Monday, May 6, 2013

How To Be The Best Whatever It Is You Are

CRAZYVILLE DETAILS: a) sleeping meds b) coffee on bedside c) sunglasses inside d) compulsive chopstick collecting e)  making 666 sign with my fingers and not Om 

A few weeks ago I clutched my phone to my cheek, huddled on a picnic bench in moderately people-traffic-ed area. My voice was shaky and there were tears welling in my eyes. I was on the phone with Big Sis. And because I have a hard talking about real things that matter and are important, the novelty of it was making me display my emotions in  a way that didn't actually mirror the intensity of what I was feeling.

No matter, I still sounded crazy.

I was asking a favor. I wanted her to come to an event with me because it was important to me, and I needed the support. Since my 2009 diagnosis of pre-stage MS, my depression and food addiction have really launched me into a new circle of my own self-imprisoning hell. I moved out of a nice apartment and into a dingy one. I wanted anonymity in a larger building. I wanted more distance from reality. Though of course there is no escaping it. Time has soldiered on.

The conversation with Big Sis also continued in a muddled kind of way. I was upset that she seemed to nonchalantly dismiss the invitation, saying that she probably wouldn't want to come because she'd be working in the city that day and wouldn't want to stay longer than she had to. I tried to tell her that it was a big deal and that my social anxiety would probably keep me from the event if she didn't come. It was a complicated back and forth that had more details to. But suffice it to say, at one point she said something that kind of blew my mind in a wonderful way. Something clicked, and I began to see the tapestry of my sister's life and the struggles that she has as a married woman commuting to and from the city - a lifestyle that is so far from my own, I assume it just comes naturally. But to my sister, as to anyone, it of course involves stress, conflict, and a need for self-care.

What she told me was this: that she stuck to a certain routine every week not because she is rigid and obsessive (I'm the one with that attribute thankyouverymuch), but because it was what she needed to to be a good partner to her husband and herself. 

Wow. Partner. Marriage. Fucked Up.

I was so glad that she was able to put such great eloquence to her situation. And I was so glad for the insight into her life. 

And then I thought, isn't it lovely that I don't have to be a good partner to anyone so I can just fuck around all day willy nilly like a banshee on crack or lay around all day and do nothing like a squirrel on ambien hunkered in his hovel surrounded by delicious acorns?

And that thought pretty much stuck around for a while and I did end up doing both the banshee/crack and squirrel/ambien routines. And I also didn't show to the event that I'd begged Big Sis to come to with me. Brilliant. 

After ten days on retreat and in Ayurvedic training, I have a new perspective. I've engaged in a lot more self-care and though the behaviors are new and uncomfortable and though, now that I am home, I am still engaging in some eating disorder disaster techniques, I do think that my brain is beginning to change. As I stretch more, meditate more, and practice more gratitude, my mind is less depressed - even if it's less depressed by only onlythistinylittlebit. 

Big Sis's comment about being a good partner now resonates with me. What do I need to do to be a good partner to myself? What do I need to do to feel less depressed, less self-hatred, and more freedom of that and deed? But it's hard to say that I'm practicing right action to be a good partner to myself because for so long a decade) my self-destructive behaviors morphed my brain into a machine of fear and compulsion. Destruction was comfortable. Change was intolerable. 

This is where you come in. In order for me to be a good blogger, I need to maintain my health, both mental and physical. In order to connect with you and feel a sense of belonging, worth, and meaning, I need to feed all my hungers. Ayurveda is giving me the tools to do that in a way that feels personal and vital. As if it's just been waiting for me to discover it. And maybe it has. Or maybe it needed to come into my life at a time when I felt more desperate than ever, more willing to try something new, having tried everything else over and over and over again.

Einstein's famous quotation that insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results has always focused my mind on the insane self-destruction that I engage in. But it can also be seen through the lens of recovery: that doing the same therapeutic thing, that going to the same nutrition classes, same CBT groups, same wellness centers, is insane if they are not working. 

So here's what's worked for me. Ayurveda is as simple and complex as you want to make it. These are the fundamentals, the non- negotiables in my life so that I can be a good me - and I think I may actually want to do that. One tenet of yoga off the mat is interconnectedness. Building community is vital for each of us. Love each other, love yourself. So I need you. You need me. Let's take care of each other.

Ayurveda for the real world: 
- wake as close to dawn as possible, anywhere between 4:30-6:30 a.m.
- early mornings are the best time for simple meditation (download one from the Blossom Into You tab)
- eat a light and balanced meal within the first hour of wakefulness
- drink warm tea and warm water to help digestion
- mornings are also great times for simple activity (think a walk outside rather than the gym...thank god)
- make your mid-day meal your biggest meal anytime between 11a.m.-1p.m.
- relax after lunch as best you can to accommodate your schedule (even just a few deep breaths with the intention of reducing your stress can really make a difference)
- eat a light and balanced dinner between 5-7p.m.
- allow at least two hours after your meal to pass before bed
- try some simple stretches or yoga poses to calm the mind before bed
- give thanks for your day or what moments of peace/beauty/centeredness you had
- sleep baby sleep! (bedtime no later than 11p.m.)




  1. The question you're asking, "What do I need to do to be a good partner to myself?" is such a great way to frame the question of self-care. We often treat our friends with much greater kindness and patience than we do ourselves. Seeing the self as a friend or partner is a helpful way to reconcile the need for self care with the temptation to push ourselves without forgiveness. Glad to hear that the ayurvedic practices are making their way into your life, even if they're a bit uncomfortable at first!

  2. Love the Day in the Life schedule! When I was going through school we did a whole module on Ayurveda and it really interested me. I need to go back into my notes and research it some more!