Lost in the Western medical system
There was a time when I was hopelessly lost in the dark. I was trapped in the despair of depression and the crippling grip of anxiety, with a prescription in my hand as the only thing that was supposed to make me feel better.
For 12 long years I believed it was the only option.
I was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety disorder at the age of 18 and put on prescription medication, from which I quickly began to experience side effects. Shortly after, I was misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Like so many who are misdiagnosed, I was put on a cocktail of medications and lost in the system, given no other alternative to feel better. Side effects of the medications only made my state of mind and physical health deteriorate.
I developed addictions to cigarettes, food, shopping, drugs and alcohol.
I was searching for anything to free me from the hell I was trapped in.
Fast forward to 2009. I was 80 pounds overweight, suicidally depressed, experiencing panic attacks so intense I could not leave the house, and facing liver failure, diabetes and death.
I officially hit “rock bottom” and was faced with a choice: to give up or fight.
The day I faced my own mortality was the day I questioned everything.
I realized it was up to me—and only me—to save my life.
I talked to more than 30 doctors trying to find one who was willing to help me safely get off the dozen medications I was on. Finally, number 38 said yes.
The painful journey of detox began and I immersed myself in my artwork; exercise; nature; the practices of yoga, meditation, and nutrition; and the study of spiritual teachings that helped me take back control of my life.
I faced my fears, took responsibility for myself and stopped blaming others or relying on a pill to make me feel better.
And with a lot of hard work, courage and dedication, I won. I am—and have been for years—at optimal health: 80 pounds lighter and free of pharmaceutical medications. I’m rid of deep depressive lows and crippling anxiety. And every day I continue to conquer my many addictions and overcome a lifetime of negative thinking.
I used to look forward to weekly doctors’ appointments, new prescriptions, and the shred of hope that I might feel better. Now I look forward to time on my yoga mat, both in my personal practice and when I teach.
Moment by moment, I now choose life on my terms instead of waiting for the quick fix or the magic pill. I choose life without clouded judgment or the fog of medication like I once did.
For me, yoga is not a gimmick. Exercise and meditation aren’t fads—these practices helped save my life and have become an inextricable part of my daily routine.
A life doctors said would never be possible
These practices are my medication. They help me live a life that’s happy, healthy and balanced—a life that doctors said would never be possible.
These practices play a major role in managing my moods, my state of mind and my physical health. I now have the strength to feel, the courage to take responsibility for my thoughts and actions and live my life for me.
I take great pride in living what I teach and being a genuine person. And I take pride in bringing something different to my yoga classes.
I share with my students insights gathered through lived experience, knowledge gained, information about chakras and lessons applied to life. Asanas (poses) are only the tip of the iceberg that is yoga. As my personal practice deepens, I learn more about yoga as a way of life and discover the depth of what yoga truly means.
My hope is for my yoga students to develop a connection with their bodies and what they feel, rather than a connection to their heads and what they think.
Life is something to celebrate and enjoy, not dread or fear. We all deserve to be happy and healthy. Though we all have a unique purpose, we are all connected.