Life Updates

Hi friends and readers. It’s been a while, I know. Apologies. I have been busy, in a great way, the past few months. I thought I’d share a life update, to keep everyone posted on what I’ve been up to. Positive changes in my life are making me feel pretty hopeful about where I’m headed, and while I struggle regularly still with anxiety and depression and mood cycles, this hope stemming from these positive changes helps to keep me afloat most of the time.

First, I graduated yoga teacher training, and am now officially an RYT-200 Yoga Teacher. I have a website for my new yoga/writing/and more business, if you’re at all inclined to check it out. And if you happen to be in the Philly/South Jersey area, I list my upcoming classes on there as well. I have one private yoga client (it’s a family member, but still!), I’m on a sub list for a studio, I’m teaching two upcoming community donation-based classes for charity at The Grant Building where I did my teacher training, and I have a workplace benefit class that’s in the works, which I can’t yet share details about, but I’ll update when I can. So on the yoga front, pretty exciting stuff.

Photo credit: Awesome friend, yoga instructor, and photographer, Aly Gaul.

I also sent my novel to the self-publisher, and I received the first 25 copies of the soft cover book yesterday. Technically, my parents received them at their house because I don’t have things shipped to my city condo, so I haven’t seen them yet. I’ll be there Thursday, and plan to open them then. I’m still getting together the book sale details and release date, so I’ll also file that under “more updates coming soon”.

This past weekend, I completed my 6th AFSP Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk for Suicide Prevention. I traveled up to Boston this year for the walk (the other option was San Francisco, and Boston is significantly closer and less hilly), and as usual, it was an incredible experience. I’ve already filled out the “save my spot” for next year’s event, despite not yet knowing the when or where. It’s that amazing of an event, and of course, such an important cause. The walk is filled with connection and community and tears and hugs and sadness over those lost, but also so much hope for the future as we continue to raise our voices and speak out about mental illness and suicide prevention, to let others know that they are not alone.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. It’s been a productive and busy and exciting spring and summer so far. What have you been up to? What’s giving you hope this summer? I’d love to hear!

With Hope,

Maya

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Guest Post! Journey to Hope

Back again with another amazing guest post, from a friend, who wanted to share their story. As always, I offer people the option to post under a pseudonym or anonymously. For these purposes, we’ll call the author of this post Inner Peer Supporter. Without further adieu, I’ll let our guest poster take over from here!

 

JOURNEY TO HOPE: MY STORY

Fall 2016

I was sitting in a peaceful room giving peer support to a wonderful person who had seen so much horrific suffering in her life. I listened quietly and felt emotional, empathy and concern for her being. The interesting thing was when I went home that day some how I didn’t allow her suffering to eat away at me and I knew for the first time that I was beginning to get stronger.

So how did I get to this place from my own suffering? This is my journey.

Underlining Reasons For Life Long  Anxiety:

Fall 1980: I was in the first Grade ready for the first recess of the day. I walked out the door and found myself being shoved around by fellow students. This marked the beginning of always running into some people from time to time who showed their resentment to me for being just me.

I was a shy meek kid who wasn’t perfect, but was good hearted and sensitive to the point that I always absorbed how I was treated and at young age defined myself as less then others. I recognise now that I had anxiety then. I always sat at the back of the class afraid to be ridiculed. Words have the power to harm and when I formed the opinion of myself as being less then others that view stayed with me until I was an adult.

My anxiety and fears had shaped me too, preventing myself from properly progressing. I remember one teacher I was scared of in a regular grade 5 class who ridiculed me for being in remedial for math. Kids in special education classes were labeled as retards then. Students in regular classes and some teachers were biased in their treatment as a result.

I remember an Olympic day in grade 4 where all the students go around the school competing in sport competitions. I was intimidated by my bullies and didn’t do well. At the end of the day the teachers gave out gold, silver, and bronze badges for participation and my teacher instead gave me a nil certificate for failure. Everyone and the teacher laughed.

I could go on with examples, but I think you get the picture that my childhood was filled with adversity that shaped my perception of myself. One side note of mention is that If I ever said something wrong or stumbled I rejected myself even more as a child.

My family was oblivious to my plight, because I never told them anything. Everything was buried within. That is how I dealt with it.

I went through high school never really fitting in and skipped my prom night as a result.

By the time I was in my 20’s I was glad to leave high school behind. I was in university studying history part time and working the rest of the time.

It began with a depression and increasing disillusionment that set in and I left University. Over the next eight years I would move in and out battling the perception I had of myself with anxiety; never dating, not having friends, never truly venturing out in life; I felt less then others; unworthy and ugly.

Down the road I would go to college instead. One program stuck in my mind. A leadership course. I knew then some how I wanted to help others, but didn’t know in what capacity. I found a best selling book there after by Dale Carnegie called, ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People.’ It floored me and I enrolled in one of their training programs. I remained on for 2 years as a volunteer coach working with other people.

