In my early 30's I began noticing strange changes in my body. It began with increased fatigue, digestive problems, heavy menstrual periods, irritability, intense back pain, weight gain and lethargy. I would go to bed early yet still had trouble getting up in the morning. As time went on I started having heart palpitations, insomnia and suffered from increased levels of anxiety. I shook all the time, my heart raced day and night, my mind wouldn't shut off long enough to relax. I had trouble being in public, I couldn't think straight, and my memory was fuzzy. I felt hypoglycemic or dehydrated all the time. Dizzy spells, cold hands and feet, tremors, sudden weight loss, intense back and neck pain, fibroids, irrational fears, OCD, extreme worry, panic attacks... you name it. I seriously felt like I was losing my mind. After a multitude of tests and ER visits the doctors diagnosed me with Generalized Anxiety, Panic and OCD Disorder. I was given a prescription for antidepressants and sent home.
I was in denial, ashamed and felt completely alone. Hoping no one found out what a mess I was on the inside because on the outside I was perceived as a super mom and a strong woman working her way up the corporate ladder. If only they knew how I really felt. If they did, they might lock me up in a mental hospital somewhere. The antidepressants only made it worse! I was helpless.
How in the world did I get here?
I've always been one to give 150% of myself in everything I do. EVERYTHING...with the exception of myself. My childhood was challenging which conditioned me to hold on to anger and regrets. I was judgmental and had a hard time forgiving. I had friends but never let anyone too close. The feeling of "never being good enough" consumed me so I did everything I could to create my own self worth. Going back to college and taking 21 credit hours while raising a family wasn't odd for me. It was all part of the sacrifice I made to get to where I (thought I) needed to be. Eventually it all took its toll. It felt like a crash but when I look back I had been building up to this moment for many, many years. I wasn't happy with who I was. I kept searching for validation and nothing was filling that void.
Meanwhile, the drugs were making me worse and I couldn't help but recall all the horror stories while working in the pharmaceutical industry so I had no choice but to try something else. I spent hundreds of hours researching the internet and reading books hoping to find a "miracle cure." The miracle I kept running in to was the practice of yoga and meditation. Could this basic human practice that has been around for over 5000 years really make that big of an impact? Curious and desperate I decided to give it a try.
At first, the practice of calming my mind and body was difficult. To be honest I hated it because I felt like I wasn't doing it right. How in the world was I going to shut this monkey mind off! I added massage therapy to my recovery plan and started to feel a change in my body. Eventually, month after month, with regular practice I noticed my issues gradually fading away. I failed 100 times but I knew the opposite of stress is calm so I really had no choice but to continue. It took 3+ years before I could claim that I was in good health- better than I had ever been. Some might say that's a long time but if I look back at how many years it took to get to this point, it was well worth the time invested to institute meaningful, life long changes.
It was long and painful but a wonderful journey nonetheless. I am so blessed this happened to me. I have learned so much about myself and the human body. When I look back at those years I am so proud at how I've grown in life, love and happiness. The principles of yoga and meditation helped me get here--brought me closer to my authentic self.
I took yoga teacher training not to teach but to learn why it worked. Upon completion I began haphazardly teaching to friends at Sioux Passage Park while maintaining a full time corporate job. The class kept growing and we entertained the idea of opening a brick and mortar location. OmTurtleYoga opened its doors in Florissant fall of 2013. In 2014 I quit my corporate job and opened another studio in Ferguson during the time of riots and unrest as a symbol of peace and unity. In 2015 we developed a line of holistic self-care products called OmTurtleOrganics. In 2016 we expanded Florissant into a 4000 sq ft space to include OmTurtleSpa as a more comprehensive approach to healing. In 2018 we're expanding Ferguson to include a wellness cafe serving healthy soups, salads, smoothies and more to assist in your overall health and wellbeing.
As for me, I am still growing and grateful for what life has to bring. Happy, healthy and free. I'm taking on every challenge and roaring at every opportunity but my center is at peace. With all the splendors of life it also brings challenges. Those challenges will never stop but the way I learned to manage through the challenges has changed significantly. I am still a STUDENT and will forever be one.
One thing I did learn throughout all this is that I was not alone. I read and heard thousands of stories similar to mine. I feel as if this was the path God laid out for me and now I'm being asked to share my experience with others. I don't know where this will lead me or how this will grow from here. I'll take it one day at a time-- moving at a turtle's pace.
The turtle is symbol of wisdom and longevity-- a great representation of my journey.... perhaps yours as well? Come share your story with me and be a part of the community that is growing at OmTurtleYoga & Spa.
No matter who you are... YOU belong here.