Moving Beyond Depression
By Rajni Ishaya
Depression can be a very lonely experience. If you're feeling like life is impossible right now and overwhelming, know that I hear you, I understand, and you're not alone.
I've had depression at different stages in my life - as a teenager, during my working career and as a first-time mamma. All very similar symptoms, usually triggered by years of trying to be someone I was not wanting to fit in, wearing many masks - the strong independent daughter, the sister holding it together, the high-flying executive, the perfect partner and the mamma who can do it all.
I would spend much time thinking self-violent thoughts, releasing pent-up emotions, feeling anxiety, and having internal pain such as stomach cramps. I was unable to move forward, feeling separate and dreading having to do it all again the next day. At times I had panic attacks. It was unbearable, endless stories playing over and over in my head of not being good enough and not being understood. There was nowhere to hide. As you can imagine, it's exhausting.
My Lowest Point Was A New Starting Point
My turning point was one night in the bathroom, heaped on the floor. My body, my mind, my spirit… depleted. I gave up trying to control myself, trying to please others, trying to be perfect, trying to hold it all together. I had nothing left to give. I had frustration, anger and guilt. I was in my darkest moment.
I found myself praying. To whom? Anyone who would listen. Maybe I was talking to God. I had never done that before. I'm not a religious person. I guess I simply needed to create a non-human being to connect with, which wouldn't judge me or perceive me as broken. At that moment, something happened. I then took a huge deep breath as if it were my first and let go. The floodgates opened. I was sobbing, and it didn't stop until I passed out on the floor. When I woke up, there was silence. It was so palpable. I felt at peace. I felt free.
I never forgot that silence and peace. Looking back, it was my compass. It was my connection to something much bigger than my physical body, and I wanted more peace. But I did need help, and if I got help, I knew I would be OK. I gave my fears, sadness, guilt, anger, everything to that bigger force and trusted it. This was my turning point.
No Experience Is Ever A Wasted One
If there's anything I've learned over the years, every life experience is not a wasted one. Each experience I've had that may have been perceived as hopeless, traumatising, and painful has helped me understand and want more of what's genuine - hope, peace, love and joy.
It may not feel like it when you're on the bathroom floor, heaped in a slump, having given everything you had. You're right; I know how it feels. You're tired, exhausted, and desperate. Trust. It will pass. Trust. You're in control. It starts with you.
You have to know you are not your thoughts, and you are not your pain. You have to want to be free of suffering. You have to know there is love when the suffering stops.
After that incident, I was guided to self-care. There was nothing fancy or foo-foo about it all. Just small steps to re-connect to the Divine-human being that I am. I listened, and I made choices. And here I am today, living a life I love, part of a beautiful community doing what I was put here to do, teaching Conscious Flow Practices such as yoga, breathwork and Ascension meditation.
MOVE YOUR BODY
As soon as you wake up, get your body moving. Gently move and stretch. This helps to produce endorphins, ' happy' chemicals produced in the brain. Every day will be different. You will notice a change after a few minutes, and your body will love you for it.
Take a couple of minutes (eyes open or closed) to breathe deeply. Notice your breath as it leaves and enters the body, how it changes the shape of your body and the sensations you feel. Let the breath be in equal parts as you inhale and exhale. Let it be slow and gentle.
Breathing deeply slows down the release of cortisol, a stress hormone and is said to help with depression. Top tip: place blue stickers around your house to remind you to breathe consciously.
ASK FOR HELP
There is no shame in asking for help. It's a sign of strength. It's exhausting trying to figure it out all on your own. Reach out and speak to someone who understands, listens, and holds you in unconditional love.
IMMERSE YOURSELF IN NATURE
Nature is everywhere and reminds you of the ebb and flow of life. You see cycles, the seasons, death and rebirth, colour, texture and sensation. Everything has a purpose, and it all works together in harmony. It's expansive and takes you right out of the notion that you are small and naturally shows you are part of something much more significant. Take a moment to stop and notice. Smile, and nature will show you beauty.