Mental Health

**I am not sharing this story to say that medication is bad or will make you feel awful. Each human will react differently and certainly has different needs for their body/mind.

As someone with an anxiety disorder mental health is a hot topic to me. It’s hot in a way that really FIRES me up, but also hot because the older I get the more I realize how loaded it is. The more I open up about it, the more I realize how many people are sharing similar feelings/struggles.

As a child I suffered in silence. You would NEVER know that I was anxious. I kept everything inside and didn’t want to let anyone ever know I was struggling. I am pretty sure that is the way I was made. Nature (strong female role models) Nurture (my grandmother was literally Rosie the Riveter in WWII).

I think about how many people are suffering. Suffering in silence and out loud.  There is this very real thing that happens to a lot of people (I am certainly one of them) when faced with the decision to use medication to manage mental health….. SHAME. 

Last month I decided that enough was enough. I was starting to get to the point where I could barely eat without feeling anxious- fight/flight was feeling like my new normal.

I decided to try a daily dose of anxiety medication. The first week I felt on top of the world! My anxiety felt like it had disappeared!! I felt SO GOOD!! That was short lived.  The side effects started creeping in. My sleep and appetite were hurting and I felt this weird buzzing inside me, like energy wanted to escape but it was trapped.

After a month of trying this medication I called the doctor and let her know how I was feeling. She said that it didn’t sound like I was responding well to it and put me on an anti-depressant. I lasted 4 days on this new medication after feeling more anxious from the side effects than I had originally felt before I went on anything.

So… I felt hopeless. Not only was I anxious but now I was depressed. I just wanted to feel like myself again.

I took a step back, shifted perspective and really examined my life. What was I doing differently that I used to do before all this anxiety started? Exercise.

I decided I would put yoga classes and running back into my life to see what happened. It has been a week and a half and I am starting to feel like my old self again. I am almost reluctant to write this blog post because I don’t want to jinx myself.

I needed this setback to remind myself why I am so deeply committed to helping children develop tools for stress and anxiety. I needed this setback to remind myself of the power of yoga and mindfulness! Yoga is changing my life again. Just like it had 10 years ago when I went through a similar stage.

The tools we are teaching children early on in life… Like breathing in uncomfortable moments and how to bring awareness to their bodies and minds to respond rather than react… They are practices. This is not a one time lesson and it sticks. This is a consistent practice that takes times to build. It’s like going to the gym once and expecting a six pack of abs after one time. A consistent routine is necessary for change.

We need these tools in schools as a consistent practice that will help children build social-emotional skills along with resilience and compassion for themselves and others. If this is being taught early on it will become muscle memory when years  enhancing lives.