Guest Author: Coming Home

[Notes for discussion of depression, suicidal thoughts, and weight gain.]


My name’s Zannah, and I’m extremely well-rounded. (Hee!) I studied general science in college, specializing in biology, and my pet areas of interest are skepticism, health, fighting oppression (with mah CAPE!) and sex-positivity. I am particularly engaged with people who have been sexually assaulted or victims of domestic violence, and I identify as a feminist no matter what bugaboos people pull out to scare me with. In fact, I am fearless.

I am only fearless, because, as you may know, pain is fear leaving the body and I have known pain well and thoroughly. It is an old and dear opponent. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and endometriosis in 2007, after suffering undiagnosed(and unbelieved) for a year. I have chronic severe life-long depression and ADD. (I’m kind of fond of the ADD, actually.) I have a rare brain disease that causes bullshit headaches, plus other fun manifestations. This life, particularly this last year, has been enormously difficult.


Today I did my first yoga practice in at least three years. I also ran, which I had not been putting off quite so long; only two years or so. I made it ten minutes running, which blew my mind. The yoga sequence was possibly the simplest practice I have ever done: knees to chest, cat-cow, child’s pose, seated wide angle pose, corpse pose. It was incredibly emotional. During child’s pose, I could only take long, shuddering breaths, as though I were sobbing, and tell myself that where I was was good.

To understand this, though, you must know that both yoga and running have been very
important to me and huge markers of my well-being. In the last few years, my world has come crashing down and today I may well be at the lowest point in my life so far. Well, maybe yesterday was the lowest point.

I began my yoga-and-running (Roga? Yunning?) when I was 22, when I simultaneously began having symptoms of endometriosis and fibromyalgia, both of which are marked with chronic pain. I discovered a perverse side I didn’t know existed in me, which said, “I’m going to be in pain no matter what I do? Well, fuck it. I might as well be running.” I signed up for a 10K and trained, and although I wasn’t fast, I won- I finished! I also found that I get the runner’s high pretty easily, which is so delightful; it’s like bouncing along on the moon!

I quickly discovered that the doctors were not much help for the fibromyalgia, so I explored other therapies, including yoga. I don’t know if the yoga helped the fibromyalgia, but I found it profoundly enjoyable and mind-clearing. I developed a fairly serious practice, exploring new poses and trying different varieties of yoga within my limited means. I enjoyed the physicality of it, the peace it gave me, and the challenge of designing new practices.

Through all of this, I struggled with chronic depression. I have never not known depression- I was diagnosed when I was nine. I have had my ups and downs, but even when my runs and my practices weren’t mindbogglingly amazing, they left me satisfied in a way that I didn’t get from anything else. Although I had shied away from activities like these before due to my weight- I have consistently been about 230 lb on a 5’8”, medium frame- I found it to be no barrier. These opened doors for me, doors I had not even seen before.

In 2009, I married. I can’t say what it was- I remember doing yoga while my husband sat on the bed and read the next pose out to me- but something twisted in me, and somehow the things I had enjoyed became stressful. I couldn’t find that peace and that physical satisfaction in yoga any more. It was just painful. I couldn’t muster the energy to go running. There was nothing there for me. The marriage had its problems, and ended in 2011.

Since I left my husband, I have known deep grief and severe depression. I have struggled with suicidal thoughts, over and over until it becomes ridiculous- and terrifying. It’s a matter of pride for me that I have not harmed myself or attempted suicide, although it did take a few stays in the hospital. I’m deeply grateful for my friends and my family, who have been amazing. Still, when I look into my future it’s hazy. Due to medication and depression I’ve gained 80 pounds, which has precipitated bullshit rare health problems. (And also, I have no clothes to wear!) I have wondered if I’ll ever have
my life back- ever be able to move and enjoy things, ever have energy, ever be reliable and not prone to bursting into tears.

So again I say: Today, I did my first yoga practice in a long time. I also did my first run in a long time. They were challenging, but I met that challenge and it was again deeply satisfying. I feel new hope now; not overall, not that my life is magically better. But it’s not a small hope either. Just knowing that I can do this once more eases a huge concern about my abilities and my connection with my body. I’m not the woman I once was. But that’s okay. I’m here now, and as Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Present moment; Wonderful moment.”


If you’d like to read more of Zannah’s work, you can do so at In the Pink of Nourishment or via Zannah’s Facebook page.

If you’d like to contribute a guest post at Anytime Yoga, you can email anytimeyoga@gmail.com.

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I'm here. I like stuff. Some other stuff, I like less.

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