Dear Friend.

Last week a good friend asked me to write a few words of encouragement for her friend. You see, her friend will be attending the 12 week therapy program at Cambridge Memorial Hospital that I attended in February. My friend asked if there was anything I could offer this girl on her journey.

I wrote her the following letter.

 

Dear friend,

 

You are braver than you think and stronger than you know. You’ve probably heard that 100 times by now, but people keep saying it because it’s true.

 

It is not easy to live in a brain that tries to sabotage your every happiness. A brain that drains you of your energy and makes you sleep all day. A brain that causes you to cry until your eyes hurt and your face is raw.
I’m going to ask a favour of you: please give this program everything you have. Every ounce of energy left in your body, every benefit of every doubt you think of, because this program saved my life.
There is no magic pill. All the medications, all the money, all the time in the world cannot heal you. Only you can heal you. It’s hard work and takes balance but it’s worth it. Take advantage of the therapists. Do the homework. Pay attention in lectures. Practice your newly learned skills. They are worth more than gold.
Exercise. Eat healthy. Cut negative people out of your life and surround yourself with positivity. Find a hobby that is not watching tv or drinking alcohol. Go to coffee shops. Tell someone you love them. Wake up every morning and say out loud five things you are grateful for and do the same thing before you go to bed. Look in the mirror, say out loud one thing you love about yourself. Do this every day. Set goals, start small. Make your bed every morning. Celebrate your achievements.
Healing is beautiful. Just when you think your life is over, you transform. Embrace it. It’s scary as hell, but 12 weeks from now you won’t recognize the person who started this journey.
Fall in love with yourself.
Above all, know that you are not alone. I am here. Another wounded human scarred but hopeful. And guess what? There are more of us out there than we know.
Your mental health journey does not define who you are, but it will help shape who you become.
Soak it all in.
Love the journey.
It all starts here, with you.
I wanted to share this letter because it is not just for one person. This letter is for EVERYONE – whether or not you struggle with mental health. Maybe not the part about the 12 week program, but everything else applies to YOU.
Life is hard. Days are long, things get messy, and sometimes it just takes everything inside of us to make it until bed time. But that is okay. Take time for yourself, and keep going.
Start with gratitude.
I am grateful for every single one of you taking the time to read this post.
Love and Light,
Shannon

when there are no words.

I have been feeling a loss of words lately. I start blog posts, become frustrated easily, and don’t bother to post.

I feel as though I can’t explain what has been going through my head lately. It isn’t bad – it’s different. It’s an urge to be healthier. To choose positivity. To be content. But there is still an underlying darkness that creeps in, trying to sabotage my new way of thinking. I understand that scientifically that these are old neuro pathways that are used to reacting a certain way and want to take over from the new neuro pathways that I have been working so hard to develop over the last six months. But when you’re mid panic attack, that definitely isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. It’s more like…oh my god, this is happening again, why can’t I just be happy, fuck.

It’s okay to feel a loss of words. It’s okay if you can’t explain your feelings.

Take a breath with me.

Take a breath for me.

I’ll take a breath for you.

start.

“Start now.
Start where you are.
Start with fear.
Start with pain.
Start with doubt.
Start with hands shaking, voice trembling.
But start.
Start and don’t stop.
Start where you are, with what you have.
Just…start.”
-ijeoma umebinyuo

I taught my first yoga class yesterday, and I opened with this quote.

I’ve been sitting here staring at this screen for twenty minutes. What else is there to say? I opened with a quote. And I started. I didn’t stop. And it was beautiful.

So, start.

 

this human being is a guest house.

Last night I dreamed of emotional anguish; my sleeping head was full of terror and suffering. I had come home from British Columbia and kept looking up at the vast blue beautiful sky. I would say, “the sky is so blue today” and someone would respond “no, Shannon, the sky is yellow – it always has been”. I felt so confused why I was viewing things differently than everyone else. I would see a dog and say, “oh, look at that brown dog!” and would immediately be told the dog wasn’t brown, but black. Eventually the people around me in my dream told  me I was schizophrenic and that I needed help.

