Tag Archives: Recovery

I’m baaaaaack

2 Sep

I have been away for so long, dear readers. I developed a lot of health issues in 2014 and it’s been a challenging two year hiatus. I decided to come back and revive my blog; I always looked forward to writing, and it’s fun to interact with random strangers as well as old friends in the Blog Universe. Also, I find myself needing an outlet/space for writing about some of my health stuff, as I can feel isolated and stuck since I spend so much time at home these days.

In short, here’s the deal…

I relapsed into bulimia and restricting in 2014 and had to go into treatment. It was immensely helpful, but really, really hard. And freaking expensive, as I had to pay for all of it out of pocket. I thought I had it all figured out and that I had beaten my eating disorder, but that was most definitely not the case.

I had a huge major depressive episode in summer of 2014 while I was still in treatment, and finally started taking medication. Historically, I have been pretty anti-psych medication. However, this depressive episode threw me into the bottom of a black, mucky well and I could not seem to claw my way out.I started to develop agoraphobia as well as panic attacks. I was barely functioning. I needed the help, and I am so grateful that I took a chance and was open minded about something I had always been opposed to; in fact, I had been derisive and mocking about it, I’m ashamed to say.  I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, as well as Bulimia. To see those words, from my psychiatrist, written on paper…I cried for about a week.

During my gnarly depression (which took me a year to recover from!), I started to experience more muscle pain and stiffness, as well as bizarre joint problems. My knees would swell up and hurt like crazy, and it would just rotate from one knee to the other. I’ve always been creaky and achy and stiff, so if you have read any of my blog entries that’s not a big surprise. It kept getting worse, and I was going from doctor to doctor trying to figure out what was wrong with me. Sometimes it would hurt even to lie down; I’d suddenly become the Princess and the Pea, heavy metal Austin edition.

Finally, in January of this year, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Although I was relieved to get an answer of sorts, I was not happy about it AT ALL.I’m in a pretty consistent chronic state of pain. It takes me forever to do what I used to consider “normal” activities: getting dressed, taking a shower, doing laundry, walking the long stretch from the parking garage to, well, anywhere. Basically, it is totally pissing me off and it sucks. I accept that I have fucking fibro, but I certainly don’t like it.

Ashtanga seems like a glorious thing from a distant past. Going to the grocery store is like, a crazy workout. Just going to all of my doctor’s appointments, acupuncture and therapy sometimes seems like a marathon.

This has all been a big lesson in getting humble and staying humble. I celebrated 9 years of sobriety this year, and clearly there is always more to learn. Acceptance, love and tolerance, easy does it, just for today, humility. Rinse and repeat.

It feels good to be back.

 

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Stripping Things Down, or, the Yoga of Hell No

15 Jan

I went to Mysore at a new studio in town this morning at 6am. Ironically, the teacher did not come because he has school that morning. The gym did not mention this on the schedule. So I bumbled through practice on my own, and was able to go very slowly and very carefully. It was interesting, and I had to laugh at myself once I realized the teacher was not coming. I was so nervous about meeting a new teacher, and he wasn’t even there! Just like life– I get myself all worked up over nothing in the end. Once I relaxed and realized that it was Ashtanga business as usual, I was able to drop more deeply into my body than I have been able to in a long time.

On the way there, I was thinking about how long the journey has been between being over 300 pounds and a drunk cocaine addict to standing on the front of my mat at 6am in Austin, Texas in very sober samasthiti. To get to this point, there has been a lot of subtraction. Subtracting the drugs and alcohol, subtracting over 100 pounds, subtracting excess material possessions, distractions and unhealthy relationships; ultimately, subtracting a whole lot of thoughts and closely held beliefs that did not serve me. I’ve heard Ashtanga repeatedly described as “The Yoga of No” and in my case, it seems to be the Yoga of hell no. Hell no I don’t want to stay up late. Hell no, I don’t want to go to a bar with you and get totally f*cked up. Hell no, I don’t want to eat that junk food and hell no, I don’t want lots of distracting noise and chaos in my life. These things just don’t do it for my anymore. I realized that I was yogastoned after practice this morning—very similar to accustomed (the high you get after accupuncture), but a lot sweatier. I’ll take the yogastoned over really being stoned any day.

