My friends shouldn’t be my friends. I’m a slob, I lost my job in 2013 and freelance here and there to pay the bills, don’t clean up after myself, don’t watch my weight and have a really concerning understanding of celebrity gossip. Not just the celebrities either: their wives and friends and housecleaners and pretty much anyone associated with them. Anyway, now that you know I’m wasting my life away, you’ll understand (far more clearly) why, late last year, my friendly doctor diagnosed me with GAD.
If you’re unfamiliar, GAD is Generalised Anxiety Disorder. It’s like Social Anxiety Disorder (anxiety during social situations) or Performance Anxiety Disorder (anxiety when you need to do well at something), but instead of having parameters, it’s just there – all the fucking time. People are like “OH MY GOSHIES WHY ARE YOU ANXIOUS?” and I’m like “because there’s two people in this quiet waiting room and the really relaxing song that’s playing might end soon and then who knows what the fuck is going to happen.”
That’s around the time they stop being my friend.
But some people stick around – they keep being your friend. They accept you’re batshit insane and decide to stick by you no matter what. And those people are great, but they – like every other person on the planet – have flaws. They say things like “just calm down” (oh, sure Kerry, I’ll just flick the ‘off’ switch on this crippling, diagnosable disease’) and “why don’t you go for a run?” Ok, deal. I’ll take my already elevated heart rate, my inability to leave the house, my extreme fear of human interaction, and go running down a fucking highway. Thanks, Barb.
Alas, most of the friends who stuck around commonly recommended I tried yoga. For me, yoga sounds terrible. Sitting in a room full of people who are infinitely fitter than you bending into positions you haven’t achieved since you accidently tumbled down a hill at Splendour in 2011? No thanks!
But persistence is a bitch, so I went and did yoga once. Then I did it again. Then again, and again and again. And, whether you want to believe it or not (because you’re probably the pessimistic heathen I once was), that shit actually works. I mean, it’s really, really good. There’s something about the focus on continual movement that stares your mind square in its veiny little frontal lobe and says, “Hey, you – calm the fuck down”.
Since I started, I’ve been to yoga about 20 times, and my anxiety – both during sessions and in everyday life, has almost been eradicated. Sure, traffic jams, car crashes, people looking at me for too long, social situations with heaps of strangers, angry shop assistants and six level parking lots still fuck me up, but I’m getting there.
For the purpose of clarity, I will reiterate what I believe to be the core component of yoga’s success in eradicating anxiety: the controlled, fluid, focused movement on particular limbs. This concept is not dissimilar to the idea of deep breathing, of which it is often used in conjunction with, and the two, when combined, are an amazing force. Take it from me, a non-believer!.
A person who usually hated yoga.
Photo by Lyn.