I like yoga. I do. I like taking a random ten minutes out of my day to stretch and relax and focus on nothing but my breathing. I can appreciate yoga for what it is.
I’m also aware of what it’s not.
Yoga is not medication. It is not a way to treat chronic depression or other mental illness. I’ve had so many people suggest yoga as an alternative to medication because I happened to be complaining about a side effect and clearly if I’m having side effects the medication isn’t working and I should just try yoga.
Here’s the thing. I have a right to complain about my mental illness. I have a right to complain about uncomfortable side effects. You don’t have to listen to me complain but you also don’t have the right to belittle my pain and suggest my very real illness can be solved by some stretching and deep breathing. It can’t. I’ve tried.
Diet and exercise do play a role in mental illness, I will not argue that. A healthy body is better able to have a healthy mind. But there are times for a lot of people, myself included, that the very idea of getting out of bed is so exhausting we wait until the very last second — sacrificing hygiene, food, and other self-care –to get up that there’s no way in hell we’re going to take thirty minutes to go for a run or practice some yoga.
It has nothing to do with laziness or an unwillingness to try. It is a complete inability to do so.
That is why psych meds exist. That is why so many people rely on their medication and suffer through the uncomfortable side effects because the overall improvement is worth it.
Here’s the thing, you don’t tell a diabetic to just lose weight and they’ll be fine, you don’t tell an asthmatic just to try to take deep breaths and forget about the inhaler, you don’t tell someone with cancer to avoid chemo because it’s poison so why are people always so quick to denounce my need for medication to help with my illness?
And It is. Like cancer, asthma, and diabetes, mental illness is something that the body does wrong and needs to be treated.
I understand that people just want to help but please understand, you can take your yoga and shove it up your ass. I’ll be over here taking my many and varied psych meds that keep me sane.