It has been an interesting, challenging, emotional and enlightening journey these past six months since I decided I wanted to teach yoga for therapy. I am not going to get involved with all the ubiquitous debates about East verses West and why we should not bother with this tradition, because that is another post entirely.
I want to focus on the positive, the healing, the journey and the human soul. I started out broken. Six years ago, I had a ruptured brain aneurysm, and survived even though I should have died. I had a 15% of survival. That's as close to death as a person can get before coming back to wipe off the fingerprints from the Grim Reaper off their shoulder. This changed my life. I was at peace for the first time in years. The weight lifted from my shoulders and I thought I could see a meaning for myself in this world.
All that changed 18 months later with the diagnosis of a second aneurysm, a daughter aneurysm, meaning it shares the same wall and the artery of the original. I plunged into a deep and horrible depression so intense I did not think I could crawl out of it. I had been diagnosed with Clinical Depression years ago due to severe childhood abuse, and was fighting PTSD from that at this time.
This double whammy of child abuse and now another chance for my brain to pop and die instantly created a monster so huge, I finally had to ask for help instead of trying to defeat this on my own.
I started seeing a psychiatrist at the same time as seeing various doctors for now, complications of the brain damage and further deterioration of my body. I was placed on meds. And they helped. Until they didn't. But the panic attacks did happen less and less frequently. I thought they would go away altogether, but no. My brain had other ideas. Every once in a while it would break free of its cage and shout "LET's PARTY!" and I would be a mess on the floor. Still happens once or twice a year. And although it sounds like that would be fun, it's not.
So, I think about dying every day. Every day I wake up and I wonder if this is the day it will finally be over. And like Tail Gunner's Syndrome, where I am waiting to die, but in the meantime I wish it was over because the anxiety is worse than the sentence, I go throughout my day, working, sleeping, eating, hanging out with people with this tiny demon sitting on my shoulder.
Yoga found me through a colleague at work, a beautiful twenty something woman named Kristen. She offered an 8 week session yoga. I was hooked. I had done yoga previously, but when the brain aneurysm was growing, I would fall over, so I let that go. Downward dog and roll like an armadillo. Had that move down pat.
But this time, nothing hurt, no nausea, no falling over, no spinning. I was thrilled. I took more and more classes and fell in love. Because yoga is not exercise. It is not the new aerobics of the 2000's. Yoga made me reach into myself and pull out something meaningful and connected my soul to my body. I finally had a link that was keeping me grounded.
After six months, my blood pressure is completely normal. Hasn't been in over 30 years. I am hoping to get off the numerous meds soon. I feel more relaxed. I see where happiness fits into my life. I also can see a reason to continue living whereas I couldn't get past the thought of not wanting to be here, before. Still struggle with that demon once in a while. He brings coffee, I bring the donuts, we wrestle and I always win.
Yoga therapy, and I know people who will shudder at the term, and stomp their feet into the ground shouting Thou Shalt Not Refer to Yoga as Therapy, while raising their pitchforks in the air, has become a way of life for me. I teach yoga as therapy for depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
Classes are small because this is therapy. This is a personal space to seek out the demon, to confront the demon, and to finally stare down the demon and say no. Not this time. This is my time to feel something other than pain.
And I gotta say, it is true. I teach for the RCMP, and by October 31st, I will have my studio finished and complete. What a blessing it will be to have a personal space to wrestle, laugh, and have fun. Because every human being deserves this.
Peace and Love