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Snoopy and Psych Ward Coloring Creations

I went to a yoga class yesterday, the first one I've been to in months. My body isn't as strong as it was when I practiced every day, but yesterday, in class, I got a glimpse of what my body could be again. It felt good to experience my physical strength and flexibility, which, may be, a reflection of the possibilities that lie within my mental and emotional worlds. Strength and flexibility.

My husband gave me a Snoopy coloring book on the first night of Chanukah. I don't enjoy coloring because I don't do it well. I color like an impulsive and impatient 7 year-old. A dear friend of mine bought me a box of crayons and a Snoopy coffee mug. She told me to let my inner child express herself and not be too judgmental with my coloring.

I've never enjoyed anything that I couldn't do well, which means that I have missed out on a lot. There are plenty of things that I am less than mediocre at doing. I never colored when I was in the hospital, although many of the other patients seemed to enjoy it; I see its therapeutic value for focusing the mind. Our hall in lock down was adorned with pictures colored by the adult patients: pictures of children crossing the street to get to school, squirrels with acorns, and other childlike creations. I have joked that I saw some of the finest coloring I've ever seen while in the hospital from my fellow patients.

I've colored Snoopy's doghouse and it did quiet and focus my mind. I'll see if I can find it within myself today to color the lights on his house. I'm a 46 year-old woman with a Snoopy coloring book, and I feel proud of that. If my childlike nature weren't so evident, I probably wouldn't have been given those items as gifts. Although I'm hard on my inner child, I love her and her playful and mischievous ways. Yes, I'm proud to be a grown woman, not in lock down in a psych ward, that owns children's toys.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Accomplishment: I Took a Shower!

I'm a yoga teacher who teaches almost every day, yet hasn't taken a class at a studio in three months. But that's all changing today. I found a dear friend to go with me to a class and after that I may have the confidence to make it to a second class today.

Last night I went to bed around 7:00 pm, I know that's ridiculously early. I was depressed and down about not doing the things that I want to do. Frequently with depression, people lose interest in what at one time brought them pleasure. With this round of depression, I've still had the desire to do the things I love, which is a good sign, however, I haven't been able to get myself moving. Some times with depression, you want to do things, but feel almost paralyzed to act.

I woke up a little after six this morning, I knew it would take me at least four hours to get in the shower and get moving. When I got in the shower, I felt that I had made a huge accomplishment. I'm showered, dressed, and now waiting to leave for class. I'm proud of what I've done this morning. Taking a shower and getting dressed may not seem like a big deal to many people, but to people struggling through a depressive episode, it's huge.

Once I step foot in the studio my day will be a success. And I believe that doing this one small thing, attending a yoga class, can help turn my life around. Maybe tonight I will manage to stay up until eight or nine.

For the past couple of months my heart has been longing to go to group meditations at the center that I started going to when I was a teenager. There's always some reason why I won't let myself go. Not this week. I'm going tomorrow night and then I will celebrate my second victory of the week.

It's Chanukah, one of my favorite times of the year, a time to celebrate victory. What a perfect time for me to conquer (manage) some of my fears and self-imposed obstacles and arise anew with a heart filled with joy and compassion. I wish for us all to embrace our darkness and find the light within, particularly to those people who are courageous enough to stay alive and live side by side with this illness yet another day. We are victorious. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

A Few of My Wishes

I can't get myself moving. There are so many things that I really want to do, but I don't or won't.
Here's my short list:
1) Start practicing yoga at a local Iyengar studio
2) Attend a New Year's meditation program at the Siddha Yoga Meditation Center
3) Take the yoga teacher training in Ashville, NC, that I put a deposit down for a few months ago.

Each item on my small list means a great deal to me and with each one I am scared of not having enough money to pursue my desire. Last week I lost a chunk of income that affects everything that I want to do and the things that I need to do.

Last week was a bad week, I felt metaphorically knocked off my feet and flat on my back by some things that happened in my relationships and work. I start this week not so much on my back, but on my side and I still cannot get up. I am grieving losing students that were dear to me and broken commitments. I'm particularly sensitive, so I feel quite deeply especially losses.

I really need a partner to come with me every day or at least once to get me practicing yoga again. I need to know that when the time comes I will have $100 for the meditation program. And I need to know that I didn't throw away a deposit for a teacher training that I won't be able to attend.

Mainly I need to know that I am safe and loved in the world and that my life is built on stability, groundedness, gratitude and abundant grace.

Maybe my list doesn't look that important, but it is important to me. Last year at this time, I was experiencing debilitating depression, I was sick for six months and wasn't sure if I would ever teach yoga again. I got better and life changed. I worked again, I laughed again.

I am immensely grateful for everything that I have right now. It is all as it should be.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Darkness

Today I feel as though anxiety will never loosen its grip on me. My breathing is shallow, my mind and body are constantly on alert and I have an overall feeling of dread. I hate this. Relationships and circumstances get turned on their heads and I turn within. But I don't go into a soothing world within myself, I go straight to a place devoid of light, hope and security. I hang on tightly to my little boat. Afraid of the water, knowing that I cannot swim. I choke and drown on my own fear when in reality I am safe. I wish I weren't alone right now, I wish I knew how to self-soothe. At the moment, whatever advice I give to my students is lost on me. The shore is close enough to touch and yet I am blind, deaf, and numb. I must find the light in the darkness.