Ahh....September. I mostly like September. It's my birth month, so naturally I'm partial to it, and I don't think it's a coincidence that FREE DAY OF YOGA in Austin falls in my birth month! It's one of my Favorite Austin traditions, It happens every Labor Day so if you live in Austin, do some yoga tomorrow, you can find free classes all over the city. It's also the month fall begins, which is my favorite season. This is why I say I mostly like September, because in Central Texas it's historically the hottest month of the year, therefore it doesn't really feel like fall, and Hobby Lobby has already moved on to Christmas by September, so for this east coast girl who loves fall, I sometimes feel like I have this strange backwards version of seasonal effective disorder in September, but alas it's only temporary and then October arrives and it turns to Spring here, which is my other favorite season! Austin, Texas, there really is NO other place like it.
I recently learned September is also Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. This is near and dear to my heart, as I have lost, almost lost and personally struggled through a very dark time of postpartum psychosis, severe anxiety and depression, in which I had taken to the belief I too couldn't make it out alive. If I could Identify one action that consistently lead me to where I am today....not just alive, but happy, healthy and excited to be alive it is the fact that I spoke and so did those that cared about me, those closest to me knew something wasn't right because I was hard to be around, my misery was spilling over on to them, I didn't always like the words or advice they gave and I often fought them, but not because I didn't want help, I was just miserable inside. I began to reach for help in every way I could, doctors and therapists, I told friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, even people I didn't know so well sometimes they knew how to help or what to say, sometimes they just listened, sometimes they didn't, sometimes they were uncomfortable, some even hurt or mad by something I had done to them in my state of chaos. But every single thing they said or didn't say mattered, discomfort reminded me I didn't want to be a source of discomfort, I wanted to be joy and peace, their effort whether helpful or not reminded me they cared. It was through speaking that I was carried and supported, through speaking I received LOVE. If I hadn't spoke my Uncle wouldn't have advised me to find something that I never had to take off , something I could look at when I needed a reminder of why not to give up, that simple leather strap I tied around my wrist was love, it was everyone who loved me and all those I love so dearly. Through the darkest of dark, it was my life line, it reminded me not to pass my pain on to them but rather to keep working to find the way to transform my pain in to the peace and joy I wanted so badly.
It was in my fight for freedom from this pain that I was lead to the healing with in the teachings of yoga. My nervous system was soothed and calmed through consistent breathing practices and meditation, and I was guided to look with in for healing. I began walking backwards through my life to try and make sense of how and why, sure there was the obvious that I knew and was repeatedly told, I have a strong family history of mental illness, but that answer just didn't satisfy, in fact it opened more questions, why were they suffering? Through inquisition and self study I began to discover how so many of my day to day experiences, choices, patterns, habits and situations had depleted me in every possible way. I remembered describing that I felt like a cucumber that had been peeled with a vegetable peeler one layer at a time. I felt like a floppy, flimsy thin slice of cucumber. In that flimsy state, I was vulnerable, my nervous system was shot, and personal and inherited emotional wounds were wide open, I was overwhelmed and distraught day in and day out.
Over these past few years of rebuilding I have continued this yogic practice of Svadhyaya aka self-study. Through the study of self we can recognize habits, patterns, thoughts, situations, subtle and maybe not so subtle messages of the mind and body. By paying attention we come to better understand ourselves and begin to discover what we can choose to do and choose not to do, we learn the the ability , tools and knowledge we have within us and around us to support our selves in living and feeling the way we want to. It is through this practice that I have learned and continue to learn in a way that connects me to my highest self, the self that is peaceful, happy and full of the love for myself and others. I am not free from the ups and downs of life, they exist and always will, but what I am is aware. Aware of the ways I can choose to support and love myself and others through it all.
If you are some one who is struggling, please speak out. Tell someone you are not ok, ask for help and know that some people may not know how to help you, it's ok, keep asking, don't stop at one person, one piece of failed advice, one bad therapy session. It takes work to find the right path and people that align best for you, but every single step along the way is a guide to the next, you can't find what works with out knowing what doesn't. I promise it's worth it. There is light on the other side of dark and love to lead your way there. If you know someone who you think is struggling, let them know your worried and you want to help them, be open to receive them as they are. They may resist and that's ok too, just remind them you care, even if it can only be from a distance. Sometimes people who are struggling can feel toxic and heavy, it is ok to hold boundaries to protect yourself.
Here is a website that leads to the national suicide prevention lifeline. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org