I’m sure more than a few readers struggle with mental health. Mental health struggles are hard on so many levels and when you’ve got competing chronic illnesses, depression and anxiety are often just icing on the crap cake. You are sick, tired, in pain… and then you’re sick tired and in pain but also having a panic attack. It makes sense, of course. There is nothing like always being sick and struggling with the most basic things, like breathing, to set off anxiety even for folks who didn’t start out with anxiety issues.
So folks who deal with intense anxiety and panic, you know how it can leave you feeling spectacularly fucked up? When I feel spectacularly fucked up I often then wind up in a loop where I feel too messed up to do any of the things that help. It’s really alienating and it goes something like this:
- Just cried until I threw up? I’m too fucked up to do breathing exercises.
- Just spent time hyperventilating with a panic attack? I’m too much of a wreak for a yoga practice.
Maybe it’s shame from all the cultural crap the tells we have to have tidy and controllable emotions. Maybe it’s the notion that we have to earn what nourishes us by being self-actualized and calm. Maybe moving from anxiety and panic to a place of stillness just feels like too far a bridge to cross when you’re depleted from experiencing all the things.
It’s amazing how much I don’t have the answers, but I’ll offer this…
- You can be a sobbing, panicking heap and deserve to do what nurtures you.
- You do not have to be calm and grateful in order to have a spiritual practice.
- You can have a messy practice.
You can meditate and feel anxious. You might be a touch less anxious at the end, or at least a tiny bit more in touch with yourself. That’s completely valid.
You can ugly cry while in restorative poses. You don’t have to finish with the warm glow of serenity folks in the yoga videos always seem to have. You can just finish. And maybe you’ll feel a little less alienated at the end.
I started this 12 Day Spoonie Yoga series well over 12 Days ago but needed to take a break in order to focus on some job interview prep and househunting that was taking everything I had (and then some). I grappled with not doing it “right.” But so much of life with a chronic illness is based around showing up as we can, in the way we can… so I suppose it’s completely fitting that a 12 Day Chronic Yogi happens in two sets.