This pose has taught me a lot. With worsening covid-19 situation in Indonesia, uncertainties in many things in my life loom large. I cancelled several trips. I wasn’t able to travel to study yoga and so on. But what keeps me grounded on most days is the ashtanga practice. There are days I am beyond excited to practice yet, unsurprisingly there are also days where my mind wants to avoid the practice so badly. But somehow I did it anyway. I have stopped judging my practice based on how it looks because my edge is different on daily basis.
Sometimes I am content just by practicing Surya Namaskar. Sometimes I am satisfied by full primary. Sometimes I can endure full practice from primary up to second series (to pincha mayurasana). There are times I got frustrated because I have not been moving forward from pincha for several months already. But Kino continues to inspire me through her writing and her speaking about her pincha journey that it took her two years to finally find her balance. I practiced pincha last year but somehow I stopped it to focus on my backbending poses. And now that my backbends have improved so much, I am back at inversion. I don’t know how many times I have fallen from pincha. Countless times but I still get back and try again. And the next day I try again. I am still learning and someday I will find my balance too.
What is important is not the end result – the balance in pincha but how balance I am in approaching my practice. Do I approach it with a sense of gratitude of being able to practice? Do I approach it with patience and perseverance? Do I approach it with a calm and balanced mind? Am I aware of my breathing when attempting the pose? Do I not foolishly rush getting into the pose? How about the ego self? All these are the things that come into the surface during practice and in retrospect when I contemplate. And I am just thankful each day I practice.
It comes again. Every couple of years, I would get a Radiohead addiction which basically means that I would listen to their songs over, over and over again. Indeed that indicates something: I am depressed and finding a solace in songs which I can relate too well: Radiohead’s. You name it, the slip-up yet the big hit: “Creep”, or “No Surprises”, or “Fake Plastic Trees” or the last time it was “Exit Music”. My mind was triggered by that after watching Black Mirror’s “Shut Up and Dance”. What a bloody messed up episode but the ending really choked me. I think since then, I started to like the actor Alex Lawther. He was just a perfect portrayal of an anxious outcast who holds a dark desire. So I also followed his works in “the End of the F***ing World” (the title is by default is censored, if that weren’t the case I wouldn’t have censored it anyway – yeah I am blunt like that). And interestingly, the soundtrack is the song “The End of the World” – originally performed by Patsy Cline, which is one of my favourite songs. This song appeared in “Girl, Interrupted” – quite an iconic song when Daisy (played by the talented beauty Brittany Murphy) hung herself in her bathroom. Well, sad and pretty depressing.
Am I trying to figure out whether I am good enough to live as a human being?
You know what people will commonly suggest to you when you are feeling depressed, including your therapists or psychiatrists, that you should watch funny things and avoid dark or depressed films or songs. But it didn’t work for me. For one, I have a taste in dark comedy – which is already pretty bleak and two, if I were to watch sad films or listen to Radiohead over and over again and never get sick of them: that is because I am looking for something or someone that I can relate to so damn well. Even if films aren’t real, well at the very least, my depressed feeling is being acknowledged by that particular film. There has to be something in real life that happened to trigger such inspiration to write and produce that film, innit?
Oh, just a quick update about my yoga practice: the word of the week is REST. I injured myself – I admit I went overboard with my practice and pushed myself beyond my limit. Hmmm, maybe I wasn’t fully present in the practice. Or it was just a bad luck. I am taking this time to reflect especially what is going on with me at the subconscious level? Am I trying to be “perfect”? Am I trying to find something that can elevate my ego? Am I trying to figure out whether I am good enough to live as a human being? All those questions still linger but I have a lifetime to figure those out. Okay, enough for today.
Trigger warning: what you are about to read below is a detailed personal account of mental health issues, avoid reading if necessary.
It’s crazy how an innocent pill could make me crippled in bed and three days after, I am still experiencing its adverse effects, albeit not much as the first day.
What’s going on? I saw my doctor on Thursday and I was prescribed new mood stabilisers which I had actually been pretty resistant about taking it in fear of the bloody weight gain (!). But she said it’s gonna be fine as she wrote a cocktail of psychotropic medications in the prescription paper, in extremely low doses, anticipating that my body would not cope well with the effects. Turned out it was right. The night I took one of these customised pills, made up of few meds, I was having trouble with everything. I felt so stoned but in a horrible way – the similar feeling I would get after stuffing my stomach with a giant slice of bad quality space brownies.
I had terrible vertigo which lasted longer than other side effects and literally made me bed-bound for a full bloody day. I barely felt anything. I was just like a zombie crawling out of my room looking for and eating my meals away, stuffing my stomach too fast because I couldn’t feel the sense of fullness. In the end, I threw up because I was eating too much for my stomach. My balance is extremely off – I fell few times and I would spend the whole day pretty much lying down in bed. I also wanted to cry because these adverse effects were so intense but I didn’t feel like I had the energy to cry until I finally broke down in tears on that particular afternoon because I was just so tired having to deal with all of these.
