It saddens me to acknowledge that I am hesitant to post this blog. Whilst I generally feel strong enough to be honest about the more difficult parts of my life, the most vulnerable part of me worries that admitting to mental illness will somehow discredit me as a human being, though it is hard to articulate how or why.
Yet, in the wake of the Germanwings tragedy, I feel compelled to write about my own experience with mental illness as honestly as I can. I hope that in so doing, I will foster some understanding in those who are lucky never to have suffered themselves, and strength in those who have.
I often refer to myself an avid yogi. I can frequently be heard espousing the many spiritual and physical benefits one can gain from spending time on the mat, and offering (usually unsolicited) advice about how yoga can and does change lives. Just the other day, I found myself sharing with a colleague that yoga can help people change their thought patterns by encouraging them to see the world from a new perspective. Naturally I suggested that leaping gracefully into a head stand every morning was one way to support this type of mental growth.
Clearly, I am blessed with indulgent colleagues.
I am told that before I ever learned how to speak, I would shout random sounds at strangers from my push chair until they came over to interact with me. My mother believes that this behaviour set the stage for a lifetime in which I would thrive on being the center of attention, or be a social butterfly of sorts. I disagree. I believe that this behaviour set the stage for a lifetime in which I would explore and interact meaningfully with the world around me, and have a voice that would make a small impact on the people I met. Perhaps I am assigning ideas somewhat too grandiose for a child in a push chair, but it’s heartening to think that even then I wanted more than nappies and dry cheerios.