Yoga And Writing: A Road to Recovery

This may be the worst time to start what I hope will be a daily blog. Why? Because I’m nine months pregnant and could disappear at any time to deliver and then settle into another period of recovery.

So why start this blog then?

After all, this will be my fifth time attempting a personal blog. My second time taking an idea that started out as a self-help/memoir-type book and turning it into a blog. None of these past blogs made it far, and I started them when I didn’t have a huge life adjustment ahead of me. Yet I’m choosing to start again at a time when I know I may be physically unable to post regularly.

It’s because this project has been developing in my head for years. And I am eternally the person who waits for “the right time.” Well, not this time. This time I’m beginning this project at the absolute most wrong time possible. Who knows, maybe that’s the secret to success.

My story isn’t unique, and I think that is why the memoir attempts have been unsuccessful. I’m not offering anything new to the world of people who have learned some great lesson after the extraordinary trials they’ve survived. Instead, I’ve learned hundreds of small lessons that when pieced together create a whole journey towards whole health and happiness.

So I’ve decided to share my many lessons in small daily doses because I am a big fan of daily meditation books and apps. My personal favorites are A Year With Hafiz, Journey To The Heart by Melody Beattie, and Jesus Calling  by Sarah Young. I also have a daily affirmation app on my phone. I’ve found this daily exposure to uplifting, inspiring and positive thinking coupled with meditation, yoga and healthy choices has been the secret to transforming into a person who chooses peace over suffering.

The only way my story may be unique from others is that I’ve been stuck in a cycle of recovery for over a decade. Most people choose one major obstacle—drug addiction, abuse, mental illness, handicap, etc.—and that is the central story in their book. My book would lack the arc necessary for a successful memoir. My book would be like reading the Groundhog Day version of an autobiography as I relived the same struggles over and over and over again.

In high school I was a junkie, then got clean. In college I was a drunk, then got sober. After college I was anorexic, then I started eating. I’ve been in and out of therapy for six different diagnoses:

ADD – when I was 14
Clinical Depression – 16
Bipolar Disorder – 22
Borderline Personality Disorder – 26
Generalized Anxiety Disorder – 26
ADHD – 27

It seemed like every time I recovered from some affliction or mental illness, I was in the throes of some new addiction or handicap. Like I kept breaking myself because I loved the process of getting fixed so much. I replaced drugs with drinking, drinking with an eating disorder, anorexia with love addiction, all the while seeking therapy for the many new diagnoses I was handed.

I wasn’t always recovering from something unhealthy, either. I’ve used many healthy outlets to an unhealthy level—escapism through reading and TV, too much exercise, relying too heavily on routine to make sure nothing unexpected ever happened in order to ease anxiety.

To recover, I’ve seen two different psychiatrists and tried mood stabilizers and medications for anxiety, depression and ADHD. Since I was 14 I’ve had three therapists. With my current therapist we’ve done EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) several times over the past 5 years. I’ve tried Alcoholics Anonymous. I tried health coaching for two years, career coaching for one year. I’ve practiced yoga for 7 years and have been a yoga teacher now for a year. I’ve practiced meditation for 5 years. I saw a Reiki healer for a year. I spent a weekend at an Ayahuasca retreat. I’ve dabbled in Ayurvedic practices and diet. I’ve seen a chiropractor, physical therapist, acupuncturist and now and osteopath for my back pain. I’ve been hypnotized and have tried many of those 21-day hypnosis recordings you can buy on Audible. I spent a year following the cycles of the moon and creating candle lighting rituals for setting intentions. I’ve sought the wisdom of psychics and intuitives, had my tarot and oracle cards read. And most recently, I attended a 3-day Avatar course.

All of these had a modicum of success but never “fixed” me. Because they couldn’t erase the past and start me out with a new clean slate as a perfect human being. And when I woke up the same flawed person, I’d try something else to, essentially, recover from being me. What I finally learned was that I was never broken. And neither is anyone else.

What I had was a hole inside me I hadn’t learned to fill with self-love. We’re not taught to look inside ourselves for happiness in America, we’re taught to go buy something. We’re taught to take a pill for every ailment we have. We’re taught that if we’re sad, we’re depressed. If we’re worried, we have anxiety. We aren’t taught to accept all of ourselves. We aren’t taught to accept the downs in life. Instead, we’re conditioned to try avoiding those downs with anything we can get ahold of. If it isn’t drugs or alcohol, it’s food addiction or shopping or sex. Almost everyone I know who isn’t using drugs or alcohol to cope is taking medication to get through life with anxiety, depression or ADHD. And they’re all dealing with the many side-effects of the medicine they swear is better than dealing the with reason they’re taking it in the first place.

I’m not saying there aren’t cases of true depression and anxiety. Or that we should never buy ourselves some comfort and happiness. Or that all Western medicine is evil and should never be taken. I’m simply saying we’re taught to rely on things outside ourselves a little too much. We’re also being taught that if we don’t operate like a machine, we’re disordered and there’s something wrong with us. And that belief, that we’re lacking something in some way, is the root of so much suffering.

And I’m not claiming to have reached Buddha status. What I am saying, though, is I am a person whose tried a lot of unhealthy ways of coping and have learned hundreds of different ways to get through life without them. I still have anxiety. I still get sad. I still make mistakes and have bad days where I lose my temper with people I love. I am in no way perfect or close to transcending into enlightenment. But I do feel like I’ve sealed the hole I was trying to fill once and for all and I’m living a more whole existence.

And what was it that finally did it? Yoga and writing. Among many other small lessons I aim to share here, once a day, in small doses.

The one area I will be up front and honest about is my lack of experience with trauma. I’ve been emotionally and verbally abused, but never sexually or physically assaulted. I don’t have PTSD from combat or any other traumatic event. And, while I still think the advice and meditations in this blog could be helpful, they should be used to compliment therapy with a trained professional. If any of the exercises I recommend heighten anxiety, depression or any other PTSD-like symptoms, please reach out to a doctor or therapist right away. The advice given here is, in no way, intended to replace medical or therapeutic treatment. This is simply my way of sharing many of my own pitfalls and successes in hopes it can help anyone else looking to find their inner strength and their inner peace.

Check back each day, and I hope I’ll be able to keep my promise to myself and the one I’m making to you right now, that every day this year I will share a daily dose of yoga and writing.