It’s startling how quickly your life can turn around by making the choice to go through with something you want to do. This morning, I did yoga for nine minutes.
You’re probably reading this and thinking, okay, cool, someone did yoga for nine minutes. Why write an article about it? Tens of thousands of people do yoga every morning. And, yeah, that’s probably true.
When I was younger, in my early twenties, I always did what I wanted to do. Life was FILLED with nothing but things I wanted to do. My dance card, as my dead mother used to say, was always full. When I met my husband, still on the cusp of my mid-twenties, we spent every weekend exploring new parts of our city, trying Indian cuisine and planning on where we’d be next month and the one after that.
And then, my mother’s cancer metastasized to her brain when I was 25. That entire year was spent in and out of hospitals, preparing myself for the surgeon or her oncologist to come out and say she didn’t make it, watching a vibrant woman to the fullest extent of the word somehow lose all that vibrancy in a matter of seconds. She died when I was 26 and I felt like my world had ended. In many ways, it did.
Flash forward to me being 28-years old, almost 29, married and holding the lingering thoughts that maybe I should start a family. My father, three months into his Stage 2 cancer diagnosis, is prepping for surgery to have his esophagus removed on Friday. At 76-years old, my able-bodied father will be on a feeding tube. At 28, I’m in the middle of a countdown to his last cup of coffee, eagerly pushing for the two of us to sit down and watch Bohemian Rhapsody, running myself ragged being the physical and mental caretaker after I can barely take care of myself.
It’s obvious that I’m depressed, despite how I’m still quasi-able to function. The lust I once had toward life has been depleted and I work tirelessly to work against the grain. But, when it all comes down to it, I’m scared of going through this again; “this” being the process of losing another parent. I’m scared of closing that chapter in my life. I’m scared of him dying with regrets. I’m scared of me never getting over mine, like the guilt I feel of not taking my mom to the Olive Garden like she asked me to the week before she died.
It’s because of that fear that I often get the wind knocked out of me. It’s like a blow to the gut. In the face of all of this, I try my hardest to keep moving forward. Despite the stress associated with knowing my father is going to die, knowing that it’s a matter of WHEN and not how, knowing who gets what in the house after a tedious two-hour conversation about his will and testament, I’m emotionally drained from being strong for too long. I’m emotionally drained from being over-extended.
Every morning I wake up with two emotions: one of anguish and one of determination. Anguish usually wins. My mornings often feel lackluster as I dream about being the kind of woman who can get up, drink a cup of coffee, get organized and do some yoga before work. I dream of being the woman who comes home and her house is immaculate, her chores complete, and she’s happy…reading a book, making dinner, fixing up an old piece of furniture, or sitting out on the deck bathing in the sunshine. I crave having control of my life because ever since I was 25, things have spiraled into chaos.
I hold on to my dreams because my depression tells me that I have other thoughts to consume, to ponder. Things like: what will my dad’s test results be today? What kind of bad news will I be receiving? What’s the new wrench in the plans?
Depression is a monster that doesn’t want you to do yoga in the morning. It wants you to stew in your problems, regardless of how warranted those thoughts may be. I remember thinking yesterday, as I journaled another bout of my seemingly never-ending emotions, and asked myself what kind of life do I really want to be living? Without a doubt, I want to be someone who isn’t weighed down by superfluous “what-if’s.” What kind of life is that? I want to find happiness because while I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders, I’m not the one who has to be on a feeding tube, sacrificing my love of coffee. I’m not the one who has to endure chemo, or lose my hair, or lose the vibrancy and independence I once knew.
For a moment, that makes me put things into perspective. But then I also think about last Friday night, and how my teary-eyed dad looked at me, going over his will and testament, saying, “The only thing I hate about dying is leaving you.”
And it’s with a line like that, my depression feels like it won its catchphrase.