I have struggled with depression since I was a teenager. Depression is a filthy, dirty liar. It keeps you wrapped in chains and kicks you while you are down. It makes you believe you are worthless and that there is no hope for your life. It stops at nothing to make your life miserable. Eventually, you end up believing all of its lies. If you are one of the lucky ones, you try with all of your might to fight back. Your heart believes deep down that there might be a shred of hope, so you keep trying new therapies. New treatment options. You pray and you ask God for help. But sometimes your brain wins, and you crawl back to bed because it’s just too hard to fight.
This is where I was early last summer. It had been a particularly hard couple of years for my family and it was really taking its toll on my mental and physical health. My teenage daughter was having some pretty severe mental health issues herself, and I had two other children to keep up with (one of which also had special needs and had developmental issues). I was tired. So incredibly tired. I was at my heaviest weight and I was almost ready to give up. I had tried so many times to get my health back under control with various different diet and exercise programs. But, I never stuck with anything because I didn’t love doing it and my depression would usually end up talking me out of it anyways.
I was in a horribly vicious cycle. I wanted so desperately to change, but I just didn’t know how it would ever be possible. Until I found yoga. Yes, my life was about to completely get turned upside down and I didn’t even know it yet! You see, I was following an old high school friend on Instagram and she was always posting yoga pictures every day. It’s funny because at first I was a little annoyed by them, but then I began looking at them differently and secretly wished that I could do those amazing poses with my own body. Since I was the heaviest weight that I had ever been, doing yoga in an extremely plus-sized body seemed completely irrational to me. I began looking around Instagram at other pages of yogis and I was just so completely captivated at everyone’s beauty. I remember seeing Dancer Pose for the first time and thinking that was absolutely the most beautiful pose, but it was too bad because I would never be able to do it. One night as I was scrolling through Instagram, I came across a yogi’s page that was plus size just like me. She was doing all of the yoga poses I saw on the other pages AND THEN SOME! I was amazed! That led me to looking at more and more pages just like hers! A light bulb clicked on that night in my brain. I wanted to try yoga. No, I HAD to try yoga. If they could do it, maybe just MAYBE I could too!
I dove into yoga headfirst. Well, not literally… More like leg first into Warrior Pose. I really believed that this might be the type of exercise I have been waiting for! From that first practice, I was hooked. I started practicing yoga in small spurts throughout my day and I spent so much time learning about the asanas to make sure I was doing them properly. It was hard at first, but with each day that passed by I felt stronger and stronger. I was in love! Within a few weeks of practicing daily, I started to crave it. I found myself needing it just to get through my day. When I initially started yoga, my intention was all about exercise and finally being able to do something physically active that I loved. But what I NEVER expected was the mental and spiritual transformation that was ALSO beginning to take place.
For the first time in my entire life, I was beginning to feel comfortable in my own skin. I had been a mother first and foremost for my whole adulthood thus far (after having my daughter at age 19) and had gotten into the unfortunate habit of always putting myself on the back burner. I was not very good at taking care of myself admittedly and my depression fed off of that. But when I practiced yoga, something magical was happening. And I know how completely crazy that sounds, but it is true! In that moment, nothing else in the world mattered except my breath and the movements I was doing. I felt powerful and free doing yoga. The stress of the day just melted away and I felt so much lighter. Yoga was transforming my whole life!
Within about six weeks, I felt different even outside of my practice. I had this feeling of wellbeing within myself that I never experienced before. I guess that is what people refer to as “inner peace”! Whatever it was, I had it. And for the first time in a long long time, I had genuine hope. I was forming friendships with beautiful people from the online yoga community and I did not feel so alone anymore! I had this new found confidence inside of myself and more amazingly, I had a new love growing within me and it was a love for ME! It still blows my mind as I type this what yoga has done for me and my life.
This is a small piece of my somewhat complicated story, but do you want to know something awesome? It is MY story and I am so excited to keep writing it and creating brand new chapters. Yoga has allowed me to begin the healing process after years of self-hatred, depression, and being afraid to truly live. Life is far from perfect. It is still very hard and tiring. But yoga has given me a way of coping with trials. Now I take things day by day and I try not to stress and worry about things that are outside of my control. And when I get knocked down, I tell myself that it is ok. I am human. The power and the strength though, is when I get back up and fight. I have learned to dance in the rain and look for the blessings in everyday life. If you are reading this and can identify with my story, please know you are not alone. You are so worthy of a peaceful life. Just keep getting back up and always keep fighting. There is always hope.