Basically, I was feeling shit; one for wondering how long would these side effects last, and two for thinking what the heck is going on with my body. My body resisted the idea of taking new meds even at very low dose – which eventually I had to stop taking altogether. I am still taking my old meds though since I am dealing with multitude of mental health issues. Of course, taking psychotropic medication can be stigmatised especially if one is into holistic wellness/health. Maybe subsconsciously I don’t want to be dependent on another conventional meds because of the stigma attached to the idea of taking them that is why my body resisted these mood stabilisers so harshly.
…from the outside it appeared that I, probably at times, was catatonic or looked like a loser failing even at minor things, but this scene would be much more preferred than me having to take mood stabilisers.
Well, when I took it, I did really think the mood stabiliser would do more harm than good for my body, unlike other meds that I am still taking. And it ended up to be the case anyway. I actually don’t mind experiencing manic phase because for me it is not very manic anyway – perhaps hypomanic or less than that but I still got it under control because of my yoga practice and a year long of therapy that gradually shifted my perspective to a better one. Looking back, I wouldn’t think I would be able to survive until this year or that I would be self-harm free for more than a year but that is what’s happening. Surely my conditions get worse at times especially during depressive episodes but if I were to compare, I have much better understanding and connection with my mind during these challenging times unlike how I was in the past.
When my depressive episode gradually knocked me out of my mania, I became more aware that it was happening and that I had to prepare myself mentally – mostly with being kind to my body such as not forcing it to do intense practice, not restricting what I wanted to eat and so on. To date, I am still experiencing very intense pain all the time and the pain turns so sharp during depression. I just need to acknowledge that it is there. And that is what I have been doing. Of course from the outside it appeared that I, probably at times, was catatonic or looked like a loser failing even at minor things, but this scene would be much more preferred than me having to take mood stabilisers. In my limited experience of taking them, I hardly feel any emotion at all except confusion to as why I don’t feel anything because I am so used to feel emotions intensely. At that time, I pitied those sociopaths who barely feel any emotion at all, even the negative ones! It was awful, awful, terribly awful state one to be in!
Like if I end my life, I see it as a choice for me – I want so much control in my life and that if I don’t like my life anymore I can just end it. All within my power.
About my yoga practice, interestingly, I was doing pretty well this week and that backbending poses felt a lot easier though I didn’t practice them much last week. But then I got my period so that explained why I was so flexible (released psoas muscles gave me the illusion of more flexibility but actually I had to be more careful here). Well anyway since I got my period and got pretty sick due to that damn evil mood stabilisers – I have been taking full rest from my asana practice. I will probably continue my practice tomorrow, just a relatively easy one with ashtanga primary and take it from there. See how I feel about it.
I also had been reading my journal that I wrote in my last long-lasting major depression in 2018 and the common theme was my desire to be in control. Here is something that I wrote in August 2018, shortly before my second suicide attempt that year: “I went to see my psychiatrist today. I keep reflecting about what he said. He said that my impulsivity, self-harm and suicide attempts all stemmed from one – that I desire control very much to the point that it affects a lot of things in my life in an unhealthy way. Like if I end my life, I see it as a choice for me – I want so much control in my life and that if I don’t like my life anymore I can just end it. All within my power. No uncertainty. I didn’t believe him at first but I guess he’s kinda right.”
Fast forward to now, I think I am a lot better in terms of desiring control. Through my practice, I have learned to let go of control the hard way because many things are just beyond what I think is my control anyway. That’s it for today. At the very least, I end this post on a positive note.
What is life worth living? Constant euphoric state of mind, is it? Or unfazed moments of happiness? Or repeated togetherness, no space for loneliness? Or freeing your doubt of rejection, being abandoned? Or simply being in love, eternally?
What is it? I have been dying needed to feel things Scratching mazes, searching for hidden meaning Or any pattern drawn by whoever morphed me into being? Am I real or missing?
They say life is a matter of finding purposes What if though, those have become useless Torn, broken, shattered promises No gain, continuous losses
Is that all life worth living? I pity myself, here still surviving Waiting Seconds, days turned years without orders I am much damaged and damned Yet I am still alive, least looked fine
Without anything to feel, Nothing is really real
In an ongoing project of 100 poems of agony, written in October 2018.
Did I just go back to square one when it comes to mental illnesses? Oh no honey, you were far back, regressing to about minus 100. Yep, that’s how I have been feeling lately. The agony cuts so deep, even deeper than the previous ones that I had years before. I have been suspecting a different diagnosis this time but I haven’t seen my psychiatrist yet, maybe I will find out that soon when I see her. I have been experiencing bouts of intense negative emotions, which sometimes came out of nowhere as well as from the surrounding negative energies that I was stuck in.
I know that I should stop finding the meaning of life because it is me that should create one. But I have been feeling the pointlessness of living – so much that I feel tired endlessly during the day but very disturbed at night. I found myself easily extremely agitated and bitter too. Jealousy about other people’s lives also crept in. I tried to calm it down based on what I have learned to no avail, okay maybe just a bit.
