Living with Anxiety

I don’t hide it. I’m not ashamed of it. If anything, I have talked about it more since teaching yoga than I ever have.

My anxiety isn’t caused from a specific past life event. It’s just the way I have always been. Which is something I have found the hardest to accept...

When I reflect on my life, I can see I am surrounded by people who love me, supportive of my every ambition, and I grew up in a country where I believed I could be anything I wanted to be if I worked hard enough. So for a long time, I didn't understand why I had anxiety and depression and was very unkind to myself.

In 2013, when I started my yoga teacher training, I was on medication for anxiety and depression. I felt uncomfortable telling people, including my parents. More because I didn't want them to worry. But also, because of the stigma around mental health issues. I felt that by saying I was on medication for anxiety that I was being dramatic, OTT. It was hard for me to personally accept that I needed it. To me, being on medication seemed like a really serious thing. Like it had got so bad that I needed help in the form of daily medication.

I hated knowing that I needed it. I wasn't coping with daily tasks and social situations. It is hard to admit that, even upon reflection.

In conjunction with this, I was also seeing a therapist on a regular basis. This helped, but it wasn't something I personal felt comfortable with, it didn't feel right to me. Maybe the type of therapy wasn't right, and I hadn't tried others. When I started my yoga course, I decided that I wanted to stop my therapy. I had this real determination to do it on my own. To help myself get better. To find what was right for me, as an individual.

I knew that yoga helped reduce stress and anxiety. I'd been practising regularly at home and going to a weekly class near where I lived at the time. So when I started my course I had initially intended to only do the Dru Yoga Foundation Course, to deepen my own practice. I never thought I would be a teacher!

My way of the yogi

On this course, I met a yoga teaching assistant who shared with me, that she used to be on medication herself and that the yoga had helped her so much that she no longer needed to take it. I wanted that so bad. I didn't like taking the medication (even though it helped tremendously) and I wanted to overcome my ‘demons’ on my own. I remember that moment to this day, the feeling of hope that one day I would be ‘normal’.

Armoured with this hope and a sense determination and willpower, within six months the doctor agreed I could wean myself off the medication*. In time, I began to cope with everyday life and I have never had to take medication since, life can still be an absolute emotional rollercoaster and I have accepted that my mental illness will never completely go away. I also should mention that there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking medication if that is what you have been advised by your doctor. I have always known that there may be a chance that I will need to take it again. And if I do, then that is what I will do, and alongside that, I will continue my yoga.

I have to say, it isn’t easy for me to share this. I feel like I am completely exposing myself. I’ve read, and re-read this a number of times to make sure what I am sharing with you is purposeful, and truthful. It’s important to remember that anxiety can be different for each individual, depending on the circumstances. I know what it is like to suffer in silence, not knowing what step to take next. Feeling lost and alone.

And I am here to tell you, that all hope is not lost.

I am not ‘down with’ all the woo-woo bullshit that can sometimes come with yoga and spiritualism. So when I talk about yoga or share what my classes are about, it’s a feeling of absolute truth and honesty. I believe a regular yoga practice is incredibly beneficial. I also believe that each person has to find a yoga that suits them, at the right time in their life, when they need it most.

This is the reason why I spent so much time creating the Affirm, transform and manifest your dreams Punk Rock Yoga classes for January. And why, when I plan my classes, I do so with good honest intention. Not because with I think that with a click of the fingers, everything is going to be better and if you 'just breathe’ all your worries will melt away! Personally, I know it takes time.

From my own experience and the knowledge I have gained over the years, when you have belief in yourself, you create drive, determination and passion. And with that, you can transform your dreams into a reality. If yoga can help you do that, then why the hell not try it!

I mean seriously, you come first. You are the only part of your life that you can control. It’s taken me 32 years to ‘get’ that, and like I said, we each have our own journey to take but I am so glad I have found yoga and meditation.

I am still learning and developing my own knowledge and practice. Trying out new things, sticking with those practices that work for me, and appreciating the additional knowledge I gain from other practices that just aren't my 'thing'. The biggest change I have found is through a daily meditation practice. I see major changes in how I react to things that are out of my control. Which was a major contributor to my anxiety.

Join me, on my journey, and create your own way of the yogi.

* Every individual's experience with mental illness is different and you should always consult your doctor or medical practitioner for advice. As previously stated, there is absolutely nothing wrong or negative about taking medication for your mental illness. If it helps you and you feel good in yourself, then you can use yoga and meditation in addition to your medication. Yoga and meditation cannot replace medication but it can help give you tools to incorporate into your everyday life to feel the balance you need.