Being diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis 9 years ago rocked me to my very core.
Sitting in my car after receiving my diagnosis I was reminiscing about how I felt when I completed my first 10K run in under an hour. I’d never been in better shape. I was so proud of my accomplishment. And now I could barely move and was an emotional wreck.
I first started to realize something was wrong a few months before when I noticed my hands, wrists, knees, and ankles were so swollen I no longer recognized my own body.
I could no longer wear my wedding ring. I could barely wake up in the morning and when I did my brain was foggy. Pain dominated my every waking moment.
Getting out of bed seemed insurmountable. Having to put my feet on the earth to take a step was excruciating. I couldn’t get down the stairs without help, which was humbling, angering, and frustrating all in the same moment.
I remember driving to work, waiting for the parking garage door to open with tears rolling down my face. I didn’t know if I could survive another day.
After weeks of suffering I was medicated and referred to this specialist and now diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.
I was alone. Nothing would ever be the same. I thought my life was over.
Anger came in and I was ready to fight. This was not my story. I joined a gym, hired a trainer, and took a leave from my job.
I was going to “fix” this.
Except my pain and suffering now included desperation. Nothing was working. Physically, the gym was not the place for me. I tried pool therapy but afterward I’d sleep for hours trying to regain strength. The medications made me ill and deep fatigue had set into each and every cell of my body. All I could do was sleep and cry and exist in that black hole alone.
Fatigue was partner everyday. I had never felt anything like it before in my life. I no longer know who I was.
I pushed my husband away and shut him out—he hadn’t signed up for this.
Finally, after endless struggle, I found myself in a yoga class. Prior to my illness, yoga was about fitness. But this class was an act of surrender—I had nothing to lose. I went in and laid on the mat and did some movement, but spent most of the time in savasana. I left class that day feeling a little better.
Working with pranayama (breath practices) and restorative yoga poses, I began to feel lighter; the fog was clearing. I was still on my drug protocol and doing water therapy, but restorative yoga connected me to myself as nothing else could.
My sense of desperation left and hope was cultivated.
Restorative yoga took me from a dark place and brought me to the light. It quieted all the thoughts swirling in my mind, providing safe passage for my body to release and let go. It brought me home to my heart.
Fast forward to today…I now teach restorative yoga and am consciously aware of my triggers creating space to rest when I need to rest. My purpose is to share this practice and the healing benefits that come from connecting to ourselves and releasing what is no longer serving us.