I’m a yoga teacher. I specifically work with people struggling with eating disorders and the host of other issues that goes along with an eating disorder. I teach entire classes on using tools to manage stress and anxiety. I have a whole toolbox of techniques for calming the mind, activating the parasympathetic nervous system, calming anxiety. I give breathing techniques, espouse the benefits of the eye pillow, and talk about the therapeutic benefits of synchronizing bodily movements and breath. I love to tell people about how I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression most of my life, and no medication was ever as effective for me as yoga. I’m a walking, talking testimonial.
As I write this, my hands are shaking so badly it’s hard to hit the right keys. I find myself, at all times lately, a hair’s breadth from either screaming or crying. I try and regulate my breathing and all I can hear is the sound of my breath stuttering over my rapidly pounding heart. I told my gynecologist this last week and she looked at me and said,”I can not help you. We know you don’t have goof luck with medication. Anybody else I would tell to do yoga and meditate, eat whole foods. I don’t have anything to tell you to do.” Lest she seem cold and uncaring, she said all this with tears in her eyes as I sat in her exam room wearing my paper dress, crying. She also suggested I see a psychiatrist, a suggestion I plan to take her up on as soon as I can get an appointment with one.
A dear friend mentioned that it would be hypocritical of me to work with people receiving treatment for mental health and not acquire treatment for myself when I need it.
Yet, I still feel like a hypocrite. Why, suddenly, are my tools not working? How can I teach this stuff to other people when it’s not working for me? How can I tell people to do yoga when I’ve managed to squeeze in one practice in the last two weeks? When my breath practices send me running to the bathroom to hide?
I feel like I’m crumbling under this load. Running a large household, raising a big family – in addition to the chores (cooking, dishes, laundry, cleaning, errands) – carries a huge mental burden. Scheduling. Appointments. Extracurricular activities. Meal planning. Budgeting. Keeping promises to kids. Planning renovations – that we are doing one-hundred-percent ourselves. Worrying. Trying to be everything for everybody. It’s like being pressed to death by an invisible board. Some days I just quit. I can’t make another phone call today. I can’t pretend to be ok to some stranger on the phone. I can’t sit somewhere and listen to people make small talk while my board gets heavier and heavier, as more invisible rocks are piled on top. So I go hide in my room. I cry some more.
Well this is crazy. Literally, as I typed the period on that last sentence, my phone rang. The psychiatry office I was told two days ago would take seven to ten days to verify my insurance and then call me back – was calling to say they had an opening at 10:30 tomorrow, could I make it? Of course, I burst into tears and was all, “Hell yes!”. “Oh, and by the way,” they said, “There’s no copay with your insurance.” So I hung up, cried some more, and am trying to figure out what to do with the little one while I go get myself some help.
I’m still not sure how I feel about this, but when my dry, stoic husband looks at me and says, “Please do something. I don’t care what, but this is not good,” as I sit at the kitchen table crying for the ninety-fifth time for the day, I guess it’s time to take action. Am I a huge hypocrite? Am I trying to give responsibility for my health away? Or am I taking responsibility by recognizing when I need more help, and getting it?
I’m not giving up on my yoga. I still believe it works. I know it has changed my life, and me, for the better. But maybe I need a little boost to help it. I need a starting point right now. I still believe in the benevolence of the Universe. I’m taking that phone call as a direct indication that the Universe (Spirit, God, whatever you want to call it) is trying to help me help myself.