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© 2017 Laura Gotlin Yoga -Illustrations and Design by Thea Telford Illustration.

Photography by Liz Unterman Photography

The YOGA HUSTLER

vulnerability

"Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do."

-Brene Brown

My Mental Health Journey, Part 1...

It was the first day of my sophomore year in high school. I had recently returned home from the most fabulous summer spent at sleep away camp with some of my nearest and dearest friends. Although, I was bummed that camp had ended, I did enjoy school, however, not for the academics but for the social scene! I thought I was happy that morning. 

I remember exactly what I was wearing walking down St. Josephs Ave toward Port Richmond High School; a purple floral short-sleeved button down shirt (I thought it was just the coolest shirt ever) with ripped jean shorts and black converse. My wild curly hair was "moussed" up and I had a pep in my step.

What happened next on my short walk to the entrance of school, forever changed my life. I became very dizzy, disoriented and frightened. I felt as if I was going to pass out but it never happened, so I remained in this state of dizziness, disorientation, confusion and fear. Somehow, I made it into the building and ran to the water fountain splashing my face with water.

I remember people greeting me who I hadn't seen all summer but their faces were blurry, and I couldn't hear them over the sound of my heavily beating heart. There were no cell phones then (lol) and I didn't have change for a payphone, so I headed to the main office. I explained what I was experiencing and asked to call my mother. It felt like an eternity waiting for her. I was afraid to be alone so I stayed in the office pacing around the room. 

When my mother arrived, she immediately looked at me and said, "You just had your first panic attack." There was some relief in knowing that I wasn't dying and there was a name for what was happening to me, but that didn't remove the terror I was feeling in every cell of my being. 

I began seeing a therapist weekly and taking medication daily to get me through the school day. My panic disorder soon led to depression, which is very common, and my depression led to isolation. No one knew what was going on with me except for my immediate family. Mental Illness was not something publicly discussed then soooo...I learned how to hide it and internally fight it every second of every day. I was determined to act "normal." 

This is only a very small portion of my mental health journey but I have made a vow to my 15 year old frightened self and to all of the other warriors out there struggling with mental illness, that I will continue to share my journey in the hopes of breaking stigma and ending silence around mental illness.  

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to read this. I've never shared this story publicly and I've never allowed myself to be so vulnerable. However, if even just one person can find some comfort in this, I know that my suffering has not been in vain. 


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