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Connecting Through Wellness by Laura Patterson

This blog discusses suicide and mental illness, please proceed with care.

This October our yoga studio has chosen to focus on mental health as our collective theme. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well being. This month also marks our 13th year as a studio. Over the past 13 years our staff and instructors have collectively supported over 20,000 students. After taking the last few weeks to reflect on all that has been possible from so many coming together around wellness, I am filled with gratitude.

This collective community is what I had hoped for at the very beginning. A place where people could gather with intentions of creating healthy habits for mind and body. Opening Vibe, a physical space to foster my love of movement and yoga all the while sharing with others, was the answer. I learned early in my journey that yoga and these habits of movement supported me immensely, specifically when dealing with impacts of mental illness. I was inspired and motivated to share this. 

Through my own experience of losing someone to suicide and struggling with my own mental health, I found the practice of yoga. It was yoga that offered space for me to not only workout but to also deeply work in. 

I hear so many different stories of why students choose to practice at Vibe. For some, it is the empowering workout we are known to offer. For others it is the space to undo tension and stress. There are many reasons why we show up, and we often highlight the physical benefits as they can be easier to relate to.

It feels paramount to acknowledge how yoga can support our mental health. I’ve noticed it’s not always easy to talk about mental health, the topic must often consider mental illness. This discussion can be challenging, triggering, and complicated. Maybe that is why it has taken me 13 years to voice the role mental illness played in the very beginning of Vibe.

A close friend committed suicide my senior year of college. At the time I believed I didn't need support of mental health professionals or therapy. I thought I could handle it on my own. What actually occurred was a destructive path of self medicating and creating unhealthy behaviour patterns. Coping with the layers of emotions I was experiencing this way was not healthy. Ultimately it led to a major depressive phase in my life where I experienced thoughts of suicide. 

I very privately struggled for a long time. Isolated with this darkness, I kept these emotions from my roommates, family, and friends. I was living in a new city, away from many of my social supports. It was a rough few years. It was then I found yoga. It helped. Eventually I enrolled in a teacher training program and my life forever changed. I discovered powerful tools to support not just this challenging time in my life, but a new way of life. A lifestyle that helped me overcome so much more. I started constructing the habits that would help me find resilience both physically and mentally. 

Suicide is the 10th leading killer in the United States (CDC). Only half of all Americans experiencing major depression receive treatment (NAMI). I was navigating both of these statistics in real life. At the time the biggest supporter for me was, in fact, yoga. In hindsight, support of healthcare professionals was necessary. Something much easier to admit now; something I was not aware I needed then. 

This month we will continue doing what we do best at Vibe: teach yoga, fitness, and meditation classes to support mind and body wellness. When additional support is needed, when yoga is not enough, I will employ this platform to educate and support others. I will find and share resources for our community to access professional mental health help. I vow to normalize conversations about struggles with mental illness.

Vibe will be collecting donations to support The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention during our weekly Yoga in Action class at the front desk or directly here.  

I look forward to the years to come; continuing to connect around positive wellness habits with this community. I am grateful for this studio, for getting to move with others, and for continuously being moved and inspired by all that are a part of Vibe Yoga. As we all face challenges in 2020, my motivation to offer space for people to come together in the spirit of health and wellness is stronger than ever. Join us this month in celebration and in support of our collective wellness. 

 If you're an instructor and would like to learn more about how we can facilitate best practices to people with trauma please look into enrolling in our Trauma Sensitive Training starting 10/30/2020. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness I have listed resources below. 

Support Groups in Bloomington-

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/groups/in/bloomington

Get help- (If you are having suicidal thoughts, have lost someone to suicide, have survived suicice attempts, or are worried about someone.)

https://afsp.org/get-help

National Alliance on Mental Illness Indiana chapter-

https://www.namiindiana.org/programs/support-groups

Mental Health America Monroe County-

https://www.mha-monroe.com/