I’m unhappy but dispassionate as I explain to my classes how I’ll need to move very minimally. As I cue classes from the corner, I feel trapped. I can’t relate to my body–which at the moment doesn’t run, doesn’t do surya namaskara, doesn’t sit in sukhasana, and can’t even walk without crutches. I can’t quite bring myself to show the abject misery I’m going through, although some of my students clearly sense it—I’ve seen tears in a few eyes when I tell them I have a stress fracture and can’t bear weight on my right foot. I don’t tell them about the crippling depression or the persistent attachment anxiety. It’s too terrible, too scary, too fucking dysfunctional.
I don’t tell them how the other night I laid awake panicking that everything hurts too much. I woke up numb, desperate with grief, cripplingly depressed–and suicidal. That day I couldn’t concentrate on anything in between teaching my classes, and my therapist needed to involve my closest friend in safety planning.
I declined to go to the local crisis stabilization center in part because I had a workshop to teach–my Yoga For Trauma Recovery series. One of my students shared with the group that she was grateful for my courage in taking the seat at the front of the room, for leading by sharing my own struggle. She said it meant a lot to her, and though I thanked her I couldn’t tell her how much her words meant to me.
I struggle with deep shame over my mental illness. Though I’m very clear it is not my fault, though I know that this is a response common to trauma survivors–the shame is very real, very persistent, and very convincing. It tells me that I am too powerless, too broken, that I will never recover or experience healthy love. In my fear that these things are true, I’m tempted to stay silent in my private hell.
What is stronger than my fear is my conviction that we’re all fundamentally connected and deeply worthy of love–and that includes me. If I am part of humanity, there is no shame so great that I cannot be seen and loved. Shame and secrecy, I have seen, keep people apart and locked in fear. I believe in love and light, so I’m offering those to my most wounded places by continuing to speak my truth. It is my deepest hope that doing so brings healing to myself and the world.