NotSoZen YogaJen

Posts Tagged ‘depression

I’m writing a blog on PsychologyToday.com called Progress Not Perfection and this is my first post!

“I Was Diagnosed with OCD”

Please check it out!

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“I finally smiled, remembering something I heard Ram Das say on the radio once, about somebodyism–how most of us are raised to be somebodies and what a no-win game that is to buy into, because while you may turn out to be much more somebody than somebody else, a lot of other people are going to be a lot more somebody than you. And you are going to drive yourself crazy.”  -Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird

When I’m striving, to be somewhere else, somewhere further along and farther ahead, full of ambition and trying, trying, trying to make things happen, three things take place in rapid succession:

1)  I look around me at my life and see that I am nowhere near where or who I want to be.  I dream of living in a brownstone; I reside in a small studio.  I desire to attain Total Financial Freedom; I’m basically broke.  I long to meet my soul mate & frolic daily in our happy, healthy marriage; I’m single and I hate dating (if I like a guy and he doesn’t like me I get depressed, if a guy likes me and I don’t like him I get anxious, and honestly I don’t know how anyone ever pairs up without being on serious meds!).  I’d love to be rocking moisture-wicking Lululemon yoga pants that make my butt look hot; while in a forward bend in yoga class, I notice a hole forming in my saggy cotton Alternative Apparel capris.  And so it goes…

2)  It doesn’t take me long to then notice that everyone around me everywhere (No, I don’t want to examine how this belief is faulty and inaccurate, I like wallowing in my misery so leave me alone!) has more and is further along than me and generally just well, better, and I got such good grades in high school and showed such promise and when did I become such a fuck-up?  Everywhere I look people are sporting their Seven Jeans and their cute Lululemon hole-less yoga pants and achieving new unheard of personal and professional heights of success and jet-setting hither and thither and buying brownstones or at least one bedroom apartments and I don’t even own a couch!  I see people who are career-wise doing similar work as I am, only they are infinitely more successful.  I see my friends’ husbands doing ridiculously romantic things for them like packing them a heart-shaped peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch and throwing a love poem they wrote on a Post-It into the brown bag and reciting Rumi to them or spontaneously composing love songs inspired by them while giving them a hot stone massage to usher them out the door to work in the morning, all Soul Mate-Style ‘n shit.  Then I regress back to #1, Examining My Own Life To Catalog All The Many Ways In Which It Is Lacking, and I don’t see any Soul Mate types toting hot stones while strumming love songs and whipping up poetry for me hanging around my apartment; all I see are my stuffed animals glaring back at me.  Judging me?  And this immediately leads me to:

3)  Tumbling into hopelessness, despair, and depression for a day or a week or six months.  I mean, what’s the point anyway?  Because I’m striving and trying and pushing and nothing is moving, which makes me so tired I just have to rest.  Curled up a ball.  For what could be a while.

And then, miraculously, a fourth thing happens, which I always forget about until it actually transpires.

4)  I wake up one morning and I just don’t give a shit anymore about trying to be somewhere or someone I’m not.  I just give up the striving.  And I’ll be walking down my street and the sun will be shining, and I’ll forget that I thought I’d be this other person in this other place by this time in my life.  I’ll just feel the sun on my face and be present and…happy.  Like this:  Ahhhhhhh….. 

I was watching The Bonnie Hunt Show a few weeks ago and she said, “When I’m at a party of actors and someone asks me what I’m working on I like to say absolutely nothing.  Even if I’m working on something.”

I want to be like Bonnie Hunt, and if someone asks me what I’ve accomplished lately, or what I’m working on, I want to say: “I’m working on being a flawed, imperfect, sensitive human being in a harsh and insensitive world.  And that’s enough!  I’ve got my plate full with that, thank you very much!”  !!!

Which reminds me of a story a former co-worker told me about when she was going to get Bat Mizvahed.  And all the other moms were constantly asking her mom, “What’s your daughter’s theme, what’s your daughter’s theme?” expecting an answer like, Carnival! or The Wizard of Oz! or The Lights Are Bright on Broadway! but her mom said (insert Coffee Tawk accent here), “Judaism! Her theme is Judaism!”

Eventually I get sucked into that whole pointless crazy-making striving somebodyism loop again and I have to lather, rinse, and repeat this entire cycle, but for gaps of weeks or days or even seconds in-between lapses, I am absolutely and perfectly content to be exactly who and where I am, and in those seconds/days/weeks, I know that I am and have enough, more than enough even.  I’ll realize that on any given day I can wake-up and go to a 7:15am yoga class (preferably a reduced-price or donation-based class ;)), and then head to Starbucks and sit at my seat to sip a cup of coffee and if my seat is taken, another regular I know gives me an empathetic look, and his seat when he leaves because it is my second favorite seat.  And then I get to spend the rest of the day in my yoga clothes writing and reading, and I can take a walk in the park or sit on a bench or go to a bookstore in the afternoon if I want.  And this is pretty freakin’ amazing. 

And in those moments, it doesn’t matter anymore that I can’t afford Seven Jeans, because I remember that I hate shopping, or that I don’t have enough money right now to take a vacation, because I recall that I’m a homebody who is perfectly content taking a staycation and gets out of sorts when she travels, and is happy anywhere she can curl up with a good book.  And I let go, even if for just a brief flash of time, of needing to be a somebody, any kind of body, other than this one that I like to call, affectionately, and with deep appreciation, Me.

What happens to you when you’re striving?

Namaste!

YogaJen

I went to an awesome yoga class early this morning at a studio I’d never been to before with a friend.  The awesome teacher created a really great flow, a totally fun vibe, and played hip-hip and R&B music to boot, which, whenever my two favorites of yoga and hip-hop/R&B are combined, the result is Nirvana.  After class, my friend and I were talking to the teacher, and I told her about my new yoga blog and she asked me what it was about.  “Well,” I said cheerfully,  “it’s about how I’m really anxious and depressed and how yoga really helps me!”

You’re depressed?” she asked.

“She hides it well,” my friend said.

“I’m highly functional!” I said.

I might possibly be one of the most upbeat and optimistic people you’ll ever meet.  But I’ve also struggled with severe depression for much of my life, which you wouldn’t know unless you walked in on me crying on the floor of my apartment.  I’m dramatic, so when I’m depressed I like to go for it full-out and hit the floor.  I live in a studio which makes it really convenient – I can cry on my bedroom floor, kitchen floor, and study floor by just moving a few feet this way or that.  And my favorite floor, when I reaalllyyy want to relish in my depression, and made popular by Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat Pray Love, is the bathroom floor.

At my last job, I had a co-worker who used to ask me, “Has anyone ever called you Polyanna?” and “Are you ever not in a good mood?”  I’d smile and shrug in way that subliminally conveyed, That’s me!  Always happy!  I hide it well.  I’m highly functional.  But I’m not so into hiding it anymore.

I’m getting better at managing my depression, which isn’t to say that it still doesn’t take me out every once in a while.  But yoga makes me happy.  There are studies to support this but I don’t know what they are offhand so I’m not going to cite them here, and this may not be true for everyone, but for me, yoga lifts me up when I’m feeling down.  It puts the brakes on my thoughts when they’re racing fast and furious.  And when I consistently practice, it helps me to live in a more equanimous and balanced way day-to-day.  I’m rarely completely balanced and blissed-out, but it takes the edge off my high highs and my low lows.  To quote Naughty By Nature’s Hip Hop Hooray, yoga helps me “Smooth it out now!”

What benefits do you experience from your yoga practice?  How do you feel when you get away from it?  And then when you go back to it?

Namaste!

YogaJen