I married young, aged just 21 to an older man, by 10 years and who turned out to be an emotional, and occasion physical bully but I persevered, and boy did I persevere – for 14 years to be exact until I decided enough was enough and I moved on. But, after a series of major life changing events, I eventually ‘broke’ and had a breakdown in 2004, aged 36 and was signed off from work due to major depression and anxiety. I hit rock bottom and over the coming years turned to alcohol daily in a very big way, my weight hit 233lbs and I eventually attempted to commit suicide – I remember vaguely waking up on an acute medical ward, and realising that I was still alive.
Major reality check time – I was 40 years old and my doctor told me that I would not see my 50th birthday unless I took a long hard look at my lifestyle – to call it a wake-up call was a bit of an understatement! I was assigned a mental health team to look out for me, and it was such a blessings when I had a proper diagnosis and found out I was Bipolar II and also have an anankastic personality disorder, both of which was treatable. I looked into various complimentary therapies and started reading about Yoga, along with Ayurveda and Buddhism and suddenly I saw that at the end of a very long tunnel there was a small flicker of light.
Over the last 5 years I have taken hold of my life and now embrace every second of it. I’ve become a qualified vegetarian nutritionist and dietary advisor, I’ve graduated with a BSc (hons) in psychology and I’m also a substance and alcohol abuse mentor. My saving grace has to be, without a word of a doubt, discovering Yoga and meditation and the clarity it has brought me. I had been dabbling with Yoga, on my own since 2010 but just over a year ago, I took the plunge and found a local teacher, who guided me in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and more recently I have started working with a teacher of Hatha Yoga. Learning different styles has been eye opening and I love both – the strength that Ashtanga brings but also the calm that Hatha offers and the depth of the spirituality and philosophy that my current teacher provides.
My favourite asana has to be Virabhadrasana I or Warrior I – without a word of a lie, less than a year ago, I could not even stand in an upright position, much less attempt to lift my arms from my legs, my core strength was zero and my balance had totally deserted me. At year one, I love Warrior I and it is a gentle reminder to me of how far I’ve come physically, mentally and spiritually.
Yoga has taught me respect for my body, after so many years of abuse, and how important it is to look after myself and to care for and trust in others. Yoga’s given me courage to face problems head on, to seize every opportunity available and I have a much fuller appreciation for the world and the people around me now. Practising Ahimsa is now an integral part of my daily life, it’s open my eyes to the pain and suffering in the world and how compassion and empathy is so important on every level of humanity and being mindful and staying in the moment is all that truly matters because I’ve realised that the bridges you cross before you get to them are rivers that are not even there.
The future now looks much brighter and hopefully much longer and fulfilling. I shall start 2016 by becoming vegan and it’ll also be the start of my third year both alcohol and medication free, which is something that I am personally proud to say I’ve achieved. I start my British Wheel of Yoga foundation course in January 2016 and then onto my teaching diploma, which is something I am really excited about; my long term goal is to introduce Yoga and meditation into mainstream education here in the UK, from primary school through to secondary school.
Please feel free to contact me on Twitter @ThePitstopbunny