I belong to the World Wide Metta meditation mailing list, and I received their newsletter this morning. There was a piece by Thanissaro Bhikkhu called “Stripping Things Down” that made a lot of sense to me:

We can think of renunciation as a process of simplification. That’s a word with a nicer ring to it nowadays: You want to simplify your life, to cut away the unnecessary clutter. But either way, whether you call it simplification or renunciation, there are hard choices you have to make. And so it’s best to look at it as a tradeoff. You can spend your time on activities that give immediate results that don’t last very long, or on activities that give more long-lasting results but take more effort, more time, more patience, require more precision. Ultimately you realize that the best trade is the one where you give up lesser forms of happiness for more long-lasting ones, ones that speak to the really deep issues in life.

Yes, and yes.

Tomorrow is a Moon Day, which is a perfect day to connect with others in loving kindness and do a practice of metta meditation. Well, every day is a perfect day for this, but I really like knowing that somewhere out there on New and Full Moons, there are other people metta-ing.

Link to the original article here: http:///gallery.mailchimp.com/ea2e5620a6396a3fc34db91d5/files/D_Stripping_Things_Down_Part_One.htm

Forget

25 Apr

I am still here in the land of wildflowers and way too much good vegan food and *distractions*. Home Ashtanga practice totally derailed. Having lots of struggles in many areas of my life, and some progress in others. Life on life’s terms?  Sometimes I just forget all about that sh*t. I was doing some reading this morning during my AM quiet/meditation time that had nothing to do with yoga. It was a twelve step recovery book, and I came across this sentence: “the yoga principle of non-attachment to the fruits of labors”. What? How could I have just thrown that proverbial baby out with my bath water?

I was in Half Priced books the day before yesterday and I looked up at the Hindu section and there it was, shining like a beacon: a half-priced, used copy of Guruji! Let me tell you, that is not an easy find.

Thanks for the nudge, Universe.

Ghost Body

9 Nov

“In ancient times, bears were considered equal with men…”

Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai  is one of my favorite movies of all time. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, and I stumbled across the clip on youtube. As I watched it I realized, “wow, I used to way more than a bear!”. No wonder they are my totem animal! I’ve had the phrase “Ghost Body” pop into my head frequently during practice for the last two weeks. At first I was like, “WTF?”. Then i realized that sometimes I still think I am carrying around my former 320 pound body. I will think that I can’t fold forward in certain positions when I actually can. It’s as if there is a “Ghost Body” surrounding me and I can still “feel” her, like people who can feel an amputated limb. Interestingly, I never stayed in my starved, thinner body long enough to develop a skinny “ghost body”.  She’s more like a whispering voice, a feeling, than a physical thing I lug around with me. When I am truly present in my current body and not divorced from it, I spend a lot of time trying to find the “edges”—how big am I, actually? Where do I stop and start? How far can I bend or reach? Where does my arm or leg go, really? Somewhat like moving to a new city and learning how to navigate the streets…you get lost a lot at first.

I also have begun to notice how much I “guard” certain areas of my body during practice. I clocked this after a conversation with my sponsor about how emotionally guarded I still am with certain people and at certain times. I find in Ashtanga that I seriously guard my left elbow (broken when I was skateboarding and drunk and 25), my right hip (could write a novel about this), my knees, my left ankle (surgery), my right hand (two surgeries). There’s a geographic area of my body that I feel like I need to protect, to keep it from further pain and trauma. But my guarding and vigilance is actually preventing the healing from happening! I realized this today during Ardha Baddha and burst into tears on my mat, which is happening again frequently. I felt a bizarre wash of warmth down my injured right side…so strange. And now my hip is feeling much better, go figure. Maybe my inner Samurai needs to find a new occupation instead of guarding my injuries. I have been throwing around the idea of learning Kendo lately…

I am trying notice my Ghost Body and just acknowledge her without fighting her. I carry her with me, and I don’t have to hate her. I am still a “fat” Ashtangi, and I will probably never be a skinny, bendy yoga chick–I  honestly don’t give a sh$t anymore. My weight is no longer my business, and I have no idea where this practice will take me physically.  I’ve spent so many years trying to artificially manipulate my body and my consciousness that I have no idea who I am or what the f*ck a “healthy me” looks or feels like physically. I have a sneaking suspicion that through dedication to this practice (practicing these principles in all my affairs for you 12 steppers out there), I will eventually regard my current body as yet another “Ghost Body”—with kindness and compassion. Everything changes. Bring it, Universe! I am f*cking stoked for transformation.

