Tuesday, September 9, 2008

:: :: i have everything that i need :: ::

I feel so much better, you guys. It’s crazy. I might even go so far as to say that I feel great.

It really started for me on Saturday night. I was stretching before bed, a little bit of yoga and a little bit of non-yoga, and I was feeling pretty anxious. So I got into one of my favorite poses — a sitting forward bend (remember the fifth grade fitness test? how you had to keep your legs straight and stretch as far forward as you could? it’s basically that) — and since I’m pretty flexy I had my hands all the way over the tops of my feet so that my palms were pressed up against the soles of my feet. I was like a flat circle.

I know. I guess I’m a little more than “pretty flexy.”

Anyway, I stayed there for several minutes and I just kept thinking, “I have everything that I need.” It became like a mantra even though I’ve never been one for mantras. And it made me feel so good because it was true. And as I sat there, I was filled with this really calm, quiet energy and when I sat up, I felt it expand out into the room like a fart (I’m feeling a little too serious here — have to lighten it up somehow). I felt very peaceful as I went to bed and in the morning I was still feeling the effects.

Monday (is that yesterday? I don’t know anymore) I finally decided to read Yoga for Depression, by Amy Weintraub and suddenly I realized: I not only have everything I need, but I am already well. Wellness is inside me along with unwellness. I’ve been walking around thinking, “I’ve got postpartum depression” as if I am my postpartum depression. But I’m so much more than that.

Weintraub’s book really spoke to me, coming off my wonderful impromptu yoga session Saturday night but also coming off of a series of books on postpartum depression that sought to explain the disease, convince the reader of the seriousness of the disease, and explain the environmental and biological causes of the disease. Many of these books made me feel helpless. “Depression is a way you are,” they told me. “If you’re depressed now you’ve probably been depressed before (I was devastated the day I read through old journals and found that this was true) and you’re very likely to be again. And your depression will affect your child, and probably he will also be depressed as an adult (if not sooner).”

On the one hand I felt good about reading these books because I felt relieved to know that my depression was something real: it is likely the result of an overactive stress-response system much the way diabetes is the result of an improper insulin-production or -response system. It made me say, “Yes, I’m suffering, and there’s a reason, and it’s not just that I’m a wimp.” It made me more able to ignore the negative self-talk that is depression’s hallmark because I felt reassured that I wasn’t just making all of this up.

But on the other hand, I didn’t get a lot of optimism from these books. Reading Weintraub’s book made me want to put down all the other books and listen to my own positive self-talk: “I have everything that I need. I am so much more than my depression. I can learn to find peace and calm and balance in my life.”

Ever since I’ve been on cloud nine. I’ve been a transformed person. I’ve been getting exercise (walking, yoga) and being productive (quilt, necklaces, to-do lists). I’ve been eating (a good thing) and even eating well. I’ve been enjoying my time with Evan and even picking him up early from daycare to take him to the playground, one of the places that used to cause me the most anxiety. I’ve been laughing.

Weintraub’s coming to Columbus in a month for a weekend-long retreat. I’m afraid I’m going to bow down to her when I meet her or something silly like that. I wonder how many people have done that…