Thursday, July 6, 2017

Depression, Anxiety, and PTSD : Coaching and Yoga Therapy as Healing Salve

"Follow the Sun by Xavier Rudd a song I listen to when I need inspiration."

I do not know if this is true in research or what the data (feel certain it is)  is but I do know from first hand knowledge. Depression and anxiety are often triggered by trauma. I know this all to well from my many bouts of months and years of  dealing with this myself.

No matter how smart, savvy, self care knowledgeable we are. No matter our credentials,  degrees or the level of comfort in which we live, no one is immune to pain and heartache. Some people get more than their fair share and some people get less.  I have never met anyone that has not experienced it. Sometimes I wonder if it is a prerequisite for spiritual growth.

The past two and a half years I have been writing a manual, book, textbook, semi self help book about yoga and during that time I have been hit with a major bout of PTSD. I was diagnosed at the age of 19 with PTSD by a therapist after I had a still born baby. The PTSD was not only from the loss of my child but also from trauma I had sustained growing up. Most of us have some sort of trauma at some time in our life, some of course much worse than others. I don't know anyone who has not endured some severe pain or loss.

At the age of 46 the one thing I have going for me is perspective. Yesterday one of my senior students commented to me that "You are always so happy.", which my response was "Oh I have my stuff but when I show up for work I am here for you not me.". And that is true, when I show up to work it's not about me, I have to flip the switch and be there for them. And that is not always so easy. This year I was thrown into a major post traumatic episode with a family member who I dearly love, but who is suffering severe trauma and substance abuse issues. Many old memories and pains came to the surface and before I knew it I was in my own full blown depression once again. So what do to do? The only things I knew how to do are more of what I teach as a yoga therapist and Solution Focused Coach:  yoga, meditation, and hardcore radical self care. It is the only thing I know that remotely  makes life bearable during a depressive, anxious, period. I say period because you can't "will" yourself out of this, it has to take it's time.

So here is an example of how I cope and what I do. It is much like taking an aspirin. It temporarily takes the pain and makes it bearable. Then over time you heal and can manage on a more balanced level.
During normal times when I am not going through an episode I do all of these things, during a painful period I up it as much as possible.

1. See a therapist, it's helpful to have a non biased person to speak to that you can trust.
2. Go to Alanon or AA, or any 12 step meeting, support group if that is relative. Find a sponsor if that is relative to your situation.
3. Go to gentle yoga classes that are balanced by a qualified teacher.
4. Meditate. I use Insight Timer, and I use daily meditation books like "Journey to the Heart", or simply sit quietly and observe your thoughts without attachment.
5. Have a mantra that you say anytime you feel yourself going into the uncontrollable crying. Mine are "I am Brave", "I am whole", "I am worthy". Write it down and post it so you can see it.
6. Walk, exercise.
7. Go outside in nature and connect. It helps to watch animals and realize that life goes on outside of our heads.
8. Have a gratitude list. You need to write it down, it makes a difference.
9. Feed yourself nutritious food.
10. Get adequate sleep.
11. Talk to a friend you can trust.
12. Have a calendar with self care appointments. I know that each day I have one of these things :yoga, an Alanon meeting, a date with myself at the gym, or dinner with a friend. I plan each day with something to refocus and get out of the loop in my brain.
13. Take it one day at a time. One hour, one minute. Just get through the day. You don't have to figure out the future.
14. Say the "Serenity Prayer" often.
15. Get yourself cleaned up and look your best. At all cost do not look pitiful. It makes you feel pitiful.

We are all imperfectly perfect human beings. All experiencing this life as one big school house, I am certain we are here to learn.
Be compassionate with yourself and others.

Love and Light,