Kino MacGregor on the Yoga of Gratitude

4 Nov

A good post to start November off…I also loved seeing Kino on the beach in my home state. I miss you, South Florida!

 

The Places That Piss You Off

30 Aug

I like the fact that this conveniently says, “Click to LOOK INSIDE” . Yeah, that’s exactly what I DON’T want to do, thank you very much.

 

I think a lot in the wee hours of the morning about the places where 12 step recovery and Ashtanga practice intersect.

“We have ceased fighting anything and anyone, even alcohol. “–page 84 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

Even yoga practice.

Even getting up at 5am.

Even being stuck over and over again.

Even those places that are injured.

Even experiencing repetitive pain.

Even tears and sadness.

Even our limitations.

Even our age, our weight, our history, our failures.

Even our successes.

Even our jobs.

Even our talents, our skills, our joy.

We just ceased.

Right now I can’t even imagine what this cessation would look or feel like, how it would taste or sound. I only know struggle and taking the bit in my mouth over and over again lately. Every time that I think I have surrendered (hello step 3), I find myself in that familiar place of ego, resistance, anger, being shitty and human and imperfect and pissed off about it all. I don’t want the Places That Scare Me. I want:

Yes, I WOULD like to look inside!

That’s what I’m talking about! The fun, Seussian, Pisces version of life, preferably technicolor and full of greyhounds, fluffy bunnies, unlimited candy and a heavy metal soundtrack. Like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, as scored by Slayer. Not this samskaras and tapas business.

Glossin’

28 Aug

 

“It is an apparent paradox, but it is not therefore the less true, that those ideas, or phenomena, that are most familiar to us, should frequently be the most difficult to explain. This is particularly the case with the subject of the present Essay.” An essay towards a definition of animal vitality: read at the theatre, Guy’s Hospital, January 26, 1793; in which several of the opinions of the celebrated John Hunter are examined and controverted.–Thelwall, John, 1764-1834

The phrase “animal vitality” has been running through my head lately quite a bit. I was on my way to a meeting yesterday morning and I experienced this incredible surge of something (power? energy? kunda-freakin-lini?) that seemed to start in my pelvis and blew straight through the top of my head…while I was driving. Driving, drinking coffee and listening to the Eagles of Death Metal. Surely  this sort of thing cannot be safe! Help! This has been happening on and off at various times and I of course have no control over it. It especially seems to like to happen while I am driving. Sometimes I feel so full of energy and–well–“animal vitality” that my skin does not feel big enough to contain me. Part of my does not like this at all, surprise surprise. After spending decades feeling nothing due to being numbed out on one substance or another, this feeling is rather alarming. I am not just used to feeling much of anything, never mind feeling ecstatically good.

Of course, the science geek in me wants to get to the bottom of this. And, it being Sunday, I started thinking about Church. My mother is a fundamentalist Christian and as a child, I was terrified by people speaking in tongues. I was dragged to all sorts of prayer meetings where people were “slain in the spirit”, and let me tell you I did not like that shit one single bit. I found an article from the New York Times called “A Neuroscientific Look at Speaking in Tongues” (which, by the way, is more properly referred to as “Glossolalia”):

“In the study, the researchers used imaging techniques to track changes in blood flow in each woman’s brain in two conditions, once as she sang a gospel song and again while speaking in tongues. By comparing the patterns created by these two emotional, devotional activities, the researchers could pinpoint blood-flow peaks and valleys unique to speaking in tongues.

Ms. Morgan, a co-author of the study, was also a research subject. She is a born-again Christian who says she considers the ability to speak in tongues a gift. “You’re aware of your surroundings,” she said. “You’re not really out of control. But you have no control over what’s happening. You’re just flowing. You’re in a realm of peace and comfort, and it’s a fantastic feeling.”

Contrary to what may be a common perception, studies suggest that people who speak in tongues rarely suffer from mental problems. A recent study of nearly 1,000 evangelical Christians in England found that those who engaged in the practice were more emotionally stable than those who did not. Researchers have identified at least two forms of the practice, one ecstatic and frenzied, the other subdued and nearly silent.

The new findings contrasted sharply with images taken of other spiritually inspired mental states like meditation, which is often a highly focused mental exercise, activating the frontal lobes.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/07/health/07brain.html
Clearly, I need more meditation time and less driving time.

 

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