Carnegie was influential in my life, but try as I did then, I never conquered that battle inside of me.

Over the years some of the depression and disillusionment returned. No matter what I tried it persisted for years and my anxiety began to get worse.

Finally in 2014 I was in total crisis. My anxiety evolved into a terrible disorder with powerful panic attacks and I turned to help at the hospital. That phase was the most grueling phase of my life.

At one point I sat across from a therapist who with compassion said, “can you do me a favour and throw away the rope.” I had revealed to her that I was suicidal. I had previously almost went through with it.

The compassion I received from her, my doctor, and a social worker, had an impact on me. Once again that urge to help others set in. My life was reignited.

I finally found a non-profit mental health organization; a cause bigger then my self to devote my life to.

I went from having no hope, no purpose to finding it again. I faced my anxiety head on and became a facilitator for wellness programs and trained volunteer peer supporter and even a board member. Our organization employs peer support workers in hospital settings. This was my calling to pursue.

Like every plateau in life, I did run into a few people who devalued my self worth, but was able to rise out of that. I found myself face to face with myself and this kick started the road to healing.

In January 2018 I took an online anxiety course with coach Leigha Benson that added to my recovery journey. It helped me to embrace myself and open the path to recovery even wider. I see now that repeated moments of self doubt in my youth and how I was treated kept me in a compartment for much of life.

I never had any animosity towards others for how I was treated for I knew God was always with me and them too. I first found him in grade one when I was being social isolated in play ground. I sat under these peaceful trees on a June day looked up and felt his presence in the breeze if the trees.

I credit spirituality as a constant in my life. For God taught me the value of unconditional love and forgiveness for people no matter what.

Anxiety will be something to always manage, but my life is gradually getting better step by step. There is more work to be done, but I can now do it with a rented strength and hope.

Guest Story: My Passion Project

Exciting stuff today! Last week, I shared my story and the story behind how Spread Hope Project came about. I also asked others to share their stories, and received a message from Alana Michaels, creator of My Passion Project.  Alana’s story touched me, and I wanted to share it here on Spread Hope:

One year ago today I was in the middle of a ten day stint with absolutely no sleep. Those few days lead me to a $400 hotel room in the middle of bustling New York City to spend a night completely by myself (I hated New York City). The morning after my hotel stay I was to the point where I was convinced I had been being filmed. I was awake all night “realizing” that I was being watched and observed by a camera crew and I started to question if my family and friends were “real” or just actors. I’m not quite sure how I made it out of the city that day and back to my car in New Jersey. I had numerous family and friends texting me trying to get me out in one piece… I guess they succeeded … well, sort of. It was that day that I was admitted into the psychiatric emergency room where I spent 8 hours before being taken by an ambulance to a mental hospital where I would spend 6 nights and 7 days … the reason for my stay? A severe manic episode of bipolar disorder. 

This was not my first experience with mania … but it was by far the worst episode. This particular one was triggered by the decision to get a divorce from my husband. Every time I’ve had an episode it’s been because of some sort of stressful and major event in my life. The one prior to this one was brought on by the birth of my son … I spent a year on a roller coaster of ups and downs and that was when I was officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder. 

It’s a disorder that’s very hard for others to understand. Hell, half the time I don’t even understand it. But when the episodes hit, my life stops. The mania is hard … but the depression is devastating. 

Just as the manic episodes seem to get worse with each one … as does the depression. My most recent depression (that followed my severe mania) was by far the worst time of my entire life. I was in a suicidal depression …. to the point where I had a plan to take my own life. The thoughts of my 5 year old son and friends and family could barely save me.

I was under the care of a nurse practitioner through an outpatient program… she was not the right fit. I would be sitting there staring at the wall with tears pouring down my face and she would ask me if I was doing positive affirmations and eating enough protein. 

I eventually found my own psychiatrist out of network so he did cost a lot of money … but he was worth every penny because he saved me. Medication is what saves me from this life-threatening illness. 

It has been one year since my illness hit me harder than it ever had. I’ve been in therapy and keep up with my psychiatrist appointments. I haven’t been able to share this part of my story until now. I used to speak to large groups of people about my experience with my illness … but this last episode took away so much from me. I haven’t been ready … but I am now. I have H.O.P.E …Hang On Pain Ends. I hung on … and now I’m here able to share my story with you… in the hopes that it can save someone out there… like I was saved. 

Please make sure to check out My Passion Project on Instagram and Facebook

Thank you so much, Alana, for sharing your story. I’m so glad that you were ready to speak about your illness again, to help give others hope (H.O.P.E.).  Keep on being amazing!

 

passion project

(Photo credit: From the Facebook page of My Passion Project.)