Guest Blogger: You’re Not Crazy. But Your Mind Might Be.

I felt the thud of paper hitting my desk.

I’d known this was coming all day, but at 3:00pm when it was hand delivered, I still wasn’t prepared.

Very carefully, I turned to paper over. At first I was relieved to see: A+, A+, A+, A+, A+….I’m so golden, I thought to myself. Then as I got further down the paper, I saw it…a you’re-above average- but-still-not- smart B.

WTF?

My throat started to tighten and I knew it was coming. I just kept saying to myself, “Sarah, don’t. You’re at school and everyone will make fun of you.”

But I couldn’t stop it, the tears started to pour out. My almost flawless 6th grade report card had been tarnished by a disgusting B in science.

As I sat at my desk – balling my 6th grade eyes out – my teacher, Mrs. Newman, came over to make sure I was okay. She was very concerned that I was worried about my parents’ reaction to this B. She even assured me that, despite having the B, I had the second highest average in the class. This still didn’t make me feel better. Coming in second (to someone who later admitted to me that his mom did all his projects) did not stop my tears.

As I rode the bus home that afternoon, I was taunted. My fellow classmates couldn’t believe I was actually crying over one, fricken B on my report card. My mind was starting to become consumed with all of the possible outcomes of this B: I’ll be homeless, because no one will hire someone who got a B in grade six science; my parents will be pissed; my arch nemesis (whose mother actually should be getting credit for his projects) would surely throw this in my face for the rest of my life. I was pretty certain my future was bleak.

Of course, none of my worst case scenarios actually happened. Looking back in time, I realize that this was the first time I had a panic attack.

Anxiety is something that I have become so intimate with, that it might make some people blush.

Most people deal with everyday anxieties, but can usually go home at night and relax. Imagine my above grade 6 scenario – the feelings, the predictions, the impeding sense doom – happening to you on a regular basis for about 20 years.

Hi, I’m Sarah and I suffer from anxiety.

I want to keep this light. I won’t go into every detail about my struggle with anxiety. To be honest, some of it is a bit disturbing and even I don’t even want to think about it.

Basically, I’ve struggled with anxiety for the majority of my life. According to several therapists, physicians, acupuncturists, massage therapists and psychics, the root has been caused by several events that have occurred in my life. For the most part, I just believe that I’m really sensitive and live in a society that encourages fear over pleasure. However, that is up for debate.

Last fall, I had an anxiety attack that lasted 72 hours. I had become familiar with this part of who I was early in my working career. Having short attacks of troubled breathing and the “worst case scenario” thinking was common. Despite both of my parents (who, since their divorce, don’t agree on anything) recommending that I go to see a doctor, I just felt that I was being a drama queen. Then, while incapacitated on my couch and unable to breathe, I realized, “hey, I think I actually have an issue here.”

For me, this revelation was almost as great as randomly finding a cold, keg of beer. Why was figuring out that I had anxiety a blessing? The reason is simple: I thought I had far worse mental and physical health issues. I was happy it was anxiety because I knew I could work to treat it.

Yoga is my Jesus (sort of)

Shortly after this wild weekend panic attack, I began training to become a yoga instructor. This training was what I would’ve imagined it would’ve felt like for Jack from the movie, Titanic, if Kate Winslet had given him some space on her flotation device and he didn’t freeze to death.

It changed my life.

I dabbled in yoga for about 7 years prior to deciding to become a teacher. However, I’d never really stuck with the practice even though I was well aware of the positive effect it had on my mind and body. With nothing to lose (except maybe my mind), I began to take the practice more seriously.

I spent months surrounded by like-minded people and an amazing instructor, who agreed that many of my feelings and thoughts about life were not only valid but dead-on. If you’ve ever suffered from anxiety, you may be all too aware of the number of people in your life who try to tell you that it is normal to feel that way – it’s not.

Sarah’s Top Three Reasons to Practice Yoga

  1. It’s an individual practice.
    Yoga reminds me to feel okay with where I am at any given point and time in my life. Sure my Eagle Pose may not be as great as it was yesterday, but every day is different and as individuals, we need to be okay with this.
  2. Comparing yourself to others is worthless.

I’m sure there are plenty of you Type As out there reading this and thinking that I’m some sort of hippy who doesn’t know a thing about life. I can assure this isn’t the case. I still struggle with comparing myself to others: I’m not married (not even close, actually), I don’t own a home and I don’t have rich fiancé, who is sure to make life worth living after we marry. I have struggled with all of these things and yoga has helped me to realize that none of that shit actually matters – it doesn’t.

  1. Do your best in the present moment.

Sometimes, that present moment means just showing up for work. We can’t all be perfect 100% of the time, and while I admire those who can put up that facade in public, I have given myself permission to just go with the flow and believe that when it matters, I’ll be able to step up.

I crack a lot jokes. I know. Anxiety is serious. You are lucky if you can’t relate to anything I’ve talked about in this post. For those who can relate, don’t think I’m undermining how serious and all-consuming it can be, especially since most people don’t understand it. Humour is a great way of creating an intelligent distance from what you are going though, that distance can help put who you are and what you are going through in perspective.

Namaste.

 

 Sarah Head is a communications professional and yoga instructor living in Victoria, BC. Certified in Hatha yoga, she specializes in stress and anxiety relief through regular practice – on and off the mat. Sarah encourages her students to let go of the past, and their expectations for the future, through the breath and asanas. By bringing together the mind, body and soul, she helps her students embrace the present moment and express gratitude for all the small joys in life. When not barefoot in a yoga studio, Sarah is a communications professional with a focus in branding, copy writing and social media management. Her blog www.thechattyyogini.com is a humorous collection of her thoughts, tips, observations, and general ramblings about the successes and struggles of living her yoga in the real world.