Well, technically, it was a “Medical Center for Behavioral Health.” But, let’s be real, we were all sorts of crazy up in there. The staff even put on horror movies for us on Halloween. They wouldn’t allow me to keep the drawstring of my sweatshirt but watching endless Freddy Krueger was okay. All that aside, this Medical Center for Behavioral Health, it’s really a place for rock bottom and it sure felt like that when I landed in there for my depression five years ago.
I survived my depression by making one decision. I decided I would not take my own life. It was the only decision I made each day after that for a long time. It was sometimes the only thing I did all day. The hard part wasn’t making it out of the hospital, though. The hard parts were the years after, making it out of my depression.
My family flew in, my friends were there, my teachers understood – I had support. Some of my fellow hospital mates had no one. I thought I had lost hope but I realized I had just closed the blinds on it. I still had no idea what I was going to do from there, but I knew I would at least choose to keep my life and try something. That’s all you can do.
You don’t have to succeed at everything you try and, in fact, you won’t. But even more, you won’t like everything you try. That’s the beauty of exploration. You get to keep trying, regardless of whether you fail or succeed – it’s about finding what works for you, what lights your fire, and that’s going to be completely unique to you.
In order to explore the outside world I had to explore the world inside of me. When I couldn’t understand or care for myself there was no way I could do that for others. So, I went inward, mostly with the help of yoga. Reading, journaling, cooking, eating healthy foods, traveling and having lots of home days helped too. But, yoga hits all aspects of a being – physical, mental, emotional, energetic and spiritual.
The poses, asanas in Sanskrit, are just one of the eight limbs of yoga. They help support a functioning, healthy body. But we are so much more than our bodies, which is something we can easily forget. The Niyamas, limb two, has five branches, one being self-study, svadyaya. I had to study my Self in order to know, trust and love myself. The yoga mat was a safe place to do that, to witness, experience and explore my Self. All I had to do was show up for myself on my mat and breathe.
Self-study is life-long work. I am still working through old though patterns and habits but thankfully, I don’t have to make that same decision to stay alive each day. Now, I decide how brightly I want to live. If you’re choosing to be alive, it’s so much lighter and nicer to also choose to embrace life for everything it is; to witness yourself instead of tear yourself down, to experience yourself and the world instead of judge it, to love instead of push away. At the end of the day, it’s about showing up, first for yourself and then for the people you love and who love you. Even if all you do that day is choose to stay alive, you’re showing up.
Sending you love and support on your journey,