If you are reading this, you can really well notice the fumbling and mumbling of my writing depicting my current state of mind. I am writing so clumsily but I am going to post this anyway. It is always good to release things that bother me – sort of a way to let go of things that don’t serve me any good.
And I have been concurrently, subconsciously and consciously, avoiding my ashtanga practice. I don’t mind practicing primary series but when I think about practicing second series, my body just responds by feeding my anxious mind on how uncomfortable I will be in kapotasana.
It has been my nemesis pose though on the outside, I do it pretty well but the inside, that is an absolute hell. I need to put my mind on the track again. I need to turn inward and talk to myself again, to confront the particular fear of pain because I have been in pain for so long anyway so it should be nothing to be scared of. But it is not the same as numbing the feeling – that is what I would do in the past. Numbing all my feelings had negative repercussions on my memory. I had problems recalling medium to long-term incidences and even sometimes short-term ones. It was like I just moved through life with the bliss of ignorance, but I knew someday it would explode. And it did.
This time I don’t want to repeat the same mistake. I want to feel the pain, the agony, the suffering and all that come with them. I want to experience and see them as they are so that I can fully and eventually make peace with them before I die. Oh dear, only if you understand what I say.
What is killing me slowly is the switching from one polar opposite above the neutral line of mood chart to the pit of depression; that is hollow, dark and sharp as if being stabbed by multiple knives simultaneously.
I usually have pretty manageable days in a week, maybe about two and half to three days and then the remaining week will be absolute shit that I can hardly do any type of practice. You might very well think that I have successfully thrown that consistency of my practice in a bin full of hypocrisy crumbles. That’s how I feel inside. I feel guilty yet at the same time, I can’t bring myself to anything but a self-destructive behaviour. It is better for me during this phase to sleep it off, til it is gone and til it comes again and then I will do my sleeping ritual again and again and again.
What I least want during my depressive phase is one, to be invalidated by those fucking lucky human beings who don’t have to go inside the hell in which my mind unconsenting-ly resides, and two, to be lectured against my sleeping ritual or whatever coping mechanisms that I employ during this period. I am truly disgusted by those who think they know everything and have fucking zero control wanting to correct whatever I am saying. I am not a fucking idiot who needs your bloody advice because I don’t ask for it okay? If you, who belong to this category, feel that sense of superiority of knowing everything better than me, than you are no better than being dead because sorry mates, you have wasted your life living in a false bubble of reality.
I understand that the sensitivity around mental health issues is not known by many, so many, unless those who have experienced it firsthand. I try to justify whatever behaviour that people throw at me when I am at my lowest is because they simply don’t understand. But the more people annoy me, the more I think of it as a plain ignorance to not educate oneself about basic mental health information and compassionate behaviour to the sufferers of mental illnesses.
Okay, enough rants for now. I am going to sleep it off.
These days have been rough when it comes to my mental health conditions. I have been experiencing what I termed “imbalance-turbulence” literally 24/7 even in my sleep. I could barely sleep except if I took strongest anti-anxiety pill, yet I kept waking up to life that my mind tried to avoid. Most of the times, I feel imbalanced, like a newbie ballerina who has just lost her standing leg – my mind is like her body attempted beautiful dance movement yet it appeared ugly, patchy and sick. In Ayurveda, I think nowadays I have too much Vata – my anxiety has gone off the roof and I am severely constipated most of the times though I tried to eat as many papayas as I could.
Is there no way out of the mind?
The turbulence here refers to a phase when I was just so exhausted from my own intrusive anxieties that I could barely move myself anywhere. I was lying down most of the times and even my mum brought meals to my room. Yet strangely there was also a time where I wanted to stuff all the food inside my mouth, I wanted to eat those anxieties away through these damn food and then I would feel guilty and fat. But during that moment I could hardly move my body either. I feel so heavy which could also indicate too much heavy elements in my body.
As I am writing now, I am taking the time off from teaching yoga. I didn’t particularly like this “new normal” because nothing is absolutely normal about it. It is just a pretension made up by doomed governments that we as humans have succumbed to the pandemic and the fear of pandemic itself. And I am on the same page. I don’t want to be overly anxious while teaching thinking that the virus is waiting to infect my students – so taking the time off during the peak of my mental illnesses just makes a lot of sense.
But I feel guilty at the same time of doing little to almost nothing. My asana practice has been reduced to 4-5 times a week and I’ve always cut my practice short. Maybe just ashtanga intermediate series 4 days and 1 day just for primary series. And I feel guilty but I know I shouldn’t because bla bla bla I could write the reasons but I chose not to because I have written those in my previous posts. I am just trying to be really extremely honest with my thoughts, publish and let people to see them as they are. Even if people don’t read or appreciate it, I don’t really care either. I am just letting these out in an attempt to validate these negative thoughts, so that in the end, no matter how damn slow that would be, I can finally make peace with them. Because this too shall pass.