One of our anonymous referrals from Mind Oxfordshire speaks about his depression and what Yoga Quota has done for him
I was first diagnosed as having depression 4 years ago and, since then, the black dog made its unwelcome and unannounced visits from time to time.
The last time – the worst I’ve experienced - was around 3 months ago.
The darkness slowly crept up on me – I was irritable and short-tempered – and before I knew what was going on a huge shadow had crept over me, gradually blocking out any rays of light in my life. The wonderful people in my life - my partner, our lovely children, family and friends – failed to lift my spirits. I became inward-looking, avoided social situations and was consumed by an overwhelming tiredness which sucked the remaining life out of me.
My mind was racing with negative thoughts which I couldn’t get rid of. It felt as though there was no end to the daily despair I felt. Suicidal thoughts flashed through my mind – in the shower, on the allotment, playing with the children. They came out of nowhere, making me feel even worse.
Why am I telling you this? Because depression feeds on the shame and stigma that surrounds it, leaving depressives feeling even more lonely and isolated than they already are. Depression hates people talking about it. Just by knowing that others have depression, or have had depression, can make a huge difference.
I went on sick leave from work. At first I slouched around on the sofa, lacking the motivation to do anything. I had previously done a mindfulness course which had really helped, but I had slipped out of the habit of taking time out to meditate.
It sounds ridiculous, but 3 months ago I didn’t have the energy to just lie on my back, close my eyes and meditate. Eventually I forced myself to do a 5 minute mindfulness meditation. Afterwards, I almost cried, relieved that my mind had slowed down for the first time in ages. Since then I have meditated daily, sometimes several times a day. It has made a huge difference to how I feel. My mind is calmer and less cluttered. In practising mindfulness – focusing on my breath, observing my thoughts, and being in the present moment – I accept my thoughts, both good and bad. Thinking is what the mind does so don’t push your thoughts away; watch them, recognise them and accept them.
I had been thinking about trying out yoga for some time. Then – during a conversation with someone at the mental health charity, Mind - I found out about Yoga Quota. I was amazed and heartened to discover there was a charity like this providing yoga classes for those may not normally be able to access them. Since I took my first class I haven’t looked back. I love it and I look forward to each session. Like mindfulness meditation, you need to focus on your breath and, like meditation, yoga is a personal journey which needs regular practice. Through the classes I have met some lovely people, had some good laughs and heard some good music. I’m feeling great, I’m more aware of my posture at work, and I now walk taller with more confidence. That’s not a bad return.
I hope others with depression and other mental health conditions get to know about, and experience, Yoga Quota. Talk to someone, a friend, family or a mental health charity, such as Mind. Don’t go through it alone.