Meet 30 year old me! I was smack bang in the Pacific Ocean in Honolulu in between two worlds. The old and depressed me in the picture and the new me writing this now. I still look the same as the picture, I drive the same car from nearly 20 years ago, live in the same suburb from my uni days…but my insides have changed. Despite the blue skies, sun kissed skin and saltwater in my hair in the pic, I was sad. My eyes are sad. My Mum and Dad always say they can see how I am by looking at my eyes. I had these same eyes when I was let go from a Senior Marketing Manager role, when my love didn’t love me back, when my heart was heavy, when I was fighting with friends and family…and although I smiled bravely on the outside, my eyes gave me away. Which brings me to my point…you can “look” well and happy from the outside, and feel pretty lousy inside. You can be functionally depressed.
What I wish I knew then…
- It’s OK to feel shit
- It’s OK to cry
- The body can only take so much
- It’s OK to change your mind
- The body, mind and spirit is intertwined
- Self-care is an ongoing process
- Self-care is worth the effort
- It takes strength to face who you are and ask for help
- Depression and anxiety is more common that you think
- Depression and anxiety sits on a scale ranging from mild to severe and the treatment is unique for each person (one size does not fit all)
- People are out there who want you/me to be well and to live a full and happy life
- Everyone has a different journey and timeline to heal
When I was 30 years old I didn’t expect to be teaching yoga now nor did I expect yoga to be huge in my journey to bring joy back into my smile. I was listening to a talk about Chinese healing and the teacher spoke about how trauma can be likenened to birds singing in your heart that have gotten a shock. It’s when the birds are frightened and fly away the joy leaves and there is no more singing. We are all born with joy and birds in our heart/s and somewhere along the line…birds in my heart flew away and my soul sat in silence to the point that I couldn’t breathe. Which is why I love yoga so damn much! The classes enabled me to reset my body and switch out of my fight or flight mode and settle into my rest and digest system so that instead of shallow breathing into my throat, I could actually breathe into my belly. Shallow breathing is actually really scary and is the body panicking because of a loss of trust and sense of safety in the body.
The world we live in has evolved to encourage people to remain in their fight or flight mode. Everything is fast. Fast food. Instant gratification. We want everything…and we want everything now with messages coming in left, right and centre. Emails, social media notifications, commitments, life has been super sized and sped up. And of course, the natural ups and downs of life can knock anyone off balance which is what happened to me.
What I wish I knew then…
It’s OK to slow down. To go slow. To have long conversations, to sleep in, to breathe.
Self-care is a practice and it is not always pretty.
I have felt so strongly about this that over the past 4 years I have been volunteering, talking about and writing about incorporating self-care into daily life….and to be able to share a Self-care Yoga Workshop on 20 September 2020 was a big deal for me! Yay. I teamed up with wonderful Kerrie Mann to share this self-care workshop in a practical and down-to-earth and meaningful way.
What I wish I knew then was this knowledge about mental health, mental illness, depression, anxiety, movement, the brain, the body, feelings, emotions, relationships, work, health, the interconnectedness, the opportunity for yoga to be supportive in a practical way….that I wasn’t crazy and there is a way to build self-resilience and strength and wade through this messiness. I wish I had this knowledge in the PDF. I didn’t know it then…but I do now. And that’s the most important takeaway, hey. That I know now and use this knowledge not only to benefit myself…to serve my community. I hope you find these notes practical and supportive as I have over the past few years to enable the birds to return to my heart and sing again.