I was so afraid. I thought I had come so far – why was a suffering yet another mental illness? I kept trying to wake up, kept telling myself it wasn’t real, kept pinching my arm and nothing would happen. I was trapped in this dream with my loved ones telling me I was ill.

I woke up in a panic, gasping for air, tears streaming down my face, sheets soaked in sweat. It was a dream. Thank-you, it was just a dream.

The dream kept re-occurring through the night, and I continued to wake up fighting for breath. It was a sleepless night to say the least.

But what does the dream mean? Maybe it means that I’m not the same person who left six weeks ago, and that now I have a different perspective on life. This doesn’t mean that anyone elses’ perspective is wrong, but mine has shifted. It’s hard to explain. I see the world in a different light. I see more beauty each day, and more kindness in people. I see more hope for the world, and I feel hope for myself. I’m moving further away from the sick girl who cried herself to sleep every night for months, and I’m growing like a caterpillar changing into a butterfly. Of course the butterfly will see the world differently than the caterpillar did – she is a different creature now.

The dream was powerful. It rattled me to the core. But there is always another way to look at a situation.

I’d like to leave you with this poem (I might have even posted it before, but it’s one of my favourites!)

The Guest House – A Poem

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

— Rumi

spinning.

I am spinning tonight – reeling from my arrival home. I’m exhausted and I can’t sleep, hungry and I don’t want food, needing to cry but the tears won’t come. It’s not like any feeling I’ve felt before – it’s not quite sadness – definitely not depression – it’s more of an overwhelmed feeling. I am truly speechless, and a little lost.

What now? Now that I’ve spent 30 days with 60 fellow yogis surrounded by endless positivity and support, how to I come back to this town and just be?

I am not returning the as the same girl who left six weeks ago. So how do I change my life to incorporate everything I have soaked in in the last month? Does it happen over night? Will I feel better in the morning?

Time will tell.

Goodnight sweet readers. Thank you for following my journey. You mean the world to me.

just a dream.

An apparition that appeared when needed most

A sign from the universe; a gift

An oasis seen in the dry desert when you’re deprived of a most basic need

His soul called to mine as if they were old friends

Lovers in a past life

Together for eternity, plus a day

The touch was electric

A fire started, melted their hearts together

White hot energy

A love not just felt in the heart, but from the toes to the skull, flushing the cheeks, straining the chest, taking away breath

But his breath feeds air back into my lungs and he brings me back to life

A small moment in time

A blip on the scale of being

But they would be together again

Man of her dreams

And then she woke up.

the beautiful people.

How is it possible that I fell madly in love with 56 perfect strangers in just 30 days? I’m talking head over heels, hand you my heart, aching chest kind of love. Love that travels deep into ever fibre of my being and makes my chest swell so much I feel like I can’t breathe for a second and I want to jump up and down and yell at the top of my lungs how much I love these people.

56 strangers. 30 days.

This training was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Reaching deep inside myself every day to find strength to get through another day. But these strangers slowly become friends, and all of a sudden you blink and it’s as if you had known them your entire life. Each unique soul had something to offer. A gift of light and love, vulnerability, humility, and humbleness.

Thank you to my community, my sangha. I will hold a peice of each of you inside my heart for my lifetime and beyond. Thank you for breathing with me, crying with me, and showing me the kind of support that has renewed my faith in humanity.

I am ready to take on the world. Because I know now that every single human I meet has a heart of gold, just like these 56 strangers do. With each new person that crosses my path, I vow to show them compassion and love, as has been shown to me.

Let’s make the world a better place. Starting with us, the beautiful people.

thankful.

One thing that has surprised me on this journey was the sheer amount of people who approached me to share their own story. A story of sadness they experienced, or other mental illness, sometimes addiction or even a story of suicide within the family. For those of you who felt open enough to talk to me about your own journey, thank-you for opening your heart to me and trusting me with your story – thank-you.

