My road to overcoming depression and negative inner narrative.
It was a dull, cold, British winter’s day and I was sat in the office in Leeds I worked in, miserable. I had been gradually spiralling down the wrong rabbit hole, one I had been down before, no wonderland at the bottom. Staring at the brightly-lit computer screen in front of me, counting down the minutes to finish my working day, I was saddened by the acknoledgement that I was counting down the minutes of my life at my then, 21 years of age. Up until that moment I had questioned what was wrong with me, unenthused by the idea of having to work for a living and what I deemed as, waste my life feeding the mouth of the corporate world. I began to believe I was lazy and was losing faith in finding a life that would make me happy and a capacity to be proud of who I was. I had suffered depression a few years earlier, a feeling of isolation and hopelessness and, was scared by the prospect of that becoming my day-to-day once more. At the time I was completely unaware of the root cause of these feelings and until recently, was unaware of the vital question I asked myself that dull morning, that changed the direction or both my inner and outer reality. A question or series of questions so logical, it now seems ridiculous I hadn’t asked myself them before.
The inner conversation went a bit like this…..
Q: When am I the most happy?
A: When I’m moving my body, walking, at the gym, doing yoga, out in nature.
Q: What makes me the least happy?
A: Being obliged to stay still for extended periods and stare at a screen doing boring stuff I have absolutely no interest in.
Q: How can I extend my moments of happiness?
A: By being more active and being outdoorsThen the question that changed my life………
Q: How can I make what makes me happiest into a career and do it all of the time, get people to pay me for it, work the hours I want to, when and where I want to OH, and move to somewhere sunny?
The journey from there was a gradual one, of asking more questions, looking for solutions, trying out different options. I had spent so many years with such a negative inner narrative, believing that my way of being, thinking, acting were abnormal, useless in the working world and too out-of-the-box. It was from this moment I began to change the meaning I gave to all of this and began to realise just how awesome life can be when seen through a different lense. At school I was the fidgety one, the one who liked to talk all the time, who liked to daydream of a better life. All assets when channeled correctly but, deemed to be bad in a classroom setting. Through life experiences I have now come to understand that these ‘annoying tendencies’ are what make me so good at what I now do as a job/lifestyle/the passion that makes me so happy. As a yoga teacher, personal trainer and massage therapist, my eternal energy, madness for movement, desire to communicate with others, empathy and hunger for constant evolution make me the ideal person for this role. It was all a case of fitting the mould to me and not the other way around.
Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely grateful for all that came before this realisation, it is what lead me to where I am now. Had I not been so utterly unhappy, I would have carried on on the treadmill of mediocrity, working to make another man or woman rich and living for the weekends. In Buddhism the lotus flower represents how something truly beautiful can rise up from murky, dark waters, a metaphor for the human condition. Through my journey into yoga, I have learnt to transform the hard times into the drive that gets me up the mountains, my pain into a capacity to understand the suffering of another, my vulnerability and imperfections into what makes me an accepting and loving human being. I spent so many years with a low self-esteem, not wanting to stand out or to be seen and a real lack of self-worth. The latter being a cloud that hangs over so many. Yet as the years pass and I turn to my daily practise to build the reality I desire, I become a forever more authentic expression of who I truly am, rather than what I think the world will accpet. I realised that becoming a version of myself I am proud of, doing things on a daily basis to feel proud of who I am, of dedicating my life to something I love doing and therefore practise consistently and get better and better at, is so vital. I have my bad days, like any other. Sometimes that negative, inner-narrative creeps in. However I can now observe it and ditatch myself from it rather than lose myself in it, understand it’s a case of changing the meaning I give to it and now have the tools to do know how to do this.
Having a daily gratitude practise has been a pivotal habit in changing my inner narrative, helping me see all of life’s ups and downs from a different perspective. Then doing things on a daily basis that I enjoy and that make me proud of my actions. Conscious movement from strength, mobility and yoga to climbing a mountain, eating to nourish my body, surrounding myself with the right friends and creating an external environment that compliments my well-being are my daily reality. Regular meditation, living without a television, reading more, being out in nature almost every day and listening to inspiring podcasts are all my medicine, my fuel and my teachers. I feel blessed to be able to share what I learn with others and often, learn the most from this, from seeing how the same tools help those around me.
Thank you for reading and hearing my words. May they be a light on a dark day to help you remember that you are not alone.