You found Yoga after suffering with anxiety and depression, can you tell us about your mental health journey?
I started to notice that my mental health was declining in my second year of uni. I think people struggle when they’re alone and in a change of environment. It’s quite a lonely place to be when you’re struggling with your mental health and everyone around you is having so much fun. You think “that’s what I should be doing! Why am I in my room struggling to get out of bed, or do the things that I normally do?”
I started to feel really debilitated by anxiety and panic and that’s when I realised that something wasn’t right. I think it was during an exam period that I had a complete mental break down and couldn’t go back to uni to do the exam that I hit my absolute rock bottom.
As your anxiety intensified, how did it impact your daily life?
When my anxiety and mental health started to get really bad and intense, I felt that I was debilitated from doing the things that I would normally do. Even getting in the shower, eating or making myself food, going out with my friends, or sitting in lectures was too much for me to handle. It’s a really scary place to be when just having a shower is difficult. That’s when you know something isn’t right.
When I sat down to revise for that exam I felt a new level of panic. I started pacing around the house, and then I just locked myself in the bathroom and thought “what am I going to do?” I couldn’t face going back to Uni, my parents were away [so couldn’t] make me feel safe or talk it out. I felt so alone. I remember curling up into a ball in the bathroom and thinking “I’m not leaving this room, I’m not leaving this room.” It’s a really tough memory for me to go back to.
It’s a really scary place to be when just having a shower is difficult. That’s when you know something isn’t right.
What was your road to recovery?
It actually took me a while to do something about it, because I remember thinking at the time that mental health wasn’t really spoken about as much as it is now.
It wasn’t like “talk to someone, talk to someone,” it was “I am going crazy.” I was searching forums to see if it was happening to other people. A while after I started searching, I realised that it wasn’t just me. I wasn’t getting better on my own, so I decided to start CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). It’s all very ironic because I studied psychology, but therapy helped me a massive amount.
People are scared to take the leap and go to a therapist because it’s like admitting something is wrong but that was my turning point, and I wasn’t ashamed or embarrassed about it. I did a lot of CBT, but as much as a therapist can help you, you have to be able to help yourself too. I had to retrain my brain in completely new ways. I retrained my thought patterns and change my mindset towards the things that were making me anxious. You have to be willing to be to train your mind in the same way that you’d train your body in the gym. That was a big turning point for me.
I had to retrain my brain in completely new ways. I retrained my thought patterns and changed my mindset towards the things that were making me anxious. You have to be willing to be to train your mind in the same way that you’d train your body in the gym.
How did Yoga make a difference to your situation?
Yoga in itself is a complete introspective practice. It’s finding your way back to your truest self without any ego or attachment or judgment. When you step on your mat, that’s your aim- to find your way back to yourself.
Jen wears Composure Bra and Cycling Shorts in Deep Lake