To those of you who held me in your thoughts, told my story to your loved ones, friends, or coworkers, shared my social media and helped the campaign gain momentum online, attended yoga classes in support of this journey, donated financially to this cause – thank-you.

To my home studio who took me in with arms and hearts wide open, and made it their personal goal to get me to Kelowna for training – thank-you.

To my friends and family who were by my side every step of the way – backing my decisions, and providing constant emotional support – thank-you. I love you so much.

There are truly no words to express the gratitude I feel, and the kindness that has touched my soul. Because of all of you I am taking the next step in my life, a leap of faith into a life that I almost gave up on. But here I am, leaving for teacher training tomorrow. THANK-YOU! Thank-you for believing in me. You mean the world to me.

I am so thrilled to pay-it-forward; to come home and be the best version of myself; to share my knowledge; to teach in the community.

To the amazing people who follow this blog and still struggle – know that I too share your struggles, and still have a ways to go. I still have grey days, and there are dark corners of my mind left to explore, and with time, heal. But with my loved ones and community by my side, I will prevail. I’m fighting the good fight, and this is a damn good place to start.

I will leave you with this quote – I have shared it with you before, and I am sure that I will share it with you again:

“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out, and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction” Cynthia Occelli

From the depths of my soul, and the whole of my heart – thank-you.

thankful

Fantastic shirts from my home studio – I am so happy to be able to take one on my journey to Kelowna!

selfish.

I have never thought of myself to be a selfish person. I grew up with a mother who was very selfish and narcissistic, and I would like to believe that because of that, I grew to be a very kind and giving person. But I also believe that there is such thing as giving too much of yourself, and one can become kind and giving to a fault.

This entire concept is something that constantly swims through my mind – particularly over these past few months where I have had to rely on the support of loved ones to get me through each day. I became aware of how much of myself I could give at a time, and even at important events or family dinners, if I felt drained, I would have to excuse myself.

Then came the Go Fund Me Campaign where I decided to ask people for money to help me further my life. Loved ones, friends, acquaintances, complete and utter strangers – can I please have your hard-earned money? To say I felt uncomfortable throughout the process would be an understatement.

So here is what I have taught myself: I was being selfish – but in a good way. I truly appreciate every little thing that each person has done for me over these past months. I am going to pay it forward – with the help that has been given to me for training, I will use my skills and newfound knowledge to help others just like me. I will stand for you, and shout from the rooftops about mental health, and about my journey, and what has helped me along the way.

The thing is, I think feeling guilty and selfish has maybe gotten in the way of me feeling truly prosperous during this experience. There has always been a small part of my gut that has been telling me this isn’t right, or maybe I’m not deserving. Why should people help me? What have I ever done for humanity?

Well, I have kicked and screamed my way out of the darkness. I have put everything I have into therapy, family, yoga, making goals and attaining them. I have aspirations to do more with my life, for the betterment of myself as well as others. I AM DESERVING – so I have to let go of my lower thoughts, and make room for higher thoughts so I can continue to be a positive influence.

Perhaps you too can let go of your guilty feelings today. Take what you need for yourself – be a little selfish. Put yourself first.

I am.

flash back. 

If I’m being honest, I hate the new therapy course that I’m taking. Emotional rescilliance: delving into complex childhood trauma. 

I know that it is a necessary evil – I get it. But it’s been messing with my head and I’ve been trying so very hard to keep a brave face. Other things in my life are going really well – I hit my target goal for yoga training and am headed to Kelowna just next week, I’m overwhelmed by family and community support, I’ve been reconnecting with friends and loved ones – things are looking up.

So tonight as I was thinking about what to blog about, and what positive spin I could weave into my post, I remembered that I’m blogging to be honest. To show the transparency of mental health, and what it is I truly feel in my heart. 

So here it is : since I began the new therapy course, I have been having flashbacks. Memories of my childhood flood into my brain and drown my eyes – things that I had buried so deep down that I actually forgot they happened.  Mostly about my mom and the way she treated me. 

And it’s scary. 

And it’s sad. 

And it